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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 35

A.M. 3398. B.C. 606.

In this chapter,

(1,) The prophet sets before the Jews, as an aggravation of their disobedience to God, the obedience of the family of the Rechabites to the commands which were left them by Jonadab, their ancestor, and shows how they persevered in that obedience, and would not be induced to decline from it, Jeremiah 35:1-11 .

(2,) With this he aggravates the disobedience of the Jews to God, and upbraids them with their contempt of his precepts, Jeremiah 35:12-15 .

(3,) He foretels, that the judgments of God would fall upon them for this disobedience, Jeremiah 35:16 , Jeremiah 35:17 .

(4,) He assures the Rechabites of the blessing of God, because of their dutiful behaviour to their father, Jeremiah 35:18 , Jeremiah 35:19 .

Verse 1

Jeremiah 35:1. The word which came unto Jeremiah in the days of Jehoiakim, &c. Here we have another evidence that the prophecies of this book are not placed in that order wherein they were delivered, for all the intermediate prophecies from chap. 26. belong clearly to the reign of Zedekiah; and consequently are posterior to this chapter and the next, which are dated in the reign of Jehoiakim, together with chap. 45., which is closely connected with the latter of these two chapters. This may most probably be referred to the fourth year of Jehoaikim’s reign, when Nebuchadnezzar, having beaten the king of Egypt’s army at Euphrates, (see Jeremiah 46:2,) marched toward Syria and Palestine, to recover those provinces again which the king of Egypt had conquered, in which expedition he laid siege to Jerusalem.

Verses 2-4

Jeremiah 35:2-4. Go to the house of the Rechabites “The Rechabites, as may be collected from Jeremiah 35:7, were not of the children of Israel, but strangers of another race that dwelt among them. From 1 Chronicles 2:55, they appear to have been Kenites, a people originally settled in that part of Arabia Petræa which was called the land of Midian. At what time Rechab lived, who gave his name to the family, is not certain, nor whether he was the immediate father, or remote ancestor of Jonadab; for the word son often denotes nothing more than a lineal descendant. But it is most likely that the Jonadab here spoken of, as having dictated a rule of living to the Rechabites, was the same person of whom mention is made 2 Kings 10:15. For that this latter was a man of considerable eminence is manifest from the respect shown him by Jehu; and his being taken along with that prince to witness his zeal for the honour of the true God, shows him to have been a man of right and religious principles. The institutions he left with his posterity bespeak a principal concern for the purity of their morals, which he might rightly suppose would be less liable to be corrupted whilst they adhered to the simplicity of their ancient usages, than if they adopted the refinements of modern luxury. He, therefore, enjoined them not only to abstain from the use of wine, but to live as the patriarchs did of old, and as many of their countrymen, the Scenite Arabs, continue to do at this day, without any fixed habitations or possessions, far from the society of cities, in the open country, feeding their flocks, and maintaining themselves by the produce of them.” Blaney. And bring them into the house of the Lord Into one of the chambers adjoining to the temple. By this it appears that the Rechabites were not idolaters, for it was not lawful for such persons to come within the precincts of the temple. I brought them into the chamber of the sons of Hanan The chambers adjoining to the temple, of which there were several, were for the use of the priests and Levites, during the time of their ministrations. They were also used as repositories for laying up the holy vestments, and vessels, and whatever stores were necessary for the daily sacrifices, and the other parts of the temple service. The son of Igdaliah, a man of God That is, as this name usually imports, a prophet, or one who had been employed upon a divine commission. Which was by the chamber of the princes The chamber where the princes, or the members of the sanhedrim, or great council, used to assemble. Above the chamber of Maaseiah, the keeper of the door That is, one of the keepers; for there were several Levites appointed to that office, both to open and shut the gates of the temple in due time, and likewise to attend at them all day, for preventing any thing that might happen to the prejudice of the purity, or safety of that holy place. Some of these officers had likewise the custody of the holy vessels.

Verses 5-7

Jeremiah 35:5-7. I set before the sons of the Rechabites pots full of wine, &c. In obedience to God’s command, (Jeremiah 35:2,) and that the prophet might have full proof of their fixed resolution to adhere to the injunction of their progenitor Jonadab, which no temptation could prevail with them to violate. But they said, We will drink no wine They peremptorily refused, and all agreed in the refusal. The prophet knew very well they would refuse, and therefore when they did so, urged them no further. For Jonadab, our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink, no wine Concerning the probable reasons of this command, and of those in the following verse, see note on Jeremiah 35:2.

Verses 8-11

Jeremiah 35:8-11. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab our father We have conformed ourselves to his injunctions, and governed our lives by them, during the space of nearly three hundred years. But when Nebuchadrezzar came, &c., we said, Come, let us go to Jerusalem The Rechabites appear to have retired within the walls of Jerusalem upon the hostile approach of Nebuchadnezzar and his army, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Calmet, indeed, supposes it was not till the latter end of Jehoiakim’s reign that the Rechabites were driven into the city for shelter, grounding his opinion upon its being said in this verse, that they entered it for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and of the army of the Syrians, and comparing this with 2 Kings 24:2, where the Lord is said to have sent bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, against Judah to destroy it. “But this reasoning,” says Blaney, “will not hold, for, 1st, Nebuchadnezzar might have been, and most probably was, joined by the Syrians in his first expedition against Jerusalem, after the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, which brought on the submission of Syria. And, 2d, Nebuchadnezzar does not appear to have come in person a second time, at least till after Jehoiakim was taken prisoner, and his generals had closely invested Jerusalem.” So we dwell at Jerusalem Having retired to Jerusalem upon the Chaldean invasion, they were forced to continue there during the siege of the place. In such an extraordinary case, they did not think themselves obliged to a strict observance of the injunction of Jonadab respecting dwelling in tents, because all human laws admit of an equitable construction, and may be superseded in cases of necessity, or when the observance of them is attended with such great inconveniences as the lawgiver himself, if he could have foreseen them, would probably have excepted.

Verses 12-16

Jeremiah 35:12-16. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah As the trial of the constancy of the Rechabites was only intended for a sign, so now we have the application of it made by God himself. Tell the men of Judah, Will ye not receive instruction? &c. Will nothing enlighten or affect you? Will nothing prevail to make you sensible of your sin and duty? You see how obedient the Rechabites are to their father’s commandment; but you have not hearkened unto me Though it might have been more reasonably expected that my people should have obeyed me, than that the sons of Jonadab should have obeyed him. Thus the Rechabites’ observance of their father’s charge to them is made use of by God as an aggravation of the disobedience of the Jews to him: and the aggravation was certainly very high. For, 1st, The Rechabites were obedient to one that was but a man like themselves, and had only the wisdom and power of a man, and was only the father of their flesh; but the Jews were disobedient to the infinite and eternal God, that had an absolute authority over them, as the father of their spirits. 2d, Jonadab was long since dead, and was ignorant of his posterity, and could neither take cognizance of their disobedience to his orders, nor give any correction for it; but God lives for ever to see how his laws are observed, and is in readiness to punish all disobedience. 3d, The Rechabites were probably seldom or never put in mind of their obligations to their progenitor; but God often sent his prophets to his people, to remind them of, and excite to, their duty to him, yet they would not comply with it. This is insisted on here as a great aggravation of their disobedience, Jeremiah 35:14; Jer 15:4 th, Jonadab had not conferred, nor could confer, any such favours on his seed as God had bestowed on his people, nor had laid them under any such obligations, from duty and interest, to obey him, as God had laid Israel and Judah under to observe his laws. 5th, God did not oblige his people to so much hardship, and to such instances of self-denial and mortification, as Jonadab enjoined to his seed, and yet Jonadab’s orders, were obeyed, and God’s were not.

Verse 17

Jeremiah 35:17. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, &c. Because they have not obeyed the precepts of my word, I will therefore perform the threatenings of it. I will bring upon Judah, &c. Namely, by the Chaldean army; all the evil that I have pronounced against them Both in the law and in the prophets; because I have spoken unto them, and called unto them Tried all ways and means to convince and reduce them; spoken by my word, called by my providence, and both in order to the same end; and yet all to no purpose: they have not heard nor answered.

Verses 18-19

Jeremiah 35:18-19. Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, &c. Mercy is here promised to the family of the Rechabites for their steady and unanimous adherence to the laws of their house. Though it was only for the shaming of Israel that their constancy was tried, yet, being unshaken, God takes occasion from it to tell them that he had blessings in reserve for them. Jonadab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever “The meaning of this promise,” says Blaney, “in its full extent, seems to be, not only that the race of Jonadab should never fail or be extinct, but that some of the family should ever be found among the worshippers of the true God. For to stand in the presence of a prince, implies an attendance, in some degree, upon his person and service. So the queen of Sheba, speaking of Solomon’s court, says, Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, 1 Kings 10:8; and therefore, to stand before God, must denote at least the privilege of treading his courts, and of worshipping him among the train of his chosen servants and people.”

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 35". Benson's Commentary. 1857.