Lessons from … Leah?

Often when the life of Jacob, his wives and children (Gen. 29:16-35) are studied, Leah is overlooked; perhaps for the same reason that she was overlooked by Jacob, he loved Rachel. So we focus on that love, not on the rejected one.

In Genesis 29, Jacob sees and immediately falls in love with Rachel when he meets her at the same well where Eliezer met Rebecca (Gen. 29:11-12); and after Jacob meets Laban, and it is decided that he will stay. Laban then inquires as to the expected wages, Jacob asks to work for Rachel.

He offers seven (7) years of labor, an extraordinary price, when the normal dowry would be perhaps a month of wages. If we read carefully, Laban never agrees, he just says “It’s better that I give her to you than I give her to another man.” Jacob interprets this as approval to the offer, and perhaps we would as well.

Of course, we all know that Jacob is swindled; and Leah is given in place of Rachel first, but note the language once again, “It’s not done so in our place – to give the younger before the firstborn.” The Torah notes (Gen. 29:30) that Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah, he hates her because he is disappointed in her.

In Genesis 29:17, Leah is described as having weak eyes, while Rachel is described as being beautiful in form and appearance. Rachel is pretty and sexually desirable, and Jacob longs for her. The commentators have struggled with the reference to Leah’s eyes being רַכּוֹת, meaning “weak or tender.” The rabbis comment that her eyes are either crossed, or they protruded. Today she might described as “homely,” as her eyes are referenced in comparison to Rachel’s beauty.

In fact, it is speculated by the rabbis that Laban believes the only way he will get someone to marry her is by tricking them. This he did to Jacob.

How would, and how did, this make Leah feel? How would you feel?

Genesis 29:31, “Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, so he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive.”

וַיַּרְא יְהוָה כִּי-שְׂנוּאָה לֵאָה, וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת-רַחְמָהּ

To paraphrase, “The Lord saw that Leah was hated, so he opened the doorway of mercy for her.” He opened her womb for children. The word translated “womb” in this verse is not בֶּטֶן/ beṭen, meaning belly or womb, but רחם/reḥem, from the root mercy.” פתח/peṯaḥ, meaning door, open wide, doorway. By the birth of her children, the Lord opened the door of mercy for this unloved woman; but there is deeper healing happening.

She begins to have sons:

1. Reuben – “see a son.” “The Lord has seen that I am hated; and now my husband will love me.” Leah references both the Lord and Jacob.

2. Shimon – “hearing.” The Lord has heard that I am hated.” She mentions only the Lord.

3. Levi – “attached/joined to.” “Now this time my husband will join himself to me…” No mention of the Lord, only Jacob.

4. Judah – “celebrate/praise.” “This time I praise the Lord.” Judah signifies raising or lifting the hands in praise. “This time…” Leah has a heart adjustment.

At the beginning Leah uses the name of the Lord, יהוה, the covenant name of grace and mercy, not the generic Elohim (God), to influence Jacob to love her. Why? Leah believed Jacob to be her savior, just as Jacob believed Rachel was his savior.

We learn two important lessons:

1. If we fix our eyes on the who or what we believe is the source of our acceptance in life, bitterness will be a lingering reality.

2. If you fix our heart on Rachel, whatever form that might take, you will always wake up with a Leah, in disappointment.

Leah was overlooked, but in the end she praised the Lord, why?

Perhaps she knew, just as Jacob would reveal prophetically in Genesis 48 as he blesses his sons, that the King would come through her – and that that King would be the true Bridegroom. She experienced in her own life, all that He would be and ultimately heal.

The parallels: Leah wasn’t beautiful, in fact she was homely. Leah was unwanted. Leah was overlooked. Leah was unloved. Leah was rejected.

Yeshua/Jesus wasn’t beautiful or desirable (Isa. 53:2/Jn. 1:10). He was unwanted (Isa.53:3/Jn. 1:11). He was overlooked (Isa. 53:3/Lk. 4:22). He was unloved (Isa. 53:4/Lk. 23:21). He was rejected (Isa. 53:3/Lk. 22:55-62).

He became weak, ugly, unwanted, unloved, rejected, lonely and ultimately died in order to bear these burdens that we all feel and experience.

He bore these in order that those receiving Him will experience the relationship of praise that Leah ultimately experienced when she stopped allowing idolatry to steal her life, and we learn that our acceptance by Him is not based on our merit, but on faith working in righteousness that exchanged our filthy garments for His beautiful robe of righteousness.

Nothing for Jacob, Rachel, Leah or us will ever satisfy, but the Lord. That illusive “it” will never come. The one true love that will fill all our needs is not a man or a woman or career, but the Lord.

This family was a mess, but the Lord still planned and purposed for the Messiah to come from that mess. Sure Leah wasn’t as beautiful as Rachel, but in the eyes of the Lord, Who showed her mercy and love, she was perfect when she began to praise Him.

In the end, Leah was more loved, more accepted, more blessed than she could have ever imagined, even with the weakness of her natural eyes, she beheld the real beauty of her Savior, and she praised Him.

Be well. Shalom.

The Wisdom of Many Worries

Everyone has stress. Have you ever had one or two unexpected things pop up that lead to a day or days of stress or inconvenience? Maybe: your car broke down? your hot water heater stopped working? an unexpected financial issue? With the “extras” piled on, you just want things to get back to “normal.”

There is an old Yiddish blessing that says:

‎זאל איר זיין ברוך מיט פילע דאגות/zal ir zeyn brukh mit file dagus.


“May you be blessed with many worries.”

At first glance this sounds terrible, but there is wisdom here. To have “many worries” was to be living a normal life with regular, daily cares. In other words, your life had not been overwhelmed by one terrible concern – a death, or serious illness as examples.

Messiah Yeshia/Jesus tells His followers to “not worry” about tomorrow because today has enough worry of it’s own (Matt. 6:34). He is not diminishing the significance of our daily concerns, rather, He is redirecting our focus.

Today will have its troubles, but trust in the One who made today; and be grateful for the normal day:

‎זֶה-הַיּוֹם, עָשָׂה יְהוָה; נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בוֹ

“This is the day that the Lordhas made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

Messiah is directing our day, with its ups and downs, to Himself.

Be well. Shalom.

What Does Faith Look Like?

There are days when I feel that I don’t quite have this faith thing figured out; and yes, the wording is deliberate. As we are often prone to do, we look to the right, and to the left; to what he, she, or they are doing better that we, etc.

Perhaps you don’t have this type of experience, but I often feel like others have figured out something that I have yet to stumbled upon, as they seem to have the look of faithfulness.

It begs the question, what does faith look like?

In Hebrews we read:

“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:33-39).


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:1-3, 6).

We often evaluate the effectiveness of faith by outward appearances of good things, ignoring or not recognizing the negative. We assume that the absence of apparent struggle means better life, and therefore better faith, read Hebrews 10:33-34 above closely again.

I do not, however, find that appearances make an accurate barometer of what faith looks like.

The author of Hebrews reminded his audience of the trials they experienced after they came to faith in Messiah. They endured reproaches and tribulations, and often joined with others in their challenges.

He reminds them of the first things of faith, which often run contrary to public opinion and accepted intellectual ideas. He reminds them of others who have come before (Heb. 11); and finally, he explains that faith, the hoped for evidence of the things not yet seen, is the only way to please the Lord God.

He reminded them of where, and from whom they had come.

Yet, what if my experience of faith looks different than that of others? What if my life is altogether fine? Or, I seem to face trouble at every turn? What if I fall somewhere between?

I would say there is no perfect picture of what the life of faith looks like: save for Yeshua/Jesus himself. See, faith is lived within the framework of life, and life is a place of both challenges and joys, victory and setback.

In life we need endurance. The author of Hebrews reminds us that in faith we need endurance (Heb. 10:36). Endurance in faith grows as faith is exercised in every circumstance life offers, until that day, when He graduates us to glory.

Read Paul’s testimony:

“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:23-28).

If we were to measure the fruit of Paul’s faith from his own testimony, according to the expectations often applied today, he would be found wanting; but Paul was able to testify that he had run and finished the race, he had kept the faith (II Tim. 4:6-8).

See friends, faith endures because it is coupled with the hope that keeps us going when giving up would be easier: hope takes hold, and faith holds on.

Faith is not about how we feel in it, but Who we have trusted in: Messiah. He is, and must remain the object of our faithing.

So do not measure your life, or faith according to the standards of this world, or those well meaning saints who make you feel less than. Look to the examples provided in Scripture, with their ups and downs (I Cor. 11:1), remembering that your faith is in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, and in Him, our every need is met (Phil. 4:19). As He said: “follow Me.”

If you haven’t figured this “faith thing” out, don’t worry, as we follow Him, we learn it from Him (Matt. 11:28-30).

What does faith look like? Jesus.

Be well. Shalom.