The Ballestero Blog

"That's what I'm talking about!"

My Name Is Leah

with 11 comments

 

leah-wface

My Name Is Leah

My name is Leah and I am the oldest daughter of Laban. My sister, Rachel, is younger than I and everyone says she is very beautiful. She was the village favorite. (Gen 29:17) When visitors first meet us, they seem to be smitten by her beauty and repulsed when they look at me. I’m not beautiful and I’ve had to live with that all my life.

The lives of our whole family changed however, when Jacob arrived in our village. He looked travel worn and he was penniless. My father told us that his family was originally from our village and was well respected.

I saw immediately that Jacob was smitten by the looks of Rachel. I had expected that. Everyone noticed how he looked in her direction and tried to catch her eye if he could. He immediately asked my dad for a job and worked tending to our cattle.

I was crushed when I realized he wanted to marry my sister. I cried sometimes when I could be alone. It seemed like romance was for everyone but me. Jacob bargained with dad to work seven years for Rachel to be his bride. Jacob courted her and I tried to mind my own business and stay out of their way. They were so much in love. Love for me was always a one-way street. No one loved me back.

The wedding was a big celebration! All our relatives and the whole village came. My father sat Rachel and me down for a very private talk prior to the wedding. He informed Rachel that he had a plan. He said that adhering to the village custom of marrying off the oldest daughter first was a custom to be honored, and that rightly I should be the bride. (Gen 29:26) Dad said that he didn’t think Jacob would leave anyway and that he felt he would hang around long enough to marry the both of us. Rachel was crestfallen. I was surprised and happy. We were all unsure of Jacob’s reaction to me when he found out the truth, but planned to go ahead with the switch.

We pulled it off too. At the wedding, I was ecstatic and scared at the same time and afraid to look at Rachel because I felt her disappointment. It was evident to me that my sister truly began to hate and despise me. I stole her man. Although she was beautiful, she was bitter, and envious. I felt the full force of her hatred. Our bond of sisterhood stood on rocky ground.

The next morning Jacob woke up and looked at my face for the first time in the light of day. I cannot describe the shock and utter disappointment in his eyes. Maybe it was more akin to disgust. I can never fully explain the feeling of being married to a man who doesn’t love you. All you can think about is him and all he can think about is another woman.

Jacob made a covenant with my father to work seven more years for Rachel. He intended to marry us both.

I named my children according to the conditions of my marital status at the times of their births.

 

Rueben

I named my first son, Reuben. His name means, “Behold a son. The Lord has seen (in Hebrew ra’ah) my affliction” and “now my husband will love me (ye’ehabani)”(Genesis 29:32). I praised God for showing me this favor. I could hold my head up in the village. All would know that I had given my husband a son. I was now considered a worthy wife. It was as though God had seen that I was unloved and He opened my womb.

Rachel showed her true self again. I thought surely now Jacob will love me. But no, it didn’t change a thing. Rachel’s love toward me seemed to be gone. Jacob saved all his sweet words for her. They were lost in each other’s worlds.

All I did was cook, clean, take care of the baby and look after my husbands needs. I certainly never felt loved or cherished. I was only there for the needs of the man. My own needs were not to be considered. Ever.

 

Simeon

When my second child was born, it was a boy. I named him, Simeon because “the Lord heard (shama) that I was unloved”(Genesis 29:33). It was no secret that my husband didn’t love me. I guess my only purpose was to provide him with sons.

God knew my sorrow and tried to comfort me. I cried much and kept to myself. There was little benefit for me to make myself available to Jacob in social settings. I was not his trophy wife. I was treated as a second-class wife. He would not walk me around the village and show me off. I felt like a second-class wife because I wasn’t beautiful. Jacob was evidently too foolish to see beyond the face. I stayed in the tent and cared for the babies.

 

Levi

In the process of time I realized I was to have another child. My third baby was also a boy. I named him Levi thinking “this time my husband will become attached (yillaweh) to me”(Genesis 29:34).

All I ever wanted was for him to love me and to show it by saying something sweet or doing something nice. It never happened.

I knew that feeling sorry for myself was not doing me any good. I started thinking and realized that God had been gracious to me through it all. Was my world perfect? No. Not that I could see or feel, yet I believed God was good. He had blessed me and given me sons. I may not have the beauty of my sister, but I made up my mind to be a good wife and a good mother of our children and to be beautiful on the inside.

I learned to turn my face toward Jehovah and thank Him for what I did have instead of focusing on what I didn’t.

 

Judah

My fourth son’s name had nothing to do with my relationship with my husband. I named him Judah because I had made up my mind, “this time I will praise (odeh) the Lord”(Genesis 29:35).

After I had our four children, Jacob’s next two sons were born to Rachel’s maid Bilhah. She had given her handmaid to Jacob out of desperation. I felt sorry for her, so I then gave Jacob my own maid, Zilpah, as a concubine. Zilpah gave him two sons, Gad and Asher.

 

Issachar

One time, during a harvest, Reuben brought me some mandrakes. Rachel wanted them and said that if I gave them to her she would let me have her night to sleep with Jacob in exchange. After that, my fifth son was born. I named him Issachar. It means, “He will bring a reward.” (Genesis 30:14-18)

As a mother I can tell that although Jacob is kind to my children, he doesn’t dote on them. It makes my heart hurt. Maybe when he looks on them, they remind him of me. If he can’t love me, then my prayer is that he would love our sons.

 

The Stolen Idols

The relationship between my husband and my father turned really sour. Jacob told me that the last time he looked at my dad, he could tell that things between them had drastically changed by the expression on his face, (Gen 31:2) and that the Lord had spoken to him and told him we must leave here immediately.

When Rachel heard the news, and knowing that father just left with the sheep, she went into his tent and stole his gods. We left in the middle of the night and we were gone three days before my dad found out. But when he found out he was very angry and chased hard after us. It took him almost week to finally catch up.

He hollered and yelled loud at Jacob accusing him of everything he could think of. He wanted to know why we had left and when he found out that it was because we didn’t trust him and that he was dishonest, he really got mad.

Jacob told dad, “Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.” (Gen 31:41)

Dad said we had stolen his gods. Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had hidden them in her tent. He gave dad permission to search everyone’s tent and all their possessions and look for his gods. He never found them because his little pet, the baby of the family was sly. Rachel sat on a pile of carpets that hid the idols and told Dad she couldn’t get up because she was “after the manner of women.” She just batted her big brown eyes at him and he smiled back and never made her move.

The idols were not found, so my father and my husband piled up a heap of stones and made a covenant of friendship, and then he kissed us girls and the grandchildren a final goodbye and departed, leaving us to live in peace.

 

The Coming Of Esau

Jacob shared many stories about his boyhood. Evidently, he and his brother, Esau were total opposites. He told us about his father becoming old and going blind. Custom was that the oldest son inherited two thirds of the father’s goods and the rest of the children equally divided up the remaining third.

Jacob said that one day he caught Esau at a weak moment and bartered with him for his birthright. The problem was in getting the birthright blessing from the father. His father doted on Esau because of his prowess as a hunter and outdoorsman. But, Jacob was his mother’s pet. When it was time to receive the blessing, she helped him deceive his father and obtain the birthright blessing prayer.

He had to leave home immediately because when Esau found out that his birthright had been stolen, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. Now, word just arrived after all these years that Esau was indeed coming for him with a mighty army of soldiers threatening to kill him.

Jacob said that we were all to cross over the ford Jabbok and wait while he stayed there to pray. He fervently prayed and an Angel came and began to wrestle with him. They wrestled all night long. Finally the Angel begged to be let go but Jacob said that he wouldn’t let him go until he got a blessing from him.

The angel said that he was changing his name. He would now be called, Israel, because he would now have power with God and with men. (Gen. 32:28)

The Angel smote Jacob on the thigh to break his hold. It forever affected how he walked from then on. He limped for the rest of his life.

In the morning when we arose, we saw Jacob hurriedly limping towards us. He said that Esau was coming and there would no doubt be bloodshed. He divided up the children putting the animals, the servants and their children first.

He then put my children and me next, because we too were more expendable. But, he kept Rachel and her son at the back with him. He may lose the rest of us but he wanted to keep her alive. It was very plain where I stood with him even after all these years. (Gen 33:2)

When Esau came and confronted us, Jacob humbled himself and sent him large gifts. Before long the two ran towards each other, fell on each other’s necks and kissed. I took my children toward Esau and we bowed down before him in respect. All ended peaceable. We were certainly relieved and after the meeting and we all gave thanks unto God.

 

Zebulun

My next son, I named Zebulun. He was to be my last boy. His name means to dwell. He was Jacob’s tenth son and my sixth. I later had a daughter, whom I named Dinah, before Rachel gave birth to her first child.

 

Joseph

When Rachel gave birth to her little Joseph, Jacob was beside himself with joy. He showed that baby more attention than he ever had to all of the others. The children could all tell that Joseph was his favorite.

All we heard around the tent from Jacob was news about Joseph. He doted on him. The other children watched wistfully knowing that they were not loved like that. He made special clothes for him and gave him gifts that were better than he gave to my sons.

Rachel seemed to feel like nothing was wrong with Jacob giving so much attention to her son and very little to his other ten sons.

 

The Trip To Bethel

Jacob said that God had told him that we were all to return to the Bethel. Jacob said that we were to wash and be clean, change our clothes, and put away our idols. So, all of our family and our servants did as he asked. We knew the worship of our gods required the wearing of earrings, so we gave them to Jacob along with our gods. (Gen 35:1-4; Hosea 2:13) He took what we gave him and buried all of it under the big oak tree in Shechem.

We traveled on to Bethel, the place where God first met with our husband. The first thing Jacob did was to build an altar and offer up a sacrifice of repentance. God accepted his prayers and blessed him. It was there that his mother’s nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried at Bethel. Jacob grieved hard because she was his last living connection with his mother and father.

 

Benjamin

When we left Bethel, Rachel went into labor. She died giving birth to her second son. It was so tragic. We were in shock. Before she died, Rachel named her son Benoni (“son of my mourning”), but Jacob called him Benjamin. (Gen. 35:18)

Rachel had passionately said, Give me children, or else I die; and now that she had children, she died!

Jacob made no attempt to bury Rachel with his family like I thought he would do since he loved her so much. He just buried her beside the highway and placed a marker on her lonely grave. If he would bury his favorite wife beside the road at the first available spot, where would he bury me? Would I too be given a roadside burial?

After Rachel died, Jacob replaced her bed, which was beside his, with her handmaiden Bilhah’s bed. It so infuriated my son Rueben that he overturned Bilhah’s bed and rebuked his father. Jacob never forgot that moment and mentioned it on the day he pronounced blessings and prayers upon his sons. (Gen. 49:3-4)

 

Epilogue

Leah’s outward appearance may have been unattractive to others, but God was attracted to her because of her inward beauty. He chose her. It was Leah, not Rachel, who bore Judah, and it was through his bloodline that the Savior was born.

After Rachel’s death, Leah carried on as the wife of Jacob, and the mother of his many children, living in Canaan. The Bible does not say when she died, but Leah is buried in the family burial tomb of Machpelah, beside her husband Jacob with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 49:29-31). Leah was loved too late. Her real beauty unnoticed most of her life. Yet, in her death and burial she was shown great honor and respect.

 

The Life Lesson Of Leah

Sometimes in life we wake up to the very thing we don’t want. Life doesn’t always give you a Rachel. Although you find it difficult to love the “Ugly Leah Situation” that is forever connected to you, it just may wind up being your greatest life blessing. Surprisingly, you may find yourself saying the words, “I love you” to the very thing you once hated.

The Leah in your life never changed, you did. Her beauty wasn’t on the outside, so no one took the time to see what God could see all along. Leah was beautiful where it counted the most. She was beautiful on the inside. Don’t hate your “Leah”; she is God’s gift to you. Do not despise the ugly thing in life that you suddenly have to wake up to. Your “Leah” may be a bad Doctor’s Report, a Financial Disaster, a Broken Marriage, a Physical Disability or even Heartache. Embrace it. It just may be a gift from God to you!

 

Written by Martyn Ballestero

July 8, 2016 at 11:15 am

11 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is powerful on so many levels. Thank you, Elder.

    Jen Lord

    July 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm

  2. Just heard a message preached on Rachel and Leah. Awesome and inspiring.

    Shirley Wasmundt

    July 8, 2016 at 4:36 pm

  3. Powerful – thank you for sharing. Love you Dad!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    pastorballestero@newdestinywc.com

    July 9, 2016 at 12:18 am

  4. How about a different view. Jacob loved the one who hated him and cared little for one who loved him.
    Sorry I missed seeing ya at Legacy.
    Jesus made you and you dad pillars.
    Keep holding the roof up.

    Bro. Taylor

    July 9, 2016 at 12:28 am

  5. Oh my Jesus!! This is so amazing!! Thank you !! Brought me to tears!! Thank you Jesus for ” my Leah”!!

    Cynthia Whaley

    July 9, 2016 at 9:01 am

  6. Love this!

    Debbie

    July 9, 2016 at 9:56 am

  7. thank you for the great message !!! got a lessons of Leah’s life…Praise the LORD…

    Zangga Canoy

    July 9, 2016 at 10:43 am

  8. Amazingly told!! I loved this blog!! Thank you so much!!

    Carlene

    July 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm

  9. Reminds me of the message “The Cave of Couples” by Pastor Philip White! Beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you brother

    Stephanie

    July 11, 2016 at 6:11 pm

  10. Beautiful and powerful. Thank you for the message May the Lord bless you more, Brother Ballestero.

    Sister Rocy

    September 27, 2016 at 12:22 pm

  11. Just another revelation! Yes, “Leah” a must love experience. Truthfully told! God bless Elder!

    Jennylyn L. Diones

    May 2, 2017 at 8:31 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: