Jeremiah 35

Crazy Chronology

Kings of Judah
2 Kings
2 Chronicles
1 Nephi and Jer
(640-609 BC)
2 Kgs. 22:1-2
2 Chron. 34:1-7
Jer. 1-3
2 Chron. 34:8-19
2 Kgs. 22:3-20
Jer. 11
2 Chron. 34:20-33
Jer. 7-8
2 Kgs. 23:21-23
2 Chron. 35:1-19
Jer. 4-6
2 Kgs. 23:24-28
2 Chron. 35:20-27
2 Kgs. 23:29-30
Jer. 9-10
Jehoahaz or Shallum
2 Kgs. 23:31-35
2 Chron. 36:1-4
Jer. 22-23
Jehoiakim or Eliakim
(609-598 BC)
2 Kgs. 23:36-37
Jer. 12-13, 26, 25, 35-36, 45-49
2 Chron. 36:5-8
2 Kgs. 24:1-7
Jer. 15-20
Jehoiachin or Coniah
2 Chron. 36:9-10
2 Kgs. 24:8-16
Jer. 24
(598-587 BC)
2 Kgs. 24:17-20
2 Chron. 36:11-16
1 Ne. 1, Jer. 27-31, 21, 37-38
2 Kgs. 25:1-3
Jer. 32, 14, 33-34
2 Kgs. 25:4-21
2 Chron. 36:17-21
Jer. 39, 52:1-30, 40
2 Kgs. 25:22-26
Jer. 41-44, 50-51
2 Kgs. 25:27-30
Jer. 52:31-34
The Lord uses an object lesson to teach the Jews about obedience, using the Rechabite clan as an example. Jeremiah and Ezekiel would frequently use object lessons to show the Jews the will of the Lord (see Jer. 13, 18, 24, 43; Ezekiel 4, 12). It is a divine pattern and a divine technique.
“To teach and inspire his listeners, the Savior often referred to familiar objects—objects like a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a pearl of great price. Teachers can similarly find good object lessons by (1) searching the scriptures, (2) choosing common objects readily available, (3) using creativity.” (Jon R. Howe, Ensign, Oct. 1997, 70)
Jeremiah 35:2  Go unto the house of the Rechabites…
Who are the Rechabites?  They were not descendents of Israel, but were a people that usually were nomadic desert dwellers. 
“Rechabites /ˈriːkəbaɪts/ are a biblical clan, the descendants of Rechab through Jonadab or Jehonadab. They belonged to the Kenites, who accompanied the children of Israel into the holy land, and dwelt among them. Moses married a Kenite wife, and Jael was the wife of ‘Heber the Kenite.’ Saul also showed kindness to the Kenites. The main body of the Kenites dwelt in cities, and adopted settled habits of life; but Jehonadab forbade his descendants to drink wine or to live in cities. They were commanded to always lead a nomad life. They adhered to the law laid down by Jonadab, and were noted for their fidelity to the old-established custom of their family in the days of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 35); and this feature of their character is referred to by God for the purpose of giving point to his message to Judah.” (
It is ironic that the Lord told Jeremiah to go to the house of the Rechabites since they usually would not reside in a house.  The circumstances were unusual for Jonadab’s descendents—they had come to live in Jerusalem out of fear of Nebuchadnezzar (v. 11)—otherwise they “dwelt in tents” (v. 10).
Jeremiah 35:5 I set before [them]… pots full of wine… and I said unto the, Drink ye wine
Anciently, the Law of Moses strictly forbade many foods and practices but drinking wine was not prohibited. Some may have imagined the Word of Wisdom to be a universal law in all ages but it is particularly designed for our day.  While drunkenness was frowned upon (Deut. 21:20), wine was not prohibited in Jeremiah’s day; it was not prohibited in Jesus’ day.  Those who argue that the ancient saints and meridian saints only drank new wine, or grape juice, do so at the peril of the truth.  Without refrigeration, grape juice didn’t stay new for long.
For a moment, let’s pretend this event was in our day.  Can you imagine the Prophet asking all in your family to meet him at the Temple?  That would be exciting right?  But when you all gather in the Temple with the Prophet, he asks you to drink wine!  Well, that’s weird. That is a lot of pressure! What would you do?
Jeremiah 35:6 We will drink no wine… Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he has charged us
It is likely that the Rechabites recognized the God of Israel and understood he was the only true and living God (2 Kgs. 10:15-28). It is likely that they honored the temple and respected Jeremiah, the prophet.  It is probable that they observed the commandments of God, but how did the Jews view them? Long before the days of the Samaritans, the Jews were very ethnocentric and nationalistic.  They often despised the Gentiles and touted their own righteousness. 
Yet who was righteous in this situation?  Who was following the will of their father?  The Jews or the Rechabites?  These nomadic desert dwellers had shown perfect obedience to their father, “in all that he has charged us,” it says.  Well, could the Jews boast the same?  They could not.  The Gentiles had been more righteous than they, much like in the Book of Mormon when Mormon said, “the Lamanites had become… a righteous people, insomuch that their righteousness did exceed that of the Nephites” (Hel. 6:1).
“The Rechabites gloried in their attachment to the precept of their ancestor; it was a sort of point of honour with them; whereas the Israelites were in no way grieved, humiliated, or ashamed because of their disobedience. If only it had been a continual and sore trouble of heart that there was not in them strength to obey God, why, this very trouble would have been a measure of obedience. But they both disobeyed and disobeyed in the most heedless and audacious way. Instead of receiving prophets with contrition and as messengers of God, they laughed them to scorn, abused them, and even put them to death.” (
Lorenzo Snow
There is something very beautiful and lovely to contemplate in the character of the children of Rechab of whom I have read: there is something that ought to command the admiration of all men, and indeed, God himself admired it and recognized it in the great promise that he made their father as a recognition of this remarkable virtue exhibited in their character, namely, "Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me forever." (Jer. 35:19) How comforting and consoling, what a feeling of gratification and joy to the heart of a parent to receive such a promise from the Lord, because of the obedience of his children in strictly adhering to this counsel; his posterity forever should be represented among those who should stand before the Lord. And God admires the men and women to-day who pursue a course of rectitude and who, notwithstanding the powers of Satan that are arrayed against them, can say, Get thee behind me Satan, and who live a righteous, a godly life, and such people have influence with God and their prayers avail much…
I will refer again to the Rechabites, and the strong temptation that they were under when invited to the Temple of God, and there, in one of the apartments, asked by Jeremiah, one of the greatest Prophets, to drink wine; or, in other words, to do something that they had been instructed by their father not to do. But they could not be moved, the teaching of their father had found an abiding place in their hearts, and the consequence was that they utterly refused to do what the Prophet of God told them to do. The Lord Himself admired the course that they took in this matter, and was led as I before said, to make such a glorious promise to the house of Rechab. (Journal of Discourses, 23:191-193)
Jeremiah 35:10 we have dwelt in tents
Does that phrase remind you of anything?  What about Nephi’s iconic phrase, “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Ne. 2:15).  What can we make of the similarity?  Ask Hugh Nibley!  Professor Nibley was always a champion of the historical, cultural, and social relevance of the Book of Mormon story.  How could Joseph Smith make up a story and get so many little details right?  His line of reasoning would call upon the Rechabites as an example of a religious people who dwelt nomadically in the desert—traveling where others would not and living in tents. Their lifestyle would be similar to Lehi’s family as they journeyed to the Land of Promise.  The story is completely feasible, completely reasonable, completely amazing for Joseph Smith to get right given the available knowledge of the times.
Hugh Nibley
As the Book of Mormon leads us into a world of Rechabites (see Jer. 35) of the desert, so the Lachish Letters give us “for the first time … authentic and intimate reports from Jews faithfully following their God [and] about their inner political and religious struggle.” …  We see Uriah hiding out in the hills “where he had friends and followers, for a long time.” (P. 70.)
The Dead Sea Scrolls have put flesh on these sectarian bones, showing how from the earliest times communities of the faithful would withdraw from Jerusalem to bide their time in the wilderness. The pattern is familiar to readers of the Book of Mormon, who recall that Lehi “went forth among the people” as a prophet (1 Ne. 1:18), but, badly received, he was warned in a dream that his life was in danger and ordered to go into the wilderness, leaving all his worldly things behind (see 1 Ne. 2:1–2).
It was the idea behind the Rechabites and the people of Qumran.  (“The Lachish Letters: Documents from Lehi’s Day,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 52) 
Hugh Nibley
This is the Rechabite principle… The Rechabite principle is "get out of it, escape it, go to the desert, be by yourself." This has happened from the very beginning. This always happens in the Near East where the desert begins right at the city wall. You can always get away from it. The only problem is how are you going to live once you are out there? So the hermits become men of extreme austerity of life-living, as John the Baptist did, on locusts and wild honey. (Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990 [Provo: FARMS] 67)
Could Lehi’s family and a Rechabite clan have crossed paths in the desert?  Any knowledge about their journey would not come from Jerusalem because they were so careful to keep things covert.  But what if the Rechabites found out later? Stephen E. Robinson found the following in their history:
…the History of the Rechabites, also called the Narrative of Zosimus, preserves an ancient but mixed-up tradition about people leaving Jerusalem at the time of the prophet Jeremiah and being led by the Lord across the ocean to a land of promise (VII–IX). (“Background for the Testaments,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 27)
Jeremiah 35:16 the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father… but this people hath not hearkened unto me
Ancient writings would suggest that the Lord preserved the Rechabites from Babylonian destruction because of their obedience.  As a people, they were preserved.  They are mentioned in the non-canonical works, i.e. the pseudepigrapha, specifically the Narrative of Zosimus:
“there seems to be a very ancient core, chapters seven through nine, which concerns the history and present abode of the descendants of Rechab, the son of Jonadab, who were not scattered over the earth but are in a place encircled by an abyss and a cloud (chp. 9).” (
Jeremiah 35:19 Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever
George Q. Cannon
God then inspired Jeremiah to say 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 unto all that he hath 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 forever.
One of the greatest promises that was ever made to man was given to that family because of their obedience; and I do not doubt that when the Lord Jesus shall come in the clouds of heaven there will be found descendants of that illustrious family among the people of God. The greatest promise that God gave to Abraham was when He told him that as the stars of heaven were countless for multitude and as the sands upon the sea shore were innumerable, so his posterity should be. It was the desire of every faithful man that his posterity should be remembered; and God made covenant with His faithful servants that in the last days, in the days of trouble, he would remember their seed. We who are in this house are living fulfillments of that promise. It is through the promise that God made to our fathers that we are here today, and that we have received the Gospel. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 5, February 16, 1896)