The Birth Of A Nation
The story of family dispute, jealousy, and forgiveness.
Once upon a time in a faraway land of Canaan there lived a young man whose name was Jacob. He had a terrible dispute with his twin brother Esau who threatened to kill him.
The boys’ mother was so distraught about the strife in the family that she suggested that Jacob fled to her brother’s home in Haran until things settled at home.
When Jacob arrived in Haran, he fell in love with his uncle’s youngest daughter Rachel because of her beauty.
Jacob was so overwhelmingly in love that he agreed to work for his uncle for seven years for the hand of his youngest daughter, Rachael.
Jacob’s uncle (Laban) agreed, but after the seven years were completed, Laban deceived him and sent his eldest daughter, Leah to be his bride.
Apparently, in those days the bride’s face was completely covered during the wedding ceremony.
Leah was also a beautiful girl, but she was not as vivacious as her younger sister. The Bible states that she had a meek and quiet spirit (tender eyes).
Jacob was unaware of the identity of his wife until after the wedding night when her face was revealed. It is, therefore, apparent that he enjoyed his wedding night.
However, he angrily confronted Laban about his deception but his uncle quickly reassured him that after Leah had her week, he would also allow Rachael to marry him, but he had to work for him another seven years.
Jacob had no choice but to agree because he loved Rachael but hated Leah.
Of course, Leah was aware that she was unloved so she became unhappy. Consequently, jealousy and friction developed between the two sisters.
God saw the injustices in the home and closed Rachael’s womb while He opened the womb of Leah.
The Lord gave Leah three bouncing baby boys, and each of them came with a message from God to her.
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The combined message was, “I, the Lord your God love you in spite of your afflictions, and I am more than enough for you so trust me.”
Leah, unfortunately, missed this message from the Lord and thought that because she gave her husband three healthy boys (every man’s dream), she would gain his love and support.
But the babies did not change her husband’s heart towards her. Jacob continued to love Rachel in spite of her barrenness while ignoring the mother of his children.
Finally, at the birth of her fourth son, Leah understood the message that God sent with her newborn.
She declared, “Now I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35)
Leah learned to praise God in spite of her circumstances. When Leah found contentment in God, she rested from childbearing. Jesus descended from the lineage of Judah.
Rachael was exceedingly jealous of her sister’s pregnancies and more contention developed within the family.
After the years passed and she remained childless, Rachael decided to allow her handmaid to be a surrogate mother for her.
Two sons were born to her through this method, and sure enough, they also came with a message from God to the household.
The Lord sent Jacob a warning through Rachael’s surrogate children. If Jacob did not set his house in order, there would be a judgment upon the family.
The family missed this message from God and jealousy once more developed in Leah’s heart and she decided to use her handmaid as a surrogate mother also.
Leah’s maid gave birth to two sons. Having so much male children, Leah taught that she would now be happy because she had a troop of men.
Once again Leah conceived and gave birth to a fifth and sixth son.
During the birth of these sons, she gave them names which suggest that she believed that her husband would dwell with her.
But, Jacob had no such intentions and continued to ignore her. So the Lord gave Leah a baby girl whom she called Dinah which means judgment.
Leah recognized that God had pronounced judgment upon Jacob’s household. Consequently, throughout the years the family endured many trials.
Finally, the Lord opened Rachel’s womb, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Joseph because she said that God had taken away her reproach and will give her a second child.
She had interpreted the message from God correctly.
Alas, Rachael returned to idolatry after the birth of her son, and she stole her father’s idols when they were moving from his home.
Even though Laban went after them and tried to get back his idols, it was not found because Rachael hid them under her garment.
Jacob was filled with wrath because of his father-in-law accusation and pronounced death upon the person who stole the idols. Jacob had unknowingly declared the curse of death upon his beloved wife, Rachael.
Later, Rachael conceived again, and she had a tough labor.
As her soul departed from her lifeless body, she gave birth to a son, and in bitterness, she called him, Benoni which means son of my sorrow; but Jacob quickly renamed him Benjamin which means son of my right hand.
Jacob had recommitted his life to God and so was able to intercept a curse over his last son.
During the trials of Jacob when his sons deceived him into thinking that Joseph was eaten by wild animals, Benjamin became his right hand and a comfort to him.
The life story of Joseph reveals to us how he became the savior of not only his family but the entire world.
Jacob had twelve sons, and they were the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.
References: Genesis 29 – 35; 38; Psalms 127:3