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Genesis 30:1-13 - Homiletics

Rachel and Leah, or unholy rivalry.

I. RACHEL 'S ENVY OF LEAH .

1. The insufficient cause . "She saw that she bare Jacob no children," while Leah had begun to have a family. Though commonly regarded by Hebrew wives as a peculiarly severe affliction, childlessness was not without its compensations, which Rachel should have reckoned. Then the motherhood of Leah was the good fortune of a sister, in which Rachel should have lovingly rejoiced; and both the barrenness and the fruitfulness were of God's appointment, in which Rachel should have piously acquiesced.

2. The querulous complaint . "Give me children, or else I die." To inordinately long for children was, on Rachel's part, a great sin; to depreciate the gift of life with its manifold blessings because of their absence was a greater sin; to express her bitter and despondent feeling in reproachful language against her husband was a sin still greater; but the greatest sin of all was to overlook the hand of God in her affliction.

3. The merited rebuke . "Am I in God's stead?" If Jacob sinned in being angry with Rachel, evincing want of sympathy and patience with her womanly distress, if even he erred in infusing a too great degree of heat into his words, he yet acted with propriety in censuring her fault. It is the province of a husband to reprove grievous misdemeanors in a wife, only not with severity, as Jacob, yet with Jacob's fidelity.

4. The sinful expedient . "Behold my maid Bilhah." Sanctioned by popular custom, the plan adopted by Rachel for obtaining children might almost seem to have been sanctified by the conduct of Sarah. But the circumstances in which the two wives were placed were widely different. Yet, even though they had been the same, Rachel was not at liberty, any more than Sarah, to tempt her husband to a violation of the marriage law. The bad example of a saint no more than the evil practice of the world can justify a sin.

5. The apparent success . "Rachel's maid conceived." God often allows wicked schemes to prosper, without approving of either the schemes or the schemers. Sometimes their success is needful, as in this case, to manifest their wickedness and folly.

6. The mistaken inference . "God hath judged me." Rachel is not the only person who has reckoned God upon his side because of outward prosperity. The world's standard of morality is success. But moral triumphs are frequently achieved through material defeats.

II. LEAH 'S IMITATION OF RACHEL .

1. Of Rachel ' s bad feeling . She might have borne with her sister's exultation over the happiness of reaching motherhood by proxy, might have allowed Rachel to have her little triumph, but she could not. immediately foreseeing the possibility of being out-distanced by her favored rival, she became a victim of green-eyed jealousy. The envy stirring in the heart of Rachel had at length spread its contagion to her.

2. Of Rachel ' s sinful conduct . "Leah took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. One never knows where the influence of a bad example is to end. When one saint steps aside from the straight path others are sure to follow. The more eminent the first transgressor is, the easier sinning is to his successors.

3. Of Rachel ' s wrong reasoning . "The daughters will call me blessed." Faulty logic (at least in morals) seems as easy to copy as improper feelings or wicked deeds. The connection between much happiness and many children is not absolute and inevitable. The hopes of rejoicing mothers are sometimes sadly blighted, and their expectations of felicity strangely disappointed. She is truly happy whom not the daughters, but Jehovah, pronounces blessed.

Lessons:—

1. The bitterness of envy.

2. The wickedness of polygamy.

3. The contagiousness of sin.

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