(matstsebheth qebhurath rachel):
In Genesis 35:20 we read: "Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave: the same is the Pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day," i.e. the time of the writer. Though the pillar, i.e sepulchral monument, has long disappeared, the spot is marked until this day, and Christians, Jews and Mohammedans unite in honoring it. The present tomb, which, apparently, is not older than the 15th century, is built in the style of the small-domed buildings raised by Moslems in honor of their saints. It is a rough structure of four square walls, each about 23 ft. long and 20 ft. high; the dome rising 10 ft. higher is used by Mohammedans for prayer, while on Fridays the Jews make supplication before the empty tomb within. It is doubtful, but probable, that it marks the exact spot where Rachel was buried. There are, apparently, two traditions as to the location of the place. The oldest tradition, based upon Genesis 35:16-20; 48:7, points to a place one mile North of Bethlehem and 4 miles from Jerusalem. Matthew 2:18 speaks for this place, since the evangelist, reporting the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, represents Rachel as weeping for her children from her neighboring grave. But according to 1 Samuel 10:2, which apparently represents another tradition, the place of Rachel's grave was on the "border of Benjamin," near Beth-el, about 10 miles North of Jerusalem, at another unknown Ephrath. This location, some believe, is corroborated by Jeremiah 31:15, where the prophet, in relating the leading away of the people of Ramah, which was in Benjamin, into captivity, introduces Rachel the mother of that tribe as bewailing the fate of her descendants. Those that believe this northern location to be the place of Rachel's grave take the words, "the same is Beth-lehem," in Genesis 35:19; 48:7, to be an incorrect gloss; but that is a mere assumption lacking sufficient proof.o, following J. P. Peters, rearranges the text by transferring the clause "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council" to the end of the preceding verse (Encyclopaedia Biblica, IV, cols. 4001 f). There certainly does not seem to be trustworthy external evidence to prove that the terms "the judgment," "the council," "the Gehenna of fire" stand to each other in a relation of gradation, as lower and higher legal courts, or would be so understood by Christ's hearers. What is beyond dispute is that Christ condemns the use of disparaging and insulting epithets as a supreme offense against the law of humanity, which belongs to the same category as murder itself. It should be added, however, that it is the underlying feeling and not the verbal expression as such that constitutes the sin. Hence, our Lord can, without any real inconsistency, address two of His followers as "foolish men" (Luke 24:25, anoetoi, practically equivalent to Raca, as is also James's expression, "O vain man," James 2:20).
Mr. Nathan Strauss, of New York City, has purchased the land surrounding Rachel's grave for the purpose of erecting a Jewish university in the Holy Land.
S. D. Press
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