Friday, February 18, 2011

The unloved wife

Genesis 29:31 – 35
The unloved wife

A. Disturbing theological and moral things:

1. Two wives...

a. There is no Scripture guidance into how many wives a man may have.

b. However:

“The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” [Genesis 2:18 NIV]

“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife...” [1 Timothy 3:2a also see 1 Timothy 3:12, Titus 1:6 NIV]

c. If you use example [Peter, Priscilla and Aquila, and others] then you also have to consider Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc...

2. Married sisters...

“Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.” [Leviticus 18:18] (Jacob lived long before the Law was given, but I wonder if the social norms were not already in place.)

3. God takes Leah’s side when God did the same thing...

"I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, `How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau”
Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, [3] but Esau I have hated...” [Malachi 1:2 – 3a NIV]

“Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” [Romans 9:13 NIV]

***** BOTH are in context to nations NOT individuals. Jacob represents of Israel and Esau represents Edom. *****

B. Leah’s plight:

“When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” [Genesis 29:31 ESV] (ASV, RSV, KJV)

The NIV says, “Leah was not loved”

The CEV says, “Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah”

The Geneva (before the KJV) says, “Leah was despised”

1. Think about how this marriage came to be...

a. Jacob loved Rachel, it was “love at first sight.” What could be more romantic?

b. Jacob agreed to work for SEVEN years for Rachel... aaawwwww.

c. Uncle Laban TRICKED Jacob into marrying Leah. (How can you be that drunk?)

d. Jacob then agreed to work ANOTHER seven years for Rachael...

Rachel was wanted... 14 years of hard work to get her. Leah was part of him getting conned.

2. With two wife and two concubines a “baby race” was started...

a. God took Leah’s side... [v 31] “He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

b. Situation:

1.) Jealousy between the wives.

2.) Unchecked sexual appetite from Jacob (sexual relations with four women at the same time).

3.) The playing of favorites (which Jacob learned from his parents).

Wesley – “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated - That is, loved less than Rachel, ... the Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob for making so great a difference between those he was equally related to; a check to Rachel, who, perhaps insulted over her sister upon that account; and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt put upon her.”

C. Universal husband – wife problem:

1. “The unloved wife.”

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25]

a. We “love” what we value...

b. Who/what we love becomes our priority, passion, and possibly obsession.

2. “The disrespected husband”

a. Contempt is THE major relationship killer. (It is “almost” impossible to recover from contempt...)

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” [Ephesians 5:33]

b. A lack of "respect" means “contempt” (Oxford University Press) and comes from:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:22]

3. What is missing:

a. Wives need their husband’s love AND husbands need their wives’ respect or the relationship breaks down into an ugly spiral that increases the lack of love and lack of respect to the point were one, if not both, check out of the relationship (in some way).

b. There is a very real sense of MUTUAL submission required!

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” [Ephesians 5:21]

Or as the CEV puts it: “Honor Christ and put others first.”

D. Leah’s journey and solution:

1. She had four children... each had a different meaning.

a. [v 32] Reuben... (lit. “see a son”) “now my husband will love me.”

b. [v 33] Simon... (lit. “hearing”) “the LORD has heard I am hated.”

c. [v 34] Levi... (lit. “attached”) “this time my husband will be attached to me.”

d. [v 35] Judah... (lit. “celebrated”) “this time I will praise the Lord.”

2. What this means:

a. She starts with the desperate need of having Jacob love her.

b. She becomes bitter because her husband will not respond.

c. She gives up trying. The best she hopes for is “attachment.”

d. She praises God... something has changed.

1.) She has either become loved by her husband OR

2.) She has found her self-worth in God OR

3.) Both...

3. Jacob chose to buried with Leah... in their ancestral tomb.

“Then he commanded them and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, [30] in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. [31] There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.” [Genesis 49:29 – 31]


1. Maybe our problem is that we depend to much on the other person for our emotional well being... (respect, love)

2. Since our emotional well being is rooted in the need to understand our relationship in terms of “love” we enter unhealthy downward spirals.

3. Leah’s lesson is to ground our self-worth and being in God, not others (husband, wife, children, work, church, etc...)

4. That frees us to fulfill our side of what is necessary in the relationship.

5. Result: the probability that the other person(s) will fulfill their responsibilities!

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