Why was there strife between Leah and Rachel?

Hello Z,

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A little background history to answer this question: Jacob fell in love with Rachel and asked to marry her. Laban, her father, accepted and asked that Jacob would serve him 7 years in return (Genesis 29:16-20). After the seven years, and on the wedding night, Laban deceived Jacob by giving him his oldest daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. The next morning, Jacob discovers the deception and is furious, but his now father-in-law calmly responds, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years” (v. 26,27).

This is why Jacob loved and favored Rachel more than Leah. God made up for the lack of love to Leah by giving her children while withholding Rachel’s womb for a period of time (Genesis 29:31). The tension grew into jealousy and competition between the two sisters. On one occasion the sisters traded over the right to sleep with Jacob, “When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night.” In the end, Jacob fathered twelve sons and some daughters. Leah bore him six sons. Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant, bore him two. Rachel bore him two. Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant, bore him another two (Genesis 35:23-36).

The strife between Leah and Rachel was an example to why the Levitical law that specified that a man should not marry two sisters was given: “Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive” (Leviticus 18:18). The bigamy that had been occasioned by Laban’s deception and Jacob’s affection brought friction and regret to the homes of both men.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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