Read: Genesis 29:21-30
Reflect: Things take a sharp turn for Jacob after his 7 years of service. His father-in-law sees an opportunity to marry off Leah and takes it. I have to wonder if Laban was lazy or simply couldn’t find anyone willing to marry poor Leah. Regardless he’s sneaky about the whole thing.
“21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my [f]time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not [g]the practice in our place to [h]marry off the younger before the firstborn.27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” “
Now I’ve been taught at times that Jacob was married to Leah for 7 years and then married Rachel. But scripture is clear, these marriages were a week apart. Poor Leah, barely a bride and already second place.
“31 Now the Lord saw that Leah was [j]unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son and named him[k]Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has [l]seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the Lord has [m]heard that I am[n]unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become [o]attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will [p]praise the Lord.” Therefore she named him [q]Judah. Then she stopped bearing.”
So here’s the interesting twist. Leah is the one who is able to get pregnant, regardless of the fact that Jacob loved Rachel more. We read here of 4 sons born to Jacob. This in itself fulfilled God’s promise. Leah was certainly in a wilderness season at this point wasn’t she? She says that she is unloved. She has accepted her state in the marriage and dutily gives Jacob his sons yet still hopes to have a connection with her husband.
Genesis 30:1-24 shows a bit of the dirty side of this marriage set up. The ladies seem to be competing for sons and Jacob isn’t revealing himself to be any kind of a leader in the mess. Finally in v22-24 Rachel has a baby! Joseph is born and he will play a bigger in a little while, but for now, we see that Leah is no longer the only wife bearing sons.
Record: What are your thoughts on the whole Rachel and Leah situation? What do we know about each woman straight from scripture? Ex: Rachel was a shepherdess Leah had weak eyes.
Write out all the sons in order and any descriptions given of them. Note which mother they came from as well.
What are you thinking of Jacob right now?
Review: I’m not sure how I stumbled across the story of Leah. I think it was because Jacob and Isaac were both on my list of possible names. For whatever reason, perhaps a whisper from God, 29v34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi.
And there it was, our second child would be named Levi. He would be the child that would not tear us apart, he would be the child who attached us together, as a family. For without this child who was coming in God’s timing, our family would not be complete. A choice had to be made, a choice to not allow my fears and anger to ruin my marriage, or my family. Levi’s name was answering a question that had silently hung over us for months. I had no sooner settled on this name when the time came to meet our son, at 33 weeks pre-eclempsia began again, HELLPS syndrome and this time, the cornfield hospital was not equipped to help.
Magnesium, vitamin K, adjusting my thyroid medicine, nothing was going to stop the contractions. My mother made a 4 hour drive in 3 to be with Elijah as Ordell and I made the trip an hour away to the closest hospital I could safely deliver in. Our birth plan was thrown out the window the second we met our new doctors. The next day, with my liver being stressed even more, and what felt like pints of blood drawn, we were moved to a private room where labor was induced. Having been through this not all that long ago, my body cooperated a bit more, and within 36 more hours I was ready to push. 34 weeks and 5 days was too early to have a baby, so we were wheeled into an operating room with a team waiting to do whatever would be needed to aid Levi after birth. With dozens of students staring and the attending having just a toe in the room Levi entered the world on his own terms. A quick glance and he was whisked away. We watched as a team behind glass we could not hear as they assessed our child.
A blood draw the next morning revealed things had gotten worse. Post Postpartum Preeclampsia had set in, and my liver was in danger of rupturing or failing. This news was surprising, as I was feeling better than I had felt in weeks. A blood draw was ordered for later that evening and as my numbers continued to climb some serious conversations began. What exactly was happening and how could it be stopped? Was there a timeline to fix things? What would happen with Levi while I was healing? In the middle of all the chaos our preemie baby was beginning to feel the effects of his mama being on Magnesium the previous week and would not wake nor eat at all. Rapidly dropping weight, the pediatrician began to press me to formula feed. Fighting doctors, nurses, fear, exhaustion, I was feeling completely overwhelmed. I had bruises covering my arms from multiple blood draws each day, I was exhausted from all that was going on, and at home my sweet Elijah was with my mom, trying hard to communicate as only a 20 month old can. The phone call I remember the clearest was when my mom said Elijah was obviously hungry, he kept going to the fridge and asking for an apple. She would get one and he would give it back, again asking for an apple. At the time, apple meant food to Elijah. So it became a guessing game at each meal for my mom. Ok, you want an apple. Do you mean you want cereal? Eggs? Chicken nuggets?
Because we had no idea when I would be discharged and Levi was doing well, I decided it would be best for Ordell to head home and relieve my mom. I gave him a list of things to bring back with him when he came to visit, and within a few hours I found myself face to face with my new baby. He was awake only briefly, often sleeping through diaper changes and feedings, so it was easy to just leave him in the isolate. I’m not sure if it was guilt, mother’s instinct or a combination that moved me to hold that boy, but I realized at some point I needed to try to bond with this little man who had turned my world completely upside down. It was a conscious choice to begin mothering him. I began to notice that this baby had a serious side to him. When he was awake he would stare deep into my eyes. I would talk to him, and it seemed the more I tried to smile, the deeper his stare would be. At some point I remembered an afghan I had begun to crochet for him, but hadn’t finished. I called Ordell and added it to the list of things to bring. I remember him asking me, are you sure you don’t want anything else? “Like what?” I asked. “Your Bible?” “Oh, sure, bring it.”
That evening, alone in the hospital I began to focus on God for the first time in days. I thanked Him for protecting Levi and keeping him healthy. I also asked for healing for myself. I asked to be able to mother my sweet boys together. I was desperately missing Elijah, and post-partum hormones were strong. I cried myself to sleep, at least until the next feeding. I could not remember a time previously where I had felt so lonely, which was saying a lot considering the last months had been filled with loneliness.