On Beauty Contests
"Leah was tender eyed; but Rachael was beautiful and well favored" ...(Gen29:17) . 5:1)
It must have been hard to be Leah. The Bible describes her younger sister as beautiful and well favored. She is, on the other hand, cryptically called by the writer of Genesis “tender eyed,” whatever that is. We don’t know if looking at her made your eyes hurt, but she has been the brunt of preachers jokes all these years. Rachael was the beauty. Jacob wanted her. He was willing to work for seven years to earn her as wages. That Laban threw Leah into the deal as a “bonus” did not amuse Jacob or make Leah feel any better. The look on Jacob’s face in the morning must have broken Leah’s heart. He was disappointed to say the least. The stealer of birthrights did not like it when the tables were turned.
Leah was the older. Scholars question whether Jacob actually worked the full seven years before that wedding night or not. Perhaps Laban had hoped that someone would ask for her hand in marriage before Rachael’s wedding day. No one did.
As the story goes, it is said that Jacob “Loved Rachel more than Leah” (Gen. 29:30). The next verse is more painful, saying “he hated her.” Scholars are quick to point out that the word “hated” does not mean “hated” as we use it, but rather it means “not chosen,” as if that is any less painful. If you have ever been “not chosen” you know just how painful that is.
Being the last one chosen when boys choose sides on the sand-lot is a “painful” experience. Not being “chosen” when everyone else goes off to the prom (or to the party) is something many a young girl will remember forever. Being left out, or left off because of the “terrible toos” is hurtful also. Some are too-ugly, too-fat, too-young, too-old, too-poor, too-alien, too-something, and therefore not chosen.
As I said, it must have been hard to be Leah. Life is not fair and not everyone is “well favored.” This world worships the young, the rich and the beautiful. Beauty is a currency that trades on the stock exchange of a carnal world. Rachael had nothing to do with being born second or being so beautiful. What happened does not say as much about her as it does about Jacob. We men are fools.
God blessed Leah. Reuben , Simeon, Levi, and Judah were born to her in quick succession. With each she hoped Jacob would love her more. He did not. Even having babies became a contest she could not win.
That which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit. Let every Leah learn. The New Testament says “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2Cor. 10:12).
What Leah is in the eyes of God is more important than what she was in the eyes of others. Compare yourself to Jesus. He is the gold standard, no, the God standard. Seek to live and love like Him and let the world do with you what it will. Leah, it seemed, could never please Jacob. Our goal in life is simple. It is to please God, and “that,” my friend, is beautiful.