Jeremiah 35:11
But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) When Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land . . .—The statement has the character of an apologetic explanation. They had been driven, as the peasants of Judaea had been (Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 8:14), to take refuge from the invading armies, probably in the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in the eighth year of Jehoiakim (2Kings 24:1-2), bringing their flocks and their herds, as far as they could, with them, but this was only a temporary casualty, and they intended, when the danger was over, to return to their former mode of life. The Syrians are joined with the Chaldees in the invasion, as in 2Kings 24:2.

35:1-11 Jonadab was famous for wisdom and piety. He lived nearly 300 years before, 2Ki 10:15. Jonadab charged his posterity not to drink wine. He also appointed them to dwell in tents, or movable dwelling: this would teach them not to think of settling any where in this world. To keep low, would be the way to continue long in the land where they were strangers. Humility and contentment are always the best policy, and men's surest protection. Also, that they might not run into unlawful pleasures, they were to deny themselves even lawful delights. The consideration that we are strangers and pilgrims should oblige us to abstain from all fleshly lusts. Let them have little to lose, and then losing times would be the less dreadful: let them sit loose to what they had, and then they might with less pain be stript of it. Those are in the best frame to meet sufferings who live a life of self-denial, and who despise the vanities of the world. Jonadab's posterity observed these rules strictly, only using proper means for their safety in a time of general suffering.The Syrians - The Septuagint substitutes Assyrians for Syrians, but marauding bands of the Aramaeans are probably meant. 11. Chaldeans … Syrians—when Jehoiakim revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1, 2). Necessity sets aside all other laws. This is the Rechabites' excuse for their seeming disobedience to Jonadab in temporarily settling in a city. Herein was seen the prescient wisdom of Jonadab's commands; they could at a moment's notice migrate, having no land possessions to tie them. When the Chaldean army came into the land, they saw there would be no quiet abode for them any where but in some fortified place. The Syrians joined with the Chaldeans in this war, as we read, 2 Kings 24:2. This they tell the prophet was the reason why they, who never used to dwell in cities nor fixed houses, came to dwell at Jerusalem, to prevent being destroyed by the foragers for these armies. But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land,.... Into the land of Judea to invade it, which was in the reign of Jehoiakim, in the fourth year of it, after he had served him three years, and rebelled against him; See Gill on Jeremiah 35:1;

that we said, come, and let us go to Jerusalem; they said one to another, let us not stay here to be destroyed by a foreign enemy; but let us go to Jerusalem, a fortified city, where we may be safe:

for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians; for Nebuchadnezzar's army in this expedition consisted of Chaldeans and Syrians, and of other nations, 2 Kings 24:2;

so we dwell at Jerusalem; for the present. It seems as though this was quickly after Nebuchadnezzar's incursion, and when he was but just departed; so that their fears had not wholly subsided; and they, as yet, had not returned to their tents, and former manner of living: hence it appears that the Rechabites did not look upon this command of their father as equal to a divine precept, which must be always obeyed; but that in case of necessity it might be dispensed with, and especially when in danger of life, and when human prudence required it; and in which case the lawgiver himself would have dispensed with it, had he been on the spot.

But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we {h} dwell at Jerusalem.

(h) Which declares that they were not so bound to their vow that it could not be broken for any need, for where they were commanded to dwell in tents, they dwell now at Jerusalem for fear of the wars.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. Syrians] allies of the Chaldaeans at this period. See 2 Kings 24:2.Verse 11. - And for fear of the army of the Syrians. We are expressly told in 2 Kings 24:2 that, after the rebellion of Jehoiakim, "bands of Syrians" made incursions into Judah. There, Jeremiah caused bowls filled with wine to be set before the Rechabites, and commanded them to drink. (גּביעים are large goblets, bowls, out of which drinking-cups [כּסות] were filled.) But they explained that they did not drink wine, because their father, i.e., their ancestor, Jonadab had forbidden them and their posterity to drink wine for ever, as also to build houses, to sow seed, and to plant vineyards, i.e., to settle themselves down in permanent dwellings and to pursue agriculture. ולא יהיה לכם, "And there shall not be to you," sc. what has just been named, i.e., ye must not possess houses, growing-crops, or vineyards (cf. Jeremiah 35:9),

(Note: These injunctions, given by Jonadab to his posterity, that he might make them always lead a nomad life, are quoted by Diodorus Siculus, xix. 94, as a law among the Nabateans: Νόμος ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς μήτε σίτον σπείρειν, μήτε φυτεύειν μηδὲν φυτὸν καρποφόρον, μήτε οἴνῳ χρῆσθαι, μήτε οἰκίαν κατασεκυάζειν; while the object of the law is stated to have been the maintenance of their freedom against the more powerful who sought to bring them into subjection. And even at the present day the Bedouins imagine that they are prevented, by the nobility of their descent from Ishmael, from engaging in agriculture, handicraft, or the arts; cf. Arvieux, Sitten der Beduinen-Araber, 5f.)

but ye are to dwell in tents all your life, that ye may live long, etc. This promise is an imitation of that found in Exodus 20:12.

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