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Rechabites /ˈrkəbts/ are a biblical clan, the descendants of Rechab through Jehonadab. They belonged to the Kenites, who accompanied the Israelites into the Holy Land and dwelt among them. The main body of the Kenites dwelt in cities and adopted settled habits of life[1] but Jehonadab forbade his descendants to drink wine or to live in cities.[2] They were commanded to always lead a nomadic life.

The Rechabites 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 the King of Judah.[3][4]As a reward for their fidelity, God proclaims that there will always be a descendant of Jonadab in his service. The Jewish Scholar Halafta was a descendent of the Rechabites.[5]

Modern history[edit]

In 1839 the Reverend Joseph Wolff, who later went to Bukhara to attempt to save Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stoddart and Captain Arthur Conolly, found in Yemen, near Sana'a, a tribe claiming to be descendants of Jehonadab; and in the late nineteenth century a Bedouin tribe was found near the Dead Sea who also professed to be descendants of Jehonadab.[6]

The term Rechabites also refers to a religious order, similar in some ways to the Nazirites, and they are mentioned by Eusebius of Emesa.[7]

In more recent times, the name has been used by Christian groups keen to promote total abstinence from alcohol, such as the Independent Order of Rechabites.[8]

Many Muslims still claim descent from Rechab, along with the nearly-universal claim of Arabs to be descended from Abraham through Ishmael (Ismail).


  1. ^ 1 Sam 30:29
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Rechab and the Rechabites" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Jer 35:14
  4. ^ They are referred to in Neh 3:14 and 1 Chr 2:55
  5. ^ Jewish Encylopedia Halafta
  6. ^ Rechabites - Easton's Bible Dictionary
  7. ^ Eusebius; H. E. ii. 23
  8. ^ Alan Axelrod International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders New York; Facts on File, inc 1997 p.206

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "Rechabites". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

Online sources[edit]