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and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods, to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers : but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Because the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, have performed the commandment of their Father which he commanded them; but this people have not hearkened unto me: therefore, thus saith the Lord God of Hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard, and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab, your Father, and kept all his precepts, and done according to all that he commanded you : therefore thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to STAND BEFORE ME FOR EVER !"
Moses in his day had promised much, but this is more. Judah, as a body, was just on the eve of being banished from “before God;" and was there ever to be a representative for Jonadab before him, upheld and received as his accepted worshipper, even when the Jews, as a community, were cast out of his sight? So it should seem. We need not suppose, as some have done, that they were actually introduced into the temple service, although afterwards there is something very like it; but surely the expression implies as much as we have already hinted. This promise of God by Jeremiah, could not now be of large extent ; for the Kenite by this time had “wasted away;" but it certainly speaks of long continuance, and indeed bears a striking resemblance to that which overcame with
gratitude the heart of David, King of Israel, when he exclaimed,—“Moreover, thou hast spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come.” What though but little is yet known of the fulfilment of the promise? Doubtless it was performed, and perhaps may be so to this hour; at least, it seems not improbable that for ages some of this singular family may have been found among the spiritual worshippers of God.
Let us see, however, whether we can find any trace of this family, or of the Kenites, of which they formed a branch. The reader is aware, that when Jeremiah called them out, this was not the first time they had engaged the notice of a prophet. From the top of the rock, above a thousand years before, Balaam had intimated as much as that, though they should gradually decline in numbers, they would remain in existence at the captivity; and even then be carried away,” but he does not say destroyed. “Nevertheless," said he, “the Kenite shall be wasted until Asshur shall carry thee away captive ;)** or, according to another reading, .“ How long shalt thou be able to remain ? Until Assyria carry thee away captive.” Here, then, is a remnant of them in the days of Jeremiah ; and they are brought forward, not to be destroyed, but preserved, and handed down to posterity. Balaam seems to send them to the East; and so with Judah, the tribe to which they adhered, they went; for the ten tribes were already gone. It seems also to be agreeable to very ancient tradition, that they were regarded with more than common respect, even in being carried
The title of the seventieth Psalm according to the Septuagint (i. e., our 71st Psalm), is worthy of notice; a psalm “ of or for the sons of Jonadab, and the first who were carried captive;" that is, when Daniel, and his companions, and several others, were transported to Babylon. The au
• Numb. xxiv. 22.
thority of these titles it is unnecessary to discuss; but this one“ being found in all the copies of the Septuagint affords reason to conclude that there was such a tradition concerning the sons of Jonadab, when this version of the Psalms was made."* Waving, however, this conjecture, after such a promise as that by Jeremiah, we are gratified by finding this people survive even the captivity. Seventy years pass away, and the Jews return to Palestine ; but so do the Rechabites, and still in character. As they had not been involved with the ten tribes, so they are not allowed to remain in the dispersion : and whether they were carried away with the chief of the captivity of Judah or not, they were among the first who returned to the Holy Land. “And the families of the Scribes," says the sacred historian, after the captivity ; “ the families of the Scribes, which dwelt at Jabez, the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites—these are the Kenites, that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.” According to another reading, the office, the character, and manners of this people are pointed out. " The race of the Scribes that dwelt at Jabez, called porters, obedient and dwelling in tents, are the Kenites," &c. The same opinion seems to have dictated the Vulgate translation : “ Cognationes quoque scribarum habitantium in Jabes, canentes, atque resonantes, et in tabernaculis commorantes. Hi sunt Cinæi, qui venerunt de Calore patris domus Rechab.” This passage, therefore, however rendered, sufficiently identifies this singular race, whose history we have now traced down to the time of Ezra, from that of Moses,-a period of not less than from eleven to twelve hundred years!
It seems, however, we are not even then to bid the Rechabites farewell. Even at the present day they are supposed to be in existence; and when once the reported
beat of this little tribe is properly visited, it is not improbable that this will lend peculiar force to the promise, and bring it to remembrance : “ Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” Mr. Wolfe, the missionary, himself a convert from Judaism to Christianity, is at present visiting the East. After going into Persia, if he survives, he intends to visit the alleged seat of the Rechabites. Meanwhile, writing from the spot where he first mentions this intention, he says,
,~"There are at Mousul, on the banks of the Tigris, 200 families, who have one synagogue; one college for young men; one high priest; and they are under the orders of Shaul (Saul), the prince of the captivity, residing at Bagdad. All the Jews in this country believe that the Beni Khaibr, near Mecca and Medina (in Arabia), are the descendants of the ancient Rechabites. The Mufti from Merdeen gave me a long description of the Beni Khaibr ; but as I have not seen them, I will not, at present, give you his description of them; they are, however, worthy of notice. Those Jews of Khaihr gave infinite trouble to Mohammed, and he never was able to compel them to embrace his religion.See Sale's Note to chap. 48 in the Alcoran, and d’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale * On my return from Persia, if the Lord will, I hope to go to Jidda, and from thence to Khaibr, accompanied by an Arab.”+
Again, in his journal of 27th June, 1824, from Bassora, on the Euphrates, having met with a Jew, named More Yehuda, born at Sanaa, in Yemen, Arabia, who informed
* Mr. W. might have added, that Mohammed, whose health had been declining for four years, died, believing that he had been poisoned, at Khaibr, by a Jewish female. If so, and these were indeed the Rechabites, what a parallel would it form to Jael, the wife of Heber!
† Jewish Repository for June, 1825, p. 222
him, that in that city there were 4,000 families of Jews, he adds,—“He told me that the Jews at Sanaa might easily procure me access to the Rechabites, who are only eight days distant from them. He observed, that the Jews would bring me thither, with a subtilty like that with which Jacob deceived Isaac his Father.” After a long conversation with this man, who is a Jewish Rabbi, Mr. W. adds,—" The following fact was told me by the Jew, More Yehuda. Rabbi Gad of Jerusalem, set off, thirty-five years ago, 1789, with a caravan from Mokka to Sanaa. The Arabs composing the caravan were then at war with the Rechabites, Beni Khaibr. The Rechabites attacked the caravan, and destroyed them. Rabbi Gad, in his anguish, used the exclamation common among the Jews, viz. · Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord !! The chief of the Rechabites hearing it, gave orders to stop the massacre. Rabbi Gad was brought to their tents and questioned; they asked him, How matters stood at Jerusalem ?-_Whether Israel still sinned ? and whether the temple was not yet built ?—They dismissed Gad with presents, and brought him in safety to Sanaa.""*
The counsels of Jonadab to his children must not, however, yet be dismissed, since they will be found, not only to give uncommon interest to the preceding narrative, but tend to illustrate, in such a striking manner, the subject on account of which the whole has been introduced–The moral power of the Family Constitution.
Although the principal design of God, in desiring Jeremiah to bring forward these Rechabites, and set wine before them, was to commend filial obedience, he would by no means have so commended this, and so commended Jonadab, had there been either weakness or folly, unnecessary precaution or undue severity in his commands. On the contrary, when the signs of the times in which he
• Jewish Repository for September, 1825, p. 344.