File(s) not publicly available

E06499: Jerome refers to the tomb of *Rachel (wife of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob, S00701) in Bethlehem on three occasions; writing in Latin, in 404, in Bethlehem.

online resource
posted on 14.09.2018, 00:00 by Philip
Jerome of Stridon, Letter 108,10 ('Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae')

Deinde pro facultatula sua pauperibus atque conseruis pecunia distributa perrexit Bethlem et in dextra parte itineris stetit ad sepulchrum Rachel, in quo Beniamin non, ut mater uocauerat moriens, Benoni, hoc est filium doloris mei, sed, ut pater prophetavit in spiritu, filium dexterae procreavit.

'Then, after having distributed to the poor and to her fellow monastics as much money as her meager means allowed, she proceeded to Bethlehem. On the right side of the road she stood before Rachel's tomb, where she gave birth to Benjamin – "son of the right hand", as his father named him under prophetic inspiration, and not Benoni, "son of my sorrow", the name by which his mother called him as she lay dying.'

Text: Hilberg 1996 (1912). Translation: Cain 2013.

Jerome of Stridon, Tractates on the Psalms 7.70

Eo enim tempore quando mortua est Rachel in Efrata - oculis nostris sepulcrum uidemus.

'At about that time Rachel died in Efrata, indeed I have seen the grave with my own eyes.'

Text: Morin 1958. Translation: P. Polcar.

Jerome of Stridon, Commentary on Jeremiah 6.390.2

Quia igitur Rachel in Ephratha, hoc est in Bethleem, condita est – sicut et scriptura sancta et titulus sepulchri eius hodieque testantur ...

'Because Rachel was buried in Ephrata, that is Bethlehem – the holy scripture and the inscribed plaque on her tomb give testimony to that even today ...'

Text: Reiter 1960. Translation: P. Polcar.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Rachel, wife of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob : S00701

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters Literary - Theological works



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bethlehem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jerome of Stridon

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



In the second half of 404 Jerome composed an Epitaph for his late friend and patron, Paula, which was transmitted to us as letter 108. The work depicts Paula as an example for ascetic women and bears features of hagiography. Paula died on 26 January 404 in Bethlehem. She was the descendant of a Roman aristocratic family, who traced their lineage back to the Gracchi and Scipiones. She was dedicated to the western ascetic movement and had spent more than twenty years by the side of Jerome of Stridon, whom she had followed with her daughter Eustochium to the Holy Land in 385, where they founded a monastery and a convent in Bethlehem. Paula was not only Jerome's most faithful companion, but also his biggest sponsor. Jerome's Letter 108.8-13 describes Paula's pilgrimage through the Holy Land, which lasted from late winter 385 to late spring 386.


According to the Old Testament, Rachel, Jacob's favourite wife, gave birth to Benjamin on her way to Efrata and died there (Gen. 35:16-20). According to a tradition, the place of her death was Bethlehem, and Jacob set up a pillar to commemorate the spot.


Edition: Hilberg, I., Hieronymus, Epistulae 71-120 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 55; Vienna, 1996). Morin, G., Sancti Hieronymi presbyteri Tractatus LIX in psalmos (Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 78; Turnhout, 1958). Reiter, S., In Hieremiam prophetam libri VI (Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 74; Turnhout, 1960). Translation and commentary: Cain, A., Jerome's Epitaph on Paula: A Commentary on the Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae (Oxford, 2013). Further reading: Cox, B., and Ackermann, S., "Rachel's Tomb," Journal of Biblical Literature 128 (2009), 135-148.

Usage metrics