Leah & Rachel | Genesis 29:31-30:24

Week 6 | Study Guide & Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION 

When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. (Genesis 29:31)

And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!” (Genesis 30:24)

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

OPENING THOUGHT 

Continuing the legacy of his father, Isaac raised two sons, Esau and Jacob, and even within their mother’s womb, the twins wrestled with one another. The conflict only escalated when Jacob tricked Esau out of the birthright and blessing of the firstborn. Knowing that Esau was in a murderous rage, Jacob then fled to the homeland of his mother to find a wife and let his brother’s wrath cool down. In Haran, Jacob did find a wife among his mother’s kinsmen, yet after working seven years to marry Rachel, Jacob was tricked into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah instead.

Our current text picks up where the previous left off. Jacob is now in a polygamous marriage to two sisters. He loves one and does not care for the other. The familial conflict that arises contains all the drama and craziness of a soap opera. Leah has four kids, hoping that they will cause Jacob to love her. Rachel is barren, so out of jealously, she has Jacob impregnate her servant girl in her place. Leah considers Rachel’s strategy to be good enough, so she gives her servant to Jacob as well. Leah then bears a couple more kids herself, and Rachel finally gives birth to one.

The narrative contains all the drama one would expect from a polygamous marriage. As with all things, the Bible is brutally honest about the damaging effects of sin, and there is much sin to learn from here. Jacob certainly does not behave like the leader of his household; instead, he silently follows Leah and Rachel into sin. Leah and Rachel are both discontented and covetous of each other. Leah wants the love Rachel has from Jacob, and Rachel wants Leah’s multitude of children. Discontentment and envy are able to destroy families and friendships faster than almost anything.

Read verses 31-35 and discuss the following.

  • God sees that Rachel is loved and Leah is hated, so He opens Leah’s womb and closes Rachel’s. This is an example of God showing mercy to the afflicted. What are some other examples (biblical or otherwise) of God defending the afflicted?

Read verses 1-13 and discuss the following.

  • After seeing her sister give birth to four sons, Rachel is extremely envious of Leah. In her desperation for children, Rachel orders Jacob to impregnate her servant Bilhah, that she might have children through her servant. She then believes that God was pleased with her actions. Similarly, what are some ways that we might misrepresent God?
  • Fearing her sister, Leah follows after Rachel’s sin, ordering Jacob to impregnate her servant Zilpah. She names Zilpah’s second son, Asher, which means happy. Leah was happy because women called her happy. Why is it both unbiblical and unwise to base our happiness upon how others think of us?

Read verses 14-24 and discuss the following.

  • God finally opens Rachel’s womb, allowing her to give birth to Joseph, but Rachel’s immediate prayer is for another son. Why is discontentment such a dangerous sin?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Take a moment to consider the destructiveness of Rachel and Leah’s discontentment. Consider areas of life where you are similarly discontent. Bring them to the LORD in prayer, asking Him for contentment with the blessings that He has given.
  • Pray. The only true antidote for discontentment is a heart of thankfulness. Make time each day to pray a prayer of thanksgiving to the LORD for His many blessings.
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