“Why would anyone name their daughter Leah?” That’s a question my husband asked me a week or so ago, after I wrote about Jacob being tricked by his father-in-law into marrying his ugly daughter, Leah. Ok, It didn’t exactly say she was ugly. It said she had weak eyes…but immediately it contrasts her to her younger sister, Rachel, who is described as being “lovely in form and beautiful.”
What this means is: by comparison to Leah: Rachael had a good figure, probably meaning she was not fat. She was beautiful, meaning she was not ugly, she was easy on the eyes, where as Leah was hard on the eyes. Poor Leah. And I thought to myself, I really don’t know. Why would anyone name their daughter Leah?
Since I’ve just ended the study of Jesus in Genesis and ended up on this particular story, I really wanted to know. Once again, my mind and heart are absolutely overwhelmed with the depth of God’s story. It seems that the most insignificant details have greatest significance in His story.
Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his oldest daughter. In fact, she was slipped into the marriage chamber and it wasn’t until the next morning that Jacob realized it was Leah he had shared his marriage bed with the night before. What? I keep saying it…Poor Leah. And bless her heart, it has gone down in history! What did she do to deserve this? Passed off by her father to a man who wanted her sister! How cruel. Leah was unattractive, unloved and unwanted.
Think about Leah’s life and how sad it must have been for her to be married to a man who didn’t love her. In fact the scripture says he hated her! All she wanted was for her husband to love her, to choose her. The scripture says Jacob loved Rachael and hated Leah. Leah knew and her heart was broken.
There was someone watching who didn’t like it. There are only a handful of things the Bible lists that God finds utterly detestable…one is an unloved wife. Yes, God was watching, He saw her loneliness, her heartache and her pain. God is always drawn to the hurting soul. Even thought she was unloved by her husband she was deeply loved by God. And he blessed her.
Leah had a son. And she thought, what any wife would have thought, under these circumstances…”now my husband will love me.” But he didn’t. So, she gave him another son and another son. Still, Jacob didn’t love her. But by this time, Leah had grown in her faith. She realized all her blessings were from God and she knew that God loved her.
When her 4th son was born, she said “This time I will praise the Lord.” and named him Judah and she praised her God. Judah means “praise.” Leah had been seeking self-fulfillment in her marriage and found heartache and pain. But when she began to seek the heart of God and to praise him in her circumstances, she became a woman at rest. No more fighting against things she couldn’t control. Leah was a worshipper of God and that is the highest fulfillment in life. She lived to please God. God loved her and he blessed her.
Eventually, Rachael died and was buried at Ephrath. Things must have changed for the better for Leah, after Rachael died. Perhaps Jacob saw and appreciated the godly woman Leah had become. We don’t have the specifics, but we do know that as Jacob lay dying he ordered that his body be taken to the place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca were buried and “where I buried Leah.” Jacob had buried his wife, Leah, in a place of great honor with the Patriarchs.
Life isn’t fair. It certainly wasn’t fair to Leah ~ not by her standards, nor by ours. But we see through a glass darkly and only God knows the whys and reasons for the things we go through. And honestly, we may never know and never understand why somethings happen the way they do. God’s ways and plans are far above our own. All we can do when things are all wrong is to come to the place Leah came to ~ an understanding that God is Sovereign. He will judge and He will bless.
And what else is significant about this story? Leah never realized it, but God was going to bless her far beyond having many sons for her husband. She was going to be blessed and blessed some more. Remember that Jacob had 12 sons and they all are very important but one stands out above the rest.
It was the son born to Leah when she finally realized nothing in her life was as important as her relationship to the Most High God. When she came to terms with her life and praised Him for her life, He blessed her above all. That’s when Judah was born. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The Messiah would come through Leah…who was not loved by Jacob….but was loved greatly by God.
Every wife deserves her husband’s love. I hurt so much when I read the story of Leah. But 4000+ years later, we can see the bigger picture. Do you think, if Leah had known what we know, that it have been ok with her? Would she have been satisfied to be greatly used of God, even though her husband didn’t love her? Is it better to be Rachael and be loved for the life of a marriage or to be a Leah and be a part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world?
That’s a question to answer when everything in life seems all wrong. There’s a big picture we can’t see. Would it be ok if we knew a bigger picture was being played out? It is, you know. Is it possible to wrap our minds around the thought that God is really and truly in control and everything is going to be alright? It is. Like Leah, we only have to worship the Lord God and trust His plan for our lives. Praise Him, like Leah, and trust our future to Him.
It’s a beautiful love story. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out like this. I don’t think Leah was either. Were you?
So, now my question is “Why wouldn’t anyone name their daughter Leah?” Leah is the name of someone greatly loved by God. Now I know. And so do you!