A Daily Genesis

Genesis 35:16b-20

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.[/B]

Rachel was no longer a spring chicken. Rueben, Jacob's firstborn, is now old enough to fool around with grown women. It's probably been in the neighborhood of 40+ years since Rachel's first meeting with Jacob back in chapter 29; when she was just a youngster of perhaps 15-20 years old at the time.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 35:17 . .When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her: Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.[/B]

Rachel, no doubt remembered why she named her other son Joseph, back in chapter 30, while they were all yet still living up north with Laban. Joseph's Hebrew name is [I]Yowceph[/I] (yo-safe') which is a mini prayer that says: May the Lord add another son for me. (Gen 30:24)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 35:18 . . But as she breathed her last-- for she was dying --she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.[/B]

A complicated delivery in those days typically ended in tragedy. People had no surgical skills nor tools and procedures to save either the mother or her child. The exact nature of Rachel's problem isn't stated. She could have experienced severe hemorrhaging, eclampsia, or maybe her heart just couldn't take the stress, and gave out.

[I]Ben-oni[/I] possibly means: "A Son Born In Grief". But Jacob changed it to [I]Binyamiyn[/I] (bin-yaw-mene') which possibly means: "The Son At My Right Hand" (cf. Ps 16:8, Ps 110:1).

Benny's only a baby in this section but he's already Jacob's right hand man; viz: a dependable man. You could certainly never say the other brothers were dependable; especially Reuben, of whom Jacob would later say "As unstable as water" (Gen 49:3-4). Benjamin holds the distinction of being the only one of Jacob's children born in the land of Canaan.

[B][FONT=garamond]NOTE[/FONT]:[/B] How did Jacob know Joseph was dependable? Well; the patriarchs were prophets. Thus; they new beforehand quite a bit about their kids. (cf. Gen 9:25-37, Gen 49:1-27)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 35:19 . .Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath-- now Bethlehem.
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The postscript "now Bethlehem" indicates an editorial insertion by someone later; possibly a scribe or someone assigned the task of making copies; which was a perpetual task in the ages prior to the existence of modern papers, printing presses, and electronic storage media.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 35:20 . . Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel's grave to this day.[/B]

The pillar was probably just a pile of rocks, like a cairn. The phrase "to this day" indicates the day of the writer rather than the day upon which somebody in our own day might read this passage.

By the time of 1Sam 10:2-- roughly 1020 BC --Rachel's Tomb was a famous landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about four miles south of Jerusalem, and one mile north of Bethlehem. The current small, square shaped, domed structure isn't the original, but a relatively late monument. In 1841, the "tomb" was renovated, and in 1948 taken over by Jordanian invaders. Jews were barred from visiting it, and the area was converted into a Muslim cemetery; which was eventually liberated by Israelis in 1967.

[B][FONT=garamond]NOTE[/FONT]:[/B] Loss of access to an important ancestor's grave site isn't just an archeological loss; it's a family loss.

When my father-in-law passed away in 2012 a step-daughter tried to commandeer his body from the hospital so she could get him cremated and spread his ashes somewhere over the landscape in Arizona without the slightest consideration for the feelings of his blood kin who, except for my wife, all live on the East coast.

Well; thank God my wife and her sister intervened with the appropriate legal documents in the nick of time to take custody of their father's body before the step-daughter got away with her nefarious scheme.

My father-in-law certainly deserved better than just discarding his ashes somewhere out in the desert. He was a pipeline engineer with the US Army on the Ledo Road (a.k.a. Stilwell Road) in the China/Burma/India theater in the second world war. His remains are now safely buried back East in the family's cemetery; where his real kin can come and visit him on occasion.

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