The Rechabites’ Obedience
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “Go to the house of the [a]Rechabites and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the [side] chambers; then give them [who are pledged not to drink wine] some wine to drink.” So I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum the doorkeeper. Then I set before the men of the house of the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, “Drink wine.” But they said, “We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us: ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons, forever. Nor shall you build a house or sow seed or plant a vineyard or own one; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners (temporary residents).’ We have obeyed the words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, in all our days we have never drunk wine, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor have we built ourselves houses to live in; nor do we have vineyards or fields or seed. We have lived only in tents, and have obeyed and done [everything] according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans [who rule Babylon] and for fear of the army of the Arameans.’ So we have lived in Jerusalem.”
Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words and honoring them?” says the Lord. “The command which Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons not to drink wine has been observed [as a custom for more than two hundred years]. To this day they do not drink wine, for they have obeyed their father’s command. But I have repeatedly spoken to you, yet you have not listened to Me. I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them repeatedly, saying, ‘Let every one of you turn now from his evil way and alter your behavior, and do not follow other gods to worship and serve them; and then you will live in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers. But you have not submitted or listened to Me. Indeed, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have observed the command of their father which he gave them, but this people has not listened to Me.’”’ Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold (hear this), I am bringing on Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them, but they have not listened, and I have called to them, but they have not answered.’”
Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and have kept all his commands and have done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never fail to have a man (descendant) to stand before Me always.”’”
- Jeremiah 35:2 A nomadic tribe that maintained an austere lifestyle. During Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion they were forced to settle in or near Jerusalem. They had an amicable relationship with the children of Israel.
Jeremiah’s Scroll Read in the Temple
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Take a scroll [of parchment] and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and Judah, and all the nations, from the day I [first] spoke to you in the days of [King] Josiah until this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster which I plan to bring on them, so that each one will turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their wickedness and their sin.”
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on the scroll of the book all the words which Jeremiah dictated, [words] which the Lord had spoken to him. Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am [in hiding, virtually] restrained; I cannot go into the house of the Lord. So you go to the Lord’s house on a day of fasting and read from the scroll the words of the Lord to the people which you have written as I dictated. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities. It may be that their supplication [for mercy] will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” Baruch the son of Neriah did everything that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from [Jeremiah’s scroll] the words of the Lord in the Lord’s house.
Now in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, a fast was proclaimed before the Lord for all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came to Jerusalem from the cities of Judah. Then Baruch read to all the people the words of Jeremiah from the scroll of the book in the house of the Lord, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord’s house.
When Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, he went down to the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber; and behold, all the princes were sitting there: Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the [other] princes. Then Micaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read from the scroll to all the people. Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, “Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read to the people and come [to us].” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and went to them. And they said to him, “Sit down now and read it to us.” So Baruch read it to them. Now when they had heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear and said to Baruch, “We must surely report all these words to the king.” And they asked Baruch, “Tell us now, how did you write all these words? At his (Jeremiah’s) dictation?” Then Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” Then the princes said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and do not let anyone know where you are.”
The Scroll Is Burned
Then they went into the court to the king, but they [first] put the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe; then they reported all the words to the king. So the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king and all the princes who stood beside the king. Now it was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, with a fire burning there in the brazier before him. And after Jehudi had read three or four columns [of the scroll], King Jehoiakim would cut off that portion with a scribe’s knife and throw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until the [entire] scroll was consumed by the fire. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they tear their clothes. Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the Lord hid them.
The Scroll Is Replaced
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll containing the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah: “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned. And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the Lord, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off man and beast from it?’” Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, “[a]He shall have no heir to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be thrown out to the heat of the day and to the frost of the night. I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their wickedness, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the destruction that I have declared against them—but they would not listen.”’”
Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.
- Jeremiah 36:30 This prophecy concerning King Jehoiakim was fulfilled several years after these events. The king rebelled against Babylon (2 Kin 24:1) and was attacked by armies from various nations controlled by Babylon (2 Kin 24:2). He suffered a violent death and a disgraceful burial just as Jeremiah had foretold (Jer 22:13-19). In that passage, after scathing censure of the king, the Lord foretells through his prophet that Jehoiakim will be buried like a donkey—that is, with his body thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem (22:19).
Jeremiah Warns against Trust in Pharaoh
Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made Zedekiah the son of Josiah king in the land of Judah so he reigned as king instead of Coniah (also called Jeconiah and Jehoiachin) the son of Jehoiakim. But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord which He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.
Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah [along] with Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Please pray [now] to the Lord our God for us.” Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not [yet] put him in prison. Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s army had set out from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard the news about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.
Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘This is what you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: “Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which has come out to help you, will return to Egypt, to their own land. And the Chaldeans [of Babylon] will come again and fight against this city, and they will capture it and set it on fire.”’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will certainly stay away from us,” for they will not stay away. For even if you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only the wounded men among them, yet they would rise up, every man confined in his tent, and burn down this city with fire.’”
Now it happened when the army of the Chaldeans departed from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s [approaching] army, that Jeremiah left Jerusalem [during the withdrawal of the Chaldean invaders] to go to [Anathoth, his hometown, in] the land of Benjamin to take possession of [the title to] the land [which he had purchased] there among the people. When he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah the son of Hananiah was there; and he seized and arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to join the Chaldeans [of Babylon]!” But Jeremiah said, “That is a lie! I am not deserting to join the Chaldeans.” But the guard would not listen to him. So Irijah took Jeremiah and brought him to the princes (court officials). The princes were enraged with Jeremiah and beat him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe—for they had made that the prison. When Jeremiah had come into [a]the vaulted cell in the dungeon and had remained there many days,
Zedekiah the king sent and brought him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him, “Is there any word from the Lord?” And Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You will be handed over to the king of Babylon.” Moreover, Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “In what way have I sinned against you, or against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? Where then are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land?’ Therefore now, please listen, O my lord the king; please let my petition come before you and be acceptable and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there.” Then King Zedekiah commanded, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guardhouse, and a [round] loaf of bread from the bakers’ street was given to him daily, until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained [imprisoned] in the court of the guardhouse.
- Jeremiah 37:16 Lit the house of the cistern.