weary, the eldest daughter of Laban, and sister of Rachel ( Genesis 29:16 ). Jacob took her to wife through a deceit of her father ( Genesis 29:23 ). She was "tender-eyed" (17). She bore to Jacob six sons (32-35), also one daughter, Dinah ( 30:21 ). She accompanied Jacob into Canaan, and died there before the time of the going down into Egypt ( Genesis 31 ), and was buried in the cave of Machpelah ( 49:31 ).
(wearied ), the daughter of Laban. ( Genesis 29:16 ) The dullness or weakness of her eyes was so notable that it is mentioned as a contrast to the beautiful form and appearance of her younger sister Rachel. Her father took advantage of the opportunity which the local marriage rite afforded to pass her off in her sisters stead on the unconscious bridegroom, and excused himself to Jacob by alleging that the custom of the country forbade the younger sister to be given first in marriage. Jacobs preference of Rachel grew into hatred of Leah after he had married both sisters. Leah, however, bore to him in quick succession Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, then Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah, before Rachel had a child. She died some time after Jacob reached the south country in which his father Isaac lived. She was buried in the family grave in Machpelah, near Hebron. ( Genesis 49:31 ) (B.C. about 1720.)
le'-a (le'ah; Leia, "weary," "dull"(?), "wild cow"):
Rachel's sister, and the elder daughter of Laban (Genesis 29:16). We are told that her eyes were "tender" rakkoth). Gesenius renders it "weak," Septuagint astheneis; accordingly, she was weak-eyed, but by no means "blear-eyed" (compare Vulgate). Her eyes were lacking that luster which always and everywhere is looked upon as a conspicuous part of female beauty. Josephus (Ant., I, xix, 7) says of her, ten opsin ouk euprepe, which may safely be rendered, "she was of no comely countenance."
Leah became the wife of Jacob by a ruse on the part of her father, taking advantage of the oriental custom of heavily veiling the prospective bride. When taken to task by his irate son-in-law, Laban excused himself by stating it was against the rule of the place "to give the younger before the first-born" (Genesis 29:21-26). Although Rachel was plainly preferred by Jacob to Leah, still the latter bore him six sons:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (Genesis 29:31), Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah (Genesis 30:17-21). Up to this time Rachel had not been blessed with children of her own. Thus the lesson is brought home to us that Yahweh has a special and kindly regard for the lowly and despised, provided they learn, through their troubles and afflictions, to look to Him for help and success. It seems that homely Leah was a person of deep-rooted piety and therefore better suited to become instrumental in carrying out the plans of Yahweh than her handsome, but worldly-minded, sister Rachel.
When Jacob decided to return to the "land of his fathers," both of his wives were ready to accompany him (Genesis 31:4,14). Before they reached the end of their journey their courage was sorely tried at the time of the meeting between Jacob and his brother Esau. Although Leah was placed between the handmaids in the front, and Rachel with her son Joseph in the rear, she still cannot have derived much comfort from her position. We may well imagine her feeling of relief when she saw Esau and his 400 men returning to Seir (Genesis 33:2,16).
According to Genesis 49:31, Leah was buried at Machpelah. We cannot know for a certainty that she died before Jacob's going down to Egypt, though it is very likely. If she went down with her husband and died in Egypt, he had her body sent to the family burying-place. Ruth 4:11 discloses the fact that her memory was not forgotten by future generations. When Boaz took Ru for a wife the witnesses exclaimed, "Yahweh make the woman that is come into thy house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel."
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