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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 2 - Verse 17

Verses 17,18. Jeremy. Jeremiah. This quotation is taken from Jer 31:15. The word "fulfilled," here, is taken evidently in the sense that the words in Jeremiah aptly express the event which Matthew was recording. The original design of this prophecy was to describe the sorrowful departure of the people into captivity, after the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuzaradan. The captives were assembled at Rama, Jeremiah himself being in chains, and there the fate of those who had escaped in the destruction of the city was decided at the will of the conqueror, Jer 40:1. The nobles had been slain, and the eyes of their king put out after the murder of his sons before his sight, and the people were then gathered at Rama in chains, whence they were to start on their mournful journey, slaves to a cruel monarch, leaving behind them all that was dear in life. The sadness of such a scene is well expressed in the language of the prophet, and no less beautifully and fitly applies to the melancholy event which the evangelist records; and there could be no impropriety in his using it as a quotation.

Rama was a small town in the tribe of Benjamin, not far from Bethlehem. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and was buried near to Bethlehem, Ge 35:16-19. Rama was about six miles north-west of Jerusalem, near Bethel. The name Rama signifies an eminence, and was given to the town because it was situated on a hill. Rama is commonly supposed to be the same as the Arimathea of the New Testament—the place where Joseph lived who begged the body of Jesus. See Mt 27:57. This is also the same place in which Samuel was born, where he resided, died, and was buried, and where he anointed Saul as king, 1 Sa 1:1,19; 2:11; 8:4; 19:18

1 Sa 25:1. Mr. King, an American missionary, was at Rama —now called Romba—in 1824; and Mr. Whiting, another American missionary, was there in 1835. He says,

 

"The situation is exceedingly beautiful. It is about two

hours distant from Jerusalem to the north-west, on an

eminence commanding a view of a wide extent of beautiful

diversified country. Hills, plains, and valleys, highly

cultivated fields of wheat and barley, vineyards and

oliveyards, are spread out before you as on a map; and

numerous villages are scattered here and there over the

whole view. To the west and north-west, beyond the

hill-country, appears the vast plain of Sharon, and

farther still you look out upon the great and wide sea.

It occurred to me as not improbable, that in the days of

David and Solomon, this place may have been a favourite

retreat during the heat of summer; and that here the former

may have often struck his sacred lyre. Some of the psalms,

or at least one of them, (see Ps 104:25) seem to have

been composed in some place which commanded a view of the

Mediterranean; and this is the only place, I believe,

in the vicinity of Jerusalem, that affords such a view."

 

Rama was once a strongly fortified city, but there is no city here at present. A half-ruined Mohammedan mosque, which was originally a Christian church, stands over the tomb of the prophet; besides which, a few miserable dwellings are the only buildings that remain on this once celebrated spot.

There is a town about thirty miles north-west of Jerusalem, on the road to Joppa, now called Ramla, or Ramle, which is described by many geographers, and some of the best maps, as the Rama of Samuel, and the Arimathea of Joseph. It commands a view of the whole valley of Sharon, from the mountains of Jerusalem to the sea, and from the foot of Carmel to the hills of Gaza.—Un. Bib. Die.

By a beautiful figure of speech, the prophet introduces the mother weeping over the tribe, her children, and with them weeping over the fallen destiny of Israel, and over the calamities about to come upon the land. Few images could be more striking than thus to introduce a mother, long dead, whose sepulchre was near, weeping bitterly over the terrible calamities that befell her descendants. The language and the image aptly and beautifully expressed the sorrows of the mothers in Bethlehem, when Herod slew their infant children. Under the cruelty of the tyrant, almost every family was a family of tears; and well might there be lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning.

We may remark here, that the sacred writers were cautious of speaking of the characters of wicked men. Here was one of the worst men in the world, committing one of the most awful crimes, and yet there is not a single mark of exclamation; not a single reference to any other part of his conduct; nothing that could lead to the knowledge that his other conduct was not upright. There is no wanton and malignant dragging him into the narrative, that they might gratify malice, in making free with a very bad character. What was to their purpose, they record; what was not, they left to others. This is the nature of religion. It does not speak evil of others except when necessary, nor then does it take pleasure in it.

{e} "Jeremey" Jer 31:15

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