The great Christian songwriter Rich Mullins once wrote a song entitled “Jacob and Two Women”, which begins as such:
Jacob, he loved Rachel
And Rachel, she loved him
And Leah was just there for dramatic effect
Well, it’s right there in the Bible
So it must not be a sin
But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick
A dirty trick indeed, when you think of it. Jacob basically agreed to work for his uncle Laban as a ranch hand for seven years without any wages, his only payment to be the bride of his choice: Rachel. Laban agreed to the deal, and after the seven years was up he threw a lavish wedding feast for the happy couple, but when it came time for the wedding night, he broke the contract and substituted the bride.
Poor Jacob. Seven years of labor for the woman of his dreams, and he wakes up in the morning next to Leah — she who was described as “well, she had nice eyes.” When he confronted his father-in-law, he was given excuses, and then told he could have his intended bride after all… for another seven years of hard labor with no pay. What a rip-off.
And poor Rachel. I can’t imagine that she was in on Laban’s plan all along. She must have been at the wedding celebration, expecting to be brought to her new husband’s tent that night… only to be held back and told Leah was going in her place.
But I can’t feel too sorry for Rachel, really. She was the one who was loved. I have a soft spot for the underdog, and clearly in this story, Leah is the underdog — the one with nice eyes and a good personality, but who gets passed over for her prettier and more popular little sister.
I think God has a soft spot for the underdog, too. Rachel’s son Joseph was his father’s favorite, but the lineage through which all the earth would be blessed would come through Judah, son of the unloved and the unlovely.
Don’t we all feel a bit like Leah sometimes? Overlooked for the more talented, the more beautiful… unloved… unwanted. Leah, however, provided Jacob with a blessing that he wasn’t originally looking for, and her line of descendents provided the hope of the world.
Others may not be expecting much from you. You may not be the best looking of your family, or the best voice in the choir, or your boss’s favorite employee… but you have a contribution to make, and you may never know exactly how important it will be.