Ian Hutchesson writes:

"The book of Jeremiah is clear about the fact that the house of the 
> Rechabites was not a priesthood. The book says much about priests, 
> so there is no reticence at all talking of priests, so, if the 
> Rechabites had been priests, there is no reason for them not to 
> have been called so. "

Perhaps it would make Ian more comfortable if the Rechabite's
"eternal service" before Yahweh was because they had "Levite"
status, rather than priestly?  The point is, of course, not so much
what the Rechabites were during the time of Jeremiah, but what
they had become by the time of James (the brother of Jesus).

It would seem that Ian has conveniently forgotten that Jeremiah
is notorious for its "variants" that exist.... notably the difference
between the Masoretic and Septuagint versions.  So are we more
surprised by what Jeremiah does NOT say?  Or by what it DOES
say?  And which version?

In anycase, the advocacy of the Rechabites by Jeremiah is
indisputable.  So why does he do it?  What status DO the
Rechabites have?  David Suter suggests they are, more or less,
some mystic order of smiths.  And I would suggest that the
Levites themselves are ALSO a mystic order of craftsmen.
I might even speculate some day that the Levites obtained
their inspiration from the priestly ranks of Midian.  But I
won't do that today.

The Rechabites, said to be derived from Midianite
stock, would be linked to the "Priests of Midian".  And it was
a Priest (a king?) of Midian that taught Moses how to serve Yahweh
and organize his system of justice (administered then, or ultimately,
by the Priests and Levites of the tabernacle).  So, again, we 
find the role of the Midianites/Rechabites to be rather mysteriously
linked to the Hebrew faith, yes?  But rather than get wrapped up
in a dispute over the importance of Moses' father-in-law, and 
the Midianites in general, let's get to the point:

The explicit mention in Eusebius of "Rechabim" and "Sons of
Rechab" and their linkage to the *same* Rechabites that Jeremiah
discusses is something that cannot be overlooked.  By the time of the
N.T. period, has the uniqueness of the Rechabites evolved to the
point where some of their members are now full Priests?  Eusebius
and his sources seem to think so.

Now, if I can locate those 2 Talmud citations that are said to
EXPLICITLY state that the Rechabites "married into the family of
the High Priesthood", then we can begin to piece together the
"HOW" of the Rechabite connection with the priesthood.  Assuming
Eisenman has not grotesquely taken these citations out of context,
even the Rabbis acknowledge the priestly status of SOME 
Rechabites..... so to have David and Ian question this status...
without referring to the Talmud's citations.... is a little surprising.

Despite the agonizing semantic gymnastics that some members of
the list are proposing, there appears to be a strong case that regardless
of exactly what role the Rechabites played in the time of Jeremiah,
they seem to represent at least a noticeable faction within the 
ranks of the Priests by the time of the New Testament period.

And because of the explicit reference in Ezekiel to a faction of
priests that pray to the rising sun (rather than to the holy of holies),
and the rather surprising similarity this description has to the Josephus
references to his Jewish Essenes, it seems not to be a huge leap to
conclude that the Rechabites of Jeremiah and the apparently
STILL-EXISTING Rechabites in the times of James (the brother
of Jesus).... may have something to do with both references.

The clincher?  That the Greek Suidas, from out of nowhere... and with
no apparent axe to grind, says that the Rechabites, the "sons of
Rechab" no less!, were the source of the Essenes.  Yes, we can
dispute Suidas.  But sometimes disputing *explicit* texts put forward
in what appears to be a completely objective and reliable way, smacks
of the kind of "special pleading" that we become weary of when
people try to interpret Bible prophecies on this and other lists.

Ian writes: 
> Eisenman has made a remarkable amount out of these few references.

My reply is that it is a good thing he did.... otherwise the more
correlations between the Rechabites, and the Jerusalem Priesthood, and
Essenes would have been missed entirely.

I will look for the Talmud citations unless someone else can dig them
up first, and I have ordered the 2 books by Boccaccini mentioned by
David Suter.

In the meantime, I will leave it to the other contributors to this list
to hem and haw about "gee.... we really can't be sure what we are
reading here" and so on.  Considering the intricate and sometimes
persuasive conclusions that can be extrapolated from just a few
*words* of the DSS, or the Jewish Bible, or the New Testament,
I'm always interested to follow the path of reasoning when someone
takes a sentence that seems to say something fairly obvious.... and
turns it into an artificial morass of confusion and doubt.

I will try to remember these techniques when someone tries to
build their own explanations on sentences that seem even LESS
clear to the reasonable mind.

George Brooks
Tampa, FL

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