As far as rabbinic evidence goes the Rechabites are noted (pesikta derav
kahana) to be descended from jethro, Moses' father in law, and in chronicles
they are noted be kenites-- and the tosefta in bikurim notes kenites have
the status of converts but even so they can recite the recitation of the
jewish land owning farmer who brings his first fruits to the Temple.
Furthermore it is noted that the family will never cease and when the
Messiah comes they will be the first to announce him and they will be the
first to go up to the temple and offer sacrifices-- and  it is further noted
rabbi yose bar halafta the reputed author of seder olam was descended from
them (according to a genealogical table that had been found). there is a
strange passage in tractate shabbat 118 (?) to the effect that rabbi yose
went with the priests when invited to bless the people in the synagogue--
the fact he only did it when invited suggests his status was in doubt or
something else which was an anomoly. in some passages it is noted that
rechabites will be the first to offer sacrifices in the Messianic age temple
when a humungus temple descends from heaven and covers 4 mountains.
Anyways--  I have no idea what any of this means-- just that such things
exist. but I do not know any certain evidence they are priests-- offering
sacrifices simply might mean they have a priest offer the sacrifices. theirs
will be offered first-- however it might really mean they themselves will
act as priests-- I cannot be certain what any of this really tells us but it
seems unlikely the clan acted as priests-- if there is a talmudic passage
that is clear on the matter I would like to know where it is-- I certainly
know of none.
herb basser

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