TYPES OF CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
Ge 35:16-20 records the
death of Rachel and the birth of Ben-oni/Benjamin,
the former name being given him by his mother Rachel, and meaning son of my sorrow;
the latter being given by his father Jacob, and meaning son of the right hand. But
woven into the fabric of this literal history is a typological picture of the
incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, for in the birth of this child who was the son
of Rachel’s sorrow, God bids us see an OT foreshadowing of the birth of Him Who is
associated with the meanings of these names. In
Ben-oni, meaning son of my sorrow, we
are reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ is described by the prophet as “a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” and as the One Who “hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows,” Isa 53:3-4.
The picture is further
enhanced by the fact that the Lord’s preincarnate eternal existence is portrayed in
that, before coming to Ephrath, Ben-oni/Benjamin was in Rachel’s womb, and came
from Bethel, meaning house of God. He
Who was born that night two thousand years ago in Bethlehem-Judah, and Whose birth
fulfilled the type, had come from the place of which Bethel speaks: His Father’s
house in heaven.
We should note too, that
Ephrath meaning ashiness, fruitfulness was the ancient name of Bethlehem-Judah
which means house of bread and praise. The
two place-names continue to declare truth relative to the Lord, for as ashiness is
associated with the fire’s work, so does Ephrath remind us of the fruitfulness that
has resulted from Christ’s willingness to submit to the consuming fire of God’s
wrath at Calvary, see e.g., La 1:13 and Ps 102:3 where the ultimate application is to
Christ, “From above hath he sent fire into my bones.... My bones are burned as an
hearth.” Who can number the fruit of
Calvary’s agony? The harvest resulting
from the sowing of that one “corn of wheat” can be measured only by God.
But Bethlehem-Judah meaning house
of bread and praise, the other name of the place, reminds us not only that it was
the place where Christ was born, but that His presence there fulfilled the
significance of its name. He was the
true bread Who came down from heaven; and as for praise, that of the angels and the
shepherds on the night of His birth, was only the first note of the ever swelling
anthem that will fill the universe eternally.
The dying Rachel portrays
the godly remnant of Israel which was in a sense His “mother,” Mary being the
representative of that believing remnant which looked for salvation in Israel.
That godly remnant was also dying. It
had but a few more years to exist as the Jewish remnant, before passing away as such,
and becoming instead the beginning of the Christian Church.
Relative to Rachel’s
sorrow expressed in the name she gave her son, it is significant that we encounter
her name again in the NT, and also in association with sorrow, and also in connection
with the birth of the true Ben-oni. Relative
to Herod’s slaughter of the children from two years and under, we read in Mt 2:18
“In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were
We might note incidentally
that the nameless midwife, who assisted at the birth of Rachel’s son, is a figure
of the Holy Spirit, through whose power the Lord was brought into this world.
But his name was not to
remain Ben-oni. His father called him
Benjamin son of the right hand, and so also with Christ.
He Who on earth was the man of sorrows called Jesus, and Who went to Calvary
to experience sorrow human minds can’t measure, now sits at the Father’s right
hand crowned with glory and honor, having been given a name that is above every name,
as the prophet has written, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall
be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace,” Isa 9:6.