They traveled from Bethel. There was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel travailed. She had hard labor. When she was in hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for now you will have another son.”
It happened, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Benoni, but his father named him Benjamin. Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath (the same is Bethlehem). Jacob set up a pillar on her grave. The same is the Pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.
Jacob builds a pillar to mark Rachel’s burial place. This gives us some insight into the possible reason for Jacob’s pillar building. He built them whenever he wanted to remember something important. He loved Rachel and so he built a pillar for her. It’s kind of interesting that Isaac liked to build wells and his son liked to build pillars. I don’t know what to make of this, but it is something that I noticed as I read through Genesis this time.
I am told, the Pillar of Rachel still stands today. It’s difficult to see for one’s self in that there is a building over the top of it now, but a little research told me that the pillar is made up of a base stone with eleven stones on top of it. Memorials can be a very powerful thing can’t they? It makes sense to make memorials because they can cause people who live much later to recognize and remember something important. In this case, it makes it very clear that this ancient writing that we call the Bible is very real and that even though these people that God loved were far from perfect, they really did exist and that God’s word is true.
Rachel’s tomb has become a “holy site” today, which also shows us that memorials can become an idol. It is pretty obvious that Rachel wasn’t holy in the way that the temple was holy. God is holy, but people are sinners. Rachel was very special, however, because she was the mother of part of the nation that God chose for Himself.