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Jeremiah, Chapter 35
Introduction to Jeremiah 35
This chapter brings the disobedience of the people of the Israel to God, Who is provoked by the obedience of the Rechabites to their father; and they are threatened with the judgments of God upon them, and the other have a Promise of the divine blessing. The time of this prophecy is observed; (35:1); an order to bring the Rechabites into one of the chambers of the Temple, which was done accordingly (35:2); wine is set before them to drink; which they refuse; alleging the command of their father to the contrary (35:5); which they had carefully and constantly obeyed in every part of it, except that which respects their dwelling in tents; for which they give a reason (35:8); by this instance of family obedience to parents. The disobedience of the Jews towards their Father, which is in Heaven, is intensified; Who, although He gave them laws and commandments, and sent His prophets to put them in mind of them, and urge them to obedience, yet they did not listen to them (35:12); and as a result the LORD threatens to bring all the evil on them He had pronounced (35:16); and promises the sons of Rechab that there would always be some of them that would minister unto Him (35:18).
The Rechabites were a branch of the Kenites, who were related to Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. They followed the children of Israel into Canaan and continued to live among them as devoted worshippers of Almighty God. The Rechabites mentioned here were descendants of that Jonadab, the son of Rechab (verse 19) who had enthusiastically aided Jehu in the overthrow of Ahab and the Baalim religion (2 Ki.10:13-23). Jonadab was the founder of this puritanical group called the Rechabites. He commanded his posterity after him against drinking wine, building houses, or owning or cultivating vineyards, thus committing the group to a nomadic life. His motives seem to have been: (1). maintaining the mobility of the group in case of difficulties or attack by enemies, and (2). cultivating a serious lifestyle opposed to the comforts, luxuries and vices of civilization.
God contrasted the obedience of the Rechabites to the disobedience of His own people. Again and again God had sent His prophets to tell the Israelites to turn from their wicked ways, but the people had not heeded God’s Word. “The descendants of Jehonadab son of Rekab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me” (verse 16).
As a result of the Israelites’ historic disobedience, God promised to bring disaster upon the nation (Jer.35:17). But God commended the family of the Rechabites and gave them a Promise: Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me (verse 19).
There is much to learn from this family. The Rechabites stood firm against integrating into the culture of the time. They were praised by God for their faithfulness and obedience to their father. The Rechabites are an example of steadfastness, for God desires that His people live in obedience and steadfastness to Him.
Many different ways have been tried to awaken the Jews to a sense of their sin and to bring them to repentance and reformation. The choice and trend of many of the prophet's sermons was to scare them out of their disobedience, by setting before them what would be the end, IF they persisted in their sin. The range of the sermon in this chapter, is to shame them out of their disobedience, if they had any sense of honor left in them for a speech of this nature to grab hold of. (1). He sets before them the obedience of the family of the Rechabites to the commands which were left them by Jonadab their ancestor, and how they continued in that obedience and would not be tempted from it (vs.1-11). (2). With this he magnifies the disobedience of the Jews to God and their contempt of His Laws (vs.12-15). (3). He foretells the judgments of the LORD upon the Jews for their wicked disobedience to God (vs.16-17). (4). He assures the Rechabites of the blessing of God upon them for their pious obedience to their father (vs.18-19).
Obedience of the Rechabites to the Commands Left to Them by Jonadab Their Ancestor (Jer. 35:1-11)
Jer. 35:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, (KJV)
The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD . . . this does not follow the former prophecies in Chapter 34. This must have been delivered seventeen years after this. As we have found out, the prophecies of Jeremiah are NOT put together in the proper order of time, in which they were delivered. The preceding prophecies were delivered in the tenth and eleventh years of Zedekiah's reign: but this was . . .
In the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah . . . and in what part of his reign is not certain; but it must be after Nebuchadnezzar had invaded the land (verse 11), most likely in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, after he had been the king of Babylon's servant three years, and rebelled against him (2 Ki.24:1).
Saying . . . as follows:
Jer. 35:2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. (KJV)
Go unto the house of the Rechabites . . . or family of the Rechabites; these are the same as the Kenites, who descended from Jethro, Moses's father in law (Jud.1:16). These, as their ancestors, became proselytes to Israel, and continued always with them, although they were a distinct people from them; these here had their name from Rechab, a famous man in his time among those people.
And speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD . . . bring them into the Temple; for these were worshippers of the TRUE God, even though foreigners and not circumcised, and so might be admitted into places belonging to the Temple.
Into one of the chambers . . . of the Temple, where there were many chambers; some for the Sanhedrim to sit in; others for the priests to lay up their garments and the vessels of the sanctuary in; and others for the prophets and their disciples to talk in together about religious matters.
And give them wine to drink . . . set wine before them, and invite them to drink of it, thus trying their obedience to their father's commands. Drinking wine was forbidden by the Rechabites. This family was brought to the Temple either in vision, or actually, which seems most likely; and that for this reason, that this occurrence might be transacted publicly, and many might be witnesses of it, and accept the rebuke given by it; and as some think, to reproach the priests for their vast overindulgence.
*****Jonadab was the founder of this puritanical group called the Rechabites. He commanded his posterity after him against drinking wine, building houses, or owning or cultivating vineyards, thus committing the group to a nomadic life. His motives seem to have been: (1). maintaining the mobility of the group in case of difficulties or attack by enemies, and (2). cultivating a serious lifestyle opposed to the comforts, luxuries and vices of civilization.
Jer. 35:3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; (KJV)
Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah . . . who was no doubt, the most famous and leading man in this family.
And his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites . . . the several branches of the family, especially the males; the women perhaps only excepted; whom it might not be so decent to gather together on such an occasion, to drink wine; or at least offer it to them.
Jer. 35:4 And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: (KJV)
And I brought them into the house of the LORD . . . into the Temple, as the prophet was told; he invited them there, and they came along with him, having no doubt, a respect for him as a prophet; and as it is highly probable he came in the Name of the LORD to them.
Into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God . . . a man of God, a prophet (Deu.33:1; 1 Sam. 2:27; 1Ki. 12:22; 2 Ki 4:7), also a servant of God in general (1Tim. 6:11), one not his own, but belonging to God; one who has parted with all right in himself to give himself completely to God (2 Tim. 3:17). He was so respected and revered that none would call in question what was transacted in his chamber. This must be understood of Hanan, and not Igdaliah, he is thought by some to be the same as Hanani the seer, in the times of Asa (2 Chr.16:7).
Which was by the chamber of the princes . . . these were not the princes of the blood, the sons of Jehoiachim; their chambers or apartments were not in the Temple, but in the royal palace; but these were the princes or rulers of the people, as they are called (Acts 4:8); the Sanhedrim, whose this chamber was, as one observed:
Which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door . . . a porter, whose chamber or lodge was under that in which the Sanhedrim sat. The Targum calls him a treasurer; one of the seven men, who had the keys of several chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary and other things were put. Keeper of the door . . . the Hebrew, of the vessel. Possibly the office meant is that of the priest who kept in charge the capitation money paid for the use of the Temple and the ritual offerings, such as silver vessels, etc. There were seven such keepers (2 Ki.12:9; 25:18; 1 Chr. 9:18-19). The word we render door understands to mean the vessels of the sanctuary, and the vessels of wine, and other things.
Jer. 35:5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. (KJV)
And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups . . . Jeremiah might have taken them out of the chambers where these vessels were, and particularly from Maaseiah, if he was a keeper of them, as before observed. The number of men gathered together was probably very large; and therefore pots, or large vessels of wine, were prepared, and set before them, and cups, to drink out of.
And I said unto them, drink ye wine . . . he invited them and bid them welcome, but he does NOT say to them, thus saith the LORD, drink wine; for then they would surely have done it, and no doubt would; since it is right to obey God rather than man, even parents.
Jer. 35:6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: (KJV)
But they said, we will drink no wine . . . or we do not drink wine; it is not lawful for us to do it; nor will we, no matter who asks us.
For Jonadab the son of Rechab our father . . . not their immediate father, but their ancestor; perhaps the same Jonadab is meant who lived in the times of Jehu, and rode with him in his chariot; by which it appears he was a man of note and figure, and who lived three hundred years before this time (2 Ki.10:15); which is more likely than that he would be a descendant of his, and the proper father of the present Rechabites.
Commanded us, saying, ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons, for ever . . . as long as any of them were in the world. What the reason was for this command, and of what follows, is not easy to say; whether it was to prevent quarrels and contentions, luxury and sensuality; or to reinforce them to hardships; or make them remember that they were but strangers in the land where they lived; or to keep them in the original course of life their ancestors had lived in, feeding cattle. Be it what it will, these his sons thought themselves under obligations to observe it; and maybe finding, by experience, it was for their good so to do.
*****Jer. 35:5-6. On the basis of a command that had been given to their family many years before, the Rechabites refuse the wine that Jeremiah gives to them.
Jer. 35:7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. (KJV)
Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any . . . they were not to build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards, for themselves, for their own profit and advantage; nor were they to possess either of these through purchase or gift. All this was commanded them, partly because they were strangers in the land of Israel, as is suggested in the latter part of the verse, and so they were to have no inheritance in it; and partly because of the rustic life that was what their ancestors had lived; and therefore Jonadab wanted it to continue in his posterity; also because by this way of life they would live not envied by the Israelites, among whom they were; since they did not covet to get any part of their possessions into their hands. The Essenes, a sect among the Jews afterwards, seem in some things to have copied after these Rechabites.
But all your days ye shall dwell in tents . . . which they could move from place to place, for the convenience of pasture for the cattle, the business they were brought up in, and were always to exercise.
That ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers . . . they were not Israelites, as before observed, but Kenites, the descendants of Jethro; they were proselytes of Israel. And now, partly because of their obedience to parents, which had seized to it the promise of long life in the land in which they lived; and partly because they would, by such a course of life, give no offense to, nor raise any jealousy in the minds of the inhabitants of it, they might expect to continue in it.
Jer. 35:8 Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; (KJV)
Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father . . . the above was the charge (laws) he gave them; and this, in every part of it, they had carefully and continually kept, even though it had been for three hundred years, as follows:
In all he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters . . . which was the first of the rules he gave them, and open obedience in all the rules, at all times, and on the part of all, without exception.
Jer. 35:9 Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: (KJV)
Nor build houses for us to dwell in . . . this explains the part of the charge more fully, which respects building of houses; which did not restrict them from building houses for others, if any of them were masters of that art; which is not likely, since they were entirely brought up in the field as shepherds; but it forbid them to building any for themselves, and making use of them by dwelling in them.
Neither have we vineyard, nor field, or seed . . . they had no piece of land planted with vines, or fields sown with corn, nor did they have any seed to sow with; for so exactly did they conform to the instructions of their ancestor.
Jer. 35:10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. (KJV)
But we have dwelt in tents . . . until very lately, when they had taken up their dwelling in Jerusalem; the reason of which is soon given.
And have obeyed, and done according to all Jonadab our father commanded us . . . and should it be objected to, that in one point they had not obeyed, in that they had left their tents, and now dwelt in Jerusalem; they had this to say in answer to it, and as the reason of their so doing, as follows:
Jer. 35:11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem. (KJV)
But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land . . . into the land of Judea to invade it, which was in the reign of Jehoiakim, in the fourth year of it, after he had served him three years, and rebelled against him (verse 35:1).
That we said, come, and let us go to Jerusalem . . . the Rechabites said one to another, let us not stay here to be destroyed by a foreign enemy; but let us go to Jerusalem, a fortified city, where we may be safe.
For fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians . . . for Nebuchadnezzar's army in this expedition consisted of Chaldeans and Syrians, and other nations (2 Ki.24:2).
So we dwell at Jerusalem . . . the Rechabites dwell at Jerusalem for now. It seems this was quickly after Nebuchadnezzar's intrusion, and when he was just departed; so that their fears had not wholly subsided; and they, as yet, had not returned to their tents, and former manner of living. So it seems that the Rechabites did not look upon this command of their father as equal to a divine precept, which must be always obeyed; but that in case of necessity it might be dispensed with, and especially when in danger of life, and when human wisdom required it. In need of protection against the invaders, they reluctantly took refuge in Jerusalem.
Disobedience of the Jews to God and Their Contempt of His Precepts (Jer. 35:12-15)
Jer. 35:12 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah . . . after the Rechabites had been tested whether they would break the command of their father, regarding drinking of wine; and steadfastly continued in their resolution not to drink wine, urging the reason of it, and vindicating their conduct in another point:
Saying . . . as follows:
Jer. 35:13 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . the LORD of armies in Heaven and Earth; the Creator of Israel; their Benefactor, their Covenant God and Father and whom they professed to worship; God and not man; is infinitely greater than Jonadab, whose precepts had been observed by his descendants.
Go and tell the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . this is an order to the prophet to remove from the chamber where he was with the Rechabites, and go to the court of the people, where they were assembled for worship; or into the city of Jerusalem, and gather the heads of them together, and declare the following things to them:
Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD; from this instance and case of the Rechabites, who had so determinedly obeyed their father, and hearkened to his words, even though he was but a man; a father of their flesh; an earthly father; and who had been dead long ago. Therefore much more should they to hearken to the Father of their spirits; their Father which is in Heaven, and who lives forever.
Jer. 35:14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. (KJV)
The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed . . . that rule for the most part, regarding drinking wine, has been carefully observed; which, although so agreeable to the nature of man, what cheers the heart of God and man, and was not prohibited them by any law of God; yet, being forbidden by their father, they abstained from it.
For unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment . . . although prearranged three hundred years ago; during all that time they had always observed it, even to that very day; which might with great truth be said; since they had that very day refused to drink any.
Notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early, and speaking . . . I, Who am the Eternal God; the King of kings; the Great Lawgiver, am able to save and to destroy; I, Who had spoken to them, and given them My Laws as soon as they were very early a people, in the times of Moses, on Mount Sinai and Horeb; and of which Laws they had been reminded time after time, and enforced by proper urgings, warnings and judgments by My prophets . . . while the command of Jonadab was that of a mere man, more than three hundred years ago, and of which his descendants had never been put in mind to disobey, but as it was handed down from father to son; and these commands they continually kept.
But ye hearkened not unto me . . . the disobedience of the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, refused to receive instruction to listen to God’s words. The LORD was greatly aggravated.
Jer. 35:15 I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. (KJV)
I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets . . . one prophet after another was sent, ever since the times of Moses, to explain and enforce the Laws I have given. This did not happen to the Rechabites; who yet, without such warnings, kept the charge their father gave them.
Rising up early, and sending them . . . Jer. 7:13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; (KJV)
Saying, return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them . . . all which were of a moral nature, and what were in themselves just and fit to be done; that they should repent of their sins, cast them away, reform their lives, abstain from idolatry, and worship the One and Only TRUE and Living God, which was only their reasonable service . . . while abstinence from wine, commanded to the Rechabites, was a different thing, it being neither morally good nor evil; and yet they obeyed their father in it, and they did not have the advantage by it, as is next promised the Jews.
And ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers . . . a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex.3:8,17) and in which they might build houses, plant vineyards, sow fields, and possess them; which the Rechabites did not do.
But ye have not inclined your ear, and hearkened unto me . . . the Jews did not listen to the LORD’S Laws, nor did they obey them; not only would they not hear them, they certainly did not do them!
*****Jer. 35:13-15. The LORD draws this sharp contrast between the Rechabites who faithfully obey the commands of their earthly father and the children of Judah who have failed to hearken to the commands of their loving heavenly Father. In the remainder of the Chapter He goes on to pronounce judgment on the people of Judah and blessing upon the Rechabites.
Judgments of God on the Jews for Their
Impious Disobedience to God (Jer. 35:1-17)
Jer. 35:16 Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: (KJV)
Because the son of Jonadab the son of Rechab . . . here we have great contrast between the Rechabites and the Israelites; the obedience of the one, and the disobedience of the other; which is done to magnify and expose the sin of the Jews, since the Rechabites,
Have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them . . . the specific commandment of not drinking wine, which they had never once violated in such a long time; nor could they now be prevailed upon, even by Jeremiah, to do it.
But this people hath not hearkened unto me . . . the LORD their God, their Heavenly Father that bought them, made them, and established them. It was gross ingratitude!
Deu. 32:5-6 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. 6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? (KJV)
Jer. 35:17 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel . . . they provoked the LORD by their sin of disobedience.
Behold, I will bring upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have pronounced against them . . . one interprets this of all the threats and curses in the Law and the prophets regarding the Jews, until the times of Jeremiah; although it may intend the evil, the LORD by Jeremiah had pronounced on them; especially, that the Chaldean army would come into their land, besiege Jerusalem, take it and carry captive its inhabitants.
Because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered . . . the LORD spoke to the Jews by His prophets, He called to them in His wisdom, He took every way to warn them of their sin and danger of that sin, to bring them to repentance and reformation. All was done in vain! They kept on in their sin. Targum is, because I sent unto them all my servants the prophets, but they obeyed not; and they prophesied to them, but they returned not to Me.
Pro.1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (KJV)
Isa.65:12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. (KJV)
Blessing of God on Them for Their Pious
Obedience to Their Father (Jer. 35:18-19)
Jer. 35:18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: (KJV)
And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites . . . to the family of the Rechabites, to those that were with him in the Temple, and while they were there; and what he said to them, which is as follows, was by the order and direction of the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . Jeremiah uses the same titles, when speaking to the Rechabites as he does to the Jews, expressing Almighty God’s grace, power and sovereignty.
Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father . . . mainly here, the specific command concerning not to drink wine.
And kept all his precepts, and done according to all that he hath commanded you . . . Jonadab was the founder of this puritanical group called the Rechabites. He commanded his posterity after him not to drink wine, build houses, or own or cultivate vineyards, or planting corn, thus committing the group to a nomadic life. The Rechabites kept all their commands, they paid attention to them, and obeyed them; they kept them in their minds and memory, and made them the rule of their actions, and conformed to them in all respects.
Jer. 35:19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . who has ordered children’s obedience to their parents, and has promised to reward it, and does.
Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever . . . which may be understood of a long time, of ages to come; or as long as the Jews were a people, or the world should stand, the posterity of this man would continue. A man shall not be cut off from Jonadab, his offspring shall never fail. It is certain that some of this family returned from the captivity (1 Chr.2:55); and was sprung from them.
The Rechabites served and worshipped the TRUE God, for they were religious people, carrying on religious worship among themselves, and not in the Temple, where they had no office, and did no service. Maybe, since these Rechabites were proselytes, and not Israelites, the conversion of the Gentiles may be appreciated; who are priests in a spiritual sense, and minister before the LORD, offering up, through Christ, the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise (Jer.33:11; Heb.13:15); and such a generation to serve the LORD will never be lacking.
*****Not want a man to stand before me . . . these will have the privilege of serving God. What happened to the Rechabites when Jerusalem fell is unknown. But mention is made of Malchijah son of Rechab in (Neh.3:14), being involved in repairing the Dung Gate of Jerusalem. In the Mishna, the Rechabites had been designated a day of service at the Temple. The Mishna, is a six-part codification of oral rabbinic law, is the basis of the Talmud. It is one of the two holy books upon which Judaism has been constructed. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12616-rechabites
The Good Example of the Rechabites (Jer. 35)
The events of this Chapter came about during the reign of Jehoiakim, following the initial invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. (verse 11). His Chaldean host was accompanied by Syrians, as the Babylonians had just taken Syria from the Egyptians. The invading army compelled the Rechabites to quickly relocate to Jerusalem. The Rechabites were descended from the Kenites and hence were related to Jethro, Moses' father-in-law (Jud.1:16; 1 Chr.2:55). Rechab was the father of Jehonadab, here called Jonadab, who supported Jehu in his purging of the Baal prophets from Israel (2 Ki. 10:15-28).
Jeremiah brings the Rechabites, probably several of their representatives, into the Temple for a test that the Jews are to witness. We really know nothing of the persons mentioned in vs. 3-4, except for Maaseiah, who was probably the father of Zephaniah the priest (Jer. 21:1; 29:25; 37:3). He was in charge of the money given for the Temple repair (2 Ki. 12:10). Jaazaniah was probably the leader of the group. He appears to have been in sympathy with Jeremiah. The three leaders (Jer. 52:24; 2 Ki. 25:18) probably had charge of the inner and outer court of the Temple and the entrance door. They ranked next to the high priest and his deputy (vs.3-4).
Jeremiah sets wine before the Rechabites and tells them to drink (verse 5). Jonadab had apparently given strict commands to his descendants regarding the lifestyle they were to live (vs. 6-10). Instead of settling down in houses or cultivating fields, they were to dwell in tents as nomads. Perhaps he was concerned over the fact that God had prophesied that once the people of Israel settled into private homes and lands that they would become forgetful of God because of their abundance (see Deu.8). Possibly he had even seen the truth of this in the society of his day. Jonadab also commanded his descendants to avoid wine. Perhaps this was motivated by the restriction against alcohol in the Nazirite vow or dangers of abuse he may have witnessed. Remarkably, the Rechabites saw that obedience to these commands from their forefather would allow them to live many days in the land which was the blessing God promised for following the Fifth Commandment in obeying one's parents (Ex.20:12; Deu.5:16).
Jeremiah 35 does not say that God approved of the restrictions Jonadab placed on his descendants. In fact, the Bible nowhere condemns the use of alcohol . . . only the abuse of it and drunkenness. Housing and agriculture are certainly not forbidden in the Bible! The lesson here is not one of refraining from settling down or abstinence from alcohol, but a lesson in obedience for Judah. Since the Rechabites obeyed a human ancestor who had died many generations before, how much more should Judah have been willing to obey Almighty God Himself, Who was their Divine Parent, and Who was very much alive and still instructing them.
We should note that when Jeremiah put the wine before the Rechabites in verse 5, he did NOT say, The LORD says, 'Drink wine' for that would have overruled their past commitment. Instead, he simply placed the wine before them and told them to drink, which they refused. The LORD certainly knew they would refuse and had Jeremiah perform the example for just that reason.
In verses 18-19, a blessing is pronounced on the Rechabites for their faithfulness to their father's commands. Jonadab will never lack a descendant to stand before God. This may simply mean his family line would always continue, as everyone who exists is before God. But it could also indicate that a descendant of Jonadab would always be in God's service (Jer.15:19). The Mishna (Jewish oral tradition later written down) indicates that in the Second Temple Period a special day was set aside for the Rechabites to bring the wood offering. Maybe this is just one way the Rechabites were to serve before God if standing before Him implied such service.
Book of Jeremiah
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