Women in the Bible were brave. Noah’s wife climbed on a boat filled with animals. Ester gained the approval of the king and saved the Jews, Jael killed Sisera, Hannah entered the temple, Deborah went into battle and that’s just some of the old testament. In the new testament we read about Mary who bore Jesus at 14, fled to Egypt, and watched her son die on a cross. A woman who washed and wept on Jesus feet and another woman who touched his garment as was healed. I think we forget how difficult all these deeds were for these women in that time. I also believe if we study them we will ourselves learn how to become a bit more brave. So that is what my next group of writings will be about. I plan to go though the Bible and discuss these brave women.
These women faced very real fear and anxiety. Many times their actions could have had consequences that resulted in excommunication, abandonment and death. But they were brave and faced many difficulties.
I’m going to start my study by discussing Leah. Leah’s story begins in Genesis 29. Jacob has traveled to his Uncle Laban’s home and agrees work for Laban for 7 years in exchange for the marriage of Laban’s daughter Rachel. We find out that Leah is older than Rachel and has “weak eyes.” Rachel is in turn more beautiful than Leah. In Genesis 29 verse 21 Jacob tells Laban that he has worked his seven years and that he wants to marry Rachel. Laban prepares a wedding feast for Jacob but disguises his daughter Leah as the bride and gives her to Jacob in marriage. Jacob consummates the marriage with Leah and realizes after the fact that she is not Rachel and is outraged. Ok I’m stopping here for a minute. This should give you an idea of how little rights Leah had. She was forced to disguise her self and marry a man promised to her sister. Her father didn’t wait around for her to find a true love or suiter he just gave her away. Leah was basically abandoned, rejected by her father.
Jacob then goes to Laban and says (verse 26) “What is this that you have done to me? Did I not work for you (seven years) for Rachel? Why have you deceived and betrayed me like this?” Laban’s answer is that traditionally the oldest daughter must be married before the youngest. He tells Jacob to finish out the week of the wedding feast and then he can marry Rachel and work another 7 years. Leah is rejected again, this time by Jacob.
We find out in verse 30 that Jacob lived with Rachel and loved her more than Leah. So Leah is now in a marriage she probably didn’t want to be in and unloved by her husband.
In verse 31 it says that the “Lord saw Leah was unloved, he mad her able to bear children. But Rachel was barren.” This gave Leah some hope and she bore 3 boys in hopes to win Jacobs affections. She even named her babies to get his attention. Rueben, her first born name means See a Son! Her second son Simeon’s name means God Hears because it says in verse 33 “Because the Lord heard I am unloved, he has given me this son also.” The third son she named Levi, thinking that would make her husband attach to her as a companion. Levi means joined in harmony. Then, and here is where I think she finally got brave, She had a fourth son (verse 35) and named him Judah saying “Now I will praise the Lord.”
Something happened to Leah while she was pregnant with her fourth baby. She quit trying to win Jacob’s affections. I believe she realized God loved her, God provided these babies for her, who I am sure loved her and depended on her. She found her fulfillment in God and not being Jacob’s wife. I believe her rejection was healed. I believe she was able to love her boys and to let go of that rejection and love, well that’s brave.
Rejection is an awful thing. We all have experienced it at some level. It can cause sadness, depression. It can cause us not to want to reach out to others. It can cause us to hurt others. It can make us do things we would never dream of doing, bad things not good. Leah knew rejection well but she was brave enough to love again. To love that little baby Judah and be thankful for him. I think the way to fight what rejection does to our souls is to be brave enough to love someone again.
Later in her life, Leah and Rachel left with Jacob to travel back to his home. Both wives agreed to travel but Leah went boldly while Rachel went to her father’s house and stole his idols, (Genesis 31: 14-20). I think Rachel was scared, she either wanted the idols as protection or she wanted her father to come after her. I think Leah was brave to go with a husband who didn’t love her to a place she didn’t know. I think she went on faith.
Our faith can be fuel to make us brave. We have to have faith to step out and love others and answer God’s call on our lives. Leah was able to do that. I hope her story encourages you to step out and be brave.