So Jacob slept with Rachel too and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved he enabled her to have children. But Rachel could not conceive. -Genesis 29: 30-31
This story in the Bible trips me up big time. I honestly don’t know what to make of it all. From my vantage point living as a thoroughly western, married woman in 2013 this story provokes an incredulous “WHAT!?” in my gut. I know there are scholarly explanations for the cultural differences in those times, women were property, it was all about offspring, tribal clans, blah blah. But these people were still people. They still had the desire to be loved and valued.
All I know is that as I illustrated this over the course of a day or two I was flooded with compassion for everyone in this crazy situation. How much would it suck to have to share your husband with your sister? How hard would it have been to be Leah? To be passed over for your younger sister and then be used by your father as a trick? To watch your husband love, really love someone else while giving him a bunch of sons. How much would it suck to be Rachel? To be loved but have to struggle with infertility- especially when her sister is popping them out one after the other. As if that wasn’t enough this story gets all kinds of crazy when the maidservants come into play and Jacob sleeps with them and has even more babies. And then, after all that, Rachel is able to conceive? All I can say is no wonder Joseph, favored son of Rachel, was sold into slavery by his older brothers! I mean- that’s some major drama in one family. The take away for me was that God has seen it all and manages to work through us anyways. Yeesh.