As we are so often reminded, God’s definition of marriage does not change over time and it’s helpful for us to go back and examine the biblical source material. One of the most heartwarming accounts of traditional marriage is the very special love story of Jacob and his wives Rachel and Leah. Jacob, later called Israel, was the (literal) father of the “twelve tribes” and can be seen in many ways as the founder of the Judeo-Christian tradition. This is his story as I learned it in Sunday School as a child:
Jacob, having recently deceived his elderly, blind father in a successful attempt to steal his brother’s inheritance, fled to his Uncle Laban’s place many miles away. Upon arrival, he fell in love with Rachel, his first cousin, and decided that they must be married. So he agreed to work for Laban for seven years in order to buy her.
Unfortunately, at the end of the seven years, Uncle Laban pulled a switch and sold Jacob his older, less attractive daughter Leah instead. Jacob, having been tricked into marrying Leah, was forced to work another seven years in order to purchase Rachel and marry her as well.
Jacob did not care much for Leah (although he evidently had sex with her often enough to produce ten sons) and very much preferred Rachel. God, who apparently does not appreciate his creations playing favorites among their collections of wives, punished Rachel (rather than Jacob) by refusing for many years to let her bear children.
Eventually, however, Rachel had two sons of her own, one of whom led the family to Egypt, where they became slaves for four hundred years.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Thank God for an unchanging definition of traditional, biblical marriage that we can all appreciate and understand.