The Rechabites are most well known for their appearance in the book of Jeremiah in which they seek refuge in Jerusalem from the oncoming Babylonian invasion. Jeremiah uses them as an example of fidelity to the orders of their founding “father” Jonadab/Jehonadab since they refuse to drink or build a house to live in. This is put in contrast to Judah who refuses to obey. There has been debate surrounding the identity of the Rechabites in which earlier scholars argued that these were ideal nomads who refused unnatural intoxicating beverages and lived in tents. But the assumptions behind this had not completely held up, and it is more commonly held that this may have been a group of craftsman or a guild. These may have been a guild of metalworkers who worked on chariots, hence the name of the found Jehonadab ben Rechab. Thus, father in this sense can be understood as a term for a leader or someone in authority, like a prophet may be the “father” of a group of prophets, in the same way the founder of a guild may be the father of its members. It is argued that the smiths would have been mobile and moved locations and needed to be close knit to preserve trade secrets and pass on knowledge, thinking that mirrors what we know of scribal lore, another guild based craft.


Rechabites, ABD

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