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Older daughter of Laban and first wife of Jacob. She had the dubious distinction of being the "wrong" wife. Jacob expected to marry her younger sister, Rachel, but the crafty father took advantage of the custom of keeping the bride veiled on the wedding night. Jacob had to work another seven years for Laban before he could marry Rachel, too. Leah, however, was a significant figure in Hebrew history. She was the mother of six of Jacob's sons, each of whom became the head of one of the Tribes of Israel. The Leah Tribes are distinguished from the Rachel Tribes (Genesis 29:20-30). (Etym. Hebrew le'ah, cow.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.