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Leah the despised wife. 223, June 3, 2020

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

Love and rejection in the same family? Rachel and Leah, the loved and hated wives of Jacob.  Part B Leah — The despised wife but precious mother of half the Nation of Israel Rejection is arguably the most self-destructive emotional disorder within humankind.  Everybody has suffered rejection at some time. From children in orphanages to unvisited older people in aged care facilities, and everyone in between, rejection has planted its hideous roots deep in society. It will be there until the return of Jesus Christ. Many people, including Leah, are well-versed in the agony, anger and bitter tears produces by rejection.  Leah’s eyes were so remarkably different as a possible physical deformity they were written into scripture. Many people grow up with deformities. I recall in primary school when the 'odd' kids would always get picked on or made fun of by someone 'normal'. I stepped in a couple of times here and there, but regardless of the bullying policy changes, it’s still found in every school and in every class. It didn't matter whether they were poor, or deaf, or wore callipers, or had a rash, or smelled, picking on 'different' was rife and so cruel. I think Leah fitted into this bracket. She was different. These people are sometimes shattered on the inside and cry many tears of which nobody else is aware.  As Christians, we are to get used to ‘different’. If ‘different’ cannot be accepted by us, then who?   Heaven is full of different. It has many people whom we would reject here on earth for employment, for social friendships, for club membership, and those we purposefully don't acknowledge now and then or don't reply to on a text, too scared they might be trying to get closer to us.  How shameful.  I remember many years ago employing a worker with only one hand for a two-handed job. The CEO said, “you’re gamer than I am” but didn't overrule it. That person became a great employee to me personally, spending more than ten years with the organisation. You see, his only deficiency was his hand. Many of us are deficient in those inner things the world cannot see.      Most times rejection extends its deadly reach to provoke us to self-loathing. We find we don't need others to cast us down, we begin doing it very effectively ourselves.  We start on one of our deficiencies and seem to go through them all one-by-one until we are absolutely demoralised and at rock-bottom.  It’s another issue we are called to overcome. When Jesus said in Matthew 11:28,  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, he also meant rest from the persecution of rejection. He can remove the pain of it all.  Leah was rejected by her husband Jacob. However, as we read in our previous Post 222, Leah wasn’t meant to marry him at all. Due to the same sleight of hand as a card cheat,  substituting an Ace with a Five, Jacob found himself the next morning with Leah instead of his new wife, Rachel.   Leah appears complicit in that deception. Should that not bring some rejection?    Yet, I think Leah was despised by her father long before he married her off to Jacob. I feel she understood rejection from an early age. For most of her life, Leah seemed to live a sad existence — a woman who suffered much.  The Bible says that Jacob hated Leah. Gen 29:31, And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. I think Jacob misdirected his anger, which should have perhaps been toward his father-in-law, Laban.  Sadly, many wives have felt despised like Leah, begging for love from their own husbands, but not getting it for a variety of reasons. Colossians 3:9 addresses that very issue where it says, Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. This relationship may have produced the basis for the law of the loved and hated wives in Deuteronomy 21:15-17, just to ensure in later generations there is no discrimination toward the firstborn of the hated wife. Even when believers go through trials sometimes they have emotional ‘leftovers’ just like Jacob, that need to be worked through and overcome. Once married, there was intense rivalry between Rachel and Leah to bear the most children to Jacob. I wonder if that sisterly rivalry was there long before marriage, and God used it to produce the progeny?  In the early days, nobody in that blended arrangement understood that God was sowing together the most historic family in history. If they did they may have worked together.  

Leah: a prized handmaiden of God. While alive, Leah also endured the heartache of several major events involving her children. 

  • Her first son—her pride and joy—Reuben, slept with his father's concubine, his step-brothers' mother. 

  • Levi and Simeon slaughtered all the males of the city of Shechem as payback for their sister Dinah's rape, bringing shame upon the Lord's name and that of his servant their father, Jacob. 

  • All of her sons collaborated in the kidnapping and selling of young Joseph. 

 I have visited these types of people in prison.  Not the perfect family? Who’s is? But it’s not all gloom for Leah, as there were some touching moments as well.

  • Such as when Reuben, as a younger boy, picked her some mandrakes (fertility flowers) in the field and brought them to her. 

  • And when she would have cried at the supposed death of Joseph. I imagine that although not her own son, as an aunty and matriarch of a communal family, Leah would have loved and cared for Joseph. We rarely if ever think of the tears she would have shed over the disappearance of Joseph.  she would have been heartbroken at the loss and tried to console Jacob. 

  • She gave birth to both Levi and Judah who, many years later, became the Israelite priesthood and the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ. 

  •  She was also the mother of Reuben who prevented the killing of Joseph at the pit. 

  • and she was given the honour of being buried at the same place as Sarah and Rebekah, in the cave of promise in Hebron!

In her future, Leah was blessed beyond belief, and it’s something for us all to note, that when we are walking life’s pathway, we don't know what testimony we leave for the future. The real impact is made when we live a life of faith.   Summary Scripture says God hearkened unto Leah who bore many sons. God not only intervened in Leah's life to soothe her lonely heart but also oversaw this entire chess game of a family struggle. Jacob went into a marriage expecting one wife but came out with four wives, twelve sons and a daughter. Here, in one rather complicated incident, God brought forth the twelve sons he required to build His Kingdom on earth.  It took Jacob many years to understand that his multi-marriage was God's doing. Jacob was both understandably ignorant and insensitive, not wanting the other wives or their children, without realising these snubbed people were part of the very elements that exalted him. The Lord is no person's debtor and made sure Leah was immortalised for her oft-troubles. As we see in Ruth 4:11 The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:  Leah was familiar with a lack of love from Jacob. I've often wondered if she had a crush on him from the time he arrived. She was able to absorb herself in her children but always wanted (no, needed) the love of her husband.  Although it doesn't say in scripture, and I am reluctant to write it in, I think Leah and Jacob would have ended up with a relationship of friendly journey companions under God. it wasn't the love she desired, but at that age, it was probably liveable.   We all go through trials and blind turns, some of which we bring on ourselves. We may not endure as many struggles as Rachel and Leah, but if we rest in the Lord knowing He will make use of even the harder aspects of our journey, we might see His purpose and walk with Him.   

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