Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 27 October |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Emilina of Boulancourt
Aleteia logo
home iconChurch
line break icon

What does Rachel “weeping for her children” have to do with the Innocents, or with Mary?

Rachel Weeping For Her Children

Public Domain

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 12/28/19

This matriarch of the Old Testament is buried near Bethlehem, and for centuries has had the role of intercessor. See why Mary is the new Rachel.

We are familiar with the heartbreaking story of the first little ones who had to give their lives for Jesus: those known as the Holy Innocents, slaughtered because of Herod’s jealous rage.


MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS

Read more:
How many Holy Innocents were killed by King Herod?

One piece of the story that we might not pay much attention to is the prophecy that the Gospel of Matthew says is fulfilled. Matthew (chapter 2) quotes Jeremiah (chapter 31):

[Herod] sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by 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 were no more.”

This Rachel is the mother of Joseph — the one with the coat of many colors. What’s fascinating about her is that she’s actually a prefigurement of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The striking parallels are spelled out by Brant Pitre in his book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah.

Pitre first explains who Rachel is in the Old Testament. As the beloved wife of Jacob/Israel, she is the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She dies in giving birth to Benjamin, while the family is journeying, and when they happen to be near Bethlehem.

Rachel is not buried with the other mothers of Israel (Sarah, Rebekah) in the family tomb; instead, she is buried on the road near “Bethlehem” (Genesis 35:19).

This is important for Rachel’s role not only as mother of Joseph and Benjamin, but in fact, as “mother of all Israel, who somehow suffers with them and weeps for them, even after her death.” The prophesy that Matthew quotes from Jeremiah is understood to point to Rachel’s link to her people during the time of the exile.

Pitre explains:

According to Old Testament scholars, the key to understanding this passage is to remember that Rachel’s tomb was located near the place where the exiles were taken captive by the Babylonians.

God hears Rachel’s lamentation as she “suffers” with her exiled people, and promises that her people will return to their land (Jeremiah 31:16). So Rachel, in Jewish tradition, is a most powerful intercessor, who intercedes with the power of her motherly sorrow … just like Our Lady.

Now in the New Testament, we see that Rachel not only wept for her children who were in Babylonian exile near her tomb, but now weeps again, as more of her children are slain at the hands of Herod, again near her resting place.

Mary’s role is that of a new Rachel, mother of her people, and powerful intercessor.

As the suffering mother of the persecuted child who is driven into exile, Mary in Matthew’s Gospel is truly a new Rachel. Indeed, on a very human level, it is easy to imagine Mary weeping not only for the persecution and exile of her own son but for the lives of all the boys who were massacred in the attempt to kill her child.

Pitre’s book goes on to discuss other ways in which Mary and Rachel are linked, calling on Revelation, and also on the figure of the “beloved son” and his parallel with the “beloved disciple.”


OUR LADY,CHLD JESUS,BRANT PITRE

Read more:
If you want to love Mary more, find her in the Old Testament (this book will guide you)

Tags:
BibleBooksVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VENERABLE SANDRA SABATTINI
Philip Kosloski
Meet Sandra Sabattini, a newly beatified 22-year-old
2
APPLE,APPLE TREE
J-P Mauro
How St. Jerome’s pun made an apple the “forbidden fruit”
3
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
4
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
5
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
4 Steps of prayer to learn from today’s Gospel
6
VON TRAPP FAMILY
John Burger
Member of the singing Von Trapp family dies in Vermont
7
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.