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Jeremiah 35:6-19

Context
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. 1  Live in tents all your lives. If you do these things you will 2  live a long time in the land that you wander about on.’ 3  35:8 We and our wives and our sons and daughters have obeyed everything our ancestor Jonadab commanded us. We have never drunk wine. 4  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. 5  35:11 But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the land we said, ‘Let’s get up and go to Jerusalem 6  to get away from the Babylonian 7  and Aramean armies.’ That is why we are staying here in Jerusalem.”

35:12 Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. 35:13 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 8  told him, “Go and speak to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. Tell them, 9  ‘I, the Lord, say: 10  “You must learn a lesson from this 11  about obeying what I say! 12  35:14 Jonadab son of Rechab ordered his descendants not to drink wine. His orders have been carried out. 13  To this day his descendants have drunk no wine because they have obeyed what their ancestor commanded them. But I 14  have spoken to you over and over again, 15  but you have not obeyed me! 35:15 I sent all my servants the prophets to warn you over and over again. They said, “Every one of you, stop doing the evil things you have been doing and do what is right. 16  Do not pay allegiance to other gods 17  and worship them. Then you can continue to live in this land that I gave to you and your ancestors.” But you did not pay any attention or listen to me. 35:16 Yes, 18  the descendants of Jonadab son of Rechab have carried out the orders that their ancestor gave them. But you people 19  have not obeyed me! 35:17 So I, the Lord, the God who rules over all, the God of Israel, say: 20  “I will soon bring on Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem all the disaster that I threatened to bring on them. I will do this because I spoke to them but they did not listen. I called out to them but they did not answer.”’”

35:18 Then Jeremiah spoke to the Rechabite community, “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 21  says, ‘You have obeyed the orders of your ancestor Jonadab. You have followed all his instructions. You have done exactly as he commanded you.’ 35:19 So the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Jonadab son of Rechab will never lack a male descendant to serve me.’” 22 

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

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

3 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.

4 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.

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

6 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

7 tn Heb “Chaldean.” For explanation see the study note on 21:4.

8 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.” For this title see 7:3 and the study note on 2:19.

9 tn Heb35:12 And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus says Yahweh of armies the God of Israel, “Go and say…‘Will you not learn…’”’” The use of the indirect introduction has been chosen here as in 34:1-2 to try to cut down on the confusion created by embedding quotations within quotations.

10 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

11 tn The words “from this” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

12 tn Heb “Will you not learn a lesson…?” The rhetorical question here has the force of an imperative, made explicit in the translation.

13 tn Heb “The words of Jonadab son of Rechab which he commanded his descendants not to drink wine have been carried out.” (For the construction of the accusative of subject after a passive verb illustrated here see GKC 388 §121.b.) The sentence has been broken down and made more direct to better conform to contemporary English style.

14 tn The vav (ו) plus the independent pronoun before the verb is intended to mark a sharp contrast. It is difficult, if not impossible to mark this in English other than “But I.”

15 tn On this idiom (which occurs again in the following verse) see the translator’s note on 7:13 for this idiom and compare its use in 7:13, 25; 11:7; 25:3, 4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14, 15; 44:9.

16 tn Heb “Turn, each of you, from his [= your] wicked way and make good your deeds.” Compare 18:11 where the same idiom occurs with the added term of “make good your ways.”

17 tn Heb “Don’t go after/follow other gods.” See the translator’s note on 2:5 for an explanation of the idiom and see 11:10; 13:10; 25:6 for the same idiom.

18 tn This is an attempt to represent the particle כִּי (ki) which is probably not really intensive here (cf. BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e) but is one of those causal uses of כִּי that BDB discusses on 473-74 s.v. כִּי 3.c where the cause is really the failure of the people of Judah and Jerusalem to listen/obey. I.e., the causal particle is at the beginning of the sentence so as not to interrupt the contrast drawn.

19 tn Heb “this people.” However, the speech is addressed to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem, so the second person is retained in English. In addition to the stylistic difference that Hebrew exhibits in the rapid shift between persons (second to third and third to second, which have repeatedly been noted and documented from GKC 462 §144.p) there may be a subtle rhetorical reason for the shift here. The shift from direct address to indirect address which characterizes this verse and the next may reflect the Lord’s rejection of the people he is addressing. A similar shift takes place in Wisdom’s address to the simple minded, fools, and mockers in Prov 1:28-32 after the direct address of 1:22-27.

20 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of armies, the God of Israel.” For the title see 7:13 and the study note on 2:19. The first person address is again used in the translation because this whole section is a speech from the Lord (see vv. 12-13).

21 tn Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.” For this title, which occurs again in the following verse, see the notes on 7:3 and the study note on 2:19.

22 tn Heb “There shall not be cut to Jonadab son of Rechab a man standing before me all the days.” For the first part of this idiom see 33:17-18 where it is applied to David always having a descendant to occupy the throne and the Levites will always have priests to offer up sacrifices. For the latter part of the idiom “to stand before” referring to service see BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד 1.e and compare the usage in 1 Kgs 1:2; 2 Kgs 3:14; Jer 15:19; Deut 10:8. As comparison with those passages will show, it refers to attending on, or serving a superior, a king, or the Lord. It is used of both prophets (e.g., 1 Kgs 17:1) and priests (e.g., Deut 10:8) serving the Lord. Its most common use is to refer to priestly service. The nature of the service is not further defined in this case, though several of the commentaries point out a Mishnaic tradition that the Rechabites later were given the function of bringing wood for the altar.



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