What we know for sure is that Jacob never wanted Leah in the first place. His eyes, his heart, and his devotion were all for Rachel's affection and her hand in marriage...not Leah's. Leah got caught up in the crossfire simply because for her father, Laban, it was a business transaction really - a quite cruel one. He reasoned that it was "not the custom" to give away the oldest daughter before the youngest one. (I'm not buying it). So Jacob married them both! At this point, it was really his only option if he wanted Rachel.
It was God, not Jacob, who really showed grace and mercy to Leah by opening her womb, while Rachel was barren. Rachel became so envious of Leah that she gave her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob. It hurt Rachel so much that she said she would, "surely die". But Leah just kept those babies coming, one after another. When she stopped bearing children, she gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah. What a crazy competition! Here's the kicker, Leah wasn't all that innocent or nice in the story. She quietly taunted Rachel. When Reuben, Leah's son, found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother, Rachel asked for some of the mandrakes. They were coveted, rare, and valuable. So, the two ladies bargained for Jacob's affection for the evening - the mandrakes in exchange for Jacob. Why were these mandrakes so important? They were considered to be a fertility herb of the ancient Middle East. Now, we're getting somewhere. After that evening, Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son...and then a daughter. Guess what? Then Rachel bore Jacob a son, Joseph, finally after years of barrenness. And he really loved Rachel now!
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