As I write this article the 9th of Av is approaching. This is the date that the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. It is also believed to be the date that the 1st Temple may have been destroyed. Jews around the world traditionally fast in remembrance on this day.
As I pondered over this a thought came to my mind that I wanted to share.
Scripture records in Jeremiah 31:15:
A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.
In the book of Matthew reference is made to the above verse at the killing of the infants in and around Bethlehem, by Herod the Great, during the time of the childhood of Yeshua. This is when Joseph took Mary and the infant Yeshua down into Egypt to escape Herod.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more. Matthew 2:17-18
Poor Rachel! If anyone understood mourning it surely was Rachel. She was caught up in the rivalry of a chaotic home life. She had to live with the fact that her sister stole her husband and watch as she bore children while her own womb was closed. Eventually she had Joseph but then died giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. Had she lived long enough she would have witnessed the loss of Joseph as he was sold into slavery by his brothers.
We know that Rachel is only metaphorically crying in these verses, but why is Rachel weeping so bitterly, so that she can not be comforted?
The prophet Jeremiah is giving a prophecy that the people of Israel, first the northern kingdom of Ephraim and then the southern kingdom of Judah, will be carried away into exile. They were often rounded up for deportation in Ramah.
Jeremiah 40:1 tells us this:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon.
Rachel was buried near Ramah. Ramah was in the territory of the land allotment of her son Benjamin. The analogy here is that Rachel, from her grave, is mourning as she sees her children gathered up and carried off to foreign lands. She is mourning over the exile of her people. This exile brought about the death of many of her children from Joseph, Benjamin, and the children she claimed from her handmaiden, Bilhah.
In the situation in Matthew he compares the happenings of his day to the prophecy of Jeremiah. Once again Rachel cries!
How is this connected? Just as in Jeremiah when Rachel weeps for her children being carried away into Assyria, she is futuristically also mourning for the kingdom of Judah which will be carried away into diaspora at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. They had already been carried away into captivity to Babylon but had been given a chance to return.
Matthew is showing that the killing of the infants by Herod, and the exiling of the young Messiah in Egypt, is foreshadowing that another exile is coming for Judah in the near future. The Messiah Yeshua follows prophetically in line with what is going to happen to Israel.
Unlike the southern kingdom of Judah, Rachel's children of the northern kingdom never returned to the land as large people groups. They still live dispersed throughout the world.
When and how will Rachel's tears be dried away? The return of Messiah Yeshua will dry her tears up permanently for it is at this time that God will regather all of the 12 tribes that have been scattered throughout the world back to the land. Their captivity will end. Rachel will no longer need to mourn for her children for they will have all been found by Messiah.
As Jews mourn and fast this 9th of Av we can rest assured that one day their tears will be dried. They will forget their days of fasting and mourning because all the children will come home to the land promised to Abraham. All 12 tribes will return to the land.
I don't know about you but I am ready to see Rachel comforted. Come LORD Yeshua, Come!