Genesis 29:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 29:17, NIV: Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.

Genesis 29:17, ESV: Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.

Genesis 29:17, KJV: Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

Genesis 29:17, NASB: And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in figure and appearance.

Genesis 29:17, NLT: There was no sparkle in Leah's eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face.

Genesis 29:17, CSB: Leah had tender eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful.

What does Genesis 29:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

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.