Father or ancestor of Jehonadab. (See JEHONADAB.) (2 Kings 10:15; 2 Kings 10:23; 1 Chronicles 2:55; Jeremiah 35:6-19). RECHAB, the dwellers in cities, are distinguished from the nomadic wanderers (Genesis 4:20-22); and the distinction still exists in Persia and Arabia, where the two classes are found side by side. Rechab, meaning "rider," may be an epithet that became a proper name; a wild Bedouin-like nomadic rider, as the Rechab (2 Samuel 4:2): a fit companion for Jehu the furious driver (2 Kings 9:20). Boulduc (Ecclesiastes ante Leg., 3:10) infers from 2 Kings 2:12; 2 Kings 13:14, that Elijah and Elisha were "the chariot (recheb) of Israel," i.e. its safeguard, and that their austere followers were "sells of the chariot," which phrase was subsequently, through ignorance of the original meaning, made "sons of Rechab."
John of Jerusalem says Jehonadab was Elisha's disciple (Instit. Monach. 25). The ascetic rule against wine, houses, sowing, and planting (Jeremiah 35), was a safeguard against the corrupting license of the Phoenician cities and their idolatries (Amos 2:7-8; Amos 6:3-6). They must rigidly adhere to the simplicity of their Arab tent life. Jehonadab's name, containing "Jehovah," and his abhorrence of Baal worship, imply that the Rechabites though not of Israel were included in the Abrahamic covenant; the Arab Wahabees, ascetics as to opium and tobacco, present a parallel. In Jeremiah's days they were still faithful to Jehovah. Their strict Nazarite vow was the ground of their admission into one of the temple chambers devoted to the sons of Hanak sprung from "Igdaliah a man of God," or prophet of special sanctity.
There they resisted the temptation to drink wine; and Jeremiah makes their faithfulness to their earthly father a reproof of Israel's unfaithfulness to their heavenly Father. God consequently promises, "Jehonadab son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before Me forever," i.e. to minister in the sanctuary before Jehovah so long as Israel's sanctuary and polity stand: so Levi (Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 18:5-7; Genesis 18:22; Judges 20:28; Psalm 134:1; Jeremiah 15:19); so the targum of Jonathan translated "ministers before Me." It was an adoption of the Rechabites into Israel, by incorporation with Levi, on the ground of their Nazarite-like purity and consecration.
The Rechabites are spoken of as "scribes" (1 Chronicles 2:55); at the return from Babylon they took a profession, almost exclusively a Levite one. Kimchi (in Vatablus) cites the tradition recorded by Rechab. Judah that the Rechabites married Levites, and their children ministered in the temple. Their close juxtaposition with the sons of David (1 Chronicles 3:1) shows in what esteem the sacred writer held them. Hegesippus (Eusebius, H. E. ii. 23) mentions that a Rechabite priest protested against the martyrdom of James the Just. Hegesippus thus attests the existence of the Rechabites as sharing in the temple ritual down to its destruction by the Romans; fulfilling Jeremiah 35:19.
Benjamin of Tudela (12th century) says that near El Jubar (Pumbeditha) he found 100,000 Rechabite Jews, who tilled, kept flocks and herds, abstained from wine and flesh, and gave tithes to teachers who devoted themselves to studying the law and weeping for Jerusalem; their prince Solomon han Nasi traced his descent to David and ruled over Thema and Telmas. Wolff found a tribe, the Beni Khaibr, near Senaa, who called themselves "sons of Jonadab," and said they numbered 60,000 (Journal, ii. 334,335). The Septuagint prefixes a title to Psalm 71, "a psalm by David, of the sons of Jonadab, and of those first carried captive": this implies, in the third century B.C., a Hebrew title existed declaring that the Rechabites shared the Babylonian captivity, and with the Levite psalmists expressed the nation's sorrows and aspirations.
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