The Battles of the Brides

As part of the Year of the Family and the Year of St Joseph, and following on from the experience of Lent, we propose to continue with a series on biblical couples and how their experience can be a foundation and an example for our families today.

Photo : Jacob venant trouver les filles de Laban de Louis Gauffier (XVIIIe) – © Via WIKIMEDIA COMMON

In the Philippines, we have this expression “Hating Kapatid!”. It means two siblings share the same good, or even a rare case of sharing the same husband! That happens to Leah and Rachel at the latter part of the book of Genesis, who share the same husband named Jacob.
Jacob, the son of Rebekkah is known for his trickery against his brother Esau and their father Isaac! Because of family conflicts, Jacob runs away filled with worries in life! God leads him to his uncle Laban’s place where he meets Rachel, who captures his heart!

If Jacob is able to trick his father and brother, Laban is trickier than Jacob! Laban has two daughters named Leah (older) and Rachel. Laban gives Jacob permission for his daughter Rachel to be the wife. However one day, Laban makes Jacob drunk and tells Leah to sleep with Jacob! After learning this trickery, Jacob is very furious because he loves Rachel very much! It has been a culture that the older daughter should marry first and always the father decides! But Jacob does not give up his love for Rachel. He works another seven years to have her as his wife!

In Genesis 29 to 31, there is a twisted rivalry of the story! Leah conceives six sons namely: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and a daughter Dinah. Out of Rachel’s disparity, she asks Bilhah to sleep with Jacob. Bilhah gives him two sons Dan and Napthali. Leah is not content yet! So she asks Zilpah whom Gad and Asher is born! And finally God hears the plea of Rachel to have sons named Joseph and Benjamin.

While on the surface, it may seem that the children of Jacob are the result of struggles, strategies, and negotiations! But on the brighter side, this is the result of God’s blessing. As it recalls in Psalm 127: 3 says that “indeed, the children are a blessing from the Lord”. Sadly, Laban has put his daughters into trouble. Despite bearing Jacob six sons, Leah feels unloved by him while Rachel competes with her sister. While Bilhah and Zilpah (no dialogue) serve as pawns between the battles of the two sisters.

Thus, this particular story tells us that the blessings on our family are gifts from the Lord and we should rely on His blessings. Trickery could be a way to show God’s wisdom in our lives like Jacob. God hears the broken-hearted and unloved like Leah. God uses disparate moments for Rachel as well as the presence of internal family conflicts among their children! But despite all the struggles and deceptions, Jacob and his family remain faithful to God. Jacob becomes Israel and his sons become the twelve patriarchs of the tribes, one of which becomes the forefather of our Lord Jesus Christ! May this story of Jacob inspire us more to do good and to remain open for God’s wisdom in our lives!  

Bro. Mark-Vincent Madronero
Denfert-Rochereau, Paris