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The Rechabites Commended

35

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah: 2Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak with them, and bring them to the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink. 3So I took Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah son of Habazziniah, and his brothers, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites. 4I brought them to the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. 5Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Have some wine.” 6But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab commanded us, ‘You shall never drink wine, neither you nor your children; 7nor shall you ever build a house, or sow seed; nor shall you plant a vineyard, or even own one; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you reside.’ 8We have obeyed the charge of our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9and not to build houses to live in. We have no vineyard or field or seed; 10but we have lived in tents, and have obeyed and done all that our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. 11But when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Arameans.’ That is why we are living in Jerusalem.”

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Can you not learn a lesson and obey my words? says the Lord. 14The command has been carried out that Jonadab son of Rechab gave to his descendants to drink no wine; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me. 15I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, “Turn now every one of you from your evil way, and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall live in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not incline your ear or obey me. 16The descendants of Jonadab son of Rechab have carried out the command that their ancestor gave them, but this people has not obeyed me. 17Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.

18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of your ancestor Jonadab, and kept all his precepts, and done all that he commanded you, 19therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab son of Rechab shall not lack a descendant to stand before me for all time.

 


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Jer 35:1-19. Prophecy in the Reign of Jehoiakim, when the Chaldeans, in Conjunction with the Syrians and Moabites, Invaded Judea.

By the obedience of the Rechabites to their father, Jeremiah condemns the disobedience of the Jews to God their Father. The Holy Spirit has arranged Jeremiah's prophecies by the moral rather than the chronological connection. From the history of an event fifteen years before, the Jews, who had brought back their manumitted servants into bondage, are taught how much God loves and rewards obedience, and hates and punishes disobedience.

2. Rechabites—a nomadic tribe belonging to the Kenites of Hemath (1Ch 2:55), of the family of Jethro, or Hobab, Moses' father-in-law (Ex 18:9, &c.; Nu 10:29-32; Jud 1:16). They came into Canaan with the Israelites, but, in order to preserve their independence, chose a life in tents without a fixed habitation (1Sa 15:6). Besides the branch of them associated with Judah and extending to Amalek, there was another section at Kadesh, in Naphtali (Jud 4:11, 17). They seem to have been proselytes of the gate, Jonadab, son of Rechab, whose charge not to drink wine they so strictly obeyed, was zealous for God (2Ki 10:15-23). The Nabatheans of Arabia observed the same rules [Diodorus Siculus, 19.94].

bring … into … house of … Lord—because there were suitable witnesses at hand there from among the priests and chief men, as also because he had the power immediately to address the people assembled there (Jer 35:13). It may have been also as a reproof of the priests, who drank wine freely, though commanded to refrain from it when in the discharge of their duties [Calvin].

chambers—which were round about the temple, applied to various uses, for example, to contain the vestments, sacred vessels, &c.

3. Jaazaniah—the elder and chief of the clan.

4. man of God—a prophet (De 33:1; 1Sa 2:27; 1Ki 12:22; 2Ki 4:7), also "a servant of God" in general (1Ti 6:11), one not his own, but God's; one who has parted with all right in himself to give himself wholly to God (2Ti 3:17). He was so reverenced that none would call in question what was transacted in his chamber.

keeper of the doorHebrew, "of the vessel." Probably the office meant is that of the priest who kept in charge the capitation money paid for the use of the temple and the votive offerings, such as silver vessels, &c. There were seven such keepers [Grotius]. Compare 2Ki 12:9; 25:18; 1Ch 9:18, 19, which support English Version.

I said … Drink—Jeremiah does not say, The Lord saith, Drink: for then they would have been bound to obey. Contrast the case in 1Ki 13:7-26.

6. Jonadab … our father—that is, forefather and director, three hundred years before (2Ki 10:15). They were called Rechabites, not Jonadabites, having received their name from Rechab the father, previously to their adopting the injunctions of Jonadab his son. This case affords no justification for slavish deference to the religious opinions of the Christian fathers: for Jonadab's injunction only affected matters of the present life; moreover, it was not binding on their consciences, for they deemed it not unlawful to go to Jerusalem in the invasion (Jer 35:11). What is praised here is not the father's injunction, but the obedience of the sons [Calvin].

7. tents—(Jud 4:17).

live many days—according to the promise connected with the fifth commandment (Ex 20:12; Eph 6:2, 3).

strangers—They were not of the stock of Jacob, but sojourners in Israel. Types of the children of God, pilgrims on earth, looking for heaven as their home: having little to lose, so that losing times cost them little alarm; sitting loose to what they have (Heb 10:34; 11:9, 10, 13-16).

8. all that he … charged us … all our days, we … wives … sons … daughters—unreserved obedience in all particulars, at all times, and on the part of all, without exception: in these respects Israel's obedience to God was wanting. Contrast 1Sa 15:20, 21; Ps 78:34-37, 41, 56, 57.

11. Chaldeans … Syrians—when Jehoiakim revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1, 2). Necessity sets aside all other laws. This is the Rechabites' excuse for their seeming disobedience to Jonadab in temporarily settling in a city. Herein was seen the prescient wisdom of Jonadab's commands; they could at a moment's notice migrate, having no land possessions to tie them.

14. obey … father's commandment: notwithstanding I—(Mal 1:6).

rising early and speakingGod Himself speaking late and early by His various ways of providence and grace.

15. In Jer 35:15 and in 2Ch 36:15, a distinct mode of address is alluded to, namely, God sending His servants. (Jer 18:11; 25:5, 6). I enjoined nothing unreasonable, but simply to serve Me, and I attached to the command a gracious promise, but in vain. If Jonadab's commands, which were arbitrary and not moral obligations in themselves, were obeyed, much more ought Mine, which are in themselves right.

17. because I have spoken … not heard … I … called … not answered—(Pr 1:24; Isa 65:12).

19. not want a man to stand before me—There shall always be left representatives of the clan to worship Me (Jer 15:1, 19); or, "before Me" means simple existence, for all things in existence are in God's sight (Ps 89:36). The Rechabites returned from the captivity. Wolff found traces of them in Arabia.




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