After the marriages, Leah had children almost immediately. Rachel, of course, wanted children too. Her first resort was to demand them of Jacob, Give me children or else I die! Gen 30:1, as if a man who had already fathered at least four were at fault. Am I being overly critical or doesn’t she sound as childish as a little girl threatening to hold her breath if she doesn’t get her way?
Then she gave her handmaid to her husband (v, 3) for in that culture, the children of one’s handmaid were legally your own, and the family already had precedent for such a thing in Hagar. Of course that was less than satisfying, especially since her sister could do the same.
Then she resorted to mandrakes, the local aphrodisiac of the area, v 14, not too surprising from a woman who would steal her father’s household gods, I suppose. As you go through chapter 30, pay special attention to the names of the children, what they mean, and what each mother said when they were born. That speaks volumes in itself.
Finally Rachel went to Jehovah. We really have no record of her doing that, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt since the scriptures do say and God hearkened to [Rachel] and opened her womb, v 22. Still, her attitude is shown when she greets that child with Jehovah, give me another one! and names her son that very sentiment, “Joseph,” may God add, v 24. Compare that to Leah who, when she named Judah, and called to her son every day afterward, was “praising” Jehovah.
Is that how we treat prayer as well, a last resort? Does God only hear from us when we get desperate or scared or so distressed that we finally realize we have no other hope for a happy ending? Do we demand help from God, then angrily complain when that prayer, which may be the first we have prayed in a week or a month or even longer, does not accomplish what we want? And when we finally do get the desired answer, do we act entitled and fail to express any gratitude at all? After all, we serve God and therefore He is supposed to take care of us, right? If we don’t get what we want, why should we bother?
Ultimately, Jacob seems to have learned who the better wife was. When Rachel died, she was buried where she fell, even though it was only a day’s walk from the family burial plot at Machpelah. Jacob himself expected his sons to carry his body back all the way from Egypt. And hear what he says about that: there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, and there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah, Gen 49:31. Jacob wanted to be buried next to Leah, the woman he had chosen to place in the family tomb. Finally, he could see a beauty that mattered. I imagine his change of heart had a lot to do with their shared faith in God, and their recognition that He was responsible for every good thing they had. (Study those names!) And didn’t God choose Leah as well? For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah, Heb 7:14, who was Leah’s son.
God will notice our faith, our desire to talk with Him, our recognition of His providence and care. Prayer is not about entitlement, but gratitude.
Oh give thanks unto Jehovah, for his lovingkindness endures forever.
Oh give thanks unto the God of gods, for his lovingkindness endures forever.
Oh give thanks unto the Lord of lords, for his lovingkindness endures forever.