In the Book of Genesis there is an interesting contrast between the selection of Rebekah as Isaac’s wife (chap. 24) and Jacob’s choice of Rachel, rather than Leah (chap. 29). Abraham sent his oldest and most trusted servant to select a wife for Isaac, within the guidelines he laid down (24:2-4). The test which the servant wisely devised (24:13-14) was one which revealed the character of the young woman–she would be a servant at heart, willing to give water to the stranger and his camels.
Jacob, on the other hand, chose a wife for himself. He was unwilling to marry Leah, the older daughter, even though that was the accepted custom in those days (29:26). Jacob favored Rachel over Leah, not because of her character, but because of her looks and her personality (29:17). Later developments seem to establish the fact that Leah was God’s preference while Rachel was Jacob’s. Leah outlived her younger sister, for example. Leah and her handmaid bore twice as many children as Rachel and her maiden. Leah bore Judah, the one through whom Messiah would come, and Levi, the leader of the priestly tribe. It was Leah who was buried in the cave of Machpelah, beside Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (49:31), while Rachel was buried along the way to Bethlehem (35:19).
What Genesis teaches us in practice, Proverbs teaches us in principle–a man who would marry well will choose his life’s mate on the basis of her character, not on the basis of her looks or her personality.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (31:30).
We shall now seek to discover the character traits of a godly mate.