The fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah (Mt 2:17-2:18)

“Then was fulfilled

What had been spoken

Through the prophet Jeremiah.

‘A voice is heard

In Ramah.

Wailing

With loud lamentation.

Rachel is weeping

For her children.

She refuses to be consoled,

Because they are no more.’”

 

τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη, κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς·

Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν.

 

Matthew once again has a prophetic citation, but this time explicitly from the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 31:15. He said that the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled here (τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). In the Jeremiah prophecy, Yahweh talked about Rachel, one of the wives of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. At the time of Jeremiah, Rachel had been dead and buried for a long time at Ramah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem in the former Benjamin territory. Thus, Rachel (Ῥαχὴλ) was loudly lamenting from her grave. Jeremiah said that a voice from Ramah was heard (Φωνὴ ἐν Ῥαμὰ ἠκούσθη). She was weeping bitterly and mourning (κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς) for her lost children (κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς). She refused to be comforted (οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι), because they were dead and gone. They were no more (ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν). Here Matthew, used this saying to apply to the innocent male children that Herod had killed. In the follow up to the Rachel story in Jeremiah, Yahweh told her to stop weeping and dry her tears, because she was going to be rewarded with descendants. There is no indication of that here in this text.

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Jerusalem will remain (Zech 14:10-14:11)

“The whole land

Shall be turned

Into a plain

From Geba

To Rimmon,

South of Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem shall remain aloft

On its site,

From the Gate of Benjamin

To the place

Of the former gate,

To the Corner Gate.

It will remain

From the Tower of Hananel

To the king’s wine presses.

It shall be inhabited.

Never again shall it be doomed

To destruction.

Jerusalem shall abide in security.”

Although the whole land south of Jerusalem from Geba to Rimmon would be turned into a plain, Jerusalem would remain aloft from the fray, tall and strong.  Geba would be the northern boundary of Judah, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, but actually in Benjamin.  Rimmon was the southernmost town in Judah, in the old Simeon territory, about 13 miles south of Hebron.  Jerusalem would be safe from its norther Gate of Benjamin to the wines presses in the southern part of the city.  Never again would Jerusalem be destroyed, because it would live in security.

The three gates on the east side (Ezek 48:32-48:32)

“On the east side,

It shall be  

Four thousand five hundred cubits.

The three gates are

The gate of Joseph,

The gate of Benjamin,

The gate of Dan.”

There were 3 gates on the east side, 4,500 cubits from the center. It is interesting to note that Manasseh and Ephraim are no longer mentioned but merely their father, Joseph, as if it was only one tribe. The sons clearly had land given to them. The gate of Joseph would have been the most popular, since Benjamin and Dan were smaller tribes.

The tribe of Simeon (Ezek 48:24-48:24)

“Adjoining the territory

Of Benjamin,

From the east side

To the west side,

Simeon shall have

One portion.”

Simeon had gotten very little land in Joshua, chapter 19, just some land south of Judah. Here, they are attached to Benjamin in some way that is not clear. They had one portion, just like Benjamin. Obviously, Simeon was decreasing in power and value.

The place for the prince (Ezek 48:21-48:22)

“What remains on both sides

Of the holy portion

With the property

Of the city

Shall belong

To the prince.

This extends from

The twenty-five thousand cubits

Of the holy portion

To the east border,

This extends westward from

The twenty-five thousand cubits

To the west border.

It shall be

Parallel to the tribal portions.

It shall belong

To the prince.

The holy portion

With the sanctuary

Of the temple was

In the middle of it.

The property of the Levites,

With the property of the city,

Shall be in the middle

Of what belongs to the prince.

The portion of the prince

Shall lie between

The territory of Judah and

The territory of Benjamin.”

Now suddenly, Yahweh, via Ezekiel has a place for the prince, or the new leader, on the outskirts of the property already explained in great detail. This princely territory would extend on the east border to the end of the 25,000 cubits border and on the west side to its 25,000 cubits border of the holy portion.  Somehow it would be parallel to the tribal portions. The prince would own this land, even though the sanctuary of the Temple, the Levite property, and the city open fields were in the middle of this territory. This holy portion was to lie between the territory of Judah and Benjamin, on the north side of Judah.

The tribe of Dan (Ezek 48:1-48:1)

“These are the names

Of the tribes.

You will begin

At the northern border,

On the Hethlon road,

From Lebo-hamath,

As far as Hazar-enon,

The border

Of Damascus

With Hamath

To the north.

This will extend

From the east side

To the westside.

This shall be

One portion

Of Dan.”

According to Joshua, chapter 19, Dan had a small territory between Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah. However, it was wiped out, so that they ended up with a small territory between Manasseh and Naphtali near the Syrian border. Thus, the tribe of Dan here gets this northern territory, close to Damascus. It was not clear how many from the tribe of Dan were still around.

The restoration of good fields (Jer 32:43-32:44)

“‘Fields shall be bought

In this land

Of which you are saying.

‘It is a desolation!

It is without humans!

It is without animals!

It has been given

Into the hands

Of the Chaldeans.’

Fields shall be bought

For money.

Deeds shall be signed,

Sealed,

As well as witnessed

In the land of Benjamin,

In the places about Jerusalem,

In the towns of Judah,

In the towns of the hill country,

In the towns of the Shephelah,

In the towns of the Negeb.

I will restore their fortunes.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh said, via Jeremiah, that the time of the desolation of the land was over. Fields were going to be bought and sold. It is not clear who owned some of these fields, since they might have changed hands a few times, since the beginning of the exile. However, the land was desolate, since there were no humans or animals on them after the Chaldeans took over. Who was going to sell this land? However, there would be a legal process. Money would exchange hands with deeds signed, sealed, and witnessed. The example of Jeremiah buying a field in the preceding chapter may be an example of how things would operate. Now this restoration would take place in the Benjamin territory, around the city of Jerusalem, and the towns of Judah. However, there are places mentioned, like the towns in the hill country of Judah, the Shephelah, the old Dan territory next to Benjamin, as well as the Negeb, the semi arid land southeast of Jerusalem near the Dead Sea. There was no mention of the northern territory from the old northern Israelite kingdom and their tribal territory.