The obedience of the Rechabites. (1-11) The Jews' disobedience to the Lord. (12-19)
Verses 1-11 Jonadab was famous for wisdom and piety. He lived nearly ( 2 Kings. 10:15 ) to drink wine. He also appointed them to dwell in tents, or movable dwelling: this would teach them not to think of settling any where in this world. To keep low, would be the way to continue long in the land where they were strangers. Humility and contentment are always the best policy, and men's surest protection. Also, that they might not run into unlawful pleasures, they were to deny themselves even lawful delights. The consideration that we are strangers and pilgrims should oblige us to abstain from all fleshly lusts. Let them have little to lose, and then losing times would be the less dreadful: let them sit loose to what they had, and then they might with less pain be stript of it. Those are in the best frame to meet sufferings who live a life of self-denial, and who despise the vanities of the world. Jonadab's posterity observed these rules strictly, only using proper means for their safety in a time of general suffering.
Verses 12-19 The trial of the Rechabites' constancy was for a sign; it made the disobedience of the Jews to God the more marked. The Rechabites were obedient to one who was but a man like themselves, and Jonadab never did for his seed what God has done for his people. Mercy is promised to the Rechabites. We are not told respecting the performance of this promise; but doubtless it was performed, and travellers say the Rechabites may be found a separate people to this day. Let us follow the counsels of our pious forefathers, and we shall find good in so doing.
Jeremiah 35:1-19 . PROPHECY IN THE REIGN OF JEHOIAKIM, WHEN THE CHALDEANS, IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SYRIANS AND MOABITES, INVADED JUDEA.
By the obedience of the Rechabites to their father, Jeremiah condemns the disobedience of the Jews to God their Father. The Holy Spirit has arranged Jeremiah's prophecies by the moral rather than the chronological connection. From the history of an event fifteen years before, the Jews, who had brought back their manumitted servants into bondage, are taught how much God loves and rewards obedience, and hates and punishes disobedience.
2. Rechabites--a nomadic tribe belonging to the Kenites of Hemath ( 1 Chronicles 2:55 ), of the family of Jethro, or Hobab, Moses' father-in-law ( Exodus 18:9 , &c. Numbers 10:29-32 Judges 1:16 ). They came into Canaan with the Israelites, but, in order to preserve their independence, chose a life in tents without a fixed habitation ( 1 Samuel 15:6 ). Besides the branch of them associated with Judah and extending to Amalek, there was another section at Kadesh, in Naphtali ( Judges 4:11 Judges 4:17 ). They seem to have been proselytes of the gate, Jonadab, son of Rechab, whose charge not to drink wine they so strictly obeyed, was zealous for God ( 2 Kings 10:15-23 ). The Nabatheans of Arabia observed the same rules [DIODORUS SICULUS, 19.94].
bring . . . into . . . house of . . . Lord--because there were suitable witnesses at hand there from among the priests and chief men, as also because he had the power immediately to address the people assembled there ( Jeremiah 35:13 ). It may have been also as a reproof of the priests, who drank wine freely, though commanded to refrain from it when in the discharge of their duties [CALVIN].
chambers--which were round about the temple, applied to various uses, for example, to contain the vestments, sacred vessels, &c.
3. Jaazaniah--the elder and chief of the clan.
4. man of God--a prophet ( Deuteronomy 33:1 , 1 Samuel 2:27 , 1 Kings 12:22 , 2 Kings 4:7 ), also "a servant of God" in general ( 1 Timothy 6:11 ), one not his own, but God's; one who has parted with all right in himself to give himself wholly to God ( 2 Timothy 3:17 ). He was so reverenced that none would call in question what was transacted in his chamber.
keeper of the door--Hebrew, "of the vessel." Probably the office meant is that of the priest who kept in charge the capitation money paid for the use of the temple and the votive offerings, such as silver vessels, &c. There were seven such keepers [GROTIUS]. Compare 2 Kings 12:9 , 25:18 , 1 Chronicles 9:18 1 Chronicles 9:19 , which support English Version.
I said . . . Drink--Jeremiah does not say, The Lord saith, Drink: for then they would have been bound to obey. Contrast the case in 1 Kings 13:7-26 .
6. Jonadab . . . our father--that is, forefather and director, three hundred years before ( 2 Kings 10:15 ). They were called Rechabites, not Jonadabites, having received their name from Rechab the father, previously to their adopting the injunctions of Jonadab his son. This case affords no justification for slavish deference to the religious opinions of the Christian fathers: for Jonadab's injunction only affected matters of the present life; moreover, it was not binding on their consciences, for they deemed it not unlawful to go to Jerusalem in the invasion ( Jeremiah 35:11 ). What is praised here is not the father's injunction, but the obedience of the sons [CALVIN].
7. tents--( Judges 4:17 ).
live many days--according to the promise connected with the fifth commandment ( Exodus 20:12 , Ephesians 6:2 Ephesians 6:3 ).
strangers--They were not of the stock of Jacob, but sojourners in Israel. Types of the children of God, pilgrims on earth, looking for heaven as their home: having little to lose, so that losing times cost them little alarm; sitting loose to what they have ( Hebrews 10:34 , Hebrews 11:9 Hebrews 11:10 Hebrews 11:13-16 ).
8. all that he . . . charged us . . . all our days, we . . . wives . . . sons . . . daughters--unreserved obedience in all particulars, at all times, and on the part of all, without exception: in these respects Israel's obedience to God was wanting. Contrast 1 Samuel 15:20 1 Samuel 15:21 , Psalms 78:34-37 Psalms 78:41 Psalms 78:56 Psalms 78:57 .
11. Chaldeans . . . Syrians--when Jehoiakim revolted from Nebuchadnezzar ( 2 Kings 24:1 2 Kings 24:2 ). Necessity sets aside all other laws. This is the Rechabites' excuse for their seeming disobedience to Jonadab in temporarily settling in a city. Herein was seen the prescient wisdom of Jonadab's commands; they could at a moment's notice migrate, having no land possessions to tie them.
14. obey . . . father's commandment: notwithstanding I--( Malachi 1:6 ).
rising early and speaking--God Himself speaking late and early by His various ways of providence and grace.
15. In Jeremiah 35:15 and in 2 Chronicles 36:15 , a distinct mode of address is alluded to, namely, God sending His servants. ( Jeremiah 18:11 , Jeremiah 25:5 Jeremiah 25:6 ). I enjoined nothing unreasonable, but simply to serve Me, and I attached to the command a gracious promise, but in vain. If Jonadab's commands, which were arbitrary and not moral obligations in themselves, were obeyed, much more ought Mine, which are in themselves right.
17. because I have spoken . . . not heard . . . I . . . called . . . not answered--( Proverbs 1:24 , Isaiah 65:12 ).
19. not want a man to stand before me--There shall always be left representatives of the clan to worship Me ( Jeremiah 15:1 Jeremiah 15:19 ); or, "before Me" means simple existence, for all things in existence are in God's sight ( Psalms 89:36 ). The Rechabites returned from the captivity. WOLFF found traces of them in Arabia.