A Mothers Cry from the Grave – Love Personified!

God heard the cry from Rachel for her children, as she cried out from Ramah. She was greatly distressed. But she had been deceased for many years before this. Does our love for our family stop or does it continue after we pass on from here? Are we aware of events happening after death?1 How can this be … did God hear someone eases voice; is it a mistake in the Bible; or perhaps a passage not in order? This record is in Jeremiah chapter 31 beginning with verse 15, being reveled to the Prophet Jeremiah.

Rachel gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob, Rachel’s husband, adopted Joseph’s sons and thus they became two separate tribes, in place of the tribe of Joseph, their father. This event in Jeremiah, is centered around Rachel’s descendants from her son Joseph. Joseph’s two sons were; Manasseh, and Ephraim, both settling in the northern part of Israel. Upon entering the Land of Israel, Joshua the successor of Moses, was from the tribe of Ephraim. This can be a reason for referring to the northern tribes as Ephraim, also many of the leaders of the northern tribes were his decedents2. As we read on in the following verses, God assures Rachel that her children will return to the Land. Verse 18 says that God had also heard Ephraim’s moaning. Perhaps this is not referring to the person Ephraim, but to the people of the northern tribes taken into captivity, called Ephraim.

Her decedents from the tribe of Benjamin settled in the south with Judah, forming what was called the Land of Judah, after the split between the northern and southern tribes. Benjamin’s tribal land is north of Jerusalem, bordering the northern tribes. The head Rabbi of the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel told me that King Solomon rerouted Benjamin’s southern border to loop through the Holy of Holies, in the Temple. Thus the Temple lied in both Benjamin and Judah tribal lands.

Jeremiah 31:15 tells us that a voice was heard in Ramah. Ramah is north of Jerusalem, where Jacob berried his wife Rachel. But the verse says that it was Rachel who was weeping, how could she if she had passed away many years prier?

The Tanach teaches us that God is not “flesh”, but “spirit”.3 Thus He does not have a body like we do. When we pass from this earth, our flesh goes back to the earth, and our “soul” goes to “Gan Edan”, (aka heaven). I think it would be safe to say that Rachel’s soul was crying out, and God heard her cry. It appears that Rachel was aware of the northern tribes being taken into captivity, she was so distressed that she was laminating and weeping. She would not be comforted. The Lord hears her cry and asks her to: “refrain your voice from weeping”, and assures her, “for your work shall be rewarded.” He continues, “they shall come back from the land of the enemy, there is hope in your future, that your children shall come back to their own border.” The Lord assured Rachel that He heard Ephraim himself morning. Ephraim’s prayer was, “you have chastised me, and I was chastised like a bull; restore me, and I will return, for you are the Lord my God. Surely, after my turning I repented; after I was instructed I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.”

Jeremiah is clearly reporting an event that had already happened, with the northern tribes being taken captive, and then Rachel weeping and lamentation over the event. God then giving her reassurance of their return. The only prophecy is about the return of Ephraim to the land.

The author of Matthew, in Matthew chapter 2:18, uses this passage from Jeremiah to support his account of a massacre involving Herod having babies killed around the area of Bethlehem, after learning that the “Wise Men” had returned to their home by a different route. He felt deceived and had all the babies in the Bethlehem area massacred. Joseph in the meantime has a visit from an angle telling him of Herod’s intentions, and instructs him to take his family to Egypt.4

Matthew’s author states that this massacre of babies is a fulfillment of the above passage in Jeremiah. Many commentators base the relationship between these two passages referencing Jeremiah’s passage on Rachel weeping to the mothers of the babies in Bethlehem weeping. I see a problem with this view because Rachel’s weeping was not a prophecy. It was her weeping and laminating that got Gods attention, He then assures her that her decedents would be returning to their land. There isn’t a relationship between the two locations, as Ramah is north of Jerusalem in the tribal area of Benjamin, and Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem in the tribal area of Judah. There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between the two events, other than referring to mothers weeping. Even the reason for weeping is different.

by, Jim Behnke


1Another after death experience is Samuel talking with King Saul. 1 Samuel 28:15 – 20; Samuel was also buried in Ramah

2This is my view, and not necessarily a scholarly view by others.

3God is not a man …. nor a son of man – Numbers 23:19; For He is not a man – 1Sam 15:29

4This story is not recorded in any other account in the Christian Bible, or any other historical record. It is only recorded in this passage in Matthew. Many historians, Bible scholars, and Theologians speculate that perhaps the author of Matthew was trying to draw a parallel between Jesus and Moses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s