In the Hebrew story of Leah and Rachel, they were considered to be beautiful women of faith and were regarded as the matriarch of the Jewish people, whose descendants became some of the twelve tribes of Israel. In the scripture, the bible described Rachel to be the most beautiful and loved by Jacob. Genesis 29:16-17 “Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes; Rachel was shapely and beautiful.”
Why the bible described Leah’s eyes to be weak? Is it to say that she was less attractive compared to her sister Rachel? Or does the word “weak eyes” mean she was nearsighted?
The word “weak” in Hebrew is rakkot (רַכּ֑וֹת), from the word rak (רַךְ) meaning tender (delicate, soft or weary). The Talmud teaches that Leah would often hear people saying; “Rebecca has two sons, and Laban has two daughters. The older girl for the older boy, and the younger girl for the younger boy”. This implies that Leah would be marrying Esau and Rachel to Jacob. This frightened her deeply. According to Midrash, Leah’s eyes were made “weak” (tender) from crying and lamenting for the prospect of having to marry Esau. For her eyes were reddened and weary of those tears throughout the years.
Her “weak eyes” which had negatively affect her beauty, reveals her heart of purity. As she wept and wept to be the mother of righteous, her prayers “May it be His will that my lot not fall in the portion of the wicked Esau”. As a result, her prayer was heard and she was indeed (chosen as the first wife) married to the righteous Jacob rather than the wicked Esau.
Because of her prayer, God saw her tears and blessed her womb to be fruitful with 6 sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun) and a daughter Dinah. She was also the most fruitful of all the four matriarchs of Israel. From the Rabbinic commentary, Leah was the first person to have ever praised and thanked God. Genesis 29:35 “She conceived again and bore a son, and declared, “This time I will praise the LORD.” She named him Judah.” This taught us the important values of giving praise and gratitude to the LORD.
Ironically, it was the less teary-eyed Rachel, who later died of childbirth that was prophesied to weep for her children.
“Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children
because they are no more.” – Jeremiah 31:15
Two Lines Of Royalty
In the Talmud, the word Rak (weak, tender) connotes royalty. In which two lines of royalty were destined to decent from Leah. Judah (from whom would come David and King Messiah) and the priestly line of Levi (from whom would descend Moses, Aaron, and the priestly class).
Because of Leah’s faith and her hope in the LORD, she was later buried beside Jacob in the Cave Of Machpelah (the Cave of Pairs) at Kiriat Arba (City of Four). Why four? Because 4 couples are said to be buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.
(Genesis 49:29-31 “Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.”)
Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a position where the situation does not favor us. But when we bring our petition to Him with sincerity of heart and hope. He always listens.