The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
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.The house - The family.
The Rechabites - The Rechabites were a nomadic tribe not of Jewish but of Kenite race, and connected with the Amalekites Numbers 24:21; 1 Samuel 15:6, from whom however they had separated themselves, and made a close alliance with the tribe of Judah Judges 1:16, on whose southern borders they took up their dwelling 1 Samuel 27:10. While, however, the main body of the Kenites gradually adopted settled habits, and dwelt in cities 1 Samuel 30:29, the Rechabites persisted in leading the free desert life, and in this determination they were finally confirmed by the influence and authority of Jonadab, who lived in Jehu's reign. He was a zealous adherent of Yahweh 2 Kings 10:15-17, and possibly a religious reformer; and as the names of the men mentioned in the present narrative are all compounded with Yah, it is plain that the tribe continued their allegiance to Him.
The object of Jonadab in endeavoring to preserve the nomad habits of his race was probably twofold. He wished first to maintain among them the purer morality and higher feeling of the desert contrasted with the laxity and effeminacy of the city life; and secondly he was anxious for the preservation of their freedom. Their punctilious obedience Jeremiah 35:14 to Jonadab's precepts is employed by Jeremiah to point a useful lesson for his own people.
The date of the prophecy is the interval between the battle of Carchemish and the appearance of Nebuchadnezzar at Jerusalem, Jeremiah 35:11 at the end of the same year. It is consequently 17 years earlier than the narrative in Jeremiah 34:8 ff
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 was the chief of that portion of the tribe which had taken refuge in Jerusalem.
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:The title man of God, i. e., prophet, belongs to Hanan, identified by many with Hanani 2 Chronicles 16:7. The sons of Hanan were probably his disciples. If so, we find a religious school or sect, regularly established in the precincts of the temple, of whose views and modes of interpretation we know nothing. Plainly however, the Hananites were friendly to Jeremiah, and lent him their hall for his purpose.
The chamber of the princes - Probably the council-chamber in which the great officers of state met for the despatch of business.
The keeper of the door - There were three of these keepers, answering to the outer and inner courts of the temple, and the entrance to the temple itself. They were officers of high rank, having precedence next to the high priest and his deputy.
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.Pots - "Bowls," to fill the cups.
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:Wine is the symbol of a settled life, because the vine requires time for its growth and care in its cultivation, while the preparation of the wine itself requires buildings, and it then has to be stored up before it is ready for use. The drink of nomads consists of the milk of their herds.
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.Strangers - Because not of Jewish blood, though wandering in their territory.
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;Our father - Not merely our ancestor, but the founder of our institutions.
Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:
But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
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.The Syrians - The Septuagint substitutes Assyrians for Syrians, but marauding bands of the Aramaeans are probably meant.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
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.Jeremiah, accompanied by the main body of the Rechabites, went into one of the courts of the temple, and there addressed to the people the rebuke following.
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.Are performed - Are established, i. e., are maintained in full force.
Unto this day - i. e., for more than 200 years.
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.All ... the prophets - The Rechabites had had but one lawgiver: the Jews had had a succession of messengers from God.
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:
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.
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:
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.Travelers bear witness to the existence of a large tribe who represent themselves as the descendants of the Rechabites. The prediction was also literally fulfilled in the Rechabites being in some way incorporated into the tribe of Levi, whose office especially it was to "stand before" Yahweh Deuteronomy 10:8.