Genesis 35:16
Later, they set out from Bethel, and while they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, and her labor was difficult.
LessonsG. Hughes, B. DGenesis 35:16-20
Rachel's DeathA. Fuller.Genesis 35:16-20
The Death of RachelT. H. Leale.Genesis 35:16-20
Family RecordsR.A. Redford Genesis 35:16-29
Genesis 35:16-29
Genesis 35:16-29. These family records mingle well with the story of God's grace. The mothers "Ben-oni is the father's Benjamin." Out of the pain and the bereavement sometimes comes the consolation. A strange blending of joy and sorrow is the tale of human love. But there is a higher love which may draw out the pure stream of peace and calm delight from that impure fountain. Jacob and Esau were separated in their lives, but they met at their father's grave. Death is a terrible divider, but a uniter too. Under the shadow of the great mystery, on the borders of an eternal world, in the presence of those tears which human eyes weep for the dead, even when they can weep no other tears, the evil things of envy, hatred, revenge, alienation do often hide themselves, and the better things of love, lessee, brotherhood, amity come forth. Jacob was with Isaac when he died, and Esau came to the grave. - R.

Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

1. It was death upon a journey.

2. It was death in the time of travail.

3. It was death just when his old fond desire was accomplished.


1. It teaches the doctrine of victory through pain.

2. It teaches that death is not annihilation. "As her soul was in departing (for she died)" (ver. 18). Death is here represented, not as the complete extinction of all thought and feeling, but as the separation of soul and body. It is not a sinking into nought, but only a change of state and place.

3. It teaches us what is the characteristic mark of God's chosen people. Israel of old had the portion of affliction, and thus became the time of the Messiah, whose peculiar and distinctive mark was, that He was "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). Rachel was the ancestress of the suffering children of Israel.

4. It teaches a lesson of encouragement to all mothers dying in similar circumstances.

(T. H. Leale.)

Thus she that had said, "Give me children, or I die," died in child-birth! Several circumstances which attended this afflictive event are deserving of notice.(1) The words of the midwife: "Fear not: thou shalt have this son also." When Rachel bare her first son, she called him Joseph, that is, adding; "for," said she, by a prophetic impulse, "the Lord shall add to me another son." It is probably in reference to this that the midwife spake as she did. Her words, if reported to Jacob, with the recollection of the above prophetic hint, would raise his hopes, and render his loss more affecting, by adding to it the pain of disappointment. They appear to have no influence however on Rachel. She has the sentence of death in herself, and makes no answer; but turning her eyes towards the child, and calling him "Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow," she expired!(2) The terms by which her death is described. "As her soul was in departing." An ordinary historian would have said, as she was dying, or as she was ready-to expire: but the Scriptures delight is an impressive kind of phraseology, which at the same time shall both instruct the mind and effect the heart. It was by means of such language, on various occasions, that the doctrine of a future state was known and felt from generation to generation among the Israelites, while the heathen around them, with all their learning, were in the dark upon the subject.(3) The change of the child's name — "She called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin." The former, though very appropriate at the time, yet if continued, must tend perpetually to revive the recollection of the death of his mother; and of such a monitor Jacob did not stand in need. The name given him, signified, the son of my right hand; that is, a son of the most tender affection and delight, inheriting the place which his mother had formerly possessed in his father's heart. If the love of God be wanting, that of a creature will often be supreme; and where this is the case, the loss of the object is frequently known to leave the party utterly inconsolable; but though the affection of a good man may be very strong, and his sorrow proportionably very deep; yet he is taught to consider that every created good is only lent him; and that his generation work being as yet unfulfilled, it is not for him to feel melancholy, nor to pore over his loss with a sullenness that shall unfit him for duty, but rather to divert his affections from the object that is taken, and direct them to those that are left.(4) The stone erected to her memory, and which appears to have continued for many generations. Burying her in the place where she died, "Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"; and that was the pillar of Rachel's grave when her history was written. It was near this place, if not upon the very spot, that the tribe of Benjamin afterwards had its inheritance: and therefore it is that the people who lived in the times of Jeremiah are called Rachel's children. The babes which Herod murdered are also so called.

(A. Fuller.)

1. Providence ordereth the saints below no long settlement, but to move sometimes from desired places.

2. Motions from Bethel to Ephrath, from God's comforts to God's chastenings are ordered to God's saint's by himself.

3. Providential afflictions may betide God's dearest servants unexpectedly in their ways.

4. Souls exorbitantly desirous of children, may have them from God with bitterness enough (ver. 16).

5. The bitterest pains in child-bearing may befall the best of women.

6. It is the midwife's honour, with God's Spirit, to be pitiful and comfortable unto women in travail.

7. God doth add sons to His in their earnest desires sometimes, wherein they may take little delight (Genesis 30:24),

8. Providence sometimes brings living children out of dying mothers (Ver. 17).

9. Killing pains in child-bearing may befal souls to much longing for children.

10. Dying mothers in their passions may name children their griefs and not their joy.

11. Souls die not, but go out of bodies to God who gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

12. Tender affection in fathers name their children more dear which they have with loss of wives (ver. 18).

13. Rachels may die when Leahs live, the beloved before the despised.

14. Comely interment is a duty to relations in all places, where providence calleth them away.

15. Places notable for births and burials are sometimes noted by God's spirit (ver. 19).

16. It is suitable to nature and not contrary to grace, to set up and keep memorials of deceased relations.

17. Durable monuments of providences may be useful for posterity.

18. It is not unlawful to leave monuments of the dead, only vanity and superstition avoided (ver. 20).

(G. Hughes, B. D)

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