And they journeyed from Bethel
Jacob and his family; how long they stayed there is not certain, some say four months F26; hence they removed towards Bethlehem, which was twelve miles from Bethel F1, in their way to Hebron: and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath;
or Bethlehem, as it was also called, ( Genesis 35:19 ) ; a mile off of it, according to the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem; or about a mile, as Saadiah Gaon; for it was not a precise exact mile, but something less than a mile, as Ben Melech observes; and so Benjamin of Tudela, who was on the spot, says F2, that Rachel's grave is about half a mile from Bethlehem. Ben Gersom thinks the word here used signifies cultivated land, and that the sense is, that there were only fields, vineyards, and gardens to go through to the city, see ( Genesis 48:7 ) ( 2 Kings 5:19 ) : and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour;
the time of childbirth was come, and which came suddenly upon her, as travail does, even while journeying, which obliged them to stop; and her pains came upon her, and these very sharp and severe, so that she had a difficult time of it: pains and sorrow in childbearing are the fruit of sin, and more or less attend all in such a circumstance; but, in some, labour is more painful than in others, and more at one time than at another, and is the most painful in women than in other creatures.
F26 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 1.
F1 Bunting's Travels, p. 72.
F2 Itinerar. p. 47.