Matthew’s errant use of Jeremiah’s prophecy (31:15) of Rachel weeping


Matthew 2:16-18, "And Herod sent forth and slew all the children that were born in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Rachel [was] weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not."

The construction of these words of the prophet is incompatible with what follows. For we read in the same chapter (31) of Jeremiah, verse 17, "And the children shall return to their boundaries." This cannot mean slain, but only captive, children. The ten tribes are here alluded to as the captives who are mentioned under the collected name Ephraim, because their first king Jeroboam was of the tribe of Ephraim, the descendant of Rachel. Had Jeremiah’s prophecy had any connection with the extermination of the infants of Bethlehem Judah, it would not have been for Rachel to weep, but for Leah, the ancestress of the children of Judah. See chapter 27 of Matthew.

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