eah was the first wife of Jacob, daughter of Laban and older sister of Rachel. In some translations, Leah is called Lea or Leah. Her story is written in the book of Genesis from chapter 29 to 49. The Bible describes her appearance as a woman with tender, gentle eyes, while her sister Rachel is referred to as a beautiful and attractive woman ( Genesis 29:17 ).
Leah and Jacob
Leah was the victim of a blow that her father gave to Jacob, forcing him to work for seven years in exchange for his sister Rachel. At the ceremony, Jacob married the bride covered in cloth and did not realize until the next morning that Leah had been handed over to Rachel.
See also: Who was Jacob?
When he complained to Laban, he heard from him that the firstborn must marry first in the name of local tradition. The two entered into an agreement, Jacob continues with Leah and marries Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work in the lands of Laban. Although gentle and sweet, Jacob still despised Leah ( Genesis 29:31 ). God sympathized with the contempt that Leah suffered and blessed her by giving birth to seven children, six of them the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Lia and Raquel
There is no way to talk about Lia without relating her to her sister Raquel. Together they entered into a dispute as to who would have the greatest attention from Jacob and would give him more descendants. Ironically the sisters had what the other wanted. Lia had children, but she didn’t have her husband’s love. Rachel had Jacob’s love, but she had no children because she was barren.
After the fourth child, Lia did not conceive for a while and Raquel still had no children. During the wheat harvest, Reuben, Lia’s firstborn, found some mandrakes and brought them to her mother. Because it is a plant that helps fertility, Raquel asks Leah for the mandrakes in exchange for a night with Jacob, which Leah accepts ( Genesis 30:15 ).
See also: What is a Mandrake?
With the right granted by Rachel, Leah cohabits with Jacob and gives birth to Issachar. Further on, she gives birth to Zebulun and a daughter named Dinah. Raquel, even with the mandrakes, remained sterile. Years later, God remembers Rachel and gives her two children, Joseph and Benjamin.
Leah was the mother of seven of the sons of Jacob and was mentioned in the book of Ruth as one of the builders of the house of Israel ( Ruth 4:11 ).
See also: What are the Twelve Tribes of Israel?
God favored Leah with motherhood by conceiving four children before her sister Rachel. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. The dispute between them to generate descendants meant that Rachel offered her servant Bila to Jacob, resulting in the birth of Dan and Naphtali. In response, Lia offered her maid Zilpa as the fourth wife. Jacob cohabited with her and conceived two sons, Gad and Asher. At each birth Lia expressed her feelings that resulted in the names of her children:
- Reuben – “The Lord has seen my unhappiness. Now, surely my husband will love me” ( Genesis 29:32).
- Simeon – “Because the Lord heard that I am despised, he also gave me this one” ( Genesis 29:33).
- Levi – “Now, finally, my husband will become attached to me, because I have already given him three children” ( Genesis 29:34).
- Judah – “This time I will praise the Lord” ( Genesis 29:35).
- Gad (son of his servant Zilpa) – “How lucky!” ( Genesis 30:11).
- Aser (son of his servant Zilpa) – “How happy I am! Women will say that I am happy” ( Genesis 30:13).
- Issachar – “God rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband” ( Genesis 30:18).
- Zebulun – “God gave me a precious gift. Now my husband will treat me better; after all, I have already given him six children” ( Genesis 30:20).
- In addition to the six male sons, Leah gave Jacob a female daughter named Dinah ( Genesis 30:21).
Leah died before Jacob and was buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as well as the other descendants of the family, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah. Rachel was buried in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Jacob died in Egypt but was buried in the same tomb where Leah is.