The Rechabites (Jer 35:2-35:2)

“Go to the house

Of the Rechabites!

Speak with them!

Bring them

To the house of Yahweh,

Into one of the chambers!

Then offer them wine

To drink!’”

This short chapter is all about the Rechabites. They get their name from Rechab, who was mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 2, listed under the descendants of Hur. They seem to be descendants of Hammath, a northern city, or Hemath, a Kenite, who was also called Hobab. The Rechabites were not descendants of Jacob, but Kenites, a people originally settled in that part of Arabia called the land of Midian. They may have been the descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, who was a Kenite. Thus these Rechabites were not true Israelites, but were friendly to the Israelites. They were generally nomads in the desert, living in tents. The most prominent Rechabite may have been Jehonadab or Jonadab, the son of Rechab, in 2 Kings, chapter 10, where he joined with King Jehu of Israel (841-814 BCE) in helping wipe out the family of King Ahab of Israel (874-853 BCE). Yahweh told Jeremiah to go to their house, talk to them, and bring them back to the Temple in Jerusalem. There he was to find a chamber in the Temple and offer these Rechabites some wine. This seems like a simple task.

King Jehu kills the rest of the family of King Ahab (2 Kings 10:15-10:17)

“When King Jehu left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him. He greeted him, and said to him. ‘Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?’ Jehonadab answered. ‘It is.’ King Jehu said. ‘If it is, give me your hand.’ So he gave him his hand. King Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. He said. ‘Come with me. See my zeal for Yahweh.’ So he had him ride in his chariot. When he came to Samaria, he killed all who were left to King Ahab in Samaria, until he had wiped them out, according to the word of Yahweh that he spoke to Elijah.”

The killing spree continued. King Jehu met Jehonadab who was the son of Rechab. The Rechabites were a wandering Arab tribe. It is not clear why they get involved in this murdering spree. Anyway, Jehonadab agrees with King Jehu. They went into Samaria and tried to find any remaining members of the King Ahab family. When they did, they killed them all. Once again, this was in fulfillment of the prophecy to Elijah in 1 Kings, chapters 19 and 21. King Jehu was obsessed with making sure that Elijah’s prophecy would come true.