Introducing … Leah and Rachel

Leah and Rachel were the daughters of Laban , who was Jacob’s uncle (Rebekkah’s brother)  Isaac was told  by his father to marry of his own family line and not to marry any of the Canaanite women.  Upon arrival at a well in Harran, he inquired about his uncle and it was pointed out that his daughter, Rachel, was coming with her sheep.  She was a shepherdess. Word got to Laban that his nephew had arrived and he greeted him and asked him to stay with them.  Jacob stayed with them and worked for his uncle for a month, when his uncle offered to pay him for what he had done.  Jacob asked for Rachel’s hand in marriage in exchange for working 7 more years.  The time seemed to fly since he loved her, but when the time came for him to receive Rachel as his wife, Laban deceived him and gave him Leah instead.  It was not custom to marry the younger daughter before the older.  The book of Genesis tells us that Rachel was very beautiful, but Leah had “weak eyes”.  In agreement to work 7 more years, Jacob finished Leah’s bridal week, then took Rachel as his wife.

This started the years of feuds between these two sisters.   Rachel was barren for the longest time, while her sister Leah bore 4 sons to Jacob right away, since the Lord saw that she was unloved by her husband.   Rachel gave Jacob her maid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children through her.  Bilhah conceived and gave birth to 2 sons.  Leah wasn’t bearing more children, so she gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob to conceive children for her.  Zilpah bore Jacob 2 sons.  Jealousy continued, and Leah bore a 5th and 6th son and a daughter, Dinah.  Finally God opened up Rachel’s womb and she bore a son, Joseph.  Later, Rachel died during the birth of her final son, Benjamin.

To learn more about Rachel and Leah, you can find them in the book of Genesis 29-35; also Genesis 46 and 49.


  1. Some studies I’ve read say that Leah’s beauty was only in her eyes, while Rachel was beautiful in form as well as appearance. Just some food for thought.

    Also, I found this interesting. Leah was buried in the same place where Abraham buried Sarah, as well as where Rebekah was buried. Guess that shows Jacob came to love her :).

  2. I really enoyed the book The Red Tent which took this basic history and created fiction, filling in the picture around it. It’s been awhile but I think it is told through Dinah’s POV and is a good read.

  3. I have wondered what conversation Leah and her dad had. Did she secretly want Jacob too? What was her reaction when dad suggested it? What was going thru her mind as she walked to Jacob’s tent the first night? How did she feel when he found out the next morning? Just things I’ve wondered about.

  4. One of my favorite authors, Liz Curtis Higgs, uses the story of Leah and Rachel in her historical Scottish fiction novels. They are absolutely amazing. Not only does she completely succeed in setting the story in historic Scotland, but she helps you understand the story in a deeper way.

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