The Faithful Rechabites. 1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim,* son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2Go to the house* of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them to the house of the LORD, to one of the rooms there, and give them wine to drink. 3So I took Jaazaniah, son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons—the whole house of the Rechabites— 4and I brought them to the house of the LORD, to the room of the sons of Hanan,* son of Igdaliah, the man of God, next to the room of the princes above the room of Maaseiah, son of Shallum, the guard at the entrance. 5I set before the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups, and said to them, “Drink some wine.”
6“We do not drink wine,” they said to me; “Jonadab,* Rechab’s son, our father, commanded us, ‘Neither you nor your children shall ever drink wine.a 7Build no house and sow no seed; do not plant vineyards or own any. You must dwell in tents all your lives, so that you may live long on the land where you live as resident aliens.’ 8We have obeyed Jonadab, Rechab’s son, our father, in everything that he commanded us: not drinking wine as long as we live—neither we nor our wives nor our sons nor our daughters; 9not building houses to live in; not owning vineyards or fields or crops. 10We live in tents, doing everything our father Jonadab commanded us. 11But when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded this land, we said, ‘Come, let us go into Jerusalem to escape the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Arameans.’* That is why we are now living in Jerusalem.”b
12Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 13Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Go, say to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Will you not take correction and obey my words?—oracle of the LORD.c 14The words of Jonadab, Rechab’s son, by which he commanded his children not to drink wine, have been upheld: to this day they have not drunk wine; they obeyed their ancestor’s command. I, however, have spoken to you time and again. But you did not obey me!d 15Time and again I sent you all my servants the prophets, saying: Turn away, each of you, from your evil way and reform your actions! Do not follow other gods to serve them that you may remain in the land which I gave you and your ancestors. But you did not pay attention. You did not obey me.e 16Yes, the children of Jonadab, Rechab’s son, upheld the command which their father laid on them. But this people has not obeyed me! 17Now, therefore, says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: I will soon bring upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every evil with which I threatened them because I spoke but they did not obey, I called but they did not answer.f
18But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Since you have obeyed the command of Jonadab, your father, kept all his commands and done everything he commanded you, 19therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Never shall there fail to be a descendant of Jonadab, Rechab’s son, standing in my presence.
* [35:2] House: both members of the family of Rechab (cf. v. 3) and the place where they live; cf. note on v. 11. The Rechabites: traditionalists who rejected the settled agricultural and urban cultures to which other Israelites had assimilated, maintaining their loyalty to the Lord by perpetuating the semi-nomadic life of their distant ancestors (cf. 2 Kgs 10:15–17). Jeremiah contrasts their adherence to their vows with the Judahites’ disregard for divine commands.
* [35:4] The sons of Hanan: probably disciples of Hanan. Man of God: occurring only here in Jeremiah, the title frequently is applied to prophets: e.g., Samuel (1 Sm 9:6–10), Elijah (2 Kgs 1:9–13), Elisha (2 Kgs 4–13). Whatever the function of the sons of Hanan, they encourage Jeremiah by lending him their room. Maaseiah: perhaps the father of the priest Zephaniah (29:25; 37:3). Guard at the entrance: an important priestly responsibility (cf. 52:24).
* [35:11] The army of the Arameans: Nebuchadnezzar enlisted the help of Judah’s neighbors in his assault on Jerusalem. Living in Jerusalem: the current military threat and the prospect of being killed or captured as plunder drove the Rechabites into the city and away from their tents.