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Jeremiah 35


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

The Rechabites' Obedience The Obedient Rechabites The Symbol of the Rechabites Jeremiah and the Rechabites The Example of the Rechabites
35:1-11 35:1-11 35:1-11 35:1-5 35:1-5
Judah Rebuked     35:6-11 35:6-11
35:12-17 35:12-17 35:12-17 35:12-17 35:12-17
35:18-19 35:18-19 35:18-19 35:18-19 35:18-19

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This chapter is built around the faithfulness of the Rechabites to not drink wine.

1. verb - "give to drink" - BDB 1052, KB 1639, Hiphil perfect, v. 2

2. verb - "drink" - BDB 1059, KB 1667, vv. 5,6 (twice), 8,14 (twice)

In contrast to the people of Judah who were not obedient to what they had heard. This chapter is not about total abstinence (see Special Topic at 23:9). This chapter is about faithfulness to a message. Be careful not to read your modern issues (total abstinence from the American temperance movement) into these ancient texts, where wine drinking was the societal norm.

B. The verb "hear" (BDB 1033, KB 1570) is used many times in this chapter (vv. 8,10,13,14 [twice],15,16,17,17). The Rechabites "hear" but Judah does not!

C. There is a sound play on words with שׁ (cf. 25:3-5; 29:19-20; 34:9-11).

1. v. 14 - drink, שׁתה (twice)

- hear, שׁמע (twice)

2. v. 15 - send, שׁלח

 - rise early, שׁכם

 - send, שׁלח



1The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, 2"Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink." 3Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites, 4and I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the doorkeeper. 5Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine!" 6But they said, "We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, 'You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever. 7You shall not build a house, and you shall not sow seed and you shall not plant a vineyard or own one; but in tents you shall dwell all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.' 8We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons or our daughters, 9nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; and we do not have vineyard or field or seed. 10We have only dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and have done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. 11But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, 'Come and let us go to Jerusalem before the army of the Chaldeans and before the army of the Arameans.' So we have dwelt in Jerusalem."

35:1 "Jehoiakim" When one compares 34:2 it is easy to see how the book of Jeremiah is out of chronological order (chapters 35-36 precede 32-34). Someone compiled and edited his work, probably Baruch (cf. 32:12,13,16; 36:4,5,8,10,13,14,15,16; 43:3,6; 45:1,2).

35:2 "the house of" This idiom means "the family of."

▣ "Rechabites" We do not know much about them (cf. I Chr. 2:55; Jdgs. 1:16). They seem to be a nomadic Arab tribe related to Midionites or Kenites, the in-laws of Moses' first wife. Moses' father-in-law goes by four names-Jethro, Jether, Revel, Hobab (cf. Exod. 2:18; 3:1; 4:18; Num. 10:29; Jdgs. 4:11 and two titles-the Kenite, Jdgs. 1:16 and "priest of Midian," Exod. 3:1; 18:1).

It is obvious that YHWH is commanding the testing of the family traditions of this family group. The test is intensified by

1. bring them to the temple 

2. take into a private chamber

3. tempt them with an abundance of wine to drink (imperative in v. 5)


35:4 "the man of God" This phrase is used of Moses (cf. Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6) and prophets (cf. I Kgs. 12:22; 17:18,24; 20:28) but here it is used of one of their godly ancestors (i.e., Hanan).

▣ "the door keeper" This phrase (BDB 1036 construct 706 II) denoted a very important position in the temple (cf. 52:24; II Kgs. 12:9; 25:18).

35:5 "pitchers" This Egyptian loan word (BDB 149, cf. Gen. 44:2,12) refers to very large bowls.

35:6 "Jonadab" This man is mentioned in II Kgs. 10:15-27).

35:6-7 There is a series (Qal imperfects) of things the original father of the family commanded his descendants not to do (i.e., stay nomadic).

1. do not drink wine, v. 6c

2. do not build a house, v. 7

3. do not sow seed

4. do not plant a vineyard

5. do not own a vineyard

6. live in tents


35:7 "that you may live many days in the land" This phrase is similar to the phrase in Deuteronomy about honoring parents (cf. Deut. 5:16,33; 4:40; 11:9).

35:11 Like so many of the people of the land, this family fled into the walled city of Jerusalem for protection.

12Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 13"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words?" declares the Lord. 14"The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are observed. So they do not drink wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me. 15Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: 'Turn now every man from his evil way and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them. Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me. 16Indeed, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the command of their father which he commanded them, but this people has not listened to Me.'"' 17Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am bringing on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them; because I spoke to them but they did not listen, and I have called them but they did not answer.'"

35:13 This is the key verse as to the theological point of the chapter (cf. vv. 16-17). This family obeyed their father but Judah did not obey their Father (i.e., God).

35:14 God sent His spokesperson again and again, but Judah would not hear and obey! See note below.

35:15 "I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again" This is a recurrent theme of Jeremiah (cf. 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3-4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14-15; 44:4).

The Recabites heard and responded to one message by an ancient ancestor, but Judah rejected again and again the message of their God!

A sample of the message is recorded in v. 15.

1.(an implied "if") turn - BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative, cf. 18:11

2. amend - BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil imperative, cf. 7:3; 18:11

3. do not go (walk) after other gods - BDB 229, KB 240, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense, cf. 7:6

4. then you shall dwell in the land - BDB 442, KB 444, Qal imperative

The conditional element of the message has been violated as the last line of v. 15 shows (cf. 7:24)!

35:17 Notice the threefold emphasis on the One who is speaking the message.

1. the Lord (YHWH)

2. the God of hosts (usually YHWH of hosts, cf. v. 18)

3. the God of Israel (usually Elohim of Israel, cf. v. 18)

He "spoke" and "called," but Judah would not "listen" or "respond" (cf. 7:13,26,27; 26:5).

18Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands and done according to all that he commanded you; 19therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me always."'"

35:19 YHWH's promise is not that this family group will be a priest in the temple, but that they will continue to be a family through time (including this crisis).


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