In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
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Augustine of Hippo
Hil. Quaest. N. and N. Test.9. 62: Or, The sons of Benjamin, who were akin to Rachel, were formerly cut off by the other tribes, and so extinct both then and ever after. Then therefore Rachel began to mourn her sons, when she saw those of her sister cut off in such a cause, that they should be heirs of eternal life; for he who has experienced any misfortune, is made more sensible of his losses by the good fortune of aneighbour.
A voice was heard in Rama. St. Jerome takes Rama, not for the name of any city, but for a high place, as appears by his Latin translation. (Jeremias xxxi. 15.) But in all Greek copies here in St. Matthew, and in the Septuagint in Jeremias, we find the word itself Rama, so that it must signify a particular city. Rachel, who was buried at Bethlehem, is represented weeping (as it were in the person of those desolate mothers) the murder, and loss of so many children: and Rama being a city not far from Bethlehem, in the tribe of Benjamin, built on a high place, it is said that the cries and lamentations of these children, and their mothers, reached even to Rama. Cornelius a Lap ide on Jeremias xxxi. thinks that these words were not only applied by the evangelist in a figurative sense, but that the prophet in the literal sense foretold these lamentations. (Witham)
Rachel’s son was Benjamin, in which tribe Bethlehem is not situated. How then does Rachel weep for the children of Judah as if they were her own? We answer briefly. She was buried near Bethlehem in Ephrata, and was regarded as the mother, because her body was there entertained. Or, as the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were contiguous, and Herod’s command extended to the coasts of Bethlehem as well as to the town itself, we may suppose that many were slain in Benjamin.
This may be understood in two ways; either she thought them dead for all eternity, so that no consolation could comfort her; or, she desired not to receive any comfort for those who she knew had gone into life eternal.
Hom. ix: The Evangelist by this history of so bloody a massacre, having filled the reader with horror, now again sooths his feelings, shewing that these things were not done because God could not hinder, or knew not of them; but as the Prophet had foretold. By Ramah we need not suppose that the town of that name near Gibeah is meant; but take it as signifying ‘high.’ A voice was heard ‘aloft,’ that is, spread far and wide.
Or, it was heard on high, because uttered for the death of the innocent, according to that, “The voice of the poor entereth into the heavens.” The ‘weeping 'means the cries of the children; ‘lamentation,’ refers to the mothers. In the infants themselves their death ends their cries, in the mothers it is continually renewed by the remembrance of their loss.
But what, it may be said, has Rachel to do with Bethlehem? For it says, Rachel weeping for her children. And what has Rama to do with Rachel? Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and on his death, they buried her in the horse-course that was near this place. The tomb then being near, and the portion pertaining unto Benjamin her infant (for Rama was of the tribe of Benjamin), from the head of the tribe first, and next from the place of her sepulture, He naturally denominates her young children who were massacred. Then to show that the wound that befell her was incurable and cruel, He says, she would not be comforted because they are not.
Hence again we are taught this, which I mentioned before, never to be confounded when what is happening is contrary to the promise of God. Behold, for instance, when He had come for the salvation of the people, or rather for the salvation of the world, of what kind were His beginnings. His mother, first, in flight; His birth-place is involved in irreme...
Or, The Church weeps the removal of the saints from this earth, but wishes notto be comforted as though they should return again to the struggles of life, for they are not to be recalled into life.
Rachel is well set for a type of the Church, as the word signifies ‘a sheep’ or 'seeing;’ her whole thought being to fix her eye in contemplation of God; and she is the hundredth sheep that the shepherd layeth on his shoulder.
Rama is a place in Palestine of high elevation, for the name itself means "high." This place fell by lot to the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin, who was the son of Rachel, and Rachel was buried in Bethlehem. By "Rachel," therefore, the prophet Jeremiah means "Bethlehem," for Rachel was buried in Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19). He is saying that weeping and lamentation will be heard from on high. Listen to what the prophet says:
that is, Bethlehem weeping for its children,
In this life they are no more, but their souls are immortal.