The Story of Leah in the Bible: 5 Important Lessons

The story of Leah in the Bible is filled with both tragedy and triumph. It’s an action-packed story with betrayal, deception, jealousy, perseverance, faith, love, and lots of children in between. In every detail, we see God’s plan for His purpose and glory. 

Leah is not the first inspiring woman we think of in the Old Testament. As the oldest daughter of Laban and the sister of Rachel, her main description when she is introduced in the Bible is that she has tender eyes, or weak eyes, in some versions. 

But not everything is as it seems with her. We learn that she had depth, and God was using her pain for a purpose. From her came 6 of the 12 tribes of Israel, including the Levite priests and lion of the tribe of Judah, the tribe of King David, and the ancestry of Jesus, the Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior of the world!

This powerful and encouraging story is packed with many lessons for us to apply as believers. Let’s dive in and learn all we can about this amazing woman. 

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young woman 7 children illustrating the story of Leah in the Bible

The Story of Leah in the Bible

The story of Leah in the Bible is found in the Book of Genesis 29 and Genesis 30. Who is Leah in the Bible? She was the older daughter of Laban and the first wife of Jacob. Leah’s story runs parallel to that of her younger sister Rachel who was also Jacob’s wife. 

The Bible described Leah’s eyes as tender while her sister was beautiful. (Genesis 29:17) The name Leah means “delicate” or “weary.”

Laban was Rebekah’s brother with Rebekah being Jacob’s mother. Rebekah was married to Isaac, and they had twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Jacob deceived his brother Esau and inherited the blessing from his father. His mother told him to run away and go to Laban for fear that Esau would harm him. 

When Jacob arrived at the well of the people from the east, he met Rachel who was a shepherdess. She was beautiful, and he wept with joy. It was love at first sight. He went to his uncle Laban’s home who received him warmly. He offered to work for seven years for Laban in return for Laban’s younger daughter Rachel, because he was in love with her. 

After seven years of work, there was a wedding feast for Rachel and Jacob. But on the wedding night, Laban deceived Jacob and gave his daughter Leah to Jacob. The next morning Jacob realized what his uncle had done and was very angry. When he confronted Laban, Laban told him that it was their tradition to marry the older daughter first before the younger one. Jacob the deceiver was himself deceived by his uncle.

At the end of the bridal week, Laban agreed to give Rachel to Jacob to be his second wife. He went on to work for another seven years of service for Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, so the Lord opened her womb and made Rachel barren. (Genesis 29:31) 

Leah had her first son whom she gave the name Reuben which means “See, a son.” She believed the Lord had seen her affliction and she would receive her husband’s love.

Her second son was given the name Simeon which means “heard.” She believed the Lord had heard that she was hated and unloved and given her another son. 

Her third son was Levi which means “attached”. She believed her husband would attach to her and be joined to her after bearing three sons. Her fourth son was Judah which means “praise.” She realized it was important to focus her praise on the Lord for His blessings. 

After four sons, she stopped bearing children. Her sister Rachel then gave her maid to Jacob, and she had two sons with him. Then Leah also gave her maid to Jacob, and he had two sons with her. These sons are also part of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Then Leah had a fifth son whom she called Issachar which means “wages” or “reward”. Her last son was Zebulun, meaning “dwelling of honor.” She had six sons and one daughter for Jacob. All her sons make up half of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

At the end of her life, she was buried in the family tomb with her husband and in-laws who are also matriarchs and patriarchs of the Bible, namely Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah. (Genesis 49:31) 

Qualities of Leah in the Bible

Leah may not be the first woman we think of when we are asked about inspirational women of the Bible, but she played such an important role, and God used her in a mighty way. 

Through the naming of her sons, we get a glimpse into her thinking, her desires, and her needs. She had certain qualities that made her outstanding and worthy of acknowledging. 

1) Leah was loyal.

Even though Leah was an unloved wife, she was loyal to her husband. Her husband Jacob didn’t show her favor and preferred her young sister Rachel. Yet no matter what challenges she faced in her marriage, Leah took her marriage vows seriously and remained a committed and faithful wife. 

2) Leah had faith in God. 

It wasn’t easy for Leah seeing that Jacob’s heart belonged to Rachel. But she was not led by her feelings and rather chose to have faith in God. 

Through the naming of her children, we see that Leah praised God, honored Him, and saw her children as a reward and blessing. She grew in her faith and trusted in His power alone. She could see the hand of God moving and working in her life and circumstances. 

While Leah initially looked to her children to get her husband’s love, in the end, she found her security in God’s love and realized that no one could take that away from her.

While Leah initially looked to her children to get her husband’s love, in the end, she found her security in God’s love and realized that no one could take that away from her.

3) She had perseverance. 

Leah never gave up hope. She was strengthened by her love for God and that of her family. She persevered and had hope of being Jacob’s true wife. Leah endured years of heartache and feelings of inadequacy and yet remained resilient. She remained with him to the end of her life and they were buried together in the family tomb. 

4) She had gratitude.

Leah gave birth to sons but she still didn’t get Jacob’s heart and affection. Yet, instead of focusing on that she became joyful and praised God for what He was doing in her life. She developed a positive outlook which helped her focus on what she had and not on what she didn’t have. 

5 Important Lessons from the Story of Leah in the Bible 

At first glance, Leah’s life seems like a tragic love story. She was overshadowed in her own marriage and rejected by the husband she loved. But God is intentional with every character and story in the Bible. What does the story of Leah in the Bible teach us? There are rich and valuable lessons we can take from her life. 

1) The Lord provides for our needs. 

God is the provider of all our needs. Leah may have been robbed of the love of Jacob, but the Lord gave Leah the blessing of children who went on to become great men in history. Even when we face tough times, God knows what we need, and we can always go to Him to fulfill us. 

 

2) All things work for good. 

The story of Leah teaches us that God works all things for our good. Leah was in a loveless marriage, yet it was she who had six sons who made up half of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Leah’s son Levi became the father of the Israelite tribe of priests. From the tribe of Judah came King David who was in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She was mentioned in Ruth 4:11 because of the important role she played. 

God uses all our circumstances whether good or bad for His good purpose and glory. (Romans 8:28) All we can do is continue to trust Him above all else. 

3) Leah’s story teaches that you are enough.

Leah’s marriage and children didn’t satisfy her, complete her, or make her feel self worth. She thought having children would make her happy and good enough to be Jacob’s wife. 

But her life teaches us that we are enough because Jesus Christ is enough. What He did on the cross makes us complete. We measure up because He does. 

Jesus Christ spent time on earth with those who were rejected, unloved, and unwanted by society. You may feel rejected and unloved by those whom you expected to treat you differently, but hold onto the truth that in Him you are secure, loved, confident, comforted, and content. 

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

4) The story of Leah in the Bible teaches us to praise God. 

It’s not easy to praise the Lord through the storms of life. We would rather blame Him for our circumstances or even become bitter. 

Leah’s story teaches us to praise God and focus on the work He is doing rather than what we don’t have. When you focus on God’s love, God’s plan, blessings, and provision and put your hope in Him, you’ll find joy, hope, and peace even during challenges. God has been good to us, and there is always something to be grateful for. 

5) God’s plan for us all is the best.

God has made each of us unique with our own gifts and abilities. There is no need to compare ourselves with others, compete, and become jealous of what others have. Both of these women had a role to play in building the twelve nations of Israel. 

Rachel’s son Joseph saved his family and nation from famine when he became a leader in Egypt. Her other son Benjamin was also mighty, and from his tribe came men of valor like Gideon who saved the Israelites in their time of need, as well. 

We all have a role to play and instead should seek to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, encourage and pray for each other, collaborate, and support each other in our faith. 

young woman 7 children text overlay the story of Leah in the Bible

What Does Leah Symbolize in the Bible?

Leah symbolizes how God uses the rejected, unwanted, and mistreated to fulfill His purpose and plan. He shows His power through her life. In the same way, many people who were looked down upon and were imperfect like Gideon, Ruth, and Moses were used by God to change situations. 

Leah’s life also represents the power of finding contentment, validation, and fulfillment in God and not people. Her life teaches us to lead our lives not according to what people say about us but based on the truth of what God says about us. 

Did Jacob ever love Leah? The Bible doesn’t give a clear answer, but we know that she was not loved as much as Rachel.  

What was special about Leah in the Bible? The story of Jacob, whom God later named Israel, was closely tied to Leah. She gave birth to sons who made history and became part of the foundation of the house of Israel. 

Learn More About the Story of Leah in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into her story, you’ll want to check out this story of Leah in the Bible study that comes with free resources! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Leah

Download these Leah Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

3 Bible study worksheets to study the story of Leah in the Bible

Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series! These studies include free resources, such as a list of verses to read, along with, Bible study and reflection questions to guide your study of each woman.


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