THE TOMB OF RACHEL
From the late Dr. Samuel Manning’s beautifully illustrated work, entitled “Those Holy Fields,” we take the following interesting particulars of Rachel’s grave: — “An hour and a quarter after leaving Jerusalem, we approach a square whitewashed building surmounted by a dome. Except for its greater size, it differs in no respect from the ordinary tombs of Moslem saints, so numerous throughout Egypt and Syria. It is the birth-place of Benjamin, and theTOMB OF RACHEL. The present edifice is modern, but the identity of the site is undoubted, being clearly marked out by the inspired narrative. ‘And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor. And it came to pass as her soul was in departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-oni [i.e., the son of my sorrow]: but his father called him Benjamin [i.e., the son of my right hand]. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.’ f70 “How deeply and permanently this event, with all its details, was impressed on the mind of the bereaved patriarch, may be gathered from the fact, that on his deathbed he recalled all the: circumstances: ‘As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath.’ f71 “It has been said that the roads in the East never vary, but continue to follow precisely the same course age after age. It will be noticed that in both accounts of the death of Rachel, stress is laid upon the fact that she died and was buried ‘in the way.’ The tomb of Rachel still stands on the roadside.”
Dr. William M. Thomson has the following very interesting and suggestive passage in his larger work on The Holy Land, under the heading — “THE PATRIARCHS’WIVES NOT ALL BURIED AT MACHPELAH.” “There is something strange in this burial of Jacob’s best-beloved wife by the roadside in such an exposed and unprotected locality. Why did he not have her body taken to Machpelah, and placed in the sepulcher of his ancestors at Hebron, only a few miles distant, and to which he was himself going? f72 “Even mere remarkable, perhaps, is the fact that Joseph, when he came to Hebron to bury his father, did not transfer the remains of his mother to the family sepulcher, as is stated in the record. There is probably more in this matter than appears on the surface. He was then lord of Egypt, and could have easily accomplished the removal. Only three women were buried there: Sarah, Abraham’s first and legal wife; Rebekah, the wife of Isaac; and Leah, the first wife of Jacob. Abraham had two other wives, and Jacob three, all of whom were excluded from that patriarchal burying-place. This could scarcely have been accidental. “May there not be found in these exclusions a tacit but impressive protest against polygamous marriages, even such as were tolerated in the households of the patriarchs?” From The Land and the Book (Vol. II “Central Palestine and Phoenicia,” p. 27). T. Nelson & Sons. 1883.