Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Genesis 30:22-24 NIV
After his double marriage whereby he became a husband to two sisters from the same father, Jacob began to have sons born to him.
The first of his wives to begin to giving birth was Leah. Since the Lord saw that she was hated, and was not as appreciated by her husband as Rachel was, the Lord opened Leah’s womb, and she began to conceive and give birth.
The name of her first child was Reuben, who was followed closely by Simeon, and then Levi and then Judah. It was recorded that after giving birth to Judah, Leah seized giving birth for the mean time. But she exulted in the fact that she had given to her husband four sons, and so hoped that her husband will love her.
This is one challenge that arose from this polygamous marriage. Here is a woman hoping that somehow she has now earned her husband’s love and affection. But this was not God’s order for marriage.
The Love of the husband for his wife was not supposed to depend on performance (be it in bed or in giving birth to children or any other thing)… It was supposed to be a microcosm (a perfect replica) of the love of Christ which was without condition. The scriptures said that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We pray for God’s mercies upon those marriages wherein the wife is not certain of the husband’s love; where the wife has to labour hard, do one thing or the other in order to ‘earn’ her husband’s love. This is not how God ordained it. Where God’s pattern is followed in marriage, a woman is not supposed to have anyone competing with her for her husband’s love; she should be able to know that she’s loved, appreciated and is her husband’s most loved possession (children or no children).
While Leah was basking in the euphoria of having given birth to children (even though that did not earn her Jacob’s love), Rachel was barren and could not give birth. Since things were the way they were, Jacob did not even have any kind of relationship with God that would have empowered him to pray for his beloved wife, just like his father Isaac had prayed for Rebekah.
So, when Rachel demanded that Jacob give her children, Jacob simply became upset and asked her if he is God that gives children. Then Rachel brought up a very ingenious suggestion. He asked Jacob to sleep with her personal maid, Bilhah, so that she will now have surrogate children through Bilhah. Jacob consented and slept with Bilhah. Of course we do not know how many times they slept together, but their sexual encounters produced two sons, Dan and Naphtali.
When Leah saw what was happening, she too gave her personal maid, Zilpah, to Jacob to sleep with; and their sexual encounters also produced two sons, Gad and Asher.
We saw that there was clearly some form of power play that went on between the two main wives of Jacob. When Rachael demanded for some madrake plants which Reuben (Leah’s son) had found in the fields, Leah demanded that she wishes to sleep with their husband, Jacob, in exchange for her son’s mandrakes. The deal was sealed, and she went and accosted Jacob on his way home and also slept with him. She then gave birth in that season to two sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and a girl, Dinah.
Finally, God remembered Rachel and had mercy on her. Rachel had cried severally to God, and God heard her. She too became pregnant and have birth to a son whom he named Joseph, saying, “the Lord shall add me another son.”
Thus, by the completion of his 7 extra years of service to Laban, and a few more years had passed, Jacob already had 11 children from 4 women…. Not a good testimony by any standard of Scriptures. It just looked like the average African celebrity who can have 5 children from 4 women.
This is what happens when God is not involved in a man’s journeyings in life, especially in his marriage.
AND SO? May God show mercy and restore the love and peace in marital homes where there are crises due to one issue or the other, including child bearing. May the Lord hear the prayer of our sisters who are yet to give birth to children and bless them with a fruit of the womb.
Much more, may our homes be examples of what happens when God is in charge in a home, and may our children be godly seeds that will glorify God.