The Unwanted Sister – The Story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah
By Steph Nickel
The story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah is full of sadness, something that many of us can relate to. Steph reminds us that just like Leah, God has a plan.
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Story Of Jacob
As is the case with many stories in the Bible, the story of Jacob and his family is an amazing one, filled with drama, heartache, and adventure.
Abraham sent Isaac back to his homeland to find a wife. And we see history repeating itself in Genesis 28.
Verses 1-2 say, “Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, ‘You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother’” (ESV).
We may question the wisdom of marrying such a close relative. But their situation was not the same as ours and would not lead to the same issues as would be the case in the 21st century.
Jacob gathered his traveling companions and supplies and set off. On the way, he had a dream in which God spoke to him.
Genesis 28:13-14 says, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south” (ESV).
The Lord reassured him that the promise He had made to Jacob’s father and grandfather would come to pass through him. Jacob didn’t know exactly what he’d find when he got to his family’s homeland, but he knew God was with him on the journey.
Rachel and Leah
met Rachel and immediately fell for her, a case of love at first sight. This is a story of drama, adventure—and now, romance.
If Rachel was Laban’s only daughter—or, at least, his only unwed daughter—the story would have turned out differently. But Rachel had a sister named Leah.
Genesis 29:17 says, “Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” (ESV).
We no longer use the term “her eyes were weak” to describe a woman’s appearance, but we can tell from the context that she was not physically attractive.
Should people be judged by there appearance? Not in a perfect world. But even back then, beauty played a significant role in attraction and love.
And society at that time was especially cruel to women who had virtually no chance of finding a husband. They would be a burden on their father and the rest of the family until their death. They would not have children to carry on their husband’s family line. And thus, they would be the object of scorn and ridicule. What a painful existence!
Jacob wasn’t being deliberately cruel or hateful. He met Rachel first. She was beautiful. And he fell head over heels in love. So much so that he was willing to pay a steep bride price.
Genesis 29:18 says, “Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel’” (ESV).
But Rachel’s father was deceitful (understandably so, considering Leah’s future prospects—or lack thereof). The morning after Jacob’s wedding, he discovered he had slept with Leah. There was no changing the fact that she was now his wife, but he loved Rachel so much he was willing to work for another seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage as well.
Laban agreed and gave Rachel to Jacob immediately. How devastated Leah must have felt! Still, the Lord saw her situation and had compassion on her.
Genesis 29:31 says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren” (ESV).
Leah at least had that consolation. And the ability to bear children, as I’ve mentioned before, was of tremendous importance.
But this didn’t change how Jacob felt about her, not significantly at least. He still loved Rachel far more. And the two sisters would spend years competing with one another. How heartbreaking!
God Had A Plan For Leah
Are there serious rifts in your family?
Does someone close to you catch all the breaks while you carry a heavy burden?
Have you been rejected or set aside?
Does your future look bleak?
Do you wonder where God is in all of it?
Maybe you can relate to Leah in one or more of these ways.
But we can all take comfort in the fact that God had a plan for her life. God himself “saw her.”
Let’s cling to the promise in James 4:8 that says He will draw near to those who draw near to Him.
May you find comfort knowing God had a plan for Leah. No matter how painful your life currently is, you can ask Him to give you a glimpse of His plan for yours as well.
The story of Jacob, his wives, and their children is as amazing and filled with twists and turns as any novel—and it’s all true. You can read it in Genesis 28-35.
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.
Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.
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