In HER shoes – Rachel and Leah (week 3)

in her shoes

What was the day after your wedding like? Did you wake up in blissful peace, finally sharing a bed with the love of your life? Was there a special breakfast? Perhaps you opened wedding presents or were whisked off on a romantic honeymoon somewhere warm? For most of us, the day after our wedding is a happy day, reflecting on the huge day before it and revelling in our new spouse. It’s a lot less stressful the day AFTER the wedding!!! Or so you would think. But not in this week’s verse:

“When morning came, there was Leah!  So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Genesis 29:25

a family in disarray

Did anyone else get a hint of “The Jeremy Kyle Show” in this week’s verse? I can almost picture the tagline on the TV screen “tricked into marrying the wrong sister“, and in this day and age an almighty row would break out on screen as they interviewed all the parties involved.  Whenever I’ve read this verse I’ve always sympathised with Jacob (although he is no stranger to deceiving those he loves – remember when we looked at Rebekah and her helping him to steal his brother’s blessing?!).   He did the honourable thing.  He worked for SEVEN YEARS to get the woman he loved, and just as the happy ending is in sight he receives this curveball.

But this series isn’t called “in HIS shoes”!!!  We know what the men are doing and thinking and feeling in this verse, but there are more than just Jacob and Laban involved in these antics.  The whole family would have been in disarray after this situation.

LeaH in the know

The first sister who’s shoes I tried to step into was Leah’s.   We have already seen that despite being the older sister, she is looked upon as less desirable than Rachel.  Imagine being the third wheel for seven years as a man devotes himself to your younger sister, but no-one cares about you.  They would have lived in close proximity, shared food and time together.  I’m sure Leah would have gotten to know Jacob just as well as the rest of them.

And so when her father, the light of her life and protector, comes to her with a plan, she was probably all ears.  Nothing could be worse than watching her sister have her dreams come true and her being the spectator surely?  And Jacob was part of the family now really anyway – as good a man as any.

We don’t know for sure if Leah was a willing participant in the wedding, if she did it out of duty to her father or if she was blackmailed/coerced into doing it, but one thing we know for sure is that she was there.   Weddings were probably a very different state of affairs in those times – we cannot say for sure if there was a ceremony as such (if so Leah would have had to have been heavily veiled!) or if the act of consummation was taken as a sign they were married (it could have just been very dark in there!!), but Leah would have at least have had to keep quiet so Jacob didn’t suspect anything.

Leah was in the know.

I was torn when reading this between seeing Leah as a jealous sister who was happy to take part and steal her right to a husband and kids rather than waiting, and seeing her as a pawn in a game her Father wanted to play, being forced into having sex with her potential brother-in-law just to please her Father.  Definitely a Jeremy Kyle worthy story.

Rachel in the dark

The next big question on my lips is – WHERE IS RACHEL???!!  You couldn’t get through a wedding ceremony nowadays with a missing family member without someone asking where they were.  If it was supposed to be Rachel’s wedding, then why did no one ask where Leah was?  Why were no suspicions aroused?  Or if it was just Jacob and his new wife in a tent left to their own devices, why did Rachel not kick up a fuss?  She must have know the time was coming when the 7 years were up and she was supposed to become Jacob’s wife.

This lead me to believe that Laban must have had a hand in hiding her.  Whether Rachel was willing to hide, or again felt obligation to her Father or forced to hide, we just don’t know.  But she wasn’t around to stop Jacob making a mistake or arouse anyone else’s suspicions that is for sure!

In the morning, when the light revealed what had truly happened, Rachel must have felt awful.  Cheated out of the husband she was supposed to have.  Alone.  Betrayed by her sister and father.  And much much more.

what does it all mean?

Well, we stepped into both sisters shoes, and neither situation seems pretty.  This story reminds me of how ugly and complicated we can make things sometimes.  I found myself asking this week – why is this story in the bible???  Its so messed up and horrible why would God approve of this being in his word?  And God whispered to me “Just because it is in my word doesn’t mean I approve of it.”.  The bible is full of broken people, just like you and me, who make stupid choices and take matters into their own hands, just like you and me!  But the reason God leaves these stories in is to show us what he can do despite these stupid choices, what he can do through our brokenness, and how he can redeem even the most Jeremy Kyle worthy situations.  You’ll have to keep following the series to see what happens next…..

Next week

The lovely Naomi from The Organised Life Project will be leading our discussion as we plunge into the next part of the story:

“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”” Genesis 29:31-32

You can join us over in our Facebook Group as we discuss this during the week.

 

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