God saw ...
... that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.
He also saw how it hurt Leah to be loved less (it always hurts to be loved less, so always love the best you can!).
“What troubles I have,” Leah cried herself to sleep one night. “If only I could have a baby, then Jacob would be happy, and he would love me more.”
Well, maybe Jacob loved Leah less, but God didn’t.
And so God blessed Leah, and soon she was going to have a baby.
The necessary months passed, and soon Jacob was the father of a newborn baby. It was his first child. It was a boy, and Leah named him Reuben, a name that sounded like “God has seen my trouble” in her language.
“Now Jacob will love me more,” Leah thought.
But he didn’t.
“Dear God, if I had another baby, maybe Jacob would love me then,” Leah prayed one night. “Please hear my prayer, and answer me.”
And sure enough, God did hear her prayer, and she had another baby. She named him Simeon, which means, “God hears.”
But still, Jacob didn’t love her any more.
And so she had another baby. She named her third child Levi. That means ”Tied together.” “Jacob will surely be tied to me, now that I have given him three sons,” she thought.
And then she had ANOTHER baby. She praised God for his goodness to her, and named him Judah, which means “Praise God!”
(One day, in the long distant future, another baby would be born. His parents would name him Jesus. He would come from the family of Judah. But he would be the Son of God, born on earth. His perfect life would be the highest praise to God.)
All this time, Rachel wasn’t able to give Jacob any children.
She had to watch her sister cuddle and play with each new baby. And she had to stand by and watch while Jacob spent more and more time with Leah and his children.
Every time her sister had a baby, it bothered her more and more. She was afraid Jacob would stop loving her.
“Let’s have a baby together, before I waste away and die,” she finally said to Jacob late one warm summer evening.
But Jacob said, “Who do you think I am? It’s not up to me whether you are able to have a baby or not. Only God can do that!”
But Rachel was desperate, so she said, “Then marry my servant, and have a baby for me by her.” And so Jacob married Rachel’s servant, and soon they had a son.
Now Rachel had a baby too, well, sort of anyway. She named her servant’s baby Dan, which meant, “God has judged in my favor.”
Rachel’s servant had another baby.
Rachel said, “Now I am starting to win this fight with my sister!” She named her new son Naphtali, which means “The Fight.”
It seemed like Rachel and Leah were having “Baby Wars.”
They were trying to see who could have the most babies, to see who Jacob would love best.
Now Leah was the one, watching Rachel bouncing a new baby on her knee. And Jacob was spending more time with Rachel again. Leah saw how happy Jacob was.
This didn’t sit too well with her. So she said to Jacob, “Here, you can marry MY servant and have even more babies with her!”
“Okay,” Jacob said, “I guess that would be good.”
And soon Jacob had another son. Leah named her new son Gad, which means, “God has given me good fortune.”
Soon, Leah’s servant had another baby. Leah said, “How happy I am! Now other women will call me happy too!” And so she named her new son Asher, which means "Happy."
Now Jacob was the proud father of 8 growing boys! Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
It was harvest time, and Leah’s son Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrakes. Mandrakes were a kind of plant that people thought helped to make it easier to have babies. And so Rachel said to Reuben, “May I have some of your mandrakes?” Well, Leah heard this, and she said to Rachel, “Isn’t it enough that you are trying to steal my husband, now you want my son’s mandrakes too?”
Rachel said to Leah, “If you let me have some mandrakes, you may spend the night with Jacob, and maybe you will be able to have another baby.”
And so that night Leah and Jacob were together, and God blessed them. They did have another baby. “God has rewarded me with another child!” Leah said, and so she named the baby Issachar, which means “Reward.”
Leah had another baby after that! It was her sixth son. “What a wonderful gift God has given me!” she said, so she named the baby Zebulun, which means “A Gift.”
And then, surprise of surprises, Leah had ANOTHER baby - only this time - it was a girl! She named her Dinah.
But, in all of this, God hadn’t forgotten about Rachel. And so he blessed her, and at long last she had a baby of her own. Rachel prayed, “God has taken away my sorrow! May he bless me with even another son!” So she named her new baby Joseph, which means, “God has taken away one thing, now may he give another.”
Jacob was now the father of twelve; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, and Joseph.
This last one, Joseph, was going to change their lives forever.
And ours too.