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What does it mean that Leah was "tender-eyed?"

q.gif (1639 bytes)   What does it mean in the Bible when it says, (i.e Gen. 29:17) "Leah was tender eyed"  What does it mean she was tender eyed?????



a.gif (1659 bytes)  Genesis 29:16-17 says, “16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.  17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.”

Tender-eyed is the Hebrew word rak (Strong's #7390), “tender (literally or figuratively), and, by implication, weak” (Strong’s Concordance).

There was a definite weakness when it came to the look of Leah’s eyes.  They are contrasted with Rachel, who is described as looking beautiful.  Sometimes people have an eye that is slightly crossed, or sometimes eyes that are big and bulging, etc.   Whatever the case, her eyes were not attractive, and are mentioned as a detriment to her looks

Men are often drawn to the eyes of a woman, and are thus warned to beware Proverbs 6:24-26 says “24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.   25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; NEITHER LET HER TAKE THEE WITH HER EYELIDS 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.”

What is interesting is that the Bible tells men not to look for a wife based upon her beauty, but upon her godly character Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favour is deceitful, and BEAUTY IS VAIN: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”

Jacob chose Rachel for her beauty, but it was not a blessed marriage First, he was tricked in the marriage, and ended up with Leah for his first wife Genesis 29:22-27 says “22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.   25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?  26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.   27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.”

Secondly, it was Leah that was blessed of God to have many children, long before Rachel could have any (Read Genesis 29 & 30).

Thirdly, it was Rachel who took her father’s idols when they left.  Genesis 31:30-35 says, “30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?  31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.  32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that RACHEL HAD STOLEN THEM.  33 And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the two maidservants' tents; but he found them not. Then went he out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent.  34 Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not.    35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.”

Fourthly, it was Rachel who died first.  Genesis 35:16-19 says, “16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.    17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.   18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.   19 And RACHEL DIED, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.”

Fifthly, Jacob had Leah buried beside the place where he was to be buried — not Rachel.  Genesis 49:29-31 says, “29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: BURY ME WITH MY FATHERS in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,  30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.  31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and THERE I BURIED LEAH.”

Sixthly, it was Leah who had the child in the direct line of Christ — not Rachel.  Genesis 29:35 says, “35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.”  The Lord Jesus Christ came through the tribe of Judah.

So, although Leah’s eyes were not considered to be attractive, and a detriment to her looks, she was indeed the most blessed in the end.  “Favour is deceitful, and BEAUTY IS VAIN: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

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