A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Verse 18. A voice was heard in Rama. S. Jerom takes Rama, not for the name of any city, but for a high place, as appears by his Latin translation. Jerem. xxxi. 15. But in all Greek copies here in S. Matthew, and in the Sept. in Jeremy, 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. Cornel. a Lapide on Jerem. 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. Wi.
17. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18. In Rama 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.
CHRYSOSTOM. (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.
JEROME. (In Hierem. 31:15.) This passage of Jeremiah has been quoted by Matthew neither according to the Hebrew nor the LXX version. This shews that the Evangelists and Apostles did not follow any one’s translation, but according to the Hebrew manner expressed in their own words what they had read in Hebrew.
JEROME. 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.’
PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. 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. (Ecclus. 35:21.) 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.
JEROME. 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.
PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (Hil. Quæst. N. and V. 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. (see Judg. 20.) 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 a neighbour.
REMIGIUS. The sacred Evangelist adds, to shew the greatness of the mourning, that even the dead Rachel was roused to mourn her sons, and would not be comforted because they were not.
JEROME. 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.
HILARY. It could not be that they were not who seemed now dead, but by glorious martyrdom they were advanced to eternal life; and consolation is for those who have suffered loss, not for those who have reaped a gain. Rachel affords a type of the Church long barren now at length fruitful. She is heard weeping for her children, not because she mourned them dead, but because they were slaughtered by those whom she would have retained as her first-born sons.
RABANUS. Or, The Church weeps the removal of the saints from this earth, but wishes not to be comforted as though they should return again to the struggles of life, for they are not to be recalled into life.
GLOSS. (ord.) She will not be comforted in this present life, for that they are not, but transfers all her hope and comfort to the life to come.
RABANUS. Rachel is well set for a type of the Church, as the word signifies ‘a sheep’ or ‘seeing;’ (vid. note i, p. 19.) 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.