Names were very significant in ancient times. They were often indicative of a person’s personality, but for Leah, the names she gave her children and her accompanying comments reflect the ebb and flow of one woman’s life experiences. Note the progression:
Reuben: “It is because of my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
Simeon: “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”
Levi: “Now at last my husband will become attached to me.”
Judah: This time I will praise the Lord.
Her children through Zilpah, her servant:
Gad: “What good fortune.”
Asher: “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.”
Leah’s later children:
Issachar: “God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.”
Zebulun: “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.”
Dinah: The only daughter apparently didn’t merit a comment.
At some point, probably with the giving of the maidservants, it became the battle of the sisters. Although Leah was winning by a landslide in the birthing match, it seems to have changed little between Jacob and her.
Jacob slept with all four women, but he loved Rachel. And, even in their times of discord, it seems obvious that his heart belonged to Rachel and Rachel alone—the woman who welcomed him at the end of his journey to Paddan Aram. The one he was willing to work 14 years for. The one who was willing to sacrifice her life to give him one more son.
And, even beyond her death, his love for Rachel surely stung like a slap every time Leah saw his expression when one of Rachel’s sons entered his presence. We don’t know what Leah’s role was in deceiving Jacob on his wedding night; but one thing seems certain, none of it turned out the way she’d dreamed.
Vows and obligations in marriage are important, even essential, but nothing takes the place of a husband's love.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything