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Matthew references Jeremiah 31:15 as the prophecy fulfilled by Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. That Old Testament passage originally prophesied about mourning that would accompany the conquering of the Jewish kingdom of Judah by the ancient Babylonian armies. After that conquest, Babylon would eliminate from history any remnants of an independent Jewish nation, and disperse the Jewish people as slaves in exile. In this context, “Rachel” was a collective personification of all the mothers in Israel, grieving for their lost nation and exiled children.

Matthew, however, showed a dual meaning to this Jeremiah prophecy. One was in reference to the ancient exile, and the other was a collective reference to the mothers of Bethlehem weeping for the children murdered by Herod.

Matthew 2:13-18; The Escape to Egypt

Works Cited:

[ESB, 1823]

 

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