2:18 Rachel. Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife, died in Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19) and thus the grieving mothers of Bethlehem’s slaughtered children are all personified in her name. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, whose descendants were still associated with the town.
Since the slaughter of the children is evidently not recorded in secular history, some have denied that it really happened. However, Bethlehem was a small village, with relatively few young children. In view of Herod’s notorious cruelty (he even put one of his wives and his three oldest sons to death), this occurrence was quite in character and probably was accorded little secular notice outside the affected community. The event was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15, but the prophet also exhorted them to “refrain…from weeping” because the slain children are safe with the Lord and “shall come again from the land of the enemy” (Jeremiah 31:16).