Teens of the BIble: Leah

Leah's Story:

As a teen of the Bible, Leah was never the favorite daughter, and she knew it. We are told at the start of her story that she was the less attractive of Laban's daughter. In Genesis 29 she is described as having "weak" or "delicate" eyes. While she was the older sister, it was Rachel that caught Jacob's eye, and it was Rachel that Jacob sought to marry.

So Jacob went to Laban and asked to marry Rachel.

He served Laban for 7 years in order to pay for Rachel's dowry. Yet, after the 7 years, Laban deceitfully gave Leah to Jacob in marriage instead of Rachel. Laban's excuse? That he would not give his younger daughter before his elder one. So Jacob served for another 7 years to marry the daughter he really wanted.

It does not say that Jacob did not love Leah, but that he loved Rachel more. Yet God saw that Leah was not as loved as Rachel, so he gave her the ability to conceive while Rachel remained barren. Leah was sure to name her children in ways that represented her situation and how God responded. Reuben's name sounds like "he has seen my misery," Simeon's name means "one who hears," Levi's name was derived from the word for "attached," and Judah's name means "praise."

Lessons from Leah as a Teenager:

Leah's name means "tired and weary." Her name is fitting. She had 7 children that all grew up to be heads of the tribes of Israel.

She had to live with the constant and unmet desired to be loved by her husband over her sister, then face unending disappointment when Jacob chose Rachel over her. What made Leah's life better was that she turned it all over to God. She relied on God to get her through.

  • Need to be loved. Leah, like all of us had a desire to be loved. Some of us feel the desire to be loved in romantic relationships, while others feel a desire to be loved by friends or family. Many also struggle with a desire for God's love. When we feel loved it's warm and comfortable - and easy to take for granted. Yet at no point is the desire to be loved unnatural. In the time Leah grew up, girls were often married to men for business purposes, not love. Yet Leah desired that love and instead ended up married to a man who loved her sister more. To Jacob's credit, the bible is clear that he did feel some affection for Leah, but he loved Rachel more. We must be careful not to pick and choose or not show love to people around us. That rejection can be hard for anyone to bear.
  • Disappointment happens. As we read about Leah's disappointment in being married to a man who clearly favored her sister, we surely feel her pain. We all experience disappointment in life. While some disappointments come from everyday things, the most cutting and hurtful disappointments come when others disappoint us. We need to be careful that our expectations are not set too high, but even when they are realistic, people disappoint. Leah faced that disappointment daily when she watched her sister be favored by their husband. What Leah teaches us, though, is not to let that disappointment fester and turn into harmful anger or jealousy. Instead, she turns that disappointment over to God.
  • Making good decisions. Disappointment can be harmful if we don't work through it and turn our situations over to God. Leah could have become bitter and angry at Rachel, Jacob, and God. She could have retreated into herself and turned away from the Lord. Yet, instead she chose to be a good wife. She chose to turn over her tears and disappointment to God, who blessed her with many children. Life is far from perfect, and we see in Leah that no one's life is perfect. Yet God allows us to make it as best we can with what we have. In those moments we are truly blessed.