But there is another women in this story, one not mentioned directly, and her story is also a story of grace.
In Genesis 29 we get the love story of Jacob and Rachel. And it seems to have been love at first sight. Upon seeing Rachel Jacob kisses her and weeps aloud (29.11). We're told that Rachel had "a lovely figure and was beautiful" (29:17). And the text just directly comes out and says in 29.18: "Jacob was in love with Rachel."
In short, this is the very first love story in the bible.
So in love with Rachel was Jacob that his seven years of labor to earn her hand in marriage flew by (29:20): "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her."
It's all very, very romantic.
But as we know, Rachel's father Laban pulls a trick on Jacob. Instead of marrying Rachel after seven years of service Laban sneaks Leah into the bedroom, Rachel's older and less attractive sister. Discovering he consummated a marriage with Leah instead of Rachel Jacob finds out that he has to work for Laban another seven years to win the hand of Rachel.
So that's what Jacob does. And finally, seven years later, the love story reaches its fitting consummation. Rachel and Jacob are wed.
Hollywood ending. Rachel and Jacob ride off into the sunset. The most romantic love story in the bible.
But the underside of the story is that Leah is kicked to the curb. As the text says, Jacob's "love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah."
So then what happens?
When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.Interesting, isn't it?
The Hollywood script would have privileged the love story, right? Think about it. This is the very first love story in the bible. And what happens?
God loves the one not loved. This is, suddenly, a very different and unexpected sort of Love Story. The script of the Hollywood romance is turned upside down.
Grace interrupts the Cinderella story. Or, rather, grace begins a new sort of Cinderella story in picking and privileging the ugly one, the forgotten one, the unloved one.
God's love fills the space in the heart that human love leaves empty and aching.
The Lord saw that she was not loved.
The Lord sees those who are not loved, all those left out of the Cinderella story.
Which brings us back to Jesus's genealogy, a family tree where the stories of women tell a tale of grace. The genealogy starts of this way:
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:And who was the mother of Judah? Rachel, the beautiful one loved by Jacob? Rachel of the Hollywood love story script?
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah...
Genesis 29.35It was Leah, the ugly, unloved one.
Leah gave birth to a son...
she named him Judah.
It was the woman unloved by a man but loved by God.
It was Leah who was the mother of Judah.
It was Leah who was the Mother of the Kings.