Yesterday, made it FOUR YEARS of blogging for me, especially on this platform. I would’ve loved to blog about blogging for four years already, but it didn’t come from me to do it, and I’ve long since stopped blogging or writing just for the sake of it, especially when I’m in the least moved to so do. The fact that today I’ll be blogging about something religious is a pointer to how far I’ve gone, and the kind of things that holds interest for me now, four years down the line. Though I can boldly say that even that remains in the general idea of things that I considered to focus on when I started on this journey. Having said that, I must now find a way to move from this preamble to what I should ordinarily blog about, today as my custom is, on a Sabbath.
So, Leah was hated by her husband, yet was beloved of YAHWEH, because her circumstances were not of her own making, I’d surmise. In fact, she was at the top of HIS plans it would appear, especially in the children HE needed her to have for Jacob. I’m a strong believer of bowing only before YAHWEH, so one could stand before man, because only HE should we fear, and be interested in knowing HIS will, not man. I say, that if we are to choose whom to please, between YAHWEH and man, we should follow the footsteps of the the apostles, who were whipped for their beliefs before they were released from jail, and they counted it all joy, for been found worthy to be punished for the sake of this glad tidings; and like Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael before them, when they were faced with the prospect of burning in a fiery furnace in the days of Daniel. What happened between Leah and Jacob should teach us not to try to please man, especially if it is for promotions, Arse-kissing, boot-licking, “eye-service” doesn’t cut it before YAHWEH. Do what is right, even if you get punished for it, especially with rejection, and YAHWEH will reward you like he did Leah, who also discovered that there was no point trying to get Jacob to love her, and simply moved on with her life, embracing the lovelessness that life threw her as lemon, and made lemonade of it with the children she made with Jacob, some of whom proved quite indispensable with YAHWEH’s ultimate plan.
“… when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, (she) envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). A refrain couples with conception challenges can easily relate to, and it could go both ways, especially if the capacity to cause to conceive isn’t in doubt, and the issue of secondary virginity hasn’t arisen. Interestingly, it was a bold move for Rachel, at a time infertility was placed solely at the doorstep of the woman in a marriage, in a lineage where Sarah and Rebekah had once been suspect, but never their husbands, Abraham and Isaac respectively, and Jacob hadn’t only proved himself once, but four times already with Leah, and could definitely not be blamed for the state of childlessness which Rachel endured. In anger Jacob responded with the following question, “… am I in YAHWEH’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (v.2) In what I have found to be norm with the way of YAHWEH’s people from biblical times, in relating their circumstances to YAHWEH’s will, and the devil or evil man or woman ascribed NO credit for any untowardness, problem, or adversity. It was an argument that Rachel couldn’t better, and so she gave unto her husband her maid Bilhah (much like Sarah did with Abraham, when she gave him her maid Hagar to have intercourse with, and produce children in her name), saying “… go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her” (v.3).
What Sarah and Rachel did with their handmaids, point to what it meant to live as servants, or slaves in that era. Ones life apparently, belonged to the owner, if one was a servant or slave or handmaiden, as the case may be. Such that they could be given over to the mistress’/woman’s husband to have children she may not call hers. True to expectations, Bilhah “… conceived, and bare Jacob a son” (v.5), which Rachel named Dan, saying “… YAHWEH hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son” (v.6). See how she claimed the child as hers, and ascribing the event to YAHWEH, and not a single mention of her rival, and sister. She considered that YAHWEH had heard her voice, even though she hadn’t herself, conceived and delivered the son. Even in this arrangement, YAHWEH’s will was well in formation. Same as when, once again Bilhah conceived and bore to Jacob another son, which Rachel named Naphtali, claiming “with great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed” (v.8). It must be that the birth of Naphtali, nay the meaning of his name, rekindled the fire in Leah, who had already given up on trying to drag her husband with her much favoured sister Rachel, that she “… took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife” (v.9), seeing as she “had left bearing”.
Zilpah had Gad (A troop cometh), Asher (Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed), yet it didn’t seem that Leah was ready to give in, in what will appear to be the greatest female sibling rivalry in biblical times, almost challenging the male rivalries of the time starting from Cain and Abel, to Ishmael and Isaac, and on to Esau and Jacob, for the extent the contending parties were willing to go to have their way. When it seemed Leah was out of the game, she managed to scheme her way back into her husband’s arms once again by buying part of Rachel’s time with Jacob with some of the mandrakes Reuben (Leah’s first son) had brought her mother from the field at some point. Such must be Leah’s desire to have that time with Jacob, that I suspect it must have been at the time she was most fertile, and probably horny, that the outcome of that liaison, resulted into yet another conception for Leah who had a fifth son which she called Issachar, saying “YAHWEH hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband” (v.18), consistent with the belief amongst some cultures in Africa, the Yoruba for instance, that a woman’s chance of achieving conception can be enhanced if she allows her husband have a child(ren) from another woman, or if she surrounds herself with children always, not necessarily her husband’s. She went on to have a sixth son, followed by a daughter, named Zebulun (YAHWEH hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons) and Dinah respectively.
But YAHWEH wasn’t going to leave Rachel empty-handed, some will argue that what happened with her was to humble her, but that assertion will fly only if it was known that she played a role in Jacob’s treatment of Leah, though the possibility of that happening may not be farfetched considering the circumstances surrounding her eventual marriage to Jacob, of which the initial beneficiary was her sister Leah, which couldn’t have left her pleased anyhow. She did eventually conceive, “… and bare a son, and said YAHWEH hath taken away my reproach (which childless couples, especially the woman can relate to, especially in the face of an unsympathetic society, seemingly devoid of empathy in thought, word and deed, most times unconsciously but wrongly interpreted by the childless, as insulting of their condition): and she called his name Joseph; and said, YAHWEH shall add to me another son” (v.23-24). It is not a surprise therefore, that Joseph became his father’s favourite, of all his children, of course with consequences to boot.
And that was how YAHWEH brought abundant favour, the way of less favoured Leah in the number of children she bore Jacob, while the more favoured of Jacob, was less favoured in the children’s department, considering that a quiver full of arrows (in describing children in a family) was paramount in the great scheme YAHWEH planned to execute with the offsprings of Abraham, through Isaac, and now Jacob. That is why, in matters pertaining to life, we must be humble, and look at our circumstances, good or bad, beyond the surface, especially in trying to understand YAHWEH’s will, as our ways and thoughts are different from his. Even Jacob would not have fathomed that some years down the line that none of his first ten sons and a daughter wouldn’t have come from Rachel, despite the loads of sex both of them would have had (as is with couples having a challenge conceiving), with the love that existed between them, enough for Leah to even resort to buying time just to be with her husband (to resounding success and testament to her fecundity). Most importantly, I must once again reiterate, is to note how YAHWEH was organizing his agenda, regardless of what Jacob thought and planned, and I say this advisedly, because many times, even in our pains and adversity (not only in the fulfillment of our dreams), HIS plans may just be unveiling.
– Genesis Chapter 30 Verses 1 – 24, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993).