Mysteries Of The Bible: Where Can The Sons Of Jonadab Be Found Today?

The family of Jonadab, part of the Kenites who were descended from the Midianite tribes related by marriage to Moses and descendants of Jethro, are a fairly obscure family in the Bible who show up a few times as important people in their own right [1]. This family, specifically, is referred to in 2 Kings 10 as being allies of Jehu in his attempts to wipe out Baal worship from Israel after the cosmopolitan decadence of the House of Omri, and later referred to in Jeremiah 35 for their filial duty in honoring the ascetic commandments of their fathers to avoid planting vineyards or settling in homes but to remain dwelling in tents all the days of their lives. For their obedience, in the midst of the massive disobedience of Judah as the Babylonian captivity neared, this family was promised the blessing that they would never lack a male to stand before God forever. Given the immense magnitutde of this blessing, the question naturally follows: how can we demonstrate that this blessing has been fulfilled to this day?

Within the last two years or so, my posts on the blessings of God promised to the Rechabites have been among the post popular posts that I have written, even though among the wider population the blessings promised to this family are a matter of considerable obscurity. Nevertheless, as the question: “Where are the Rechabites today?” is a common one that leads people from search engines to this blog, and is a question that has even been asked to me directly by readers of Edge Induced Cohesion, it is worthwhile to consider this question and figure out how it may be answered. I must admit that as of the time of this writing I do not know the answer to this obvious question, but having been asked and not knowing, my native instincts are to figure out the answer, as the answer would be a concrete demonstration of the blessings of God and of His faithfulness to promises throughout human history. Although the promises given to Rechab may seem a small thing, as Titus 1:2 says that as God cannot lie, therefore He will faithfully fulfill His promises, the ability to verify that this promise has been kept to the present day would be itself a strong argument as to the faithfulness of God in fulfilling specific promises, and that is a matter of importance even if the Rechabites themselves are far more obscure than most of the peoples discussed in scripture.

How would one go about demonstrating the survival of the Rechabites to the present day? For one, their status as allies of Jeremiah would indicate that after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587/586BC they were allowed to go where they wished, free of depredations, and they would likely have remained in the area of Judea or Samaria where they had spent the last several hundred years from the time of Moses and Joshua, given that the Rechabites were, far more than most people are, a people with a deep tie to their ancestral traditions even if they remained sojourners who dwelt in tents all of their days. Nomads are not generally most known for their literary culture [2], but if they remained as God-worshippers in alliance with the people of Judea, they would likely have remained not far from either the provincial capital of Mizpeh in the area of Benjamin or the area between Bethlehem and Ramat Rahel, both areas that remained settled by Judeans even after the Babylonian conquest, if not further south towards the areas where the Arabs and Iduemans invaded from this time. Although the history of the promised land has been particularly tumultuous, and there is no record of godly nomadic tribes during the time of the apostles and the early Church of God, at least none that I am aware of, how to trace the existence of this particular tribe of godly Bedouin to this day is not an easy matter, but the tribe of the Rechabites would most likely be found among the Bedouin loyal to the nation of Israel who dwell within its present borders, and investigating the oral traditions of these tribes would the most obvious place to look to see if the historical memory of Rechab and Jonadab has been kept alive among their own people.

There are at least a few aspects that may be investigated to determine the survival of the Rechabites. Oral history would be one obvious trail to follow. If it was possible to determine a DNA profile of the Rechabites, then their survival could be demonstrated using genetic genealogy techniques. Likewise, the survival of the traditions commanded by Jonadab for his descendants would be an indication that his example was still being followed nearly 3000 years after he commanded his descendants never to sow crops, grow vineyards, or build houses. Such a research technique would, at present, involve careful efforts at capturing the oral and written history of the Israelite Bedouin, and also engage in population studies that attempt to demonstrate the continuity of occupation of certain tribes within certain lands. This would be a fair amount of work, but if such a historical mystery was to be merely part of a larger desire to record the history and background of peoples whose nomadic ways tend to leave them in the shadows as far as historical records are concerned, except for their fleeting glimpses in the Bible and other texts, it is possible that a better understanding of the background of various Israeli Bedouin could help unravel the mystery of the survival of the Rechabites to this day. Such work, though, remains to be done.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/jonadab-the-son-of-rechab-shall-not-lack-a-man-to-stand-before-me-forever/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/jeremiah-354-the-sons-of-korah-help-stage-a-prophetic-test/

Looking Through My Window

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/the-accidental-traveling-librarian-or-the-material-culture-of-nomads/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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30 Responses to Mysteries Of The Bible: Where Can The Sons Of Jonadab Be Found Today?

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  9. Gabriel Peixoto Franca says:

    Joseph Wolff found descendents of them living the same way, during his travels through Yemen; it is recorded in his missionary journals found online at archive.org

  10. Gabriel Peixoto Franca says:

    Hi! I’m so glad I found your comment! I did some research. In “Travels and adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff”, p. 508, it says that “Thus Wolff spent six days with the children of Rechab.
    They drink no wine, and plant no vineyards, and sow no seed, and live in tents, and remember good old Jonadab, the son of Rechab.”
    Link to the book: https://archive.org/details/travelsadventure00wolfuoft

  11. Anthony Mitchell says:

    Modern rekabites. I believe all your modern gypsies today. There’s no other people on the face of this Earth. That is spread around the world to the end of the lands. That still live in tent s. The modern motorhomes trailers . The gypsies don’t own homes. Lands. Vine yards Jeremiah chapter 35. Read it for yourself.Godbless.

  12. Regarding the Roma, or Gypsies, as candidates for fulfillment of God’s promise to the Rechabites: They appeared in the Persian Empire not long after the Semitics would have been left there from the Captivity. Their source was Keturah, an Egyptian (see Josephus) who produced by Abraham Midian, Ziporah, Jael, Rechab, Jonadab, etc The ancient Gypsy legal system is saturated with detailed similarities to the laws of Abraham and Moses, that bear no resemblance to Indian code and custom. The Gypsy word for God is Del, so similar to the Hebrew El. They still celebrate the “Blessing of Abraham” and “Black Sarah” (Keturah). We are conversant with the Gypsies in India, who are regarded by the Indians, after more than two millenia, as “different folks from someplace else”, with distinct language, dress, culture, law, etc. Two historical mysteries: “Where did the Rechabites go to?” and “Where did the Roma come from?” both answer each other quite nicely. Plus, there is the enduring similarity between Gypsy life today, and Jonadab’s commands. Have you ever met a Gypsy farmer? The obvious conclusion is dismissed simply because the Rechabites are historically esteemed, and the Gypsies are presently despised.

    • Speaking personally, I have never considered the matter of being settled as opposed to being nomadic to be sufficient a reason for that people’s long-term bad reputation. Those are very interesting similarities, although I would have to become far more familiar with ancient (and contemporary) Roma understanding to discuss the matter at any kind of length.

  13. We have been doing that research, particularly in regard to the compelling and broad parallels between ancient Roma law and ancient Hebrew law, such as both have been preserved. It is not explainable as what one might expect from the behavior commonalities of human culture and custom, (i.e. “do not murder”) but is far more specific. Roma law closely mirrors Hebrew law in nuances of marriage, cleanness, ritual, theism, in ways alien to that of the surrounding Hindus. This lends itself to the theory that the Rechabites persevered intact into the Persian/Indus valley mist, following the Captivity. Certain poor folks were indeed left in Palestine by the Babylonians, but it would not have been the Rechabites, as it was specifically to maintain vineyards, which Jonadab’s descendants were to eschew. One more important point, wherein faith and science intersect on this subject: Even accounting for exceptional historical variances, anthropological science notes the following: Once a people group, (defined by language, culture, geographic home, religion and evident physical appearance) is uprooted and scattered worldwide, they only last two to four generations as that people group. The only two exceptions are the Jews and the Roma, which both maintain contemporary identities, intact and unbroken over 2,000 years. The Jews preservation might be partly explained by their book and religion. But, the Roma have been illiterate, enslaved, and scattered everywhere, with nothing to hold onto except themselves. It defies anthropological precedent and prediction. Both groups have in common a unique promise from God, they they will forever endure as a recognizable people. Also, they are both notable as facing persistent campaigns to make them disappear. Yet, here they are. If the promise of God is to be regarded, then the Rechabites must be somewhere today. We find no other viable candidate.

    • I am working on doing some research on the Roma people, but I am not aware of any texts that seriously deal with the legal corpus of the Roma. Perhaps you would be able to point me in the right direction as far as that goes. If the Roma are indeed part of the descendants of the Rechabites, then it would be fairly easy to understand why they would attract so much hatred apart from their nomadic ways, namely the way that human regimes tend to have a great deal of hatred for those peoples who are the recipients of divine promises and blessings.

      • A detailed book we employ is the 284 page book, “Gypsy Law; Romani Legal Traditions and Culture”, edited by Walter O. Weyrauch. Also, the site, http://www.imninalu.net/Roma.htm will get you to “Myths, Hypotheses and Facts; The true Origin of Roma and Sinti”, and well as a link to the excellent “Comparison of Romany Law with Israelite Law and Indo-Aryan Traditions” , which gets to the heart of the matter. Another document is,”Using Oral Histories and Customs of the Kosovo Roma as a Guide to their Origins”, by Paul Polansky, chapter three. An additional direct source we have is our twenty years of sojourning in remote Indian villages, relating to our charitable work. ( I have been there so many times, I no longer count my journeys.) Theresa and I have, during those visits, become conversant with Banjaras, as well as the Hindus around them. It has become clear from theirs elucidations, that the Gyspies are not originally Indian, but are plainly regarded as from someplace else. Despite over two millennia, they have variant language, customs, theology, law and appearance. Also, eye, hair and countenance variations among the Rom do not reflect those of the more homogeneous Hindus, in our observations. Banjaras near Jaipur we visited last December had recently been offered houses by the government, but they eschewed them, only putting their animals in them, as they camped outside in “Abrahamic” tents. Rechabites, or coincidence? Human descent is riddled with wonderful mysteries. For example: did Welsh Prince Madoc’s, colonists sail to North America and morph into the two doomed Mandan villages that hosted Lewis and Clark? What makes the Rechabites unique in this regard is that they were clearly promised by God that they would endure as a people, in a manner that would be recognizable beyond the ubiquitous cauldron of human DNA that carries the traces of human history. For that promise to mean something, there must be a way for us to observe the promise kept. We have no compulsion to search for modern representatives of Madoc’s colonists. But, we are constrained to search out where the Rechabites are today….. unless we are of those who try so hard to view us all as purposeless accidents of nature, bereft of spiritual meaning or destiny.

      • There is a great deal of interest that people have in uncovering the identity of the Rechabites, precisely because of that divine promise that they would endure as a people. The fact that they were given that promise for following the commands of their father would likely give them all the more encouragement to continue following those commandments in generations ahead, long after they exit the pages of scripture.

      • We are persuaded that the Roma are the Rechabites, but we doubt it would ever be proven for certain, scientifically or legally. Really, there is no need for that, any more than there is a need to scientifically prove the resurrection. Still, it serves very well to lift the Gypsies above their typical marginalized status and mindset, by simply reading to them the 35th chapter of Jeremiah, presenting them with the persuasion that the promise quite entirely explains them, then introducing them to many other “great and precious promises” in the same Book, and thereby greatly enlarging and ennobling their world, by showing them their ancient and enduring destiny in the heart, mind and purposes of God. It can be personally inspirational, like some hapless orphan discovering he is a long-lost prince. We have done so, with Gypsies in Romania and North India, and will continue to do so.

      • That’s good to hear; there are many communities of Roma around the world, so hopefully they can find encouragement in the promises of Jeremiah and the rest of the scriptures.

  14. Don hill says:

    In my daily scripture I was struck by God’s promise to Recabites. I recall their story before but today it made me wonder where they might be now. Hmm looks like I’m not the only one curious to know. Edward Mack referred to a group in Yemen back in 1839 that claimed to be decendants of Recab.

  15. Raymond Davidson says:

    My mother (many years ago)made it known to me that my father’s family were Rachabites..they lived in the Grampian part of Aberdeenshire…family name Davidson….
    I would haved to have known about them but the second world war meant my father was not home till 1946 .,.
    Raymond Davidson
    Scottish Borders

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