The Lord has spoken directly to the leaders and the people through the prophet, but they don’t listen. So, the Lord brings the Rechabites into the temple and tests them before everyone, saying “Drink wine”. They had been forbidden by their ancestral father and every generation, men, women, and children kept this commandment. Then the Lord says, in Jeremiah 35:14b-15 “But I have spoken to you over and over again, and you have not listened”. Again, the Lord sends a scroll to the king and he burns it as it is being read. Once more, the Lord sends, but now in the most public place, when the most people will gather in Jeremiah 36:6 “read aloud from the scroll … in the hearing of the people in the temple of Yahweh on a day of fast”. Is it any different today? The Lord wants us to pray for those in authority because he, in 1 Timothy 2:4 “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.
We Have Done All Our Ancestor Commanded
The Lord has spoken to his people time and again from generation to generation and yet they continue to follow after other gods, other nations, and their own desires. So, the Lord takes a different approach and instructs Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites who he will use as an object lesson, “an acted parable, the little drama was to be given publicity by being presented in the temple”.1
The prophet goes to, in Jeremiah 35:2 “the house of the Rechabites” which is an unusual way to refer to them because they were “a nomadic tribe belonging to the Kenites of Hemath (1 Ch 2:55), of the family of Jethro, or Hobab, Moses’ father-in-law (Ex 18:9, &c. Nu 10:29–32; Jdg 1:16). They came into Canaan with the Israelites, but, in order to preserve their independence, chose a life in tents without a fixed habitation (1 Sa 15:6)”.2
What Jeremiah does, is brings the whole nomadic camp, in Jeremiah 35:3-5 “his brothers, and all his sons, and the whole of the house of the Rechabites, 4 and I brought them to the house of Yahweh, into the chamber … and I said to them, “Drink wine” but they refused. They answered in Jeremiah 35:6-10 “We will not drink wine … our ancestor, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your children, forever. 7 And you shall not build a house … but in tents you shall live all your days … and we have obeyed, and we have done all … our ancestor, commanded us”.
Can You Not Learn a Lesson
The Lord now says through the prophet in Jeremiah 35:13 “Can you not learn a lesson to listen to my words?” and he goes on with this object lesson, the Rechabites who were faithful to the command of their ancestors in
Jeremiah 35:14 “The words of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, that he commanded his descendants to not drink, have been carried out, and they have not drunk until this day, for they have obeyed the command of their ancestor”.
Then the Lord contrasts the messages he has sent in
Jeremiah 35:14b-15 “But I have spoken to you over and over again, and you have not listened to me. And I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, I have sent them over and over again, saying, ‘Turn back please each one from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and you must not go after other gods to serve them, so that you may live on the land that I gave to you and to your ancestors.’ But you did not incline your ear and you did not listen to me”.
Then the Lord says two things:
First, in Jeremiah 35:17 ‘Therefore thus says Yahweh, … “Look, I am going to bring to Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every disaster that I have spoken against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened” ’.
Second, and this is surprising, in Jeremiah 35:18-19 “Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have listened to the command of Jonadab your ancestor, and you have kept all his commands, and you have done all that he commanded you,’ 19 therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘A man will not be cut off for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, to stand before me always.’ ” Here, the Lord honors the Rechabites, not because they did what the Lord asked, but they honored their ancestral father.
We might remember one of the ten commandments from
Deuteronomy 5:16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God commanded you, so that it will be good for you in the land that Yahweh your God is giving to you’.
But the Lord extends this blessing from “it will be good for you in the land” to the future generations of Rechab will “stand before me always”.
For the Blood of the Innocent
2 Kings 24:1–4
Nebuchadnezzar Brought to Babylon the Objects of the House of Yahweh
2 Chronicles 36:6–7
The King of Babylon Came to Jerusalem and Besieged It
You Shall Read Aloud the Words of Yahweh
The Lord prepares to speak through Jeremiah again, and in a different way saying to him in
Jeremiah 36:2 “Take for yourself a scroll and you must write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day that I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, and until this day”.
Then the prophet instructs Baruch, his scribe, who “came from a wealthy and powerful Judean family—his grandfather had been a governor in Jerusalem under King Josiah (2 Chron. 34:8), and his brother Seraiah had been King Zedekiah’s chief chamberlain (Jer. 51:59)”3 and tells Baruch he is to read publicly “on a day of fast” when it is known that many people will be there in
Jeremiah 36:6 “So you must go and you shall read aloud from the scroll that you have written from my mouth the words of Yahweh in the hearing of the people in the temple of Yahweh on a day of fast, and also you shall read aloud in the hearing of all those of Judah who came from their towns”.
This was not a regular feast where all men were required in Jerusalem it was though, one of the “fast days (that) were called on special occasions, i.e., in times of drought or a locust plague (Joel 1:14; 2:15), or during a military crisis (2 Chr 20:3), or after defeat in battle (1 Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 1:12)”.4 And it seems that “In December 604 BC, the Babylonians are advancing through the towns of Philistia … Perhaps because of this, the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem hold a fast—a day without food, for mourning and prayer (36:9). It is on this occasion that Baruch gives a public reading of Jeremiah’s prophecies in one of the rooms of the temple (36:10)”.5
Hearing All the Words, They Turned to One Another in Alarm
Jehoiakim, the King of Judah Burned the Scroll
- Jeremiah 35:1–10 We Have Done All Our Ancestor Commanded
- Jeremiah 35:11–19 Can You Not Learn a Lesson
- Jeremiah 36:1–13 You Shall Read Aloud the Words of Yahweh
- Jeremiah 35:1-19
- 2 Kings 24:1-4
- 2 Chronicles 36:6-7
- Daniel 1:1-2
- Jeremiah 36:1-32
- 1. Harrison, R. K. (1973). Jeremiah and Lamentations: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 21, p. 151). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 2. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 542). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 3. Losch, R. R. (2008). In All the People in the Bible: An A–Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture (p. 59). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
- 4. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Je 36:6). Biblical Studies Press.
- 5. Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., p. 312). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.