Faces of Grace: Leah

The Essence of Leah

Jacob deceived his father Issac into giving him his brother, Esau’s birthright.  Having learned of Jacobs’s deception, Esau plotted to kill him upon the death of his father. His mother, Rebekah, having heard of Esau’s plan, encouraged Jacob to flee to the land of her brother, Laban.

Nearing his destination, he becomes distracted by the sight of an approaching girl. She is coming to the well to draw water for the sheep. He meets some shepherds along the way and asked the name of the beautiful girl. He learns her name is Rachel.

It was love at first sight for Jacob.

He is naturally eager to talk to Rachel’s father, Laban, about her and his possible future with her. He agrees to work for seven years for Laban since he has no gifts or bride price to offer. In return, Laban’s daughter, Rachel, would become his wife at the end of the seven years.

Jacob worked diligently, but at the end of the specified period, he was deceived by his Uncle Laban.  It was the custom at that time to conduct the bride to the bed chamber of her husband in silence and darkness. At the light of dawn, Jacob discovered he had been deceived by Laban. He realized he had married Leah and not Rachel. Laban justified his deceitful behavior by saying that the younger girl could not be given in marriage before the first-born. He told Jacob that if he agreed to serve another seven years he would be given Rachel to marry.

The rivalry between the two sisters intensified long after the weddings took place.

Leah led a heartbreaking life trying to win Jacob’s love. She knew that she was unloved by Jacob but God saw her inner beauty. He was aware of this unfortunate situation and had compassion for Leah. Even though the pain of continuing to be unloved by her earthly husband, Leah stays connected to her heavenly Father.  She acknowledged Him as the giver of all good gifts in her life. Rachel’s story is also filled with much disappointment. Though Jacob loves her, she is barren and can’t have sons for him.

In a tribal society, a woman’s status depended on the number of sons she produced (this was at a time when tribal warfare was endemic; the more fighting men in a tribe, the better and safer for the tribe).

Leah was loved less than Rachel, but she was able to give Jacob children. This blessing from the Lord was a highly important honor for a wife in those days. “When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31).

Leah chooses to PRAISE God and the names she subsequently gives her sons demonstrate that she had faith, trust, and hope in the Lord. Her sons were named Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. She is also the mother of Israel’s only recorded daughter, Dinah.

Her son Judah led the tribe that produced Jesus Christ.

Leah genuinely loved Jacob and was true to him.  Some may say Leah paled in comparison to her beautiful sister, but as a woman who praised God despite her disappointments, Leah shone like an unfailing beacon of light.

Hope – for today

Jacob deceived his brother and father. Later he was deceived as well when he married Leah. Upon realizing this, he was required to work another 7 years for Rachel.  Jacob reaped what he had sown.

Although Leah was not a highly visible character in the Bible, her legacy was giving birth to six sons who would later become half of the tribes of Israel. It was through the lineage of her son, Judah, that Jesus was born into this world.

The beginning of her family relationships appeared to entail deception, jealousy, rejection and family strife. God was able to use these obviously imperfect beginnings as the catalyst to foster what many consider the single most important event in Biblical history.

God is just. He hears our prayers and will intervene for us. God can work His will in spite of our human imperfections, motives, and emotions. Even though He may allow us to face the consequences of our sins at times, God still cares for us. And even if we sin, He is still faithful. This is a key part of the Gospel message to us.

God is the author of your story. He has a plan and a purpose for you that is greater than you could dream up or imagine.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8  


What can we learn from Leah’s story?

Her dignity and status rest on what God does for her, not on her husband’s love or lack of it.

The memory of Leah was used as a well-known blessing for Ruth.  “The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).

Leah had imperfections, but in spite of those, God used them to build the house of Israel.

We can learn from Leah’s faith in God and from her trials. God is the giver of all good gifts. Leah always gave credit to God and His providence. When she felt alone and unloved, she prayed and trusted in God, and He was there to help. She held on to hope and saw that God was blessing her.

God was faithful in giving her an endowment of children – an inheritance.

This story is also filled with comparisons. God has the best-unexpected gifts in life for us, but comparison keeps our eyes on ourselves and causes us to miss what’s happening right in front of us.  Sometimes it is easier to look back and see God’s hand in a particular season than it is to see Him moving in the moment.

How have you personally experienced the consequences of
comparison?  In what areas of your life are you prone to compare with others?

Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. It is easy to look at others and think they have it all.

“Why them and not me?”

But, we don’t see everything as God does. He sees the whole picture and chooses what is best for us.

“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness, secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:3


Lord, thank you for the beauty that you give me that never vanishes but blooms eternally. Help me to be desperate to have faith and hope just as Leah did. Help me to trust Your ultimate plan, even when I don’t understand.