Jeremiah 35:1-19 (42:1-19, LXX)

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“In the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah,” Jeremiah received a message from YHWH. This was toward the end of Jehoiakim’s reign after King Nebuchadnezzar and his troops had invaded the realm of the kingdom of Judah and was over eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. (35:1 [42:1 (LXX)]; 2 Kings 24:1, 2; Jeremiah 35:11)

Jeremiah was instructed to go to the “house [or family] of the Rechabites [Archabin (LXX)],” to speak to them, and then to “bring them into the house of YHWH” (or the temple precincts). There, in one of the chambers [one of the courts (LXX)], he was to “offer them wine to drink.” (See 1 Kings 6:5, 6.) According to 1 Chronicles 2:55, the Rechabites were Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.” Hammath may either have been an ancestor or the name of the place from which the Rechabites came. In Jeremiah’s time, they identified themselves as descendants of Jonadab (Jehonadab), the son of their ancestor Rechab. (35: 6) Jonadab, a devoted worshiper of YHWH, was a contemporary of Jehu who reigned in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. (35:2 [42:2, LXX]; 2 Kings 10:15, 16; see the Notes section.)

As he had been divinely directed, Jeremiah took Jaazaniah (the apparent leader of the Rechabites) the son of Jeremiah the son of Habazziniah, “and his brothers and all his sons, and all the house” (or the whole family) of the Rechabites (35:3 [42:3, LXX]) and “brought them into the house of YHWH [the temple precincts], into the chamber of the sons of Hanan [Hananias (LXX)] the son of Igdaliah [Godolias (LXX)], a man of God.” The reference to Hanan as a “man of God” may mean that he had been a prophet. As to the location of the “chamber of the sons of Hanan,” the text says that it was “near the chamber of the princes [high officials]” and “above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the threshold.” Other texts identify Maaseiah as a priest. (21:1; 29:25) As “keeper of the threshold [court (LXX)],” Maaseiah was responsible for one of the three entrances leading into the temple area, and he may have granted Jeremiah and the Rechabites access to the “chamber of the sons of Hanan.” (35:4 [42:4, LXX]; 52:24) Jeremiah set before (literally, “before the faces of”) the “sons of the house [or family] of the Rechabites bowls full of wine [a vessel of wine (LXX)] and cups,” and said to them, “Drink wine.” (35:5 [42:5, LXX])

The Rechabites answered Jeremiah, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab [Jehonadab] the son of Rechab, our father [forefather] commanded us, You shall not drink wine, you and your sons, forever.” In the Septuagint, the “no” is made emphatic with two words for “not” and may be translated “by no means.” (35:6 [42:6, LXX]) Jonadab also commanded them not to build houses, sow seed, and plant vineyards. They were to live in tents “all [their] days” so that they would “live many days [or a long time] in the land” where they were moving about as nomads. (35:7 [42:7, LXX])

The Rechabites “heard,” listened to, or obeyed the “voice of Jehonadab [Jonadab] the son of Rechab,” their “father” or forefather, in all that he had commanded them. Therefore, all the “days” or all the time since then, they, their wives, sons, and daughters drank no wine (35:8 [42:8, LXX]) The Rechabites also did not build houses as their residences nor plant vineyards, own fields, or sow seed. (35:9 [42:9, LXX]) Instead, they continued to live in tents and to obey and do all that Jonadab (Jehonadab) their forefather had commanded them. (35:10 [42:10, LXX])

When King Nebuchadnezzar with his troops invaded the land of the kingdom of Judah, the Rechabites decided to go to Jerusalem to reside there. This they felt forced to do out of fear of what would happen to them in their vulnerable position as tent dwellers upon being faced with the “army of the Chaldeans” and the “army of Aram [the Aramaeans or Syrians (Assyrians [LXX])].” (35:11 [42:11, LXX])

After the interaction with the Rechabites, the “word of YHWH came to Jeremiah.” (35:12 [42:12, LXX]) “YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel” (or, according to the Septuagint, the “Lord”) is then quoted as saying to Jeremiah, “Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not take [or accept] discipline [instruction or correction] and hear [listen to or heed] my words?” The implied answer to the rhetorical question is that the people were unwilling to accept discipline or instruction and to be obedient to YHWH’s commands as set forth in the law and as made known through his prophets. (35:13 [42:13, LXX])

The disobedience of the Israelites to the words of YHWH their God contrasted sharply with the obedience of the Rechabites to the commands of their forefather Jehonadab (Jonadab). Their forefather had commanded “his sons” or offspring to “drink no wine.” Therefore, to that very “day” or time, the Rechabites did not drink wine, remaining steadfast in their obedience to Jehonadab’s (Jonadab’s) command. Although YHWH repeatedly (literally, rising up early and sending) spoke to the Israelites, they refused to “hear,” listen to, or obey him. (35:14 [42:14, LXX])

YHWH repeatedly sent his “servants the prophets” to his people, admonishing them, “Turn, each one [of you] from his evil way and make good your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them.” If they had heeded these words and changed their conduct in keeping with YHWH’s commands, the people would have been able to continue residing in the land that he had given to their “fathers” or ancestors. They, however, did not “incline [their] ear” to be responsive to what was said to them. They did not “hear,” listen to, or obey YHWH. (35:15 [42:15, LXX])

The “sons” or descendants of “Jehonadab [Jonadab] the son of Rechab” lived according to the command of their forefather. Whereas the Rechabites were willing to follow what their earthly forefather had commanded them, the people of Israel refused to listen to or obey their God. (35:16 [42:16, LXX]) “Therefore,” in view of the transgression of his people, “YHWH, the God of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel,” expressed his judgment against them. “Look, I am bringing on Judah [the realm of the kingdom of Judah] and all the residents of Jerusalem all the evil [or calamity] that I have spoken against them.” He had not left them ignorant respecting his will. Through his prophets, he “had spoken to them,” and they did not “hear” or listen. He “called to them,” but “they did not answer.” (35:17 [42:17, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

To the “house” or family of the Rechabites, Jeremiah revealed the favorable judgment of “YHWH of hosts, the God of Israel.” “Because you have listened to [or obeyed] the command of Jehonadab [Jonadab] your father [forefather or ancestor] and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you” (35:18 [42:18, LXX]; see the Notes section), therefore, thus says YHWH of hosts, the God of Israel, [there] will never be lacking a man from [of the sons of (LXX)] Jonadab [Jehonadab] the son [of the sons [LXX]) of Rechab to stand before my face [or me] all the days [all the days of the earth (LXX)].” These words assured the Rechabites that they would survive the foretold destruction of Jerusalem and have descendants in future years. There is ancient testimony to this effect. According to the Mishnah (Taanith [Ta’anit], 4:5), the “sons” or descendants of Jonadab (Jehonadab) the son of Rechab were among the families who regularly contributed the wood needed at the temple in Jerusalem. Their turn to do so was on the seventh of Ab (Av), the fifth month of the sacred Hebrew calendar and which month corresponds to mid-July to mid-August. In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius quoted the account of Hegesippus of the first century CE regarding the martyrdom of “James the brother of the Lord” Jesus Christ. This James came to be known as the “righteous one.” When stones were hurled at him to kill him, one of the Rechabites cried out, “Stop! What are you doing? The righteous one is praying for you.” (Book II, 23:17) “Ancient rabbinical sources indicate that the Rechabites intermarried with members of the tribe of Levi and thereby gained priestly status. This would explain why Hegesippus referred to them as “the priestly family to which Jeremiah the prophet bore witness.” (35:19 [42:19, LXX]


In verse 2 of chapter 42, the Septuagint does not mention that Jeremiah was told to “speak” to the Rechabites.

The Septuagint text of verse 17 in chapter 42 ends with the words, “all the evils that I have spoken against them.”