The Unloved Wife
Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.
For context read Genesis 29
The story of Leah and Rachel breaks my heart. Here are two sisters torn apart by the customs of the land and their own father. Genesis 29:20 makes it clear from the very beginning that Jacob only had eyes for Rachel. It says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” It was customary at that time for men to pay a dowry to the family of his bride. Jacob did not have the money so he worked seven years just to be able to take Rachel as his wife!
But then, the sisters’ father, Laban, gets involved. He tricked Jacob by giving him Leah rather than Rachel. When Jacob discovered he’d consummated a marriage with the wrong sister, he got angry. Laban claimed that the custom of the land was that the older sister gets married first, though he’d failed to mention this all along. Laban’s motivation was most likely another seven years of free labor from Jacob in exchange for Rachel’s hand.
It may look as though Laban was looking out for the rights and welfare of his eldest daughter, and that may have been his intent but his treachery gives his greed away. In reality, Laban was condemning Leah to a marriage with a man who did not love her. And later, Leah found herself locked into a childbearing competition with her sister. We don’t know if the sisters had a close relationship prior to these events, but we do know that the fallout of their father’s decision caused both of his daughters a significant amount of pain and ruined their relationship.
Leah’s pain was being the wife that Jacob never wanted. But verse 31 gives us this picture of hope for Leah. “When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive.” God cared about Leah and He blessed her with sons.
But Leah’s pain is still evident in the names that she gives her children. “Reuben” because “the LORD has seen my misery”, “Simeon” because “the LORD heard that I am not loved”, “Levi” because “now my husband will be attached to me because I have borne him three sons”. Despite the fact that God had blessed her three times, the longing for her husband’s love was still apparent. She wanted him to love her so badly.
God must have done a work in Leah’s heart by her fourth son, though. Genesis 29:35 says, “...This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.” Somehow, she went from bitterness and pain to seemingly accepting the circumstances and choosing to praise the LORD for His gift of another son.
And this gift of another son is more than that. Judah would be the son of Jacob found in the genealogy of Jesus. The unloved wife was not just blessed to bear four sons. She was blessed to be the mother of the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Jesus’s ancestors.
The WORD about women is that we are not unloved. We are loved and blessed by God. Sister, I know many of us are feeling unloved, unwanted, unfavored. Can I encourage you to say, “this time, I will praise the LORD”?
Have you ever felt unloved and unwanted by others? How has God shown you that He cares for You in the midst of Your pain?
PrayLord, thank You for hearing me, seeing me, and blessing me even in the midst of my pain. I know that I am not unloved or unwanted by You. Amen.