Ramah was a city in ancient Israel in the land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin, whose names means "height". It was located near Gibeon and Mizpah to the West, Gibeah to the South, and Geba to the East. It has been identified with modern Er-Ram, about 8 km north of Jerusalem.
The city is first mentioned in Joshua 18:25, near Gibeah of Benjamin. In the Book of Judges, a Levite came traveling to Gibeah, with Ramah just ahead (Judges 19:11–15). Ramah is the town that was home to Samuel's mother Hannah and his father Elkanah, from which they journeyed to the sanctuary at Shiloh, where Hannah prayed to God to end her barrenness and give her a child (1 Samuel 1–2). Ramah is mentioned in 1 Samuel 8:4 in reference to a meeting place during Samuel's rule. The city was later fortified by Baasha, king of the northern kingdom, in order to control access to Jerusalem (1 Kings 15:17–22; 2 Chronicles 16:1–6). Asa, king of the southern kingdom, employed Ben-Hadad I, the Syrian king, successfully to attack Baasha at home and draw his forces away from this city (1 Kings 15:18, 20). The biblical account states that the fortifications were later dismantled by decree of King Asa and the materials used to fortify Judah's defenses at Geba and Mizpah (1 Kings 15:22).
- A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more (Jeremiah 31:15 NIV).
Rachel – the ancestress of the three tribes, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin – had so desired children that she considered herself dead without them. (Genesis 30:1) Jeremiah said that she was figuratively weeping because of the loss of the people killed or taken in captivity. And since she was the mother of Benjamin, it would fit because those in Ramah were Benjamites.
In the New Testament, Ramah is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (2:18), where it is stated that Jeremiah's prophecy about Rachel received "a second accomplishment" in the slaughter of boy children carried out when Herod was king:
- Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
- A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.