And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.…
I. THEIR TRIALS. Leah was "hated " (ver. 31), i.e., she was loved less than Rachel By becoming a party to a heartless fraud she lost her husband's affections. And Rachel, the beloved wife, was denied the blessing of children, so coveted by the ancient Hebrew mothers (ver. 31). Both had trials, though of a different kind.
II. THEIR COMPENSATIONS. Leah was blessed with children, which compensated her for the loss of her husband's love. The names of the four sons successively born to her were all significant, and betoken that pious habit of mind which recognized the hand of God in all that befel her. She called the first-born, Reuben (Hebrews) "see ye a son." The second, Simeon (Hebrews) "hearing," for God had heard her prayer and seen her affliction. The third was named Levi (Hebrews) "joined." Now, surely, would the breach be healed and the husband and wife joined together by this threefold cord. The fourth she called Judah (Hebrews) "praise," as if recording her thankfulness that she had won the affections of her husband by bearing to him so many sons. Rachel, on the other hand, continued barren. But she was compensated by her beauty, and by the thought that she was first in her husband's affections. Thus with the evils which fall to the lot of individuals, there are compensations.
(T. H. Leale.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.