When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’ (Matthew 2:16-18)
Τότε Ἡρώδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων, ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς, ἀπὸ διετοῦς, καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν παρὰ τῶν μάγων
Τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου, λέγοντος,
Φωνὴ ἐν ῥαμᾶ ἠκούσθη, θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολὺς, Ῥαχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὑτῆς καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν παρακληθῆναι, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν
When Herod saw that he had been tricked – cf Matt 2:7; this being fooled, being mocked is repeated in Jesus’ passion (Matthew 27:29, 31, 41)
killed all the children – τοὺς παῖδας the male children
This is not a direct quote from Jeremiah 31:15
οὕτως εἶπεν κύριος φωνὴ ἐν Ραμα ἠκούσθη θρήνου καὶ κλαυθμοῦ καὶ ὀδυρμοῦ Ραχηλ ἀποκλαιομένη οὐκ ἤθελεν παύσασθαι ἐπὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτῆς ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν
Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
In Jeremiah, Rachel is instructed to stop weeping because her children are coming back from the Exile. Matthew is using Jeremiah’s words to speak of unrelievable misery.
Matthew also quotes Jeremiah in Matthew 16:14; 27:9
Jeremiah’s passion has similarities with Jesus’ and that may also be influencing Matthew’s writing.
Ramah is halfway between Bethel and Jerusalem. Rachel died in Bethlehem. Hence, Matthew’s identification of the slaughter of the innocents with Rachel’s weeping.
This is the twentysecond post in a series – you can begin here:
Matthew in Slow Motion 1
Matthew in Slow Motion 2
Matthew in Slow Motion 3
Matthew in Slow Motion 4
Matthew in Slow Motion 5
Matthew in Slow Motion 6
Matthew in Slow Motion 7
Matthew in Slow Motion 8
Matthew in Slow Motion 9
Matthew in Slow Motion 10
Matthew in Slow Motion 11
Matthew in Slow Motion 12
Matthew in Slow Motion 13
Matthew in Slow Motion 14
Matthew in Slow Motion 15
Matthew in Slow Motion 16
Matthew in Slow Motion 17
Matthew in Slow Motion 18
Matthew in Slow Motion 19
Matthew in Slow Motion 20
Matthew in Slow Motion 21
As this year the Sunday Gospel readings’ focus is on St Matthew’s Gospel, I thought I’d start some of my personal study and Lectio Divina with that Gospel. [NB. I am using ‘Matthew’ as a convenient term for the author of the first Gospel in the order of the Christian canon].
image source: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Massacre of the Innocents