Who was Leah in the Old Testament? 


By BibleAsk Team


Leah was a wife of Jacob and the mother of seven of his children. Her Father was Laban and her sister was Rachel (Genesis 29).  After Jacob stole the birthright of Esau his brother (Genesis 27:1–29), he fled to his uncle Laban in Harran. There, he fell in love with his uncle’s daughter – Rachel (Genesis 29:17). So, Jacob asked Laban for Rachel’s hand in marriage and offered to serve him seven years (Genesis 29:20).


When the seven years were over, Jacob wanted to marry Rachel (Genesis 29:21). But on the wedding night, Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah instead, who was probably veiled. The next morning when Jacob found that he was deceived, he was very angry.  But Laban excused his action by saying that it was not the custom to let go of the younger daughter before the oldest (verse 26). Then, Laban asked Jacob to finish the festive week of Leah and after that, Rachel would be given to him for another 7 years of service (verse 27).  

Jacob’s act of bigamy must not be judged by a later Mosaic law that forbade the marriage of two sisters simultaneously (Leviticus 18:18). At the same time, Jacob’s two marriages cannot be valid on the ground that the blessing of God finally was the way of multiplying Jacob’s seed and thus fulfilling His promise. The Lord merely overruled the mistakes of His people; even these could not stop His plans (Psalms 76:10). 

Family Strife 

For years Jacob had worked and waited patiently for the day when he would marry Rachel and have a happy home, only to be troubled with two contentious wives (Genesis 30:1, 2, 8, 15). Leah, a party to Laban’s deception, was unable to win her husband’s affections at the beginning. Also, she had some kind of a problem with her eyes whereas Rachel was beautiful (Genesis 29:17). So, Jacob favored Rachel than Leah (verse 30). The result was a home of envy and strife.

But the Lord interposed in favor of Leah by blessing her with children, while Rachel was permitted to remain barren for some time (Genesis 29: 31). The Lord opened up Leah’s womb and she gave birth to Reuben which means “he has seen my misery.” Later on, she gave birth to Simeon, Levi, and Judah (verses 33–35). Then, she stopped bearing for a while.

Later, Rachel gave her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife to have children by her (Genesis 30:3), and she gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. So, Leah, likewise, gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob (verse 9) and she gave birth to Gad and Asher. 

On one occasion, Leah’s son Reuben brought mandrakes and Rachel wanted some of it (Genesis 30:15). So, she traded a night with Jacob for it. That night Leah conceived Issachar. And later on, she gave birth to Zebulun and daughter Dinah.  

And the Lord heard the prayer of Rachel and opened her womb and she gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 30:24; 35:17-18).

God’s Blessing

Leah must have been a godly woman, a devoted wife, and a faithful mother. According to the Scriptures she mentioned the name of Jehovah in relation with the birth of three of her sons. Although from an pagan family, she must have adopted the faith of Jacob and became a faithful believer in Jehovah. There can be no doubt that her good character as well as her honesty and godliness eventually brought a change in Jacob’s attitude towards her (Genesis 31:4, 14; 49:31).

And the Lord blessed Leah through her sons.  For Levi, was the father of the Levites that served the Lord in the temple of God (1 Chronicles 23). And Judah was the father of the line of the Messiah. The Bible tells us that The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:33-34).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team 

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