Genesis 29:17

ESV Leah 's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.
NIV Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.
NASB And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in figure and appearance.
CSB Leah had tender eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful.
NLT There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face.
KJV Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored.
NKJV Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.

What does Genesis 29:17 mean?

Prior verses described how Jacob came to find the family of his uncle, Laban (Genesis 29:1–12), in search of a wife (Genesis 28:1–2). Laban welcomed Jacob warmly, and after a month of work, asked Jacob what wages he would be expecting (Genesis 29:15). Shifting to provide background information, Scripture then introduced Laban's two daughters, Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:16).

We now learn that the older daughter, Leah, was not as attractive as her younger sister. The text indicates that she had "weak" or "soft" eyes. The suggestion is that her eyes didn't have much liveliness, especially as compared to her sister. According to that era's standards of beauty, it was ideal to have sharp, dark, expressive eyes. Leah, it seems, had a plainer face than what Jacob would have preferred. Rachel, on the other hand, is described as being "beautiful in both form and appearance," which seems to be a reference to both the shape of her body and the look of her face.

As the rest of the chapter will reveal, these differences between Leah and Rachel—and Jacob's response to them—will drive the events of his life for many years to come.
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