This sonnet is based on Matthew 2:16-18 which recounts Herod’s murder of the young male children in the region of Bethlehem after he realized he had been outsmarted by the wisemen who had come to pay homage to the King of the Jews. This event is called the Slaughter of the Innocents. From time before remembering, it has been children who have born the cost of society’s sins.

Matthew 2 reads,

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18    “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

You may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

This is the world where every king chances
To control and do what they can to win,
Where choice vindicates all circumstances,
Where the cost of that choice pays with children.

Oppressors force marriage to dominate,
Defile with sex, make the victim a villain,
Use rape to terrorize, humiliate,
And the price that is paid? Paid by children.

A voice heard in Ramah, she loudly cries:
Rachel lamenting for her lost children
As a king’s arm kills till ev’ry child dies,
Ev’ry parent’s arm emptied, ev’ry grave filled in.

Rachel, unconsoled shall weep for her lost
Until they return, and the king’s arms crossed.

© Randall Edwards 2018
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

artwork: Pieter Brueghel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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