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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Leah', לֵאָה , weary; Sept. Λεία,Vulg. Lia), the eldest daughter of the Aramaean Laban, and sister of Rachel (Genesis 29:16). Instead of the latter, for whom he had served seven years, Jacob took her through a deceit of her father, who was unwilling to give his younger daughter in marriage first, contrary to the usages of the East (Genesis 29:22 sq.; compare Rosenmü ller, Morgenl. 1:138 sq.). B.C. 1920. She was less beautiful than her younger sister (comp. Josephus, Ant. 1:19, 7), having also weak eyes ( עֵינִיַם רִכּוֹת Sept. ὀφθαλμοὶ ἀσθενεῖς , Vulg. lippis oculis, Auth.Vers. "tender-eyed," Genesis 29:17; comp. the opposite quality as a recommendation, 1 Samuel 16:12), which probably accounts for Jacob's preference of Rachel both at first and ever afterwards, especially as he was not likely ever to love cordially one whom he did not voluntarily marry (comp. Genesis 30:20). (See RACHEL).

Leah bore to Jacob, before her sister had any children, six sons, namely, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (Genesis 29:32 sq.), Issachar, and Zebulon (Genesis 30:17 sq.; compare 35:23); also one daughter, Dinah (Genesis 30:21), besides the two sons borne by her maid Zilpah, and reckoned as hers, namely, Gad and Asher (Genesis 30:9), all within the space of seven years, B.C. 1919-1913. (See CONCUBINE); (See SLAVE).

"Leah was conscious and resentful (chap. 30) of the smaller share she possessed in her husband's affections; yet in Jacob's differences with his father-in-law his two wives appear to be attached to him with equal fidelity. In the critical moment when he expected an attack from Esau, his discriminate regard for the several members of his family was shown by his placing Rachel and her children hindermost, in the least exposed situation, Leah and her children next, and the two handmaids with their children in the front. Leah probably lived to witness the dishonor of her daughter (ch. 34), so cruelly avenged by two of her sons, and the subsequent deaths of Deborah at Bethel, and of Rachel near Bethlehem." Leah appears to have died in Canaan, since she is not mentioned in the migration to Egypt (Genesis 46:5), and was buried in the family cemetery at Hebron (Genesis 49:31). (See JACOB).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Leah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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