In HER Shoes – Rachel and Leah (week 1)

in her shoes

Welcome to another Mummy Meditations first – this week we are looking at TWO women and putting ourselves into both of their shoes!!!  I for one am excited.  Not only is one of them my namesake, but I don’t actually know that much about either of them.  So it is a great chance to get to know this story better and the characters within it.

Maybe you know about the nation of Israel.  Maybe you know about Joseph and his 11 brothers who make up the tribes of Israel.  But do you know the mothers of those boys and the circumstances into which they were brought?

This was our first meditation verse concerning Rachel and Leah, and introduces them to us:

“Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, the name of the younger was Rachel.  Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” Genesis 29:16-17

daughters first

To be completely honest, this week I have focussed on the way that these two women were kind of pitted against each other – the comparison at the end of the verse seems so nasty that I couldn’t quite believe it was in the bible, and so I focussed on that and trying to understand it more.  But in doing that I missed something important.  That the first thing we learn about these two women, is that before anything else they are Laban’s daughters.  If you’ve read ahead in the story you will know things start to get very messed up after this verse, but here all we see is a Dad who loves his little girls very much and wants the best for both of them.  They are both special and loved in his eyes, they are both cherished.  Yes there were different concerns for a dad in those times than now, but he still loved them both and looked after them in the ways a father should.  His main priority, with his daughters now growing up, would be to secure them both a great future with a good husband.

sisters second

Only after we learn they are daughters do we then think about them being sisters.  Now, for anyone who has a sister I am sure you know how complicated those relationships can be!!  A few lovely ladies shared over on our Facebook Group about relationships between sisters or with sister-in-laws.  When there are differences in character and personality that strain can become even bigger.  With same sex siblings there will always be an element of competition that enters in, and that is no exception with Leah and Rachel.

how comparison hurts

The final part of the verse seems particularly cruel.  In my head it seems to put Rachel as the better sister, the better option for any potential husband, and Leah as this sort of weak consolation prize.  But I found that the word “weak” isn’t a particularly great translation of the original text.  In the Message version it says “Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful” which is slightly less mean towards Leah!  Others say that weak can be translated as tender, others mention that perhaps her eyes were tearful and not weak as she was in love with someone she couldn’t have.  All these are possibilities, but they don’t take away from the fact that a comparison has been made.  Leah has been deemed lower than Rachel.  I am sure that must have been painful for Leah.  There are no circumstances in which comparing people brings benefit – all it brings is pain and hurt.  Why are we so fixated on comparing ourselves to others?

I wonder how Rachel felt in all this (its easy to step into Leah’s shoes and feel the hurt of those comments).  Would she be happy she was deemed beautiful. or perhaps defensive of her sister?  We don’t really get any context here other than just the plain hard facts – Leah and Rachel were compared to each other.  This is perhaps the seed that grew into a rivalry like no other – one that will unfold over the next few weeks.

next week

Our focus turns mostly to Rachel this week as we meditate on the following verse:

“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Genesis 29:20

Naomi will be leading the discussion over in our Facebook group so head over there and let us know your thoughts on the verse.


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