Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,B. THE COUNTERPART TO THE DISOBEDIENCE OF THE ISRAELITES: THE OBEDIENCE OF THE TECHABITES (CHAP. 35)
1. The Fact.
1The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim 2the 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, 3and give them wine to drink. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house 4of the Rechabites; 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 5Shallum, the keeper of the door [or, threshold]. And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots1 full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink 6ye wine. 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 7for ever: 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 8land where ye be strangers. 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, 9we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; nor to build houses for us to dwell in: 10neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor field: but we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11But 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.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Jer 35:1-5. The word . . . Drink ye wine. As the Rechabites did not live in houses, the house of the Rechabites must be taken in a gentilic sense. The Rechabites were a branch of that tribe of Kenites, which springing from Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses (Num. 10:29), migrated with the Israelites from the desert to Canaan, and were therefore closely connected with them politically, a well as religiously (comp. Jud. 1:16; 4:11; 1 Sam. 15. 6; 27:10; 30:29). To what an extent this, especially the latter, was the case may be learned from what is said of Jonadab, the ancestor and lawgiver of the Rechabites, in the book of Kings (2 Kings 10:15, 23). The injunctions which, according to Jer 35:6, 7, Jonadab laid on his descendants, were doubtless for the purpose of preserving their nomadic state and avoiding the evils of stationary and agricultural life. Jonadab appears to have forbidden the drinking of wine, not merely for the sake of the immediate consequences, which it might easily have, but also that the love of wine might not be the occasion of their becoming settled. The conscientiousness with which the Rechabites after three centuries still followed the commands of their ancestor, is a testimony that they held him in high honor. That he deserved this honor, and that it was shown him by others during his life-time, is seen in the respect with which Jehu treated him, taking him as a witness of his zeal in the service of Jehovah. Comp. KEIL on 2 Kings 10:12–17.—The לְשָׁכוֹת were rooms in the buildings enclosing the fore-courts, appropriated to various uses (1 Chron. 28:12 coll. 9:26; Jer. 36:10, 12, 20, 21; Ezr. 10:6; Neh. 10:38). One of these rooms, which must have been a hall corresponding to the number of the persons, was named after “the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, the man of God.” It is not known who this Hanan was. From the designation “man of Elohim,” we may infer that he was a prophet (comp. Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:8; 1 Sam. 2:26; 9:8, 10, etc.), and from “sons” (comp. 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15, etc.), that the room was a place of assemblage used by him and his pupils and adherents. Maaseiah, the threshold-keeper (of which there were three, 52:24; 2 Kings 25:18, and who stood in rank immediately after the כֹּהֵן מִשְׁנֶה. (Comp. 2 Kings 23:4) is probably identical with the Maaseiah, whose son Zephaniah was a “second priest” (52:24; 37:8; 29:25, 21:1).—Of the region inhabited by the Rechabites we have no further indication than the brief notice, 1 Chron. 2:55, from which we learn merely that they dwelt in the tribe of Judah. Jud. 1:16 agrees with this, where it is said of the Kenites, that they settled in the wilderness of Judah, which lies south of Arad (near the wilderness of Kadesh to the south of Hebron, RAUMER, Paläst., S. 172). As they were Nomads, they needed land suited to this mode of life. There is no objection to their southern position from the approach of the enemies from the North. For they might justly fear an inundation of the whole land, and therefore sought refuge in Jerusalem betimes, before they were cut off.
Jer 35:11. Army of the Syrians. Aram is Syria in the more restricted sense. Before B. C., 738, when it became an Assyrian province, it played an important part among the foes of the Israelites (2 Sam. 8:3 sqq., etc.), and afterwards it still appears among their number in the train of Assyria (Isa. 9:11), as here in that of Babylon (comp. 2 Kings 24:2).
Jer 35:5.—נָבְיעַ, related to גִבְעָה ,גֶּבִע, hill, designates here a larger round vessel (crater), from which the cups were filled. Comp. Gen. 44:2, 5,12.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,2. The Application.
12, 13Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth], the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken 14to my words? saith the LORD. The words2 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 [i. e., zealously and unceasingly3]; but ye 15hearkened not unto me. I have sent also unto all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending4them, 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 land5 which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have 16not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded 17them; 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 18called 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, 19and 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.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The commands of Jonadab, the Rechabite, have been kept centuries after his death by his people who are not descendants of Abraham, and who consequently participate in the covenant of promise only mediately, and in the second line. Israel, however, has not obeyed the commands of Jehovah, the God of hosts, though they have been presented and inculcated unceasingly by prophets. Therefore all the threatenings pronounced by the Lord on Israel shall be fulfilled. But to the Rechabites it is promised, that Jonadab shall not want a man to stand before Jehovah.
Jer 35:12-15. Then came … hearkened unto me. From “go,” Jer 35:13, we see that Jeremiah was to speak these words, not in the “chamber,” but outside, to the people.—Instruction. Comp. 2:30; 32:33.—Return ye now, etc. Comp. 25:5.
Jer 35:16-19. Because the sons … forever.—Shall not want a man. Comp. rems. on 33:17.—To stand before me. As this expression involves the idea of service (comp. Comm. on 7:10), and according to the connection that of the priestly service or worship (comp. Comm. on 15:19), it is not merely the continuance of the Rechabite family, but its perseverance in the worship of Jehovah. It is said that there are still Rechabites in Asia. WOLFF, the missionary to the Jews, met them in Mesopotamia and Yemen. WOLFF designates the desert of Yemen near Senaar, as the proper residence of these Rechabites, who still assert their origin from Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses. Comp. Dr. JOSEPHWOLFF’s Travels.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. As the Lord says to the Jews of His time, Luke 11:31, 32, that the queen of the South and the people of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment against the people of this generation, and will condemn them, for a greater than Solomon or Jonah is here, so might Jeremiah say to his contemporaries that the Rechabites would rise up against them, and condemn them, for a greater than Jonadab is here.
2. The Rechabites’ obedience to their ancestor’s command is in itself praiseworthy and exemplary. It is in perfect accordance with the fourth Commandment. Comp. Ecclus. 3. Were the Rechabites equally conscientious in their observance of the Divine commands? Would not a custom contrary to the divine command have been retained with equal tenacity on the authority of their chief? The family feeling and national spirit are natural. They do not mortify our fresh. They may, for the sake of the honor and interest of our family, which is mediately our own personal honor and interest, impel us to the most difficult performances. I have heard of children, on whom the inculcation of the divine commands made little impression; but when they were told, it is the King’s will, they did what was desired of them. Comp. Mark 7:8 sqq.
3. “All families could not pursue Rechab’s mode of life, nor should they. God gives many different callings; happy are they who can feel content in the most simple, and who constantly preserve the feeling of being pilgrims in this world. It is also not contrary to God’s ordering that distinct families, ranks and callings, are formed, or that special plans are adopted for the exercise of partnerships in certain times and circumstances, just as the church at Jerusalem introduced a kind of community of goods. We are only not to perceive any special sanctity in such arrangements; they are only practices, and all depends on the mind in which they are undertaken.” DIEDRICH.
4.“Abuti consueverunt hac narratione de Recha-bitis Monachi ad stabiliendam vitam monasticam, quemadmodum Bellarminus ex hoc capite causam eorum agere conatur (De Mon. II., cap. 5), hunc in modum scribens: ‘Habemus etiam Jer. 35 insignem commendationem nepotum Rechab, qui, cum iis pater sive avus præcepisset, ut domus non ædificarent, agros non seminarent, vineas non plantarent, vinum nunquam biberent, vitam durissimam quasi extra mundum agerent, omnia diligentissime observarunt, quos etiam monachorum nostrorum figuram gessisse scribit Hieronymus in Epist. ad Paulin.’ Cf. Hieron. in Exod. cap. 21.” FÖRSTER.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
True obedience shown in the example of Israel and the Rechabites. 1. The Rechabites put Israel to shame, in so far as they obey the command of their earthly ancestor, while the latter does not obey the Lord’s command. 2. The obedience of the Rechabites to the command of their earthly ancestor is however no pledge of their obedience to the commands of God. 3. Obedience to God’s commands is guaranteed only among the spiritual Israel, i. e., among those, who by the Holy Spirit have become members of a higher order of nature, in which the will of God is written in the hearts of all, and has consequently become the innermost principle of life.—Or, 1. In respect to legal obedience the Jews are surpassed by the Rechabites (the difference between the two). 2. The obedience of the Rechabites to their ancestor does not guarantee their obedience to God (equality of the two). 3. Only spiritual Israel bears in itself the guarantee of obedience to God’s command (the higher third).
Jer 35:14.—הוַּקם אֶת־דִּבְרִי. On the construction. Comp. NAEGELSB Gr., 100, 2.
Jer 35:14.—Comp. 7:13.
Jer 35:15.—הַשְׁכֵּם וְשָׁלֹהַ. Comp. 7:25; 25:4.
Jer 35:15.—וִשׁבו אל–האדמה. Comp. 25. 5. אֵל for עַל. Comp. Comm. on 10:1, as also אֵל־יְהוּדָה, Jer 35:17, and the reverse in עַל־מצְוַת, Jer 35:18.