Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leah Won’t Be Beat -- Genesis 30:9-13

When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, "How fortunate!" So she named him Gad. Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, "Happy am I! For women will call me happy." So she named him Asher.

After giving birth to four sons for Jacob, Leah stopped being able to conceive. Whether or not she had given birth to any female children is not known. It is possible she did not and the scripture account is complete. It is also possible that the writer, in keeping with a patriarchal society that focuses on male heirs, mentions only boy children. Regardless, Leah having watched her sister Rachel, who she knew was loved more by her husband Jacob than she herself was, give Jacob two sons through her maid Bilhah, now decides that two can play that game and gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a wife.

Jacob could have said, “Hold on here a moment. Enough is enough. You gave me children directly while Rachel could not and she gave them to me through her maid. We don’t need any more children and I certainly don’t need to take your maid as a wife.” He didn’t say that perhaps figuring that if he had three wives, having four wouldn’t make that much difference especially if it made his first wife happy. Making and keeping Leah happy was important since he clearly loved his second wife, Rachel, more.

So he takes her maid as a wife, has sexual relations with her, and Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Leah considers this to be most fortunate for herself and names the boy Gad a Hebrew word translated as ‘a troop’ but having interpretative implications for being rich and fortunate simply due to the magnitude of one’s resources – in this case, children. And Leah’s fortunate continues as Zilpah bore Jacob a second son, his eighth. For Leah, fortune brings happiness and she calls this son Asher that is translated from the Hebrew to mean ‘happy’. But was there indeed real happiness in the household of Jacob?

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1 comment:

  1. Is anybody in this lineage ever going to be happy? As the "wheel of life" turns around and around will the dysfunction continue into the next generation yet again? Children are smart little sprouts,... in this family they'll soon figure this out,... they weren't loved and wanted for themselves, but were biological notches on someone's belt. Deep down they will feel caught in the crossfire of family jealousies.