Notice Leah’s Eyes, [Handicaps]

Portait of woman wearing scarf with eyes closed Stuck in the wonderful convolutions of scripture we can start a great study of Leah and her sister Rachel. These two daughters of Laban have become Jacob’s wives.

Now, we may question this polygamy when all we know is monogamy. These kind of decisions may be criticized and even outright challenged, but we will change nothing (and does it really matter)?

Jacob longs for Rachel. She is his “soul mate” and because he is so much in love, the customs and technicalities of the day somehow get by him. Because of this, he will have to take on Laban’s subtle trickery, where daughters get exchanged, and he must sort out who is who. Laban’s deception really creates a crisis. But it seems Jacob just rolls with it. I suppose deception has always been Jacob’s strong suit. (But when a deceiver gets deceived, that can’t be all bad, I suppose).

Jacob is so in love with Rachel that he works for seven years for the right to marry her. This may be a bit outrageous. But we really must weigh these issues. I believe Jacob really is a monogamist at heart (shh… don’t tell him). He can only see that one girl that he is crazy about, his true love, Rachel. But it’s Leah that I think about. Her own issues are unique. Genesis 29 explains it a bit cryptically,

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.” 

Genesis 29:17

I must tell you that there is confusion by commentators about the “weak eyes.” Some take it literally (as in, she in very “near-sighted,”) others who look at the original Hebrew find the words to be a bit looser and vague. They think that this is a polite way of saying she really wasn’t pretty. IDK, but I think I can gain from either interpretation.

In the long view, Leah would birth four patriarchs for Israel. But she would struggle with jealousy over her younger sister’s beauty and favor. Her pain was real, and she would hurt deeply over this.

I think I may understand Leah. She is wounded, and life requires that she live as unwanted. She sticks out as a woman of tragedy and broken hopes and dreams. She will always live as a reject. At best, she will always be a distant second, and perhaps a bit scorned and neglected for this.

I so love Leah and I do understand her. Her life is a long tragedy and very full of sadness. For the next 30-40 years she will always be a cast-off, someone who has been broken on life’s hard wheel. I look at her with a painful bit of understanding. She reminds me of being a struggler and a survivor. Her sad life is comparable to us who have to fight so hard over our own illness or handicap.

I suppose its “Leah’s eyes” that catch me. I have no idea what the issue was. But I know that she was weak, and challenged by this terrible weakness. I understand this. My own life has been “topsy-turvy” and a really hard struggle. Somehow it seems we must work through way too much. It doesn’t seem fair. But than again, we are the ones who must drink our adversity straight; and the ones who get to know special comfort.

For those of you who are confined to a ‘chair,’ and the others who must deal with mental illness. Leah should be our hero.

Those who have been betrayed by addiction, or who have felt rejected through a bitter divorce. Leah speaks to us. For she is for every loser and for failures of all stripes. But through all of our “set-backs” and messes, we must realize that God does love us– even as we weep.

We may have “Leah’s eyes,” but we also have His grace.

One more thought that might be relevant:

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

–Francis de Sales

 

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Not for Sale!

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What is the most valuable thing that you possess? A gold locket, a grandfather clock, or a ring? With that clearly defined, would you then trade that item? How much– offered $50,000 or a $500,000, would you sell it? Consider Genesis 25:27-34.

27 As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. 30 Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)

31 “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”

32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”

33 But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.

Inserted into this conversation is a transaction of sorts– I give you this, for that. I’ve always read this straight, and had more questions than answers. I’m confused with how Esau could do such a stupid thing. Stew– for a “birthright”? What the ______? He’s a moron!

Then instead of straight I read this above passage and read into it a sense of humor. All of a sudden the situation came alive and the questions lifted. If Esau is joking, but Jacob is not it changes nothing. Esau is still a “dope.” But it explains how he trades the intangible and eternal for the edible and the temporary. “But I was just joking!”

Esau is left broken and sort of betrayed by Jacob. What he had was ripped off, and he had nothing to show for it. What he didn’t take seriously was by someone else. How often am I guilty of the same thing?

My own heirloom is precious. It is eternal. It is a relationship with God– intimacy with the Creator of my soul and of the universe. But I sell it off for something as trivial as a bowl of lentil stew. WHAT???!!! The enemy values what he does not possess. My salvation is real, and a precious gift. But Satan (my adversary) continually chips away at it, and I more or else could care less.

Esau scares me a bit. I am too much like him. I wear his sandals quite well. I ease up and dismiss what is real; I trade it for the world of illusory pleasure of the moment. I then must live with the consequences of my foolish choice. It is a bitter blow.

God forgives. When I do confess and repent a measure is retrieved for me. I choose to avoid the savory stew of the present and hold tight to my faith. It is the most precious thing I have.

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.”

Revelation 3:11, NLT

Making a Trade

“How poor was Jacob’s motion, and how strange 

His offer! How unequal was th’ exchange!

A mess of porridge for an inheritance?

Why could not hungry Esau strive t’ enhance

His price a little? So much underfoot?

Well might he give him bread and drink to boot:

An easy price! The case is even our own;

For toys we often sell our Heaven, our Crown.”

Francis Quarles, (May 1592 – September 1644)

Reading this dusty old poem isn’t really my favorite thing to do. Contrary to public opinion, I don’t walk around the house quoting Shakespeare or even Milton. (Just so you know, right now I’m listening to baseball on the radio and thinking about a hotdog, with onion and mustard.)

But this brief poem (the best kind!) really resonated in me. I sensed the Holy Spirit focus me on the words, and deliver to me something special. I would like to think that this is going to happen to you as well. But that is not a certainty.

Quarles’ poem sketches out the story in Genesis 25, of Jacob and Esau. For many years I have been moderately perplexed by Esau’s actions and Jacob’s conniving. Esau seems stupid, and Jacob manipulates him.

“Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”

 “But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.”

“Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.”

Genesis 25:32-34, NLT

The issue seems to be that I am very much like Esau. And I also seem to have the manipulative style of Jacob. I can trade off my “inheritance” as quick as anyone alive. Depending upon my mercurial moods, I will trade my supernatural peace and hope for swill. And I can do this without a second thought.

Quarles poem ends with this,

“An easy price! The case is even our own;

For toys we often sell our Heaven, our Crown.”

Toys, trinkets, trifles. I trade away the things are most precious for “swill.” But I am hoping that my heart will change, and I will stop trading off what is eternal.

ybic, Bryan