8 But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Beth-el under an oak; and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.
9 ¶ And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.
10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
16 ¶ And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor.
17 The midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou, shalt have this son also.
18 And it came to pass as her soul was in departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem.
20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
WHY Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, should be interjected here does not appear. However, if all Isaac's and Jacob's children had been intrusted to her care through the perils of infancy, it was fitting that the younger generation with their father should pause in their journey and drop a tear to her memory, and cultivate a tender sentiment for the old oak tree at Bethel.
There is no manifestation of gratitude more beautiful in family life than kindness and respect to servants for long years of faithful service, especially for those who have watched the children night and day, tender in sickness, and patient with all their mischief in health. In dealing with children one needs to exercise all the cardinal virtues, more tact, diplomacy, more honor and honesty than even an ambassador to the Court of St. James. Children readily see whom they can trust, on whose word they can rely.
In Rachel's hour of peril the midwife whispers sweet words of consolation. She tells her to fear not, that she will have a son, and he will be born alive. Whether she died herself is of small importance so that the boy lived. Scott points a moral on the death of Rachel. He thinks she was unduly anxious to have sons, and so the Lord granted her prayers to her own
destruction. If she had accepted with pious resignation whatever weal or woe naturally fell to her lot, she might have lived to a good old age, and been buried by Jacob's side at last, and not left alone in Bethlehem. People who obstinately seek what they deem their highest good, ofttimes perish in the attainment of their ambition. (Thus Scott philosophizes.)
Jacob was evidently a man of but little sentiment. The dying wife gasps a name for her son, but the father pays no heed to her request, and chooses one to suit himself. Though we must admit that Benjamin is more dignified than Ben-oni; the former more suited to a public officer, the latter to a household pet. And now Rachel is gone, and her race with Leah for children is ended. The latter with her maids is the victor, for she can reckon eight sons, while Rachel with her; can muster only four. One may smile at this ambition of the women for children, but a man's wealth was estimated at that time by the number of his children and cattle; women who had no children were objects of pity and dislike among the Jewish tribes. The Jews of to-day have much of the same feeling. They believe in the home sphere for all women, that wifehood and motherhood are the most exalted offices. If they are really so considered, why does every Jew on each returning Holy Day say in reading the service, "I thank thee, oh Lord! that I was not born a woman!"? And if Gentiles are of the same opinion, why do they consider the education of boys more important than that of girls? Surely those who are to fill the most responsible offices should have the most thorough and liberal education.
The home sphere has so many attractions that most women prefer it to all others. A strong right arm on which to lean, a safe harbor where adverse winds never blow, nor rough seas roll, makes a most inviting picture. But alas! even good husbands sometime die, and the family drifts out on the great ocean of life, without chart or compass, or the least knowledge of the science of navigation. In such emergencies the woman trained to self-protection, self-independence, and self-support holds
the vantage ground against all theories on the home sphere.
The first mention we have of an aristocratic class of Kings and Dukes, is in the line of Cain's descendants.
18 And these are the sons of Aholibamah, Esau's wife: duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah Esau's wife.
The name Aholibamah has a suggestion of high descent, but the historian tells us nothing of the virtues or idiosyncrasies of character, such a high-sounding name suggests, but simply that she was the daughter of Anah, and the wife of Esau, and that she was blessed with children, all interesting facts, which might have been intensified with a knowledge of some of her characteristics, what she thought, said and did, her theories of life in general. One longs all through Genesis to know what the women thought of a strictly masculine dynasty.
Some writers claim that these gross records of primitive races, have a deep spiritual meaning, that they are symbolical of the struggles of an individual soul from animalism to the highest, purest development of all the Godlike in man.
Some on the Revising Committee take this view, and will give us from time to time more exalted interpretations than the account in plain English conveys to the ordinary mind.
In my exegesis thus far, not being versed in scriptural metaphors and symbols, I have attempted no scientific interpretation of the simple narration, merely commenting on the supposed facts as stated. As the Bible is placed in the hands of children and uneducated men and women to point them the way of salvation, the letter should have no doubtful meaning. What should we think of guide posts on our highways, if we needed a symbolical interpreter at every point to tell us which way to go? the significance of the letters? and the point of compass indicated by the digital finger? Learned men have revised the Scriptures times without number, and I do not propose to go back of the latest Revision.
E. C. S.