2000-05-01 - Slaughter of Children
The Prophecy Fulfilled Series: Part 12
Jeremiah 31:15 "Thus says the Lord, "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are no more."
Matthew 2:16-18 "Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING, RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN, AND SHE REFUSED TO BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE."
Ramah could actually be several places in the Bible. It could be a town of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), the location where the prophet Samuel lived and was buried (1 Samuel 1:19, 28:3), a town of Asher (Joshua 19:36), and a town of Gilead (2 Kings 8:29). History has leaned towards saying that this Ramah, which Jeremiah has in mind, and where Rachel is weeping, is the Ramah which is part of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.
However, we have a slight historical problem here. We know that the killing, that Herod ordered, actually took place in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:8). There has been no Ramah found in the vicinity of Bethlehem by archeology, and the Bible does not locate a Ramah there either. So is the Bible wrong? May it never be!
Most likely the best explanation of this dilemma is found in the phrase, "Rachel is weeping for her children." Rachel was the mother of the 12 tribes of Israel and when all of the nation of Israel was being taken into captivity to Babylon, it is said, in Jeremiah 40:1, that they passed through Ramah. So at one point the whole nation was there.
The connection is that Rachel's sepulcher is located is very near Ramah. So since she is buried there it is only natural that the prophet would identify the place of her weeping, as near where she was buried, and not in Bethlehem where the killing actually took place. And that's the explanation.
Time and time again I find the Bible to be a consistent and true book. I take it's authority for my life, and it's truthfulness by faith, but I also find it, over and over again, to be internally consistent. It is God's letter of love to us. It tells of salvation, and Christian living; and imparts knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
It is a book we ought to make sure we are very familiar with. In fact, no excuses will work, when we are not growing in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible. It is one of the great tasks that our life is to undertake if we are people of faith. "I don't have enough time," is really a pathetic excuse...Get rid of your TV and see how much free time you really do have. "I don't understand what I read," is also not a sufficient excuse for not reading the Bible...get a commentary, or ask someone who is wise about the things you don't understand, and then, read on. The Bible itself is the best explainer of the Bible. All excuses fail because this is something we are simply to do. And may God grant us the wisdom to make it so in our lives.
Soli Deo Gloria,