Matthew 2:18
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
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(18) In Rama was there a voice heard.—Here again we have an example of St. Matthew’s application of a passage that had a direct bearing upon the events of the time when it was delivered to those which his narrative had brought before him. The tomb of Rachel, “in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem” (Genesis 35:19), had been, probably from the day when the “pillar” which marked it was first set up, one of the sacred places of the land. It was so in the days of Samuel (1Samuel 10:2). The language of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:15, shows that it was so in his time. In his picture of the sufferings and slaughter of the captives of Judah, the image which best embodied his feelings of sorrow for his people was that of Rachel, as the great “mother in Israel,” seeing, as from the “high place” of her sepulchre (this is the meaning of the name Ramah), the shame and death of her children at the other Ramah, a few miles further to the north, and weeping for her bereavement. Historically, as we find from Jeremiah 40:1, this was the place to which the prisoners were dragged, that Nebuzaradan might assign “such as were for death” to death, others to exile, and others again to remain as bondsmen in the land. That picture, St. Matthew felt, had been reproduced once again. The tomb of Rachel was as familiar to the people of Bethlehem (it stands but one mile to the north of the town) as it had been in the time of Jeremiah, and the imagery was therefore as natural in the one case as the other. The Ramah of Jeremiah 40:1. was about seven or eight miles further north, on the borders of Benjamin, but it has been thought by some geographers that the name was given to some locality nearer the tomb of Rachel.

Matthew 2:18. In Rama was a voice heard — Rachel weeping for her children — Benjamin, it is well known, was the son of Rachel: his posterity, therefore, who inhabited Ramah and the parts adjacent, sprung from her, and, according to the Scripture language, were her children. The slaughter of the inhabitants of Bethlehem, also, might with propriety enough be termed the slaughter of her children; she being buried there, Genesis 35:19, and the Bethlehemites being the offspring of her husband and sister. It is by a very striking and beautiful figure of speech, by which she is here represented as awaked by the cries of the infants, and as rising out of her grave, and bitterly bewailing her little ones, who lie slaughtered in heaps around her. Because they are not — That is, are not among men, are taken away from the land of the living, are dead. The same phrase is frequently used in the same sense in the Old Testament. Now, as it was not true of those that were carried into captivity in Jeremiah’s days, that they were not, in this sense, why should it be thought strange that so literal a completion of the prophecy as took place in the days of Herod, should be referred to by the Holy Ghost? Here observe, The first crown of martyrdom for Jesus was won by these infant sufferers, and the honour to which they are advanced infinitely repays the short pains they endured. Some have questioned the authenticity of the evangelist’s narrative of the slaughter of these infants, on account of the diabolical wickedness of the action; but the following account, given by Prideaux, of Herod’s last deed and purpose, will convince any one that there was nothing too bad for that miserable man to perpetrate: — “Knowing the hatred the Jews had for him, he concluded aright, that there would be no lamentations at his death, but rather gladness and rejoicing all the country over. To prevent this, he framed a project and resolution in his mind, which was one of the most horrid and wicked, perchance, that ever entered into the heart of man. For, having issued out a summons to all the principal Jews of his kingdom, commanding their appearance at Jericho, (where he then lay,) on pain of death, at a day appointed; on their arrival thither, he shut them all up in the circus, and then, sending for Salerno his sister, and Alexas her husband, commanded them that, as soon as he was dead, they should send in the soldiers upon them, and put them all to the sword. ‘For this,’ said he, ‘will provide mourning for my funeral all over the land, and make the Jews in every family lament my death, whether they will or not:’ and when he had adjured them hereto, some hours after, he died. But they, not being wicked enough to do what they had been solemnly made to promise, rather chose to break their obligation, than to make themselves the executioners of so bloody and horrid a design.”

Since Josephus, who has given us the history of Herod’s transactions at large, has taken no notice of the slaughter of these children, some have been ready to suspect his fidelity as an historian, or, which is worse, that of St. Matthew. But there is no need to do either. For surely it is not to be supposed, that an historian lessens his credibility as often as he relates the facts omitted by another; or passes over those recorded by another. For it is hardly possible it should be otherwise, unless one should exactly copy from another. Besides, Josephus has so many instances exactly similar to this, and those so remarkable, that he might think it needless to add this. For, as Is. Vossius, a man by no means superstitious or credulous, has observed, after so many examples of Herod’s cruelty at Jerusalem and through all Judea, after so many sons, so many wives, relations, and friends, cut off by a variety of torments, it does not seem to have been a great thing to have also put to death the infants of a town or village, with the territory belonging to it, the slaughter of which could not have been very great in so small a place, especially since not all, but only the male infants were destroyed, and of these only such as were under two years old. What Tacitus has observed, Anal. Matthew 6:7, is very applicable here: “I am not ignorant,” says he, “that the dangers and punishments undergone by many have been omitted by most writers, either because they were tired of relating such a multitude of instances, or feared that the things which had been wearisome and disagreeable to them would be equally so to their readers.” — Wetstein. Indeed, Josephus was not old enough to remember it himself, and if he did not find it in the Memoirs of Nicholas of Damascus, (that flattering historian, of whom we know he made great use in compiling the life of Herod,) he might be unwilling to introduce it, even if he were particularly acquainted with it; lest the occasion might have led him to mention what, generally, at least, he is solicitous to decline — I mean, Christian affairs. It is sufficient that this cruelty of Herod is preserved in Macrobius, who, in a chapter “concerning the jests of Augustus upon others, and of others upon him,” says, “When he heard that among those male infants about two years old, which Herod the king of the Jews ordered to be slain in Syria, one of his sons was also murdered, he said, ‘It is better to be Herod’s hog than his son.’” The saying alludes to his professing Judaism, which forbade his killing swine, or eating their flesh; therefore, his hog would have been safe where his son lost his life.2:13-15 Egypt had been a house of bondage to Israel, and particularly cruel to the infants of Israel; yet it is to be a place of refuge to the holy Child Jesus. God, when he pleases, can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes. This was a trial of the faith of Joseph and Mary. But their faith, being tried, was found firm. If we and our infants are at any time in trouble, let us remember the straits in which Christ was when an infant. 16-18 Herod killed all the male children, not only in Bethlehem, but in all the villages of that city. Unbridled wrath, armed with an unlawful power, often carries men to absurd cruelties. It was no unrighteous thing with God to permit this; every life is forfeited to his justice as soon as it begins. The diseases and deaths of little children are proofs of original sin. But the murder of these infants was their martyrdom. How early did persecution against Christ and his kingdom begin! Herod now thought that he had baffled the Old Testament prophecies, and the efforts of the wise men in finding Christ; but whatever crafty, cruel devices are in men's hearts, the counsel of the Lord shall stand.In Rama was there a voice heard - Rama was a small town in the tribe of Benjamin. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and was buried near to Bethlehem, Genesis 35:16-19. Rama was about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem, near Bethel, and was some 10 or 12 miles from Bethlehem. The name Rama signifies an eminence, and was given to the town because it was situated on a hill. Rama is commonly supposed to be the same as the Arimarthea of the New Testament the place where Joseph lived who begged the body of Jesus. See Matthew 27:57. This is also the same place in which Samuel was born, where he resided, died. and was buried, and where he anointed Saul as king, 1 Samuel 1:1, 1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 8:4; 1 Samuel 19:18; 1 Samuel 25:1. Mr. King, an American missionary, was at Rama - now called Romba - in 1824; and Mr. Whiting, another American missionary, was there in 1835. Mr. Whiting says: "The situation is exceedingly beautiful. It is about two hours distant from Jerusalem to the northwest, on an eminence commanding a view of a wide extent of beautiful diversified country. Hills, plains, and valleys, highly cultivated fields of wheat and barley, vineyards and oliveyards, are spread out before you as on a map, and numerous villages are scattered here and there over the whole view. To the west and northwest, beyond the hill-country, appears the vast plain of Sharon, and further still you look out upon the great and wide sea. It occurred to me as not improbable that in the days of David and Solomon this place may have been a favorite retreat during the heat of summer, and that here the former may have often struck his sacred lyre. Some of the Psalms, or at least one of them (see Psalm 104:25, seem to have been composed in some place which commanded a view of the Mediterranean; and this is the only place, I believe, in the vicinity of Jerusalem that affords such a view."

Rama was once a strongly fortified city, but there is no city here at present. A half-ruined Muslim mosque, which was originally a Christian church, stands over the tomb of the prophet; besides which, a few miserable dwellings are the only buildings that remain on this once-celebrated spot. Compare the notes at Isaiah 10:29. The tomb of Rachel, which is supposed to mark the precise spot where Rachel was buried (compare Genesis 35:18-20; Genesis 48:7), is near to Bethlehem, and she is represented as rising and weeping again over her children. "The tomb is a plain Saracenic mausoleum, having no claims to antiquity in its present form, but deeply interesting in sacred associations; for, by the singular consent of all authorities in such questions, it marks the actual site of her grave." - The Land and the Book, vol. ii.501.

By a beautiful figure of speech, the prophet introduces the mother weeping over the tribe, her children, and with them weeping over the fallen destiny of Israel, and over the calamities about te come upon the land. Few images could be more striking than thus to introduce a mother, long dead, whose sepulchre was near, weeping bitterly over the terrible calamities that befell her descendants. The language and the image also aptly and beautifully expressed the sorrows of the mothers in Bethlehem when Herod slew their infant children. Under the cruelty of the tyrant almost every family was a family of tears, and well might there be lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning.

We may remark here that the sacred writers were cautious of speaking of the characters of wicked people. Here was one of the worst men in the world, committing one of the most awful crimes, and yet there is not a single mark of exclamation; there is not a single reference to any other part of his conduct; there is nothing that could lead to the knowledge that his character in other respects was not upright. There is no wanton and malignant dragging him into the narrative that they might gratify malice in making free with a very bad character. What was to their purpose, they recorded; what was not, they left to others. This is the nature of religion. It does not speak evil of others except when necessary, nor then does it take pleasure in it.

18. In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not—These words, as they stand in Jeremiah, undoubtedly relate to the Babylonish captivity. Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, was buried in the neighborhood of Bethlehem (Ge 35:19), where her sepulchre is still shown. She is figuratively represented as rising from the tomb and uttering a double lament for the loss of her children—first, by a bitter captivity, and now by a bloody death. And a foul deed it was. O ye mothers of Bethlehem! methinks I hear you asking why your innocent babes should be the ram caught in the thicket, while Isaac escapes. I cannot tell you, but one thing I know, that ye shall, some of you, live to see a day when that Babe of Bethlehem shall be Himself the Ram, caught in another sort of thicket, in order that your babes may escape a worse doom than they now endure. And if these babes of yours be now in glory, through the dear might of that blessed Babe, will they not deem it their honor that the tyrant's rage was exhausted upon themselves instead of their infant Lord?Ver. 17,18. The text quoted is Jeremiah 31:15. This prophecy was literally fulfilled when Judah was carried into captivity; there was then a great mourning in the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, for their children that were slain and carried into captivity. It was now fulfilled, that is, verified, a second time. There is no need that Rama here should be taken appellatively, as it signifieth a high place, from whence a noise is most loudly and dolefully heard. There were several places so named, one near Bethlehem, (formerly called Ephrath, Genesis 35:16, 19), Judges 4:5, a city in the lot of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25. The slaughter was in Bethlehem and the coasts thereof; the noise reached to Rama, which was close by. Both Benjamin and Judah made up the one kingdom of Judah.

Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, a woman passionately desirous of children, therefore the fittest person to have her name used to express the sorrow of all those mothers who had lost their children in this slaughter. The slaughter of these children caused a lamentable mourning by tender mothers throughout Benjamin and Judah, such as the former captivity caused to be mentioned, Jeremiah 31:15. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken,.... By the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem was literally accomplished what had been predicted by

Jeremy the prophet, in Jeremiah 31:15.

in Rama was there a voice heard, &c. That this prophecy belongs not to the Babylonish captivity, but the times of the Messiah, appears from the whole context; which manifestly speaks of the miraculous conception of Christ, of the blessings of his kingdom to be enjoyed by his people, and of the new covenant to be made with them, as I have shown in another place (r). Rama was not in Arabia, as Justin Martyr says (s), but a town in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25 and very near to Bethlehem in the tribe of Juda: between these two places, and near to both of them, was the grave of Rachel, Genesis 35:19 for which reason, and also because Rama belonged to Benjamin, a son of hers, and where, no doubt, many children were destroyed in this massacre, as well as at Bethlehem, Rachel is introduced in the prophecy representing the sorrowful mothers of those parts,

weeping for their children; whose distress and grief are signified by several words, "lamentation, weeping and great mourning", to express the excessiveness thereof, for they

would not be comforted; they refused to hear anything that might be suggested to them for their relief, because their children

were not, i.e. were dead, were not in the land of the living, and no more to be enjoyed by them in this world. I cannot forbear transcribing a remark made by a noted Jew (t) upon that passage in Genesis 35:20. "And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"; to show, says he, that Jacob saw that this thing was of the Lord, and that it would be an help to her children, as it is written, "a voice was heard in Rama", &c. wherefore he set a pillar upon her; and to show that the affair of her grave, that this "belonged to the time to come", he says, "that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day": he means, , "the day of redemption". And Rachel, in the passage of Jeremy, the Jews (u) themselves own, means the congregation of Israel.

(r) Prophecies of the Messiah, &c. p. 126, &c. (s) Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 304. (t) R. Abraham Seba Tzeror Hammor, fol. 47. 1.((u) Zohar in Exod. fol. 13. 1. & in Lev. fol. 8. 4.

In Rama was there {m} a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, {n} Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

(m) A voice of lamenting, weeping and howling.

(n) That is to say, All who live around Bethlehem: for Rachel, Jacob's wife who died in childbirth, was buried by the road that leads to this town, which is also called Ephratah, because of the fruitfulness of the soil, and the plentifulness of corn.

Matthew 2:18. Jeremiah 31:15 (freely quoted according to the Septuagint) treats of the leading away of the Jews to Babylon, whose destiny Rachel, the ancestress of the children of Ephraim, bewails. According to the typically prophetic view in Matthew, the lamentation and mourning of Rachel, represented by the prophet, has an antitypical reference to the murdering of the children of Bethlehem, who are her children, because she was the wife of Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 35:18). And this reference was all the more obvious that, according to Genesis 35:19,[370] Rachel was buried at Bethlehem (Robinson, I. p. 373). According to Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Piscator, Fritzsche, Rachel is regarded as the representative of Bethlehem, or of the mothers of Bethlehem. But why, in keeping with the antitypical view of the prophet’s words, should not Rachel herself appear as lamenting over the massacre of those children? Rama, however, where, according to the prophet, that lamentation resounded, is here the type of Bethlehem.

Regarding the position of Rama (now the village er Ram), near to Gibeah, two hours to the north of Jerusalem, belonging at one time to Ephraim, at another to Benjamin, and on its identity, which is denied by others, with the Ramah of Samuel (Gesenius, Thes. III. p. 1275; Thenius, Winer, von Raumer, Keim), see Graf in the Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 858 ff.; Pressel in Herzog’s Encykl. XII. p. 515 f. There the exiles were kept in custody, Jeremiah 40:1.

ΚΛΑΊΟΥΣΑ] The participle, which in general never stands for the finite tense (in answer to de Wette), has here its government either with ἠκούσθη (Fritzsche) or with οὐκ ἤθελε, where καί is to be translated “also” (Rachel weeping … was also inaccessible to consolation; on the distinction between καὶ οὐκ and οὐδέ, see Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 212 f.). The first is to be preferred as the most natural and most appropriate to the emotional style, so that ῬΑΧῊΛ ΚΛΑΊΟΥΣΑ links itself on as an apposition, and then the author “sequentium sententiarum gravitate commotus a participio ad verbum finitum deflectit,” Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 30.

On the tragic designation ΟὐΚ ΕἾΝΑΙ, mortuum esse, comp. xlii. 36; Thuc. ii. 44. 2; Herod. iii. 65; Wetstein in loc.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 515.

[370] Where, however, the words הוא בית לחם are to be regarded as a gloss. See Thenius on 1 Samuel 10:2; Graf in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1854, p. 868.


The slaughter of the children at Bethlehem is closely connected with the appearance of the Magi, and was in its legendary character already extended as early as Justin (c. Tr. 78) to all the children of Bethlehem. Josephus, who makes such minute mention of the cruelty of Herod (Antt. xv. 7. 8, xvi. 11. 3, xvii. 2. 4; see Ottii Spicileg. p. 541), is silent regarding this event, which, had it been known to him as a matter of history, he would most probably have mentioned on account of its unexampled brutality. The confused narrative of Macrobius (Sat. ii. 4)[371] can here determine nothing, because it first proceeded directly or indirectly from the Christian tradition. Finally, the slaughter of the children itself appears not only as an altogether superfluous measure, since, after the surprising homage offered by the Magi, the child, recently born under extraordinary circumstances, must have been universally known in the small and certainly also provincial village of Bethlehem, or could at least have been easily and certainly discovered by the inquiries of the authorities; but also as a very unwise measure, since a summary slaughter of children could by no means give the absolute certainty which was aimed at. To understand the origin of the legend, it is not enough to point back to the typical element in the childhood of Moses, or even to the dangers undergone in childhood by Romulus, Cyrus, and so on (Strauss); but see the Remark after Matthew 2:12. It is arbitrary, however, to exclude the flight of Jesus into Egypt from this cycle of legends, and to explain it historically in an altogether strange fashion, from the terrible commotion in which, after the death of Herod, Jerusalem and the surrounding localities were plunged (Ammon, L. J. I. p. 226 f.). It is indissolubly connected with the slaughter of the children, and stands or falls with it; in the preliminary history of Luke there is no place whatever for it.

[371] Ed. Bipont. p. 341 of Augustus: “Cum audisset, inter pueros, quos in Syria Herodes, rex Judaeorum, intra bimatum jussit interfici, filium quoque ejus occisum, ait: melius est Herodis porcum (ὗν) esse quam filium (υἱόν).” A confusion of the murder of Antipater (Joseph. Antt. vii. 7) with our history, as if a son of the king himself (in answer to Wieseler, Beitr. p. 154) had been among the murdered Syrian children.Matthew 2:18 : still another prophetic reference, erem. 31:15, freely reproduced from the Sept[10]; pathetic and poetic certainly, if the relevance be not conspicuously apparent. The evangelist introduces the prophetic passage in this case, not with ἵνα, but with τότε (Matthew 2:17), suggesting a fulfilment not regarded as exclusive. The words, even in their original place, are highly imaginative. The scene of Rachel weeping for her children is one of several tableaux, which passed before the prophet’s eye in a vision, in a dream which, on awaking, he felt to be sweet. It was poetry to begin with, and it is poetry here. Rachel again weeps over her children; hers, because she was buried there, the prophet’s Ramah, near Gibeah, north of Jerusalem, standing for Bethlehem as far to the south. The prophetic passage did not create the massacre; the tradition of the massacre recalled to mind the prophecy, and led to its being quoted, though of doubtful appositeness in a strict sense. Jacob’s beloved wife seems to have occupied an imaginative place also in Rabbinical literature. Wünsche quotes this from the Midrasch: “Why did Jacob bury Rachel on the way to Ephratah or Bethlehem? (Genesis 35:16). Because he foresaw that the exiles would at some future time pass that way, and he buried her there that she might pray for them” (Beiträge, p. 11). Rachel was to the Hebrew fancy a mother for Israel in all time, sympathetic in all her children’s misfortunes.

[10] Septuagint.18. Jeremiah 31:15, in LXX. Jeremiah 38:15. In a singularly touching passage, Rachel, the mother of the tribe of Benjamin (whose tomb was close to Bethlehem: Genesis 35:19), is conceived of as weeping for her captive sons at Ramah—some of whom were possibly doomed to die; cp. Jeremiah 40:1.

The Evangelist pictures Rachel’s grief re-awakened by the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem.

The Ramah alluded to by Jeremiah, generally identified with the modern Er-Rama, was about 5 miles N. of Jerusalem, and in the tribe of Benjamin. There is no proof of another Ramah near Bethlehem. The analogy therefore must not be pressed.Matthew 2:18. Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμᾶ ἠκούσθη, θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁδυρμὸς πολὺς, Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς· καὶ οὐκ ἤθελε παρακληθῆναι, κ.τ.λ.—A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation and weeping and much mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, etc.) The passage is thus rendered by the LXX., Jeremiah 31(38):15:—Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμᾶ (Cod. Alex. ἐν τῆ ὑψηλῇ) ἠκούσθη θρήνου καὶ κλαυθμοῦ καὶ ὀδυρμοῦ· Ραχηλ αποκλαιομένη ἐπὶ τῶν υἱῶν αὑτῆς· καὶ οὐκ ἠθέλησε παρακληθῆναι, κ.τ.λ.—A voice was heard in Rama (Cod. Al. on high) of lamentation and weeping and mourning: Rachel bewailing herself on account of her sons, and would not be comforted, etc.—ἠκούσθη, was heard) so that it reached the Lord. Jeremiah both prefixes and subjoins, Thus saith the Lord.—θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολὺς,[99] lamentation and weeping and much mourning) The LXX. have θρῆνου καὶ κλαυθμοῦ καὶ ὀδυρμοῦ, of weeping, and of lamentation, and of mourning. The original Hebrew, however, is נהי בכי תמרורים—lamentation, weeping of bitternesses, (i.e., lamentation and bitter weeping). The shorter[100] reading of St Matthew, supported by so many versions, viz.,[101] ΚΛΑΥΘΜῸς ΚΑῚ ὈΔΥΡΜῸς ΠΟΛῪς, weeping and much mourning, agrees with this so as to express the Hebrew plural תַּמְרוּרִים, bitternesses, by the Greek epithet πολὺς, much. I used to suspect that the translators who omitted ΘΡῆΝΟς ΚΑῚ, lamentation and, had done so from the poverty of their language: but you might, with equal justice, say that the Greek copyists added these words from the LXX., from not duly weighing the force of the adjective πολυς, much, which is not found in the LXX.

[99] In his Apparatus Criticus, Bengel writes, in loc.—

[100] E. M. has the longer reading.—(I. B.)

[101] So BZabc Vulg. Hilary, 613. D is the only very ancient authority for the θρῆνος καὶ of the Rec. Text.—ED. “18 (—θρῆνος καὶ) Æth. Arab. Copt. Lat. (et inde Barb. I. vel etiam Cypr. et Colbert. n. 2467), Pers. Syr. ex inopiâ synonymorum; Hieron. nescio an Justinus Martyr. Extat non solum apud LXX., sed etiam in Hebræo.” He then goes on. “Inopia synonymorum laborasse,” etc., as in the Gnomon, and concludes by referring the reader to that work.—(I. B.)

The Hebrew words[102] and accents[103] declare the matter more gradually (rem gradatim magis declarant), and exhibit successively,—(1.) Shrill grief indefinitely: her who mourns, and those whom she mourns, (2.) refusing the consolation offered to her; and the cause why she refused it.—The thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah is prospective to a great degree of the times of the New Testament; and so does this passage refer to this event in the New Testament history, whether Jeremiah regarded at the same time the Babylonian Captivity or not; a greater and less event of distinct periods may correspond with the single meaning of a single prediction, until the prophecy is exhausted.—Ῥαχὴλ, Rachel) put antonomatically for the individual daughters of Rachel and other mothers, who thus had sons of pangs [Benoni].—Cf. Genesis 35:18. The sons of Rachel are named: the sons of other mothers are understood at the same time, as in 1 Corinthians 10:1, the Gentiles are also included under the fathers of the Jews. The infants of Bethlehem might also be called “sons of Rachel,” on account of the tomb of Rachel mentioned in Genesis 35:19, as being near that town: just as the Samaritans (John 4:12) called Jacob their father, because they lived in the same place where he had formerly dwelt. But Rama did also belong to the tribe of Benjamin (see Joshua 18:25), who was the son of Rachel. It is quite conceivable that the assassins despatched so suddenly by Herod to Bethlehem, may have proceeded even as far as Rama, as the towns were very near together: see Jdg 19:2; Jdg 19:9; Jdg 19:13; Ezra 2:21; Ezra 2:26 : from which circumstance Jeremiah, a priest from the land of Benjamin, pointed it out as the limit of the massacre.—κλαίουσα, weeping) i.e., κλαίει, weeps, a Hebraism.—οὐκ ἤθελε παρακληθῆναι, refused to receive consolation) A phrase which expresses intense grief.—οὐκ εἰσί, they are not) Thus, in the S. V. of Genesis 42:36, we read Ἰωσὴφ οὐκ ἔστι, Συμεὼν οὐκ ἔστι, Joseph is not, Simeon is not); and in 1 Kings 20:40, οὗτος οὐκ ἦν, he was not) in the Hebrew איננו, he is not, in the singular number used distributively. The mothers mourn each especially their own, or even their only sons; for even only children would, in this case, be expressed in the plural number: the slaughtered infants were of two years old, or a little under, so that a single mother could not easily be deprived of more than one. The event was accurately foretold. Others refer the singular number to the Messiah, whom they suppose the women to have imagined slain, or mourned as banished.

[102] “Sermo.”—(I. B.)

[103] “The design of the accents in general is, to show the rhythmical members of the verses in the Old Testament text. But, as such, the use is twofold—viz., a. To show the logical relation of each word to the whole sentence: b. to mark the tone syllable to each word. In respect to the former, they serve as signs of interpunction; in respect to the latter, as signs of the tone or accent.… The use of the accents as signs of interpunction is somewhat complicated, since they serve not merely to separate the members of a sentence, like our period, colon, and comma, but also as marks of connection.”—Gesenius, Heb. Gr. sec. 15, q.v.—(I. B.)
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