Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A child is born 12: Rachel gives birth to Benjamin

Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labour. When she was in her hard labour, the midwife said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son’ As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin’

Having finally borne her first son, Rachel becomes pregnant again. This time, though, things don’t go well. Like many women throughout history, she dies in childbirth.
As she dies she names her son ‘Ben-oni’, which means ‘son of my sorrow’ but his father renames him ‘ Ben-jamin’ , son of my right hand. He is the son who will remind Jacob of Rachel,  his beloved favourite wife, and he will always be special to him. Later, when his older brothers are sent down to Egypt to try to buy food during a famine, Benjamin will be kept at home. Jacob thinks he has lost Joseph; he cannot bear to think that he might lose Benjamin too.  

Maternal mortality rates in the developed world fell steeply during the early twentieth century. The advent of antibiotics, among other medical advances, played a part but the simple fact that women had fewer children was significant too. In the developing world, though, maternal mortality is still high. According to the World Health Organisation 99% of women who die in childbirth are from developing countries. Limited access to healthcare is part of the problem, as is the tendency for girls to give birth at a young age. Those who survive childbirth can suffer life-altering injuries such as obstetric fistulae, which can leave them incontinent and rejected by their communities. To find out more, visit http://www.hamlinfistulauk.org

·         What might it have been like to be Benjamin, the child whose birth had caused his mother’s death?
·         Are there any stories in your own family of traumatic births? What were the effects of these on your family history?

·         Pray for children whose mothers have died, for mothers who suffer the effects of traumatic birth and for those who work to support and help them

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