II Kings 10. The Trail of the Sons of Rechab.

Key Notes: A righteous, non-Israelite tribe survived a thousand years within a degrading society.

Jehu, the new king of Israel, had just met a man whom he knew but who is a stranger to us. “…he met Jehonadab the son Rechab…..”Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” (IIK.10:15). They were bonded by their hatred of Baal worship.

Jehonadab’s ancestry appears to go back about 600 years. It is the story of Midianites/Kenites, non-Israelites who were adopted into Israel and lived among them and yet apart from them in an austere pastoral life.

Ex.3:1 "Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian….” Moses had escaped from Egypt after killing an Egyptian and had lived 40 years as a shepherd, working for his father-in-law. God soon called him to go back to Egypt and liberate his people.

Ex.18:1–12 When Moses returned after the Exodus, Jethro blessed God for delivering Israel. He offered sacrifices to God and ate with the elders of Israel.
Ex.18:13–27 When Jethro saw that Moses was seriously stressed by the task of judging the people, he recommended that Moses delegate justice to able people from Israel. Moses followed his advice.

Num.10:29 When Moses was preparing to enter the Promised Land, he invited Hobab, son of Jethro / Reuel the Midianite and father-in-law of Moses, to go with Israel.

Judg.1:16 The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Israel and settled in the Negev.

Judg.4:11 Heber the Kenite separated from the clan, the descendants of Hobab, and pitched his tent in the far north near Kedesh (Hammath).
Judg.4:17 Sisera the Canaanite commander escaped from the battle with Barak and Deborah and took refuge in the tents of Heber the Kenite. Jael, Heber’s wife killed Sisera with a tent-peg while he slept.

ISam.15:6. When Saul went to destroy the Amalekites, he warned the Kenites away.

IChron.2:55 “These are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab. “

IIK.10:15 Jehu met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. Jehonadab supported Jehu in the war against Baal.

Jer.35:1–19 Years later, during the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was ordered by God to summon several of the sons of the Rechabites into the temple. He set pitchers of wine before them and told them to drink. They refused.

“We will drink no wine, for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn. We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard, or field or seed, but we have lived in tents.”

Jeremiah used their testimony as a living testimony to Israel. The Rechabites had lived an austere life in obedience to their fore-father while Israel refused to listen to the prophets whom God had sent persistently to warn them away from sin.

The inscription of Psa. 71 in the LXX (Greek translation) says “A psalm sung by the sons of Jonadab and the first that were taken captive {by the Babylonians}.

Neh.3:14 Malchijah, the son of Rechab...repaired the Dung Gate, doors, bolts and bars. So some Rechabites returned with the exiles and were active workers in Jewish society rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

A reconstruction of this history is that there was a godly line of people that began with Jethro, a Midianite/Kenite, who was Moses’ father-in-law, and a spiritual advisor to Moses, the man of God. They were not Israelites, children of Abraham. Jethro’s family went with Israel into the Promised Land where they continued to live as pastoral people in tents away from the cities. Jael was the heroine of a famous battle. They were protected by Saul in the destruction of the Amalekites. Jehonadab participated in the eradication of Baal worship. They are remembered in a psalm. They were among the early pick to go into Babylon and they returned to help rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Some commentators have criticized the Rechabites for being legalistic and rigid. However, they simply avoided temptation by abstaining from wine and staying away from the seductions of the City. The commands of a strong father-figure protected the integrity of a clan from ~1400BC to ~420BC, a millennium. I think that is commendable. So did Jeremiah and so did God.

“Rechabites” in Int.Stand.Bible Encyclo. GW Bromiley, Edit. Eerdmans,’88, p. 53.
“Kenites”       “    “                                         “              “        “              “   p. 7.