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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The restoration in Israel (Ezek 36:9-36:12)

“See now,

I am for you.

I will turn to you.

You shall be tilled.

You shall be sown.

I will multiply

Your population,

The whole house

Of Israel,

All of it.

The towns

Shall be inhabited.

The waste places

Rebuilt.

I will multiply

Human beings,

As well as animals

Among you.

They shall increase.

They shall be fruitful.

I will cause you

To be inhabited,

As in your former times.

I will do more good

To you

Than ever before.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.

I will lead people

Upon you,

My people Israel.

They shall possess you.

You shall be

Their inheritance.

No longer shall you

Bereave their children.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the mountains of Israel that he was for them. He was going to turn their land into a place that was tilled and sown with crops. He was going to multiply the population of the whole house of Israel. The towns would be inhabited and the ruined places rebuilt. Humans and animals would multiply, as the land would be occupied again. Yahweh was going to do more good than ever before. They would know that he was Yahweh, their God. There would be new leaders in this inherited land, so that they would no longer mourn for their lost children. His land and his people would be reunited again.

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.