Jeremiah 35

CHAPTER XXXV

Jeremiah is commanded to go to the Rechabites, who, on the

approach of the Chaldean army, took refuge in Jerusalem; and to

try their obedience to the command of Jonadab, (or Jehonadab,

2Ki 10:15, 16,)

their great progenitor, who lived in the reign of Jehu, king of

Israel, upwards of two hundred and fifty years before this

time, offers them wine to drink, which they refuse, 1-11.

Hence occasion is taken to upbraid the Jews with their

disobedience to God, their heavenly Father, 12-17;

and a blessing is pronounced on the Rechabites, 18, 19.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXXV

Verse 1. The word which came-in the days of Jehoiakim] What

strange confusion in the placing of these chapters! Who could have

expected to hear of Jehoiakim again, whom we have long ago buried;

and we have now arrived in the history at the very last year of

the last Jewish king.

This discourse was probably delivered in the fourth or fifth

year of Jehoiakim's reign.

Verse 2. The house of the Rechabites] The Rechabites were not

descendants of Jacob; they were Kenites, 1Ch 2:55, a people

originally settled in that part of Arabia Petraea, called the land

of Midian; and most probably the descendants of Jethro, the

father-in-law of Moses. Compare Nu 10:29-32, with

Jud 1:16; 4:11.

Those mentioned here seem to have been a tribe of Nomades or

Scenite Arabs, who fed their flocks in the deserts of Judea; they

preserved the simple manners of their ancestors, considering the

life of the inhabitants of cities and large towns as the death of

liberty; believing that they would dishonour themselves by using

that sort of food that would oblige them to live a sedentary life.

Jonadab, one of their ancestors, had required his children and

descendants to abide faithful to the customs of their forefathers;

to continue to live in tents, and to nourish themselves on the

produce of their flocks; to abstain from the cultivation of the

ground, and from that particularly of the vine and its produce.

His descendants religiously observed this rule, till the time when

the armies of the Chaldeans had entered Judea; when, to preserve

their lives, they retired within the walls of Jerusalem. But even

there we find, from the account in this chapter, they did not quit

their frugal manner of life: but most scrupulously observed the

law of Jonadab their ancestor, and probably of this family.

When the children of Hobab, or Jethro, the father-in-law of

Moses, were invited by him to accompany them in their journeying

to the Promised Land, it is very likely that they continued their

ancient usages, and lived a patriarchal life. Their property,

consisting in nothing but their cattle and tents, was easily

removable from place to place; and their manner of living was not

likely to excite the envy or jealousy of those who had learnt to

relish the luxuries of life; and therefore we may naturally

conclude that as they were enemies to none, so they had no enemies

themselves. Nature has few wants. Most of those which we feel are

factitious; and howsoever what we call civilization may furnish

us with the conveniences and comforts of life, let us not deceive

ourselves by supposing that these very things do not create the

very wants which they are called in to supply; and most certainly

do not contribute to the comfort of life, when the term of life is

considerably abridged by their use. But it is time to return to

the case of the Rechabites before us.

Verse 3. The whole house of the Rechabites] That is, the

family-the chiefs of which are here specified.

Verse 4. Igdaliah, a man of God] A prophet or holy man, having

some office in the temple.

Verse 5. Pots full of wine, and cups] The cups were to draw the

wine out of the pots, in order to drink it.

Verse 6. We will drink no wine] The reason is given above. Their

whole religious and political institution consisted in obedience

to three simple precepts, each of which has an appropriate

spiritual meaning:-

1. Ye shall drink no wine] Ye shall preserve your bodies in

temperance, shall use nothing that would deprive you of the

exercise of your sober reason at any time; lest in such a time ye

should do what might be prejudicial to yourselves, injurious to

your neighbour, or dishonourable to your God.

2. Neither shall ye build house] Ye shall not become residents

in any place; ye shall not court earthly possessions; ye shall

live free from ambition and from envy, that ye may be free from

contention and strife.

3. But-ye shall dwell in tents] Ye shall imitate your

forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the

patriarchs, who dwelt in tents, being strangers and pilgrims upon

earth, looking for a heavenly country, and being determined to

have nothing here that would indispose their minds towards that

place of endless rest, or prevent them from passing through

temporal things so as not to lose those that are eternal.

There must necessarily be more in these injunctions than meets

the eye in the letter of this account.

Verse 8. Thus have we obeyed the voice] We have considered these

precepts so very reasonable, so very useful, so conducive to the

health of both body and mind, and sanctioned by such a respectable

antiquity that we scrupulously and religiously observe them.

Verse 11. But-when Nebuchadnezzar-came up] If at present we

appear to be acting contrary in any respect to our institutions,

in being found in the city, necessity alone has induced us to take

this temporary step. We have sought the shelter of the city for

the preservation of our lives; so now we dwell at Jerusalem.

Verse 14. The words of Jonadab-are performed-but ye hearkened

not unto me.] The Lord, knowing the fidelity of this people, chose

to try them in this way, that he might, by their conscientious

obedience to the precepts of their forefathers, show the Jews, to

their confusion, their ingratitude to him, and their neglect of

his precepts, which if a man do, he shall live by them.

Verse 17. I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants

of Jerusalem all the evil] Having, by the conduct of the

Rechabites, clearly and fully convicted them of ingratitude and

rebellion, he now proceeds to pronounce sentence against them.

Verse 19. Thus saith the Lord-Jonadab-shall not want a man to

stand before me for ever.] His name shall ever be honourable, and

his posterity shall enjoy my continual protection, and there shall

never be found a time in which men of his spirit shall be wanting

as patterns of genuine simplicity, filial obedience, purity of

manners, and deadness to the world. True Christians may be

considered as the genuine successors of these ancient Rechabites;

and some suppose that the Essenes, in our Lord's time, were

literally their descendants, and that these were they who followed

our Lord particularly, and became the first converts to the

Gospel. If so, the prophecy is literally fulfilled: they shall

never want a man to stand before God, to proclaim his salvation,

and minister to the edification and salvation of others, as long

as the earth shall endure.

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