Some people live for just one purpose; they fight with all their might to accomplish their life’s one single goal. Mrs Leah Jacob was the perfect example of that. Her sole lifelong ambition was to win the heart of her husband. She knew that Jacob’s heart was never hers to begin with, and that her rival had done nothing to prevent him from loving her.
Jacob’s heart simply clung to Rebecca like a new-born to breast milk. He had been irresistibly attracted to her since the very day he set his eyes on her, and for him there was no other love.
Jacob was probably still hurting from the fact that Leah had acted so cheaply by conniving with her father to rob him of the succinct pleasure of sharing his wedding night with his sweetheart- the one for whom he had laboured under intense conditions for 7 good years. Instead, he woke up to find Leah in his arms. What an unprecedented robbery! Jacob would never forgive her. Though he still got Rebecca- two wives, double pleasure after accepting to serve his father-in-law for seven extra years, he made it clear that Leah was the extra baggage that could only be tolerated, never fully accepted.
Leah wished she could make him understand that it was never her fault. Her father gave her the orders, and who was she, a common female, to defy him? It was unheard of. Besides, her scheming father had scared her to death when he had threatened that no man would ever woo her once he got to know that her younger sister had got married ahead of her. It was even a taboo- it meant that she was cursed and mangled with bad luck. He showed her what he thought was the best possible alternative, and she had no choice.
Jacob, however, was a one woman man, his heart was meant for only Rebecca; he would take care of Leah, fulfil his husbandly obligations to her and give her all she needed to meet her basic needs- but nothing more than that.
Fortune smiled on Leah early enough, she gave birth to her first child very fast- a male. She was thrilled. Now, maybe, just maybe Jacob’s heart would soften towards her and she would become more than an obligatory bed mate. She wanted to show off to her husband and the rest of her haters that she could produce. What man would not love a woman who could give him sons? Sons were the sure proof of a man’s strength. The boy was given the name ‘Reuben’ (See, a son).
Well, Jacob saw the son, but his attitude towards her was unchanged. She was so delighted when her next child turned out to be another son, whom she named ‘Simon’ (for God has heard me), the next boy she rolled out was given the name ‘Levi’ (God will now attach my husband to me), and then the next Judah (God be praised). Yet in all this, amazingly, Jacob was unmoved. He must have been happy with the sons, of course they were HIS sons, but that did not increase his affection toward Leah one inch.
Her younger sister, her rival was barren and could only look on amidst this drama; she had her husband’s love, but nothing more. Leah eventually gave birth to six sons and a daughter, yet she showed through it all that she was continuously discontent because she could not win her husband’s heart.
She even knew how to fight dirty when the need arose. There was an incident in which Reuben (Leah’s son) got some mandrakes (a kind of herb that enhances sexual activity) from his trip to the woods. Rebecca asked him to give her some of the mandrakes, and this got Leah enraged, “Isn’t it enough that you have stolen my husband’s heart, must you rob me of my son’s mandrakes too?”
Leah would only sell the mandrakes to her sister for her night in their husband’s bed. Now, that was harsh- even disgusting! One cannot but wonder what was going through Leah’s mind in all this. It’s easy to want to be sympathetic with her, we all know many a woman who has been subjected to a life of emptiness and depression because their husbands did not give them the love they deserved, but come on, how low could she sink, simply because she wanted a man’s heart?
Did her desperation come as a result of those ancient traditions? Maybe her prominence in the community was diminished because of her husband’s lack of regard for her. Maybe he took only Rachel out to functions, or was always boasting about his love for Rachel to his friends. Maybe Leah felt so boxed out, so irrelevant. Maybe people saw her as the shameless woman who wanted to snatch away her own sister’s husband on their wedding night, because she was not woman enough to win a man’s love.
Maybe Leah felt that she had to take matters to her hands, had to prove to everyone that she still had something enviable- she could produce sons! And this became the driving force for all her actions. Even when a frustrated Rachel decided to give her maid servant to her husband, so that the maid could produce the sons that she could not, and the maid servant produced two sons in rapid succession, Leah saw it as another whistle for a competition. She also handed over her poor maid servant to Jacob (who it seems had such an insatiable appetite for sex with other women!), and the girl produced two sons for Jacob.
Leah was too enveloped in her ‘husband – love’ seeking world that she forgot something very crucial- the more important role of being a mother who would raise her children in the way of the Lord. Come to think of it, her children would also have been wide-eyed spectators in this fiasco; they could see where their mother’s concern was directed, definitely not at them.
She deprived them of the motherly affection she should have shown them, and left them to grow up without the right, sound counsel, and they were all the worse for it. The facts speak for themselves; consider for instance Reuben, the first son, his father’s pride, who was caught in bed with Bilhah, Rebecca’s maid servant, his father’s third wife, and Dinah, her daughter got into an illicit sexual affair with a foreigner.
Simon and Levi were the orchestrators of the killing escapade unleashed on the city of the man who slept with their sister, when men from the city courted Jacob to make an alliance with them. Two of her grandsons were struck down by the Lord because of their wickedness and Leah’s sons connived with the rest of their step brothers to sell of their own blood- Joseph and give their father a false report that would have drowned him in misery till his dying day. In fact, it was Judah, who suggested the sale.
How did these children get to be so wicked? It is obvious that they hardly had any training in godly principles; of course Jacob also has a share in their coarse upbringing, but the blame I believe, must majorly be attributed to Leah. What did she gain at the end of the day? Where did all her love seeking efforts get her? Nothing! The Bible has nothing more to say about her, save that she gave rise to children, and sought the love of a man who would never love her back, the energy of a lifetime gone to waste.
About the writer: Tolu is a graduate of Biochemical Engineering; she is currently training to be a Mathematics Teacher. Tolu loves singing; she uses her talent for God by being a member of the Choir at her local Church. In her spare time, she likes to read Christian books; she particularly loves listening to audio Christian messages.
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