Leah Had Weak Eyes. So What? (Genesis 29:17)

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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If that’s so, then Leah wasn’t anywhere near Jacob’s radar.

From the beginning of this story in Genesis 29, Jacob’s affection for Rachel is intense. He meets her by the well, kisses her (probably in a non-romantic way since her father does the same), then stays with her family for over a month.

At the end of that month, Jacob agrees to work for Laban for seven years to have the right to marry her.

As if all of that wasn’t clear enough, the Text also says that Jacob loved her (Genesis 29:20), and that she was “beautiful in form and face” (Genesis 29:17).

But what about Leah? Per the custom of the day, as the older sister, she should have been married off first. If Laban wanted to deal honestly with Jacob, that’s something he should have told Jacob at the start. Instead, he withholds that information in order to give Leah a husband.

This entire chapter just makes me feel sorry for Leah. Not only does her father have to trick her husband into marrying her, but the Bible also claims that Leah was “barren” and “unloved” (Genesis 29:31). Furthermore, Genesis 29:17 says that she had “weak eyes” — possibly some form of visual defect.

God takes notice of this and proves His love for those who are ignored by the world. Genesis 29 closes with Leah giving birth to the first four of Jacob’s children: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

Two of those sons would go on to have some of the most important families in Jewish history. The priestly tribes would come from Levi, and King David and the future Messiah (Jesus) would both be of the tribe of Judah.

It looks like Jacob’s attitude towards Leah changes, though. In Genesis 49:29-33, when Jacob is near death, he gives instructions on where he would like to be buried. The chosen place is a cave that already holds the bodies of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and one of his wives.

Not Rachel; she’s buried elsewhere (Genesis 35:19-20). Instead, Jacob wants be buried next to Leah.

I guess those “weak eyes” weren’t so bad, after all.