In Rama was there a voice heard - These words, quoted from Jeremiah 31:15, were originally spoken concerning the captivity of the ten tribes; but are here elegantly applied to the murder of the innocents at Bethlehem. As if he had said, Bethlehem at this time resembled Rama; for as Rachel might be said to weep over her children, which were slaughtered or gone into captivity; so in Bethlehem, the mothers lamented bitterly their children, because they were slain. The word θρηνος, lamentation is omitted by the Codd. Vatic. Cypr. one of Selden's MSS. the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, Ethiopic, all the Itala, (except that in the Cod. Bezae), Vulgate, and Saxon, several of the fathers, and above all Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:15, from which it is quoted. Griesbach leaves it in the text with a note of doubtfulness. This mourning may refer to cases far from uncommon in the east, where all the children have been massacred. The lamentations of a Hindoo mother for her child are loud and piercing; and it is almost impossible to conceive of a scene more truly heart-rending than that of a whole town of such mothers wailing over their massacred children. See Ward.
In Rama was there a voice heard - Rama was a small town in the tribe of Benjamin. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and was buried near to Bethlehem, Genesis 35:16-19. Rama was about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem, near Bethel, and was some 10 or 12 miles from Bethlehem. The name Rama signifies an eminence, and was given to the town because it was situated on a hill. Rama is commonly supposed to be the same as the Arimarthea of the New Testament the place where Joseph lived who begged the body of Jesus. See Matthew 27:57. This is also the same place in which Samuel was born, where he resided, died. and was buried, and where he anointed Saul as king, 1 Samuel 1:1, 1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 8:4; 1 Samuel 19:18; 1 Samuel 25:1. Mr. King, an American missionary, was at Rama - now called Romba - in 1824; and Mr. Whiting, another American missionary, was there in 1835. Mr. Whiting says: “The situation is exceedingly beautiful. It is about two hours distant from Jerusalem to the northwest, on an eminence commanding a view of a wide extent of beautiful diversified country. Hills, plains, and valleys, highly cultivated fields of wheat and barley, vineyards and oliveyards, are spread out before you as on a map, and numerous villages are scattered here and there over the whole view. To the west and northwest, beyond the hill-country, appears the vast plain of Sharon, and further still you look out upon the great and wide sea. It occurred to me as not improbable that in the days of David and Solomon this place may have been a favorite retreat during the heat of summer, and that here the former may have often struck his sacred lyre. Some of the Psalms, or at least one of them (see Psalm 104:25, seem to have been composed in some place which commanded a view of the Mediterranean; and this is the only place, I believe, in the vicinity of Jerusalem that affords such a view.”
Rama was once a strongly fortified city, but there is no city here at present. A half-ruined Muslim mosque, which was originally a Christian church, stands over the tomb of the prophet; besides which, a few miserable dwellings are the only buildings that remain on this once-celebrated spot. Compare the notes at Isaiah 10:29. The tomb of Rachel, which is supposed to mark the precise spot where Rachel was buried (compare Genesis 35:18-20; Genesis 48:7), is near to Bethlehem, and she is represented as rising and weeping again over her children. “The tomb is a plain Saracenic mausoleum, having no claims to antiquity in its present form, but deeply interesting in sacred associations; for, by the singular consent of all authorities in such questions, it marks the actual site of her grave.” - The Land and the Book, vol. ii. 501.
By a beautiful figure of speech, the prophet introduces the mother weeping over the tribe, her children, and with them weeping over the fallen destiny of Israel, and over the calamities about te come upon the land. Few images could be more striking than thus to introduce a mother, long dead, whose sepulchre was near, weeping bitterly over the terrible calamities that befell her descendants. The language and the image also aptly and beautifully expressed the sorrows of the mothers in Bethlehem when Herod slew their infant children. Under the cruelty of the tyrant almost every family was a family of tears, and well might there be lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning.
We may remark here that the sacred writers were cautious of speaking of the characters of wicked people. Here was one of the worst men in the world, committing one of the most awful crimes, and yet there is not a single mark of exclamation; there is not a single reference to any other part of his conduct; there is nothing that could lead to the knowledge that his character in other respects was not upright. There is no wanton and malignant dragging him into the narrative that they might gratify malice in making free with a very bad character. What was to their purpose, they recorded; what was not, they left to others. This is the nature of religion. It does not speak evil of others except when necessary, nor then does it take pleasure in it.
This chapter is based on Matthew 2.
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him.” DA 59.1Read in context »
God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan's government. The Lord's principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power. DA 759.1
It was God's purpose to place things on an eternal basis of security, and in the councils of heaven it was decided that time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government. He had claimed that these were superior to God's principles. Time was given for the working of Satan's principles, that they might be seen by the heavenly universe. DA 759.2
Satan led men into sin, and the plan of redemption was put in operation. For four thousand years, Christ was working for man's uplifting, and Satan for his ruin and degradation. And the heavenly universe beheld it all. DA 759.3Read in context »
In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbols employed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What is represented by the beast, the image, the mark? GC 438.1
The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome. GC 438.2
In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.... And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy. GC 439.1Read in context »
God sent a word of comfort to the bereaved mothers of Bethlehem that the weeping Rachels should see their children coming from the land of the enemy. Christ took little children in His arms and blessed them and rebuked the disciples who would send away the mothers, saying, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). 3SM 314.2Read in context »