Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 56 - Summer (Dec-Feb) 2014/15 > Dear Diary - It's Leah (by Erica Green)
Dear Diary - It's Leah
by Erica Green
Dear Diary - It's Leah
(A Life Journey from Bitterness to Contentment)
The following is what might be extracts from the diary or journal of the Bible character Leah and is loosely based on Genesis 29-30. It is in no way intended to be a theological dissertation but is rather an attempt to get into the head of what this character might have been thinking and feeling at various times in her life. It is written from a modern day perspective and shows her progression from bitter teenager to a mature woman, content in God's blessings.
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Do you ever have one of those days when you just feel like a total frump? I am not 'totally' ugly but everyone knows that my sister Rachel is the gorgeous one. She has been the spoiled one ever since she was a baby. All she needs to do is smile sweetly and she can get away with anything. And now that we are older, all the boys hang around her like bees around a honey pot. Who will even look at me when she is around?
You will not believe the stories that Rachel has bought back from her sheep watering chores. Only Rachel could go out into the back of beyond and come back with a man in tow, and not one of the usual scraggy shepherds that you meet either. She is full of stories of this handsome and strong cousin of ours who rolled away the stone from the well so that she could water the sheep. I guess he will be staying with us for a while, so she will be well into 'tissy' eye fluttering mode I would presume. I must admit though he is handsome.
Well we have now found out today why Jacob has arrived, to 'scrounge' off his Uncle Laban. He is on the run to save his skin from his twin brother Esau's revenge. He has done the dirty on his brother by tricking his father into giving him the birthright rather than to the rightful first born. All hell has broken loose in their house and he has turned tail and run. Our Aunt of course was into this deception up to her elbows. She is Dad's sister after all and has the sneaky family gene in abundance.
Well it is official. Jacob has stayed with us for a month now and he has fallen head over heels for Rachel. Could we not see this coming a mile off?
He has no dowry to offer of course, but Dad has pulled another of his famous underhanded deals. He has conned Jacob into working for seven years in lieu of a dowry. Seven years, can you believe that? Jacob may be handsome and all that but he is certainly not a shrewd business man. How naive can you get? Rachel must be the most expensive bride in the country. Seven years with no wages. The novelty will surly wear off on that one.
Now by rights, it is my place to get married first as the oldest, but I guess seven years is a long way off and plenty of time for me to find a husband.
More Gossip for you. The servants are calling Jacob a mummy's boy, behind his back of course. He is not really hairy for a bloke so I had thought that was why they had dubbed him thus. But, there is more to the story. Apparently when he was at home with my Uncle Isaac and Aunt Rebekah and my cousin Esau, he would spend most of his time hanging around the tent with the women rather than going out hunting with Esau. Well he is getting his fair share of work here now, with what dad is making him do in order to earn Rachel's hand in marriage.
I guess in hindsight I can see what the servants mean. He is really easy to talk with. I have never had conversations with any other man, or woman for that matter, like I have had with him. When he talks with you it is like you have his undivided attention and he makes you feel like there is nothing else in the whole world that is more important than what you are saying to him.
Well Jacob is definitely part of the family by now and Rachel really loves him. Despite his history, he is a kind man and I enjoy his company around the place.
I see how he looks at Rachel and I will admit to being jealous. I can't help staring at him and wondering what it would be like if it were me that he looked upon with such ardour. How would it feel to have someone so besotted with you? I do let my imagination run riot, more than is good for me I am sure.
Jacob is still sticking to his dowry deal with dad. I cannot believe it, he is 6 years through the term, or perhaps that should read sentence. I will give it to him he is a hard worker and certainly still handsome.
He and Rachel are still all mushy and starry eyed in love. Anyway, they may just have to wait a little longer until I find my "Mr Right" first. No one on the horizon putting his hand up for that job.
My dad usually just ignores me, but today he came specifically to my room to see me in private. At first I was pleased at the attention but that soon faded into anxiety, which quickly plunged into downright fear, when I realised that there was something seriously wrong and that it was my entire fault. I have seen him angry before but never have I taken the full brunt of his anger like I did today.
Things had been getting a bit tense as we got closer to the end of Rachel and Jacobs seven year betrothal. Dad had been avoiding the subject until Jacob finally confronted him. "Give me my wife", I think were the terms that were bluntly used and who can blame him after seven years. Dad was mad with me for not having been able to attract a husband within the last seven years. I am a shame on the family. I was supposed to be married by now so that he could fulfil his obligation to Jacob and give Rachel to him.
Even scarier was the next of dad's schemes that I was to be embroiled in. He was going to get me married off one way or another. He was in such a rage and I am sure that he was making it all up as he went along. I thought that he was going to go out and grab the first passing guy and pay him to marry me or something stupid like that, but no, he could do better than that. I was to be dressed up and passed off as Rachel at their wedding.
He starts to rant on about how technically he promised Jacob his daughter, he had not said which one. Talk about "small print" in the contract.
Could the deception work? A wedding at night with a thick veil and a slightly drunk husband all formed part of this plan that was unfolding before my terrified eyes. Aunt Rebekah had disguised Jacob in order to trick Isaac into giving him the birthright and her brother was now working the same trick back on Jacob. I tell you sneakiness fair gallops in this family gene pool.
How can I be a part of this? I tried every objection I could think of.
- He does not love me.
- I am sure that I will find someone soon.
- He will notice that I am not Rachel. After all they have been engaged for seven years. He will know every mannerism.
- What about Rachel? How will you do all this without her knowing?
Dad threatened to disown me and throw me out of the family to fend for myself if I did not go along with his plan. What am I to do?
I am sick to my stomach. I just don't know what to do. In order to execute this plan of deception, dad needs my complete co-operation.
On the one hand
- I could refuse to go along with it.
- I could try hard to drop the odd hint and hope that Jacob picks up on it and calls a stop to the whole farce.
- I could tell Rachel and she would put a stop to the whole thing.
- I will be out in the wilderness fending for myself against the elements if I am not careful.
On the other hand
- I would be married to a good and kind man.
- He might grow to love me or he might hate me for the rest of my life.
- I could have the chance to have children before I am too old.
- I will be cared for financially.
- My sister will hate me for the rest of her life. Well what else is new? There is little connection between us now anyway.
The Ten Commandments tell us to honour our parents, but surely it was not meant for this situation.
What has my father gotten me into? What have I done?
On the up side, the wedding night was amazing. I got to feel what it was like to be Rachel and just for one night to have someone love me as much as Rachel has.
The whole experience was bitter-sweet as I knew that it would be short lived. I stayed awake all night in order to drink in the experience as much as I could. I knew that morning was coming and with it, all hell would break loose. The look on Jacob's face, as he slowly woke up and rolled over, just tore my soul apart. In one night I had gone from being the love of his life to being a serpent in his bed. If ever I felt unloved and worthless it was now. I know it is my own fault. I went along with the plan. I could have and I should have done something to let him know. As cousin and friend I owed him that, but I was so scared.
I was waiting for his wrath to fall upon me. He had every right to be angry with me but strangely, after the initial shock, he did not seem to lay the blame on me. Somehow it might have been easier to bear if he had. He looked into my eyes and I felt that he could see to my very soul and what I saw in return in his eyes was pity. Being unloved is one thing but being pitied is just soul destroying.
For the rest of my life I will be known as 'switch' girl. Bait and switch I think is the technical term for this con job. This technique is usually reserved for shonky business deals, but my father has taken it to a whole new level and I have been dragged down with the deal. 'Dowry discount' girl would have been bad enough but it would have to be better than this.
Jacob has had it out with Dad. You could hear the shouting and crying all around the Camp. Rachel has reappeared from where she had been hidden and she is not a happy soul. I am not sure who she blames the most:- Dad for being so dodgy and going back on his word - me for going along with the plan - and to some extent even Jacob, for being so stupid as to fall for the switch.
After much more shouting and storming around, a new deal was struck. Jacob is to spend the wedding week with me and then there would be another wedding arranged and Rachel would be given to him as a second wife. Of course there will be another seven years to be served as a dowry, but this time, payment will be in arrears rather than in advance. Jacob has finally learned not to be so trusting.
I thought that Jacob may have refused to recognise our marriage. It shows you what kind of a man he has become. He now stands true to his word even though he had every right to try and get out of it.
I can tell you, that the fact that I am wife number one in this deal is of little comfort. This last week has just been hell. I feel so alone. I am either; hated, pitied or ridiculed by the whole household. Granted my relationship with my sister and father were not all that great before, but now they are totally beyond repair. My relationship with Jacob though has been reasonable. It has not been love, but whatever it is, it has been good. The impact of the deception on this relationship is the one that I regret the most.
I hate my father for what he has made me do and I hate myself for not being strong enough to stand up to him. Being an old maid would be better than this.
So I am now on my eight day anniversary and my husband is sleeping with his new wife, the wife that he loves with a passion. With a passion that he can never show for me. I think that says it all really.
How can I legitimately feel abandoned when he never was mine in the first place? How can I legitimately feel resentment for my sister for taking someone who was never mine? How pathetic. I am not even entitled to my own feelings.
Jacob continues to occasionally fulfil his husbandly duties. Trust me, that is what it feels like too ... a duty. Even though he was a bit tipsy at the time, nothing compares to the wedding night. Nothing compares to when he thought I was Rachel. I have experienced one night of what must be happening in "their" tent at night now and there is no comparison. No love, no foreplay, just on to the obligatory deed.
I try to make things alluring for him but he is not interested and who can blame him after what I have done. I guess I should be grateful that there is the chance of motherhood for me but that part of me has always been a bit dodgy, so that may even be denied me. I can't even pray to God for a child because I know that I don't deserve to be happy, because of what I have done.
Can it be? Is it possible? I am counting days and it has been two months since my last period. I know that they have been a bit erratic, so I am trying not to get my hopes up. I am feeling a little squeamish but is that just me trying to convince myself of what I want to be?
Yes, I am pregnant alright. I would say about four or five months now. I am so excited and scared at the same time. I have not told anyone yet, but for my maidservant, Zilpah. She worked it out early on in the piece but I have sworn her to secrecy. I don't want anyone else to share in my news just yet. I want the happiness to be just mine for a while. There I said it, for the first time in so long, I feel happy.
Okay, I can't keep it a secret anymore. I am like the side of a tent. In fact, I should be wearing the tent as a dress.
The family reaction so far.
- Dad is quoting Deuteronomy that says that if a man has two wives and he loves one but not the other, then he must provide a double share of his inheritance to the son of the unloved wife. So there is something to be said for justice in the law.
- Rachel is so peeved off. She has not talked to me since the wedding but this news was sufficient to bring her wrath down in vocal form.
- As for Jacob, I really don't know. I wish that he would talk to me.
So that is the process of birth. What a way to bring a child into the world. Sometimes I really wonder what God was thinking in the reproduction design phase.
But the good news is that I have a healthy baby son. I cannot begin to describe the feelings that are surging around my head and body. I have called him Reuben which means, 'the Lord has seen my misery'. God has seen how miserable I have been and has blessed me with a son. Here in this child are the beginnings of a clean slate of a relationship with no baggage attached. I feel that I have for once done something good that I can be proud of.
Jacob is finally taking a little bit of interest in me now that I have given him a child, much to Rachel's discontentment of course. Jacob really looked at me today, with something other than pity, for the first time since the wedding. I am not quite sure what it was but perhaps there is a chance of mending this relationship. I know that he could never love me like he does Rachel but I am willing to settle for less than that. Surely Jacob will love me just a little now that I have given him a son.
Reuben is just a wonderful little boy. Oh sure naughty but I love him to bits. God has seen that Jacob does not love me and has heard me and blessed me with not only one child to love but two, another son even. I have called him Simeon, I really want people to know what God has done for me.
Up to this time Rachel has not even had as much as a false alarm. I hear the servants talking about fights between Rachel and Jacob. She is blaming him for the fact that she is not pregnant and he is blaming God.
Rachel will have nothing to do with my boys even though she is their Aunt
I had hoped that baby boys would alter my relationship with Jacob but apart from the occasional connubial rights visit from Jacob our relationship is pretty much non-existent.
When God blesses you, He certainly does not do half a job. Son number three I have called Levi.
The relationship between Rachel and Jacob is pretty rocky, around the baby thing. He of course has not told me this but rumour has it that Rachel wants him to sleep with Bilhah, Rachel's maid servant, so that she can then have the child as hers. I do find it hard not to feel a little superior to my sister in the baby stakes.
Jacob, I have given you three beautiful sons, why can't you love me? I still really resent the deception that Dad forced me to be involved in. He has denied me the possibility of love. Jacob will never love me, but perhaps someone else may have been able to look past my looks and loved me for who I am. Oh, who am I kidding?
Let me catch you up on the last few years. We are now up to son number four. I feel like I have been perpetually pregnant, not that I am complaining. I looked around long and hard this time to decide what to call number four son and I decided on Judah meaning this time I will praise the lord. This time I will not, look at my misery or wish for Jacob to love me but I will make a conscious decision to praise God instead.
Rachel has been going ballistic and has demanded that Jacob sleep with her maidservant, Bilhah. Well she certainly is fertile if Rachel is not; first Dan and then a year on Naphtali. Rachel claims them as her own and is keeping score. Despite our history I cannot begrudge her that.
These updates are really just getting to be a list of babies these days. Who has time to write anything else? They do consume your life. I may not be lots of things but I am a good mum.
Well there has been a long break in babies for me now. I have thought hard and long as to whether I should do like Rachel and give Zilpah, my maid servant, to Jacob to sleep with. She is young and healthy and would bear healthy babies.
It has been a while since my last post and in that time Zilpah has had two baby boys, Gad and Asher.
It has been some time now since I have had any babies of my own and I was getting a little stir crazy. I know that I am getting on but I really love being a mum.
I sent Reuben off into the fields, he is a big boy now, to collect some mandrake plants. I had heard that it is supposed to be good for helping you get pregnant. Rachel got wind of this and begged me to give her some. I can tell you, she got a piece of my mind that day. "You have taken my husband away and you want to take my mandrake away too. Sure what else would you like, just name it."
But we came to a deal. She could have the mandrake and Rachel would let me have Jacob for the night. The result of which was some son number five, Issachar, so a pretty good deal really. Closely followed by number six son, Zebulun. So much for the properties of mandrake plants then.
So there is still some life in the old womb yet, baby number seven and it is a girl, Dinah. What on earth do you do with a girl? I have got boys all worked out but not so sure about girls. She is gorgeous though. I really do feel differently towards this baby. It will be nice, as I get older, to have a daughter to share with. Whilst I love the boys, they do go off on their own, and Dinah will be good company for me.
Hold the front page, you will never guess the news. No, I am not pregnant again, but guess who is? This would be the last person who you would think. Rachel is waddling round with her belly pushed out as proud as can be. I cannot help but feel pleased for her despite all the trouble between us. I hope it is a boy.
Rachel has a lovely baby boy in her arms, Joseph. I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with emotion for her. I have not seen her look as happy for a very long time. I know that we have been rivals but I can no longer feel bad feelings for her. I am unsure of our relationship from here on but now that she has a baby boy I hope that we can leave the past behind us.
These children have made such a difference in my life. They really do love me and I love them beyond words. I think that I have finally got to the stage where I am happy in being loved by God and by the children that He has given me.
Let Jacob love Rachel with all his heart and I will be thrilled for her. I will be content with where I am and who I am, knowing that God loves and has blessed me.
Rachel was later to die giving birth to Benjamin, and Jacob buried her in Bethlehem. (Genesis 35:16-20) Jacob was to become very protective of Benjamin, his favourite son.
When Leah died, Jacob showed his regard for her by having her buried alongside his grandparents and his parents and when Jacob himself was dying he asks for his body to be taken to Canaan, to be buried next to Leah. (Genesis 49:29-31)
Leah may have felt unloved by Jacob but God honoured her as a mother. It was through Leah's third son, Levi, that the priesthood was established and through her fourth son, Judah, that the messiah would be born.
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