We were all waiting on pins and needles for the seven years to be up so Jacob could marry Rachel. Whatever the lovebirds had planned, there was still the nagging problem of well, me. I was the eldest daughter and no matter what kind of love Jacob had for Rachel (he told his friends that he loved Rachel so much that the seven years that he had to work for her had only felt like a few days to him), by all rights, I would have to marry before my younger sister. Like I said before, I knew my father to be a shrewd and cunning man, so I waited to see how this would play out, and I’ll tell you, I did not see this scenario coming.
It was the evening of Rachel and Jacob’s wedding—when they would consummate the marriage. We had had a splendid celebration that day, but in our culture, people weren’t officially married until the two had become one.
Towards the end of the party, my father had called me over to talk with him privately. I just knew it was the “plan” I had been waiting for. I was right, but for me, the plan bordered on a nightmare.
“You want me to do what?” I asked in a voice much too loud for a private conversation.
“Keep your voice down!” My father barked through a whisper. “It has to be this way,” he said.
“Yes, but they will both hate me. Don’t you understand? This deception is cruel to everyone, especially to me,” I said, half-crying.
You see like I mentioned earlier, I was ugly, undesirable, and unloved already, so what my father was suggesting I should do was the proverbial nail in the coffin. But being the obedient daughter that I was, I complied with my father’s plan to get one over on Jacob.
My father told me that he would keep Rachel occupied while I snuck into the darkened wedding chamber. You see, I was to replace Rachel in Jacob’s bed so that I would effectively become his wife that night. It was a hideous and wicked plan, and though I regret it now, I went through with it. Jacob didn’t realize what had happened until morning had come.
Just as I suspected, the whole household erupted like a volcano, spewing hot lava indiscriminately in every direction. The wrath of Jacob and Rachel was almost unbearable, and now I was married to a man whom I knew didn’t love me, and whom I was pretty sure, hated me.
No one could escape from hearing the heated argument that ensued as Jacob angrily pleaded with my father for justice. “But we had a deal!” He cried.
“I know Jacob, but I just couldn’t break tradition by allowing you to marry my youngest daughter, first.” My father retorted without mercy. “Haven’t you ever deceived anyone, Jacob?” Now that was a low blow. I knew something was wrong with that guy from the moment I had met him. It turns out that Jacob had stolen the birthright from his brother Esau seven years earlier. That’s why he looked so nervous when he first arrived at our house those many years ago. He was running from home because of a deception that he and his mother (Laban’s sister) had cooked up. Jacob had tricked his dying (and mostly blind) father into giving him, the younger son, the birthright.
”So, what are you going to do about this, Uncle Laban? I want justice. I want Rachel.”
I could barely hear my father as he told Jacob in a cold and calculated voice,
“You can have Rachel in one week, but I will expect another seven years of labor as payment for her.”
Wait. What? Jacob would have two wives now? Oh, I was not at all happy about that.
So, there I was: the unwanted and unloved wife of Jacob, at odds with my sister (who was literally about to become my sister wife), and more than a little angry with my father for getting me into this mess. But as bad as things were, they were about to look up for me in the next few years. Remember how I had said that it’s the crowning achievement for women in my culture to have sons? Right out of the gate, I was pregnant with a son, then another, then another, then another. I had four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. I was truly blessed by the Lord while my sister remained barren.
I learned something invaluable about God through all of this. I realized that He sees the unloved. This big God of the universe saw me. Me. While others disrespected and overlooked me because of my appearance, my Creator showed me that He loved me by doing the one thing in my culture that put me on the map. I was favored because God opened my womb. I ended up having six of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel). I, Leah, mattered in the big scheme of things, after all.
Take it from me. If you’re feeling unloved, unfavored, and unimportant, call out to your God. He sees you and He will vindicate you. He will come to your aid like a knight in shining armor. He will love you even if no one else does, and He will love you in a way that no one else can.
(Story based on Genesis 29)
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