She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. (Genesis 29:34-35)
Leah is the mother of two of the three most prominent tribes in all of Israel — Levi and Judah. Levi would become the tribe that would serve in the Sanctuary, ministering unto the Almighty and leading others in proper worship. Judah would lead the nation through the line of David, both as kings and worship leaders.
The Midrash says that Levi was so named because he was “called” by God specifically for the purpose of being His priests. Phonetically, Levi (לוי) is related to the Hebrew word לב lev or “heart” — לבי levi literally means “my heart.” Those who served in the Sanctuary were called by God and were instructed to teach the people those things that were close to God’s heart. They were to teach Israel to distinguish between clean and unclean that they all might draw closer to God.
The name Judah, as it is spelled in Hebrew (יהודה), contains the sacred Name of God, יהוה YHVH, suggesting that they, too, were to be close to the heart of God. One of its most famous descendants, David, was said to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Furthermore, we know that David wrote many of the Psalms and contributed significantly to the musical worship that occurred in the Sanctuary. The Hebrew spelling of the name Judah also contains the root word הוד hod which means “thankfulness” or “praise” hence Leah’s comments.
What you and I can glean from this information is that God has always desired a people who desired Him. He wants His people close to His heart and to love those things that are in His heart. He desires that we live lives that are praiseworthy and which bring glory and honor to Him. He wants children that, in acknowledgement of His goodness to us, are thankful for all that He has done on our behalf. In short, He wants us to love Him as a Father just like we want our children to love us as parents. May we never disappoint Him in that.
Blessings and Shalom,