The Reading: Genesis 29:31-35
“… surely now my husband will love me” (v.32) RSV
The female ancestors of Jesus did not always have an easy life, and they weren’t always saints. Leah, however, seems to have been a good soul, though she suffered from being somewhat plain and her eyes were weak. Her husband, Jacob, had been tricked into marrying her, though he wanted to marry her beautiful younger sister, Rachel (Gen. 29:17-18). He ended up with both of them as his wives, but he loved Rachel and “hated” (v.31) Leah.
Leah found it unbearably painful to be so rejected by her husband. However, he plainly did his duty by her since she started to produce children. Because of her suffering God blessed her with fertility. She bore four boys: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. This last one was to be the line through which Jesus was born. As it says: “Lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered” (Rev. 5:5).
This fourth son was so named because ‘Judah’ in short meant: “This time I will praise the Lord” (v.35). Each of the previous children had been named with names that indicated her desperate desire to win the love and appreciation of her husband. But by the time she reached the fourth, she had found her consolation not in her husband but in her Lord. He alone could bring balm and joy to her soul. Sometimes life is very hard, and there is no consolation to be found from circumstances or people. In such circumstances the Lord alone can be our joy and our salvation.
Leah suffered from the fact that so many men tend to look on the outward appearance. But God is much more interested in the imperishable beauty of a pure heart. As Peter puts it in his letter, “… the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). Peter mentioned Jesus’ ancestor Sarah in this connection. He could also have cited Leah.
Lord, keep me from judging others by their looks or their wealth. Help me to love others as you love them. Amen.
1 Who nearly chose the wrong person to be king and why?
1 Samuel 16:6-7
2 Note how Rachel, Leah, Tamar and Ruth are connected.