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Jeremiah 35:2-10

35:2 “Go to the Rechabite community. 1  Invite them to come into one of the side rooms 2  of the Lord’s temple and offer them some wine to drink.” 35:3 So I went and got Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah the grandson of Habazziniah, his brothers, all his sons, and all the rest of the Rechabite community. 35:4 I took them to the Lord’s temple. I took them into the room where the disciples of the prophet Hanan son of Igdaliah stayed. 3  That room was next to the one where the temple officers stayed and above the room where Maaseiah son of Shallum, one of the doorkeepers 4  of the temple, stayed. 35:5 Then I set cups and pitchers full of wine in front of the members of the Rechabite community and said to them, “Have some wine.” 5  35:6 But they answered, “We do not drink wine because our ancestor Jonadab son of Rechab commanded us not to. He told us, ‘You and your children must never drink wine. 35:7 Do not build houses. Do not plant crops. Do not plant a vineyard or own one. 6  Live in tents all your lives. If you do these things you will 7  live a long time in the land that you wander about on.’ 8  35:8 We and our wives and our sons and daughters have obeyed everything our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. We have never drunk wine. 9  35:9 We have not built any houses to live in. We do not own any vineyards, fields, or crops. 35:10 We have lived in tents. We have obeyed our ancestor Jonadab and done exactly as he commanded us. 10 

1 tn Heb “the house of the Rechabites.” “House” is used here in terms of “household” or “family” (cf. BDB 109 s.v. בַּיִת 5.a, b).

sn Nothing is known about the Rechabite community other than what is said about them in this chapter. From vv. 7-8 it appears that they were a nomadic tribe that had resisted settling down and taking up farming. They had also agreed to abstain from drinking wine. Most scholars agree in equating the Jonadab son of Rechab mentioned as the leader who had instituted these strictures as the same Jonadab who assisted Jehu in his religious purge of Baalism following the reign of Ahab (2 Kgs 10:15, 23-24). If this is the case, the Rechabites followed these same rules for almost 250 years because Jehu’s purge of Baalism and the beginning of his reign was in 841 b.c. and the incident here took place some time after Jehoiakim’s rebellion in 603 b.c. (see the study note on v. 1).

2 sn This refers to one of the rooms built on the outside of the temple that were used as living quarters for the priests and for storage rooms (cf. Neh 13:4-5; 1 Kgs 6:5; 1 Chr 28:12; 2 Chr 31:11 and compare Ezek 41:1-14).

3 tn Heb “the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, the man of God.” The reference to “sons” and to “man of God” fits the usage of these terms elsewhere to refer to prophets and their disciples (see BDB 43-44 s.v. אֱלֹהִים 3(b) and compare usage in 2 Kgs 4:40 for the former and BDB 121 s.v. בֵּן 7.a and compare the usage in 2 Kgs 4:38 for the latter).

4 sn According to Jer 52:24; 2 Kgs 25:18 there were three officers who carried out this duty. It was their duty to guard the entrance of the temple to keep people out that did not belong there, such as those who were foreigners or ritually unclean (see 2 Kgs 12:9 and compare Ps 118:19-20).

5 tn Heb “Drink wine.”

6 tn Heb “Don’t plant a vineyard and it shall not be to you [= and you shall/must not have one].”

7 tn Heb “Don’t…and don’t…but live…in order that you might….”

8 sn Heb “where you are sojourning.” The terms “sojourn” and “sojourner” referred to a person who resided in a country not his own, without the rights and privileges of citizenship as a member of a nation, state, or principality. In the ancient Near East such people were dependent on the laws of hospitality rather than the laws of state for protection and provision of legal rights. Perhaps the best illustration of this is Abraham who “sojourned” among the Philistines and the Hittites in Canaan and was dependent upon them for grazing and water rights and for a place to bury his wife (cf. Gen 20-24). What is described here is the typical lifestyle of a nomadic tribe.

9 tn Heb “We have not drunk wine all our days.” Actually vv. 8b-9a are a series of infinitive constructs plus the negative לְבִלְתִּי (lÿvilti) explaining the particulars of how they have obeyed, i.e., by not drinking wine…and by not building….” The more direct declarative statement is used here to shorten the sentence and is more in keeping with contemporary style.

10 tn Heb “We have obeyed and done according to all which our ancestor Jonadab commanded us.”

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