The Lord enables Leah to bear four sons.
14) Leah said, “. . .for now my husband will love me.”
Leah’s name means weary.
She made this statement after Reuben’s birth. His name means, “See, a son.”
After the second son she said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” She named him Simeon which sounds like the Hebrew word for heard. “She hoped all would notice that the Lord heard her.”1
Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” She named him Levi which sounds like the Hebrew word for attached.
Leah is thankful and recognizes that God saw her misery. Sadly, she still focused on the expectation that the sons she bore Jacob would earn his love—until Judah was born.
This time I will praise the Lord!
And again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She named him Judah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for praise.
Leah longed to win Jacob’s love, but even after bearing him four sons, his heart did not change.
The pain in the heart of Leah was just as evident as the hardness of Jacob’s heart and as evident as his attitude toward his wife, Leah.1
In the years that followed, scripture never mentions that Jacob loved Leah. Nor does it say he mourned her death, although he did honor her by burying her alongside the family patriarchs.
15) When the Lord saw that Leah was hated . . .
The NIV and many other versions translate the Hebrew word שְׂנוּאָ֣ה (śə·nū·’āh) as unloved, not loved, loved less, or neglected. The same Hebrew word is used for how Joseph’s brothers felt about him when he wore the coat of many colors and told them about the dream in which he saw all of them bowing down to him. (Genesis 37:5)
Leah was hated.—We must not soften this down too much; for plainly Leah was not the object of love at all. It was her fruitfulness which gave her value in her husband’s eyes, and when this ceased, Jacob utterly neglected her (Genesis 30:15). (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, public domain)
The Lord’s Love for Israel
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.”
So, hated also indicates not chosen or rejected. Esau was rejected by God but chosen by Isaac. In contrast, Leah was chosen by God but rejected by Jacob.
16) Leah—God’s choice as matriarch of the descendants promised to Abraham.
Jacob fell in love with Rachel as soon as he saw her. He assumed she was the one, perhaps because he’d heard the story of how Abraham’s servant saw his beautiful mother, Rebekah, at the well. He didn’t pray first and ask God to confirm His choice. As a result, he fell victim to deceit in order to marry the one God chose.
Leah turned to the Lord for consolation when Jacob did not love her and her sister Rachel turned against her.
As the years passed and her sons grew, she matured and found consolation in her role as a mother and in the Lord. She believed her sons were God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.
Leah, though she was neglected by Jacob and despised by Rachel, had a great purpose in God’s plan. The two greatest tribes came from Leah, not Rachel: Levi (the priestly tribe) and Judah (the royal tribe). And most importantly, the Messiah came from Leah, the less-attractive sister who was neglected and despised but learned to look to the LORD and praise Him.1
17) The Lord’s compassion for Leah touches my heart.
Even when my dad had forgotten just about everything else, he remembered who was his favorite. And it wasn’t me.
Like Leah, we should also take comfort in knowing that God sees the difficult circumstances of our lives and be thankful and praise Him.
You are a God who sees me. . . Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me. Genesis 16:13
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2 AWM Living Commentary used by written permission.
3 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations from *The ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4 Strong’s Concordance, public domain.
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