David and Jonathan & Rachel’s Tomb

Hands OutThat’s quite the story, but it doesn’t surprise me.  You do strange things all the time, things that no person could even get close to doing.  And of course, not everything You do makes since to us, but hey, You’re God, who are we to argue?

1. Rachels Tomb
Rachel’s Tomb
Rachel’s site is revered as the burial place of the matriarch Rachel. The tomb has been considered holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims for 2000 years.[3] Since the mid-1990s, Palestinians have referred to the site as the Bilal bin Rabah mosque (Arabic: مسجد بلال بن رباح‎).

The tomb, located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, is built in the style of a traditional maqam. The burial place of the matriarch Rachel as mentioned in Jewish Tanakh, Christian Old Testament and in Muslim literature[8] is contested between this site and several others to the north. Although this site is considered unlikely to be the actual site of the grave, it is by far the most recognized candidate.

“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 

And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. 

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle” (1 Sam 18:1-4).

Saul put David in charge of his military, and everyone accepted him.

“And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. 

And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam 18:6-7). 

Saul didn’t like that.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. 

And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it.  And David avoided out of his presence twice. 

And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.  Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people” (1 Sam 18:10-13).

Everyone loved David, except for Saul.

“And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD’S battles.  For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. 

2. Rachel’s Tomb now.
Rachel’s Tomb Today
The present tomb, a Saracenic building, subsequent certainly to the Crusading times, is neither rich nor imposing, but no sumptuous mausoleum is needed to keep in memory the grave of Rachel-beautiful, beloved, untimely taken away .

It is mentioned by Jerome and in the Crusading chronicles, and was visited by Maundrell two hundred years ago. We may well recall how the prophet represents Rachel sitting weeping for her children as the long train of captive exiles passed from the south on their way to Babylon, and note how the tomb is close to the roadside; and then as we see Bethlehem not a mile distant we understand how aptly the Evangelist transfers the figure to the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod.

And David said unto Saul, Who am I?  And what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?

But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife. 

And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.  Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. 

And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law” (1 Sam 18:17-22).

Saul was an evil and jealous man and thought he could out maneuver God.  Later he said to his servants,

“…Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 

And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired. 

Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. 

And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by” (1 Sam 18:25-30).

3. Wall
The wall around Bethlehem separates Bethlehem from the countryside Today Rachel’s tomb is surrounded by the wall, so it is only accessible from the Jerusalem, for the Israelis even it is situated on the west bank. On the picture it is seen as a round cupola a little to the right of the middle

Rachel’s Tomb

4. Wall graffiti
Graffiti on the wall.

Rachel died near Ephrath, which is another name for Bethlehem.

Traditionally, her burial place has been located at a medieval building near the town, but 1 Sam 10:2 indicates that site was within the tribal territory of Benjamin.

Jeremiah 31:15, in which Rachel’s weeping voice is heard “in Ramah,” suggests that the site was actually in the vicinity of Bejamite Ramah, located a few miles north of Jerusalem.

Some suggest that there was another Bethlehem nearby, a “Bethlehem of Benjamin,” but evidence for this is slight, and most believe that the only Bethlehem/Ephrath of the Bible was in Judah, south of Jerusalem.

According to Josh 19:15 there was another Bethlehem in Zebulun, but this has no bearing on the burial place of Rachel.

Where, then, was Rachel buried? One possible solution is that she was actually buried in Bethlehem of Judah but that her tomb in Benjamin was a cenotaph, an empty tomb intended to serve as a memorial to a deceased ancestor.

5. graffiti
Graffiti on the wall.

Cenotaphs were common in the ancient world, and the Benjamites had a particular reason to so honor Rachel: The matriarch of the tribe, she had died giving birth to Benjamin.

Matthew 2:18 cites Jer 31:15, claiming that this prophecy was fulfilled in the slaughter of the innocents.

It appears that Matthew was working from two differ­ent perspectives. First, Rachel’s actual burial place was in Bethlehem, where the slaugh­ter took place.

Second, Jesus’ suffering and the bloodshed around him echoed the suf­fering of Ephraim and Benjamin that Jer 31:15 bewailed. 

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