tender eyed ???

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sat Mar 3 11:19:56 EST 2001

Dear Rick,

You write:

>I would appreciate this groups thoughts on the term "tender eyed" from the

>Gen 29:17  Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

The verse probably means that Leah had weak eyes. There is an obvious
contrast between Leah and Rachel, and it seems to be on the physical plane.
The fact that the verse contrasts Rachel's beauty of form and appearance
with merely the eyes of Leah apparently suggests that there was something
unfavorable rather than favorable about Leah's eyes. The subsequent note
that Jacob loved Rachel may suggest that Jacob reacted positively to the
qualities of Rachel, as opposed to those of Leah.

The lexicon gives "weak" as the meaning of the Hebrew word here. Yes, it
can mean tender and soft, but it can also mean weak, as in "weak of heart,"
or lacking courage (Deut 20:8). It can imply the weakness of undeveloped or
irresolute character: 2 Sam 3:39; 1 Chron 22:5; 29:1. The cognate verb also
has the meaning of weakness regarding courage: Isa 7:4; Jer 51:46; Deut
20:3. Older English described this lack of courage as being "faint of
heart," and "faint" eyes would be weak ones.

Of course, Jacob was buried with Leah rather than Rachel. Leah bore most of
his children and was his wife for many years subsequent to the death of
Rachel. So it is conceivable that "tender of eyes" spoke to some spiritual
quality, but the context does not suggest this meaning.

				Harold Holmyard
				Dallas, TX

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list