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.

The near-death experience of Jonah (Jon 2:4-2:6)

“Then I said.

‘I am driven away

From your sight.

How shall I look again

Upon your holy Temple?

The waters closed in

Over me.

The deep surrounded me.

Weeds were wrapped

Around my head.

At the roots

Of the mountains,

I went down

To the land.

The bars closed

Upon me forever.

Yet you brought up

My life

From the Pit.

O Yahweh!

My God!’”

The experience of drowning or nearly drowning is like a near-death experience. Jonah had been driven away from the sight of Yahweh because he had decided to run away from the task that Yahweh had asked him to do. He would never again look at the holy Temple in Jerusalem. As the sea waters closed in on him on every side, sea weeds were wrapped around his head. He actually felt like he was buried at the bottom of a mountain with the bars closed in on forever. He had gone down to the sea. like in Davy Jones locker. However, Yahweh, his God, brought him to life. He saved him from the Pit, the shadow like afterlife.

No more festivals (Hos 9:5-9:6)

“What will you do

On the day

Of the appointed festival?

What will you do

On the day

Of the festival

Of Yahweh?

Even if they escape

Destruction,

Egypt shall gather them.

Memphis shall bury them.

Nettles shall possess

Their precious things

Of silver.

Thorns shall be

In their tents.”

There will be no more festivals for Yahweh. Even if they are not destroyed, Egypt would take them away. They would be buried in the southern capital of Egypt, Memphis. Nettles were stinging plants that would be all over their precious metal silver objects. Their tents would have thorns in them. They would have a very unpleasant life.

The seven-month search and burial (Ezek 39:12-39:16)

“‘The house of Israel

Shall spend

Seven months

Burying them,

In order to cleanse

The land.

All the people

Of the land

Shall bury them.

It will bring them honor

On the day

That I show my glory.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They will set apart men

To pass through

The land continually.

They will bury

Any invaders who remain

On the face of the land.

It will then be cleansed.

They will make their search.

For seven months.

As the searchers

Pass through the land,

Anyone who sees

A human bone

Shall set up

A sign by it,

Until the buriers

Have buried it

In the Valley of Hamon-gog.

A city Hamonah

Is there also.

Thus,

They shall cleanse

The land.”

The house of Israel was to spend 7 months burying the men with Gog, so that they could cleanse the land of Israel and its people. These grave diggers would gain honor on the day when Yahweh was going to show his glory. These body searchers would be set apart to pass through the land continually. They would bury any remains they found. Anyone who saw a human bone was to set up a sign by it, until these buriers buried them in the Valley of Hamon-gog or the city Hamonah, next to it. Thus, the land would be cleansed by removing these dead bodies in 7 months.

The burial of Gog and his troops (Ezek 39:11-39:11)

“On that day,

I will give to Gog

A place for burial

In Israel,

The Valley

Of the Travelers,

East of the sea.

It shall block

The path

Of travelers.

There,

Gog

With all his troops

Will be buried.

It will be called

The Valley of Hamon-gog.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, explained that Gog would be buried on the east side of the Jordan River in the Valley of the Travelers, which apparently was near Dibon, in Moab. This area had been part of the old Gad territory, apparently a well-traveled route. Many people would see it and have to walk around it. Gog was to be buried there with all his troops and people, so that it would become known as the Valley of Hamon-gog, that literally means Gog and his multitude.

The sea dragon in the wilderness (Ezek 29:5-29:7)

“I will fling you

Into the wilderness.

You!

With all the fish

Of your channels!

You shall fall

In the open field!

You will not be gathered.

You will not be buried.

I have given you

As food

To the animals

Of the earth,

To the birds

Of the air.

Then all the inhabitants

Of Egypt

Shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Because they were

A staff of the reed

To the house of Israel.

When they grasped you

With the hand,

You broke down.

You tore

All their shoulders.

When they leaned

On you,

You broke down.

You made

All their legs

Unsteady.”

Yahweh was going to fling this sea dragon of Pharaoh, with all his fish in the Nile River channels, into the wilderness. They would then fall into an open field, where they would not be gathered or buried. The animals of the earth and the birds of the air would then eat them as food as they lay in the open fields. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt would know that Yahweh was God. They were like a reed to the house of Israel. When they grasped this dragon and his fish with their hands, they broke down. They tore all their shoulders when they leaned on these fish. Their legs became unsteady.

Rachel laments her children (Jer 31:15-31:17)

“Thus says Yahweh.       

‘A voice is heard in Ramah.

There is lamentation.

There is bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping

For her children.

She refuses to be comforted

For her children.

Because they are no more.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Keep your voice

From weeping!

Keep your eyes

From tears!

There is a reward

For your work.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They shall come back

From the land of the enemy.

There is hope for your future.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Your children shall come back

To their own country.’”

Jeremiah seems to have a dialogue with Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, and Yahweh. Rachel has been dead and buried for a long time at Ramah, during the time of Jacob as in Genesis, chapter 35. However, there the resting place was called Bethlehem. Here it is Ramah, someplace in Benjamin that makes more sense. The prophet Samuel may have lived in this place as in 1 Samuel, chapter 25. However, here Rachel is lamenting from her grave. She is weeping bitterly for her lost children. She refuses to be comforted because they too are dead and gone. This passage had an influence on the later Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, where he used this saying to apply to the innocent children killed by Herod. However, Yahweh tells her to stop weeping and dry her tears, because she was going to be rewarded. The descendants of her children were going to come back to their country from the land of their enemies. Thus the northern tribes would be restored.