JEREMIAH CHAPTER 35
By the obedience of the Rechabites, Jeremiah 35:1-11, God condemneth the Jews’ disobedience, Jeremiah 35:12-17. The Rechabites are blessed, Jeremiah 35:18,19.
This is another evidence that the prophecies of this book are not left us in that order wherein they were delivered, for those which we had in the two or three foregoing chapters being in the time of Zedekiah must needs be ten or eleven years after this.
Rechabites had their name from Rechab their father, who, as appears from 1 Chronicles 2:55, descended from Hemath, who was a Kenite, who is also called Hobab, Jude 4:11 (unless it may be Hameth who was the son of Hobab). This Hobab was Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, as appears from Jude 4:11. We read, Jude 1:16, that his children went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad, and they went and dwelt among the people. The Rechabites here mentioned descended from this stock. Jehonadab, mentioned 2 Kings 10:15, was of this family, a man of some note, as appeareth by Jehu’s taking him there into his chariot. God commandeth the prophet to bring some of this family into the temple, into some of the chambers; for in and about the temple were several chambers for the priests, and where they disposed of the holy garments and several oblations, 1 Kings 6:5,6,10 1 Chronicles 28:11,12. God commands Jeremiah to bring these Rechabites into some of these chambers, and to set wine before them. This was either for the more publicness of the thing, or, it may be, for the reproof of the priests who drank too much wine.
the man of God, doth in Scripture signify a prophet sometimes; but whether it so signifieth here, and if it doth, whether it relateth to Igdaliah or Hanan, is a question. Probably by the
chamber of the princes is meant some chamber where the princes were wont to meet in a court, or for counsel. Thither Jeremiah brings these Rechabites, and sets vessels of wine before them, not commanding them to drink it, but only inviting them.
It is uncertain whether father here signifies their immediate parent, or (which is more probable) their progenitor; it is most likely it referreth to that Jonadab of whom we read 2 Kings 10:15, who was the father (that is, the progenitor) of this family of the Rechabites, at three hundred years distance. The reason why he left his posterity this charge is uncertain, probably to warn them against the luxury which he saw began to abound in Israel, and being desirous that they should inure themselves to a more hard and laborious life; being originally Kenites, and used to husbandry, and keeping of sheep and other cattle, he desired they should live according to their quality.
The last words of the verse probably give us a reason of the former; they were no native Jews, but strangers amongst them, who commonly are envied when they are observed to thrive too much, or to live splendidly; and that envy of the natives of the place where they sojourn exposeth them to their hatred and malice, so as their lives are made uneasy to them. Jonadab therefore cautions his sons to avoid these inconveniencies by a thrifty, sober, laborious life, to which they had been bred, in keeping flocks, and to avoid any thing might expose them to envy, or hatred, or malice of the people amongst whom they were come to sojourn.
Tents; movable habitations, which they could with little labour remove from place to place, as they had convenience to feed their flocks: this was their ordinary way of living, until necessity compelled them to come and live in Jerusalem.
When the Chaldean army came into the land, they saw there would be no quiet abode for them any where but in some fortified place. The Syrians joined with the Chaldeans in this war, as we read, 2 Kings 24:2. This they tell the prophet was the reason why they, who never used to dwell in cities nor fixed houses, came to dwell at Jerusalem, to prevent being destroyed by the foragers for these armies.
God, in this revelation of his mind to the prophet, expoundeth to him why he had set him to bring the Rechabites into the temple, and commanded him to set wine before them, and invite them to drink of it, viz. that by their refusal of doing according to the invitation, in obedience to their father Jonadab, he might convince the Jews of their disobedience to his commands, though God’s commands were more advantaged than the commands of Jonadab, in that,
1. Jonadab was but an earthly parent, and so had no absolute universal sovereignty over his children; but God was the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.
2. Jonadab’s command was not for the performance of a moral duty, but the doing of a thing which they might do, or leave undone; God required of them what was but their moral duty, and for which was the highest reason.
3. Jonadab’s command had no promise annexed; God’s precept had a promise annexed, yet they had not yielded him that obedience which the sons of Jonadab had yielded him: he was their Father, but where was his honour?
This is but the same threatening confirmed, which we have often met with before, concerning the ruin of this people, only the meritorious cause of it is further amplified, their not paying that homage to God which these Rechabites paid to an earthly parent, and had been steady in the payment of now for three hundred years together.
For ever here signifies the ever of the Jewish state or church; whether the promise relates to the abiding of Jonadab’s family, when many families of the Jews were quite rooted out, cut off, and extinct, or to some special favour that God would show them, or to some place of office they should have in or about the temple, (as some judge, because, 1 Chronicles 2:55, it appears they were scribes,) is uncertain. But it is a question of more moment, How God promiseth a reward to these sons’ of Jonadab for obeying the command of their father, and whether they had sinned if they had not obeyed this command of Jonadab; which brings in another question, Whether parents have a power to oblige their children in matters which God hath left at liberty. To which I answer,
1. God might reward these Rechabites for their reverence and obedience to Jonadab their father, though these were not strictly, by the Divine law, obliged thus far to have obeyed him; as he rewarded David for his thoughts in his heart to build him a house, though it was not God’s will that he should do it; so as God’s promise of the reward doth not prove their obedience in this particular to have been their duty. Admit that it remained still a matter of liberty, yet the general honour and reverence they testified might be rewarded by God.
2. Unquestionably parents have not a power to determine children in all things as to which God hath left them a liberty, for then they have a power to make their children slaves, and to take away all their natural liberty. To marry or not, and to this or that person, is matter of liberty. Parents cannot in this case determine their children; Bethuel, Genesis 24:58, asketh Rebekah if she would go with Abraham’s servant before he would send her.
3. In matters of civil concernment they have a far greater power than in matters of religion. All souls are God’s, and conscience can be under no other dominion than that of God.
4. In civil things parents have a great power, during the nonage of children, and after also in matters which concern their parents’ good, as to command them to assist them, to help to supply their necessities, &c.
5. Parents being set over children, and instead of God to them, as it is their duty to advise their children to the best of their ability for their good; so it is the duty of children to receive their advice, and not to depart from it, unless they see circumstances so mistaken by parents, or so altered by the providence of God, as they may reasonably judge their parents, had these known or foreseen it, would not have so advised. But that parents have an absolute power to determine children in all things as to which God hath not forbidden them, and that children by the law of God are obliged to an obedience to all such commands, however they may see their parents mistaken, or God by his providence may have altered circumstances, I see no reason to conclude. Jonadab had prudently advised his sons as before mentioned; they were things they might do, and which by experience they found not hurtful to them, but of great profit and advantage, and that with reference to all the ends of man’s life: herein they yield obedience, and pay a reverence to their parent; this pleaseth God, he promiseth to reward them with the continuance of their family, according to what he had said, Exodus 20:12, in the fifth commandment, which the apostle calleth the first commandment with promise.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 35". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26