Friday, October 06, 2006

Jacob's Wives

Before we jump off into Genesis 32 I wanted to try to understand the character of Jacob's wives more. After chapter 31, we go or rather Jacob goes into a period of transition. His father's have wondered in the land of Canaan and Jacob has went off on his own and acquired a family. Now it seems he stays in one place for a while. His family matures as does he. We will see what happens next.

First let's look at the wives of Jacob.

Leah was not the first choice of Jacob. He saw Rachel at the well and seemed to immediately fall in love with her. I'm sure he knew Leah well but Rachel was his choice. Leah, on the other hand, was her father's choice to be Jacob's first wife, although Laban may have had some devious reasons ( such as free labor from Jacob) for giving Leah first. I expect Rachel well knew that she was Jacob's first choice but she was not the firstborn.

"Leah was tender eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and wellfavored." Genesis 29:17. So Rachel was just one of those women that a man would be attracted to because of her looks. Leah was tender eyed and the Bible stops there, so I will as well.

Leah conceived easily but Rachel was temporarily barren. Genesis 29:31 "And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb but Rachel was barren."

Being able to bare children for her husband was the measure of pleasing him. Leah felt she had fulfilled her position as wife by giving Jacob children. Genesis 29v34..."Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons..." She was also dealing with Rachel who was the first chosen and most beautiful. She wanted Jacob to love her as a wife and not as an obligation because of her father.

We are dealing with some very strong feelings between the two wives. Leah was hated and now Rachel envied her sister 30:1 . Although Rachel was the most fair, she had some problems. It seems she was the one who hated Leah and was now envious of her. Rachel was also the one who brought the images with her when they left. She also complained to Jacob about her barreness but Jacob became angry. 30:2 "And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel and he said Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?"

Both women wanted only one thing, children to please her husband so she would be accepted as a good wife. Of course, there is much more to a husband-wife relationship and a good marriage. It is taught in detail in the New Testament.

It was Rachel with all her faults who spoke the famous words:
v30:1 "...Give me children, or else I die." A verse that has been preached in many sermons referring to the attitude a church should have toward winning new converts.

Jacob's other two wives were Zilpah (Leah's maid) and Bilhah (Rachel's maid). We do not know much about them. In chapter 29, the Bible does say that Zilpah v24 was Laban's maid and that Zilpah v29 was his handmaid. The verse has no commas so I almost thought that Bilhah was Laban's daughter but after reading it I see that daughter probably referred to Rachel.

Although the Bible does not say anything about Jacob having more than one wife, we can see that it did cause some very strong emotions i.e. hate, envy, anger. So, in the New Testament, we are taught that a man is to be the husband of one wife and I think too, the other way around.
1Timothy3:12 "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife..." If you run reference on 'husband', I believe you will find them singular. It just causes less problems. If you are familiar with our modern day, you will note that in our time men and women have problems with one of each and children often end up with neither.

Proverbs 18:22 "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favor of the Lord."

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