You know that Jacob was conned off Rachel for whom he served Laban for seven years, and had to marry Leah because that was who he had sex with on the night of his purposed wedding to Rachel, after attending the lavish party thrown by Laban for him on completion of the years they both agreed he’d serve Laban for Rachel’s hand in marriage. He must’ve been drunk for Laban to have gotten away with that calculated mischief over him. Laban’s excuse was that, “… it is not so done in our place, to give the younger before the first born” (Genesis 29:25). I am aware that amongst Coptic Christians, this culture still persists, and though some cultures in Africa may permit a female to be married before her elder sister, such elder sisters are usually under pressure to wed before their younger ones, in order not to have their chances of finding their own husband limited, because of society thinking that something must be wrong with her to warrant such sidestepping by suitors for her siblings, besides the matter of age and the window within which a woman’s reproductive life is at its optimal.
Laban encouraged Jacob to, “fulfill the week (a reference for seven years, as you’d also find in the prophecies of Daniel concerning the end times) of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me yet seven other years” (v.27). Again, Jacob served seven years before his true love Rachel was given to him. These two were given handmaidens, Zilpah and Bilhah respectively, at the times they were wed to Jacob. It appears Jacob completely neglected Leah while doing another “week” for Rachel, and this state of affairs didn’t stop after he got Rachel, rather it must’ve worsened, enough that we are told that YAHWEH “… saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (v.31). I have come across karmic believers who relate this situation to Jacob’s dubious past, especially against his brother Esau, claiming that though Jacob became the torch bearer of “Abraham’s Blessings” what he did to his brother, dogged him one way or another, in his relationship with other men, including his children, all of his lifetime, and sometimes I’m compelled not to disagree with them.
Here again we see the issue of barrenness cropping up in a lineage of Abraham’s, regardless of the fact that these were astute and ardent followers, nay worshippers of YAHWEH, who are to be used as test case of the ideal by the latter. Interestingly, the barrenness of Rachel was put at YAHWEH’s doorstep, for the reason afore stated. I do not find this hard to swallow, it is why sometimes I do not readily associate success with one being in good standing with The Almighty, not because YAHWEH hates for his own to prosper, but rather because according to the writer of Hebrews 12:6, who said “For whom YAHWEH loves he corrects/chastises, and scourges every son whom he receives”, hence while those who don’t know HIM may get away with misdemeanors, the case isn’t the same with Yahwists, and I say this not just because I read about it, but also because of personal experience. Those who do not understand this, furiously leave THE WAY for paths they consider cosier and less tempestuous, forgetting so easily that the Good that follows the “People Of The Covenant“, comes with Responsibilities and Consequences, and the only reason why there’s no judgment for the children of YAHWEH in the end is because, according to the Apostle Peter, it has already begun in the House Of Yahweh (1 Peter 4:17). In the case of Jacob and Rachel, withholding the joy of children from them was tied to their attitude towards Leah, and the account stated that not only was Rachel made barren, but that Leah conceived (probably after enduring loveless sex with Jacob) “… and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, because YAHWEH has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32)
Unfortunately, the birth of Reuben didn’t change the status quo, such that when Leah again became pregnant and delivered yet another son, she called him Simeon, saying “… because YAHWEH has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this son also” (v.33). When she was delivered of Levi, she named him so, thinking that “… this time will my husband be joined unto me because I’ve borne him three sons” (v.34), and when she saw that there was no changing Jacob’s mind concerning her, she turned her attention back to YAHWEH when she had her fourth, saying “… this time will I praise YAHWEH” (v.35) in naming him Judah, and according to the Bible, “… she left off bearing”, more like she left off trying to impress her husband Jacob, whose space for love appeared to have been reserved solely for Rachel.
Jacob here typifies what you’d find with a lot of men. There’s no gainsaying the fact that sex mean different things for men and women. Jacob probably constantly had sex with Leah without in the least loving her, even the fact that she had children for him wasn’t enough to move him in the direction of love towards her, he seemed to have just gone to fulfill his husbandly role towards her, and nothing more, while he continued to invest his love in Rachel who remained barren. That’s why some women who force the hands of men into marriage because they got pregnant, have to contend with a loveless marriage sometimes, because they failed to understand that sex and love aren’t the same with some men, even some women. When men cheat on their wives, some do it just for the fun and sport of it, not necessarily because they want to end things with their wives, or because she isn’t good at it enough, though such may come up as reasons by the man to his side chic, either because it’s true or just some lie he concocted in order to bed the woman. With civilization though, women emancipation and self awareness and expression, feminism and the likes, the democratization of sex has also enabled a situation where loveless sex is no longer only a man’s thing, but a battle of the sexes.
So, that was how Jacob had his first four sons from a loveless marriage, and though before him he may have counted it inconsequential, while focusing on his love for Rachel, before YAHWEH whose plans were well into full gear, those sons were part of the fulfillment of his agenda, as those who know the story beyond here will attest to, meaning that all our experiences in life, regardless of how it tastes is meaningful and useful, in the larger scheme of things. Despite what preachers may say today about the Devil and Enemy Action (especially with religious Africans), what I have repeatedly found in scripture, especially as it relates to misfortunes and contrariness is how the writers relate those events to YAHWEH, seeing as he knows the end from its beginning, and he couldn’t have been unaware of adversities in the lives of the subjects of those stories (the reason of which we are told that YAHWEH was responsible for Rachel’s barrenness, not Satan or Jacob’s or Rachel’s enemies in the first place), who do well to return and ask for HIS guidance and mercy over their conditions, rather than look for one devil or the other to shift the blame of their pain, trauma and affliction on or to.
– Genesis Chapter 29 Verses 21 – 35, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993).