A Tale of Two Sisters: Jacob and Favoritism

This story had the makings for the perfect romance. A son on the run from a murderous brother in search of his extended family. A beautiful girl on the horizon. An answer to his prayers. Love at first sight. The young man worked seven years for his true love. Finally, the wedding night arrived. It was everything the groom had hoped for—until the next morning, when he discovered his father-in-law had switched out his bride for her older sister. 

Jacob the deceiver had been deceived. 

Forced to accept the older sister, he now found himself making another seven-year deal for the original bride. This time, his father-in-law Laban gave him Rachel as soon as Leah’s bridal week had been completed. 

Jacob was served a dish he knew well. 

Deceit. 

He found himself with two wives. Sisters.

One he loved. One he loved—like a sister. 

But Jacob knew what it was like to be passed over. He’d played second fiddle to Esau since the day they were born. He’d fought, competed, and contended for his father Isaac’s affections—and lost to the brutish Esau every time. 

Now, Jacob was faced with a choice. Embrace both girls—or not. 

In spite of the favoritism he’d experienced at home, Jacob chose not.

And it cost him. 

His favoritism between his wives passed to their children. Talk about dysfunctional. Jacob repeated the pattern modeled by Isaac. He favored Rachel and her two children.

And the other ten? They despised Rachel’s son Joseph and their father—so much that they were ready to kill Joseph and lie about it, allowing Jacob to wallow in grief for years. 

Favoritism often couples with comparison. Together they make a deadly pair. Their scars can last a lifetime—if the wound even heals. Family issues have a way of continually ripping the scab off. 

What if Jacob had gone to God and asked for His help in dealing with the two sisters?

What if he had made room in his heart for Leah? For her children?

James 2:8-9 says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

Where is Jacob’s spiritual leadership in the home? By playing favorites, Jacob missed the joy of most of his children, not to mention his wives. By excluding everyone but Rachel and her children, he alienated himself from potential blessing.

Our children’s grandparents have tended to be hands off with the grandkids, not because our kids were monsters, but that’s just how the grandparents chose to roll. In doing so, they have missed many joyful moments. My husband and I intend to break that pattern. We’ll keep showing up until the kids kick us out. We don’t want to miss anything.

Jacob followed his natural affinities and reaped a lifetime of conflict. Who do we exclude and what do we miss when we follow our natural affinities?

What if Jacob had done it God’s way?

What if we do it God’s way?

Workout for the Week: A Tale of Two Sisters Part 1

Memory Verse: James 2:8-9 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

Meditation Passage: Genesis 29-30

Do It: No exclusions. No favoritism. God’s love, and consequently ours, embraces all.