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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Jeremiah 35

Verse 1

The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,

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 (Jeremiah 34:8-22), are taught how much God loves and rewards obedience, and hates and punishes disobedience.

Verse 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.

Rechabites - a nomadic tribe belonging to the Kenites of Hemath (1 Chronicles 2:55), of the family of Jethro, or Hobab, Moses' father-in-law (Exodus 18:9, etc.; Numbers 10:29-32; Judges 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 (1 Samuel 15:6). Besides the branch of them associated with Judah, and extending to Amalek, there was another section at Kedesh, in Naphtali (Judges 4:11; Judges 4:17). 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, and was associated by Jehu with him in the slaughter of the worshippers of Baal (2 Kings 10:15-23). The Nabatheans of Arabia observed the same rules (Diodolus Siculus, 19: 94).

Bring them into the house of the 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 (Jeremiah 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-e.g., to contain the vestments, sacred vessels, etc.

Verse 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;

Jaazaniah - the elder and chief of the clan.

Verse 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:

Hanan ... a man of God - a prophet (Moses, Deuteronomy 33:1; 1 Samuel 2:27; Shemaiah in Rehoboam's reign, 1 Kings 12:22; Elisha, 2 Kings 4:7); also 'a servant of God' in general (1 Timothy 6:11); one not his own; but Gods; one who has parted with all right in himself, to give himself wholly to God (2 Timothy 3:17). He was so reverenced that none would call in question what was transacted in his chamber.

Maaseiah ... keeper of the door - Hebrew, 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, etc. There were seven such keepers (Grotius). Compare 2 Kings 12:9; 2 Kings 25:18; 1 Chronicles 9:18-19, which support the English version.

I said ... Drink. Jeremiah does not say the Lord saith Drink, because then they would have been bound to obey. Contrast the case (1 Kings 13:7-26) where the, Lord had said to the prophet out of Judah, "Eat no bread, nor drink water," etc.

Verse 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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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:

Jonadab ... our father - i:e., forefather and director, 300 years before (2 Kings 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; because Jonadab's injunction only affected matters of the present life; moreover, it was not binding on their consciences, because they deemed it not unlawful to go to Jerusalem in the invasion (Jeremiah 35:11). What is praised here is not the fathers injunction, but the obedience of the sons (Calvin).

Verse 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.

Tents - (Judges 4:11; Judges 4:17).

Live many days - according to the premise connected with the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3).

Where ye be 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 (Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 11:9-10; Hebrews 11:13-16).

In all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives ... sons ... daughters - unreserved obedience in all particulars, at all times, and on the part of all without exception; in all which respects Israel's obedience to God was wanting. Contrast 1 Samuel 15:20-21, Saul's deficient obedience when commanded to destroy Amalek; Psalms 78:34-37; Psalms 78:41; Psalms 78:56-57.

Verses 8-10

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;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

But it came to pass when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land that we said Come and 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.

For fear of the army of the Chaldeans and ... of the Syrians - when Jehoiakim revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1-2, and "the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and of the Syrians"). 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 moments notice migrate, having no land-possessions to tie them.

Verses 12-13

Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

They ... obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I - (Malachi 1:6, "A son honoureth his father ... if then I be a father, where is mine honour?")

Rising early and speaking - God Himself speaking late and early, by His various ways of providence and grace. In Jeremiah 35:15; 2 Chronicles 36:15, a distinct mode of address is alluded to-namely, God sending His servants, "rising up early and sending them."

Verse 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. Return ye now every man from his evil way (Jeremiah 18:11; Jeremiah 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.

Verse 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:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard ... I ... called ... but they have not answered - (Proverbs 1:24; Isaiah 65:12).

Verse 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:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Jonadab ... shall not want a man to stand before me - there shall always be left representatives of the clan to worship me (Jeremiah 15:1; Jeremiah 15:19); or "before me" means simple existence, for all things in existence are in God's sight (Psalms 89:33). The Rechabites returned from the captivity. E.H. Plumptre (Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible') suggests that the words [ `omeed (H5975) lªpaanay (H6440)] "stand before me" are liturgical. The tribe of Levi is chosen to "stand before" the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 18:5; Deuteronomy 18:7). This meaning, 'ministering before me,' is given in the Targum of Jonathan. The blessing thus will mean, the Rechabites were solemnly adopted into the families of Israel, and incorporated into the tribe of Levi. Their consecrated life gained for them this honour. That they ministered in the temple in the times when the Second Book of Psalms was collected, appears from the title in the Septuagint of Psalms 71:1-24, 'To David, of the sons of Jonadab, and the first who were taken captive.' A son of Rechab is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:14 as cooperating with the priests, Levites, and princes in restoring the wall. Compare also 1 Chronicles 2:55, where they appear among "the scribes," who doubtless were Levites, after the return from Babylon. Hegesippus (in Eusebius, 'H.E.,' 2:23) mentions that when the scribes and Pharisees were stoning James the Just (the brother of our Lord), one of the priests, of the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, protesting against the crime.

Thus it appears the Rechabites were a recognized body in the temple just before the last destruction of Jerusalem. Benjamin of Tudela, in the twelfth century, mentions that he found Rechabites near El-Jubar (Pumbeditha). They observed the Rechabite rules of abstemiousness, and were 100,000 in number, governed by a prince Salomon han-Nasi, who traced his descent to David's house. Wolff found near Lenaa a tribe, Beni-Khaibr, who identified themselves with the sons of Jonadab. He calls them elsewhere B'ne-Arhab, and says the B'ne Israel of Dan live with them.


(1) Jonadab, the son of Rechab, three hundred years before the time of Jeremiah, had directed his sons to live a nomad life, dwelling in tents, not in fixed dwellings, in order to be ready at any moment to move wheresoever necessity might require. Though we are under no obligation to follow the letter of this rule we are bound to follow the spirit of it. "We here have no continuing city;" and if we be true disciples of Jesus, "we seek one to come" (Hebrews 13:14). Like the patriarchs who "sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles, and looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," we should regard our present body as but a tent soon to be taken down, and we should be looking for the "building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1).

(2) Moreover, Jonadab charged his descendants to drink no wine. It is often wise to deny ourselves lawful pleasures, if we thereby escape the danger of falling ourselves, or leading others by our example to fall into hurtful and unlawful indulgences. If, however, the believer, in the exercise of his Christian liberty, does not altogether abstain from such pleasures, he must take care, by a guarded and temperate use of them, to keep clear of sinful excess in lawful enjoyments. More are ruined by the unlawful use of lawful things than even by things absolutely unlawful; because the difficulty in the case of the former is to know where to draw the boundary line between the temperate and excessive use of them; whereas, in the case of the latter, there is no difficulty, as they are altogether forbidden. The young especially ought ever to remember Peter's warning, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the "Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).

(3) But the chief lesson designed by the Spirit that we should learn from the filial obedience and consequent reward of the Rechabites is this, If Jonadab their father's commands, on a point not morally obligatory in itself, were so scrupulously and universally kept by his children, how much more ought the eternally-obligatory and righteous commands of the God and Father of Israel and of us all be implicitly obeyed! Yet Israel and Judah refused to hear God and His prophets, though "rising early and speaking to them." Therefore, as the promised good was to attend the obedient children of Jonadab, so should the threatened evil be brought upon the disobedient people of God (Jeremiah 35:17). Let us learn, since we recognize God as our Father, to give Him the honour which belongs to Him as such, rendering an immediate, unquestioning, and, as far as the spirit enables us, a perfect and universal obedience, that so it may be well with us, not only during our short sojourn here, "in the land where we are strangers" (Jeremiah 35:7), but also and chiefly, in the heavenly land, where we shall not be strangers, but at home forever in the blessed city of our Father and our God!

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 35". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.