By the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem was literally accomplished what had been predicted by
Jeremy the prophet,
in ( Jeremiah 31:15 ) .
in Rama was there a voice heard
That this prophecy belongs not to the Babylonish captivity, but the times of the Messiah, appears from the whole context; which manifestly speaks of the miraculous conception of Christ, of the blessings of his kingdom to be enjoyed by his people, and of the new covenant to be made with them, as I have shown in another place F18. Rama was not in Arabia, as Justin Martyr says F19, but a town in the tribe of Benjamin, ( Joshua 18:25 ) and very near to Bethlehem in the tribe of Juda: between these two places, and near to both of them, was the grave of Rachel, ( Genesis 35:19 ) for which reason, and also because Rama belonged to Benjamin, a son of hers, and where, no doubt, many children were destroyed in this massacre, as well as at Bethlehem, Rachel is introduced in the prophecy representing the sorrowful mothers of those parts,
weeping for their children;
whose distress and grief are signified by several words, "lamentation, weeping and great mourning", to express the excessiveness thereof, for they
would not be comforted;
they refused to hear anything that might be suggested to them for their relief, because their children
i.e. were dead, were not in the land of the living, and no more to be enjoyed by them in this world. I cannot forbear transcribing a remark made by a noted Jew F20 upon that passage in ( Genesis 35:20 ) . "And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"; to show, says he, that Jacob saw that this thing was of the Lord, and that it would be an help to her children, as it is written, "a voice was heard in Rama", &c. wherefore he set a pillar upon her; and to show that the affair of her grave, that this (dytel htyh) "belonged to the time to come", he says, "that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day": he means, (hlwagh Mwy) , "the day of redemption". And Rachel, in the passage of Jeremy, the Jews F21 themselves own, means the congregation of Israel.
F18 Prophecies of the Messiah p. 126, &c.
F19 Dialog. cum Tryph. p. 304.
F20 R. Abraham Seba Tzeror Hammor, fol. 47. 1.
F21 Zohar in Exod. fol. 13. 1. & in Lev. fol. 8. 4.