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Daily Devotional

The Unloved Spouse

Monday, March 4, 2024

Scripture: (Gen 29:17 NKJV)  Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.

Observation: The words that describe Leah have been debated for many years by many commentators.  Some believe that Leah had soft blue eyes, which were considered a blemish.  In The New Manners and Customs of the Bible it says that, “The tender eyes of Leah, as so translated in the KJV, were actually eyes that were visually weak or lacked luster—dull and unimpressive eyes. This was considered to be a great defect among those who admired sparkling eyes that were lively and flashing. That Leah’s eyes were compared to Rachel’s beauty obviously meant there was no beauty in them and that Leah herself was probably plain in face and form compared to her sister.”  The SDA Bible Commentary explains that, “The Hebrew word rak, here translated “tender” by the KJV, has usually been understood to mean “weak” or “dull.” Ever since the LXX employed this translation most commentators and translators have followed it. The word rak also means “delicate,” “gentle,” “soft,” and “flattering,” and may perhaps mean that her eyes looked the precise opposite of what most commentators have thought. However, the fact that Jacob was not attracted to Leah would indicate more of a contrast between the two sisters than this latter suggestion implies. Perhaps Leah’s eyes, and her personality as well, lacked the brilliance and lustrous warmth the Oriental admires. The RSV renders the word as “weak.”

The verse gives us a contrast between the two sisters which may explain why Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.  He had met and fallen in love with Rachel first, he had been tricked by Laban to take Leah - which might have caused Jacob to despised her even more.  We know there were constant disputes over their marital rights between Leah and Rachel, and later, with the addition of their two maidservants, and the birth of all thirteen children, tensions rose even higher.

In The Story of Redemption, Ellen White makes some interesting comments about this situation: “Jacob was not happy in his marriage relation, although his wives were sisters. He formed the marriage contract with Laban for his daughter Rachel, whom he loved. After he had served seven years for Rachel, Laban deceived him and gave him Leah. When Jacob realized the deception that had been practiced upon him, and that Leah had acted her part in deceiving him, he could not love Leah. Laban wished to retain the faithful services of Jacob a greater length of time, therefore deceived him by giving him Leah, instead of Rachel. Jacob reproved Laban for thus trifling with his affections, in giving him Leah, whom he had not loved. Laban entreated Jacob not to put away Leah, for this was considered a great disgrace, not only to the wife, but to the whole family.  Jacob was placed in a most trying position, but he decided to still retain Leah, and also marry her sister. Leah was loved in a much less degree than Rachel. {SR 89-90}  

Application: Leah desired the love of her husband.  This is obvious as she names her sons:(Gen 29:32-35 NKJV) 
Reuben: "The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me."
Simeon: "Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also."
Levi: "Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons."
Judah: "Now I will praise the LORD."

While we read that Jacob loved Rachel, we never read that She loved him.  That is not to say that she didn’t, but her bitterness spilled over into her marriage as she demands of Jacob, (Gen 30:1-25 NKJV)  "Give me children, or else I die!" Finally she decides to give Jacob her maid, and again, the names of Bilhah’s children reflect Rachel’s bitterness, particularly toward her sister:

Dan: "God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son."
Naphtali: "With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed."

Zilpah, Leah’s maid, now enters in this marital battle, and bears Jacob two more sons, but then Leah also bears Jacob a couple more sons:

Issachar: "God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband."
Zebulun: "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons."

It must be a very heavy burden to be unloved by their spouse.  And yet Leah did not leave or divorce Jacob.  Their children enjoyed the stable home, living with their father and mother.  It was a large, blended family, but they were able to live with their biological parents.  Children of divorce suffer in many different aspects of their lives – financially, emotionally, educationally, etc.  Once we have brought children into this world, we must do everything we can to provide them with a loving home, with their biological parents to protect them, to provide for them, to help them and encourage them.  Pray that you may be loved by your spouse, but most importantly, display love for your spouse; we are responsible for our feelings and actions, not for those of the other person.

A Prayer You May Use: Father of love, help us to show our spouse how much we love them, and when negative thoughts and feeling creep up upon us, help us to defeat them and grow in us Your love for our spouse.  Bless us, our marriage and our home, that we may provide our children a good, warm, stable home, one where them may feel safe knowing their parents won’t abandon them.  Help us to show them through our example that in spite of conflict, we can remain together and keep our commitment to one another and to You to live together until death do us part.  And may this example break the cycle of divorce that permeates so many families today.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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