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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Jehonadab

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(Heb. Yehonadab', יְהוֹדָב, to whom Jehovah is liberal, 2 Samuel 13:5; 2 Kings 10:15; 2 Kings 10:23; Jeremiah 35:8; Jeremiah 35:14; Jeremiah 35:16; Jeremiah 35:18; Sept. Ι᾿ωναδάβ, Auth. Version "Jonadab," except in 2 Kings 10:15; 2 Kings 10:23), also in the contracted form JONADAB (יוֹדָב, Yonadab', 2 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 13:32; 2 Samuel 13:35; Jeremiah 35:6; Jeremiah 35:10; Jeremiah 35:19; Sept. Ι᾿ωναδάβ ), the name of two men.

1. A son of Shimeah and nephew of David, a very crafty person (מְאֹדחָכָם; the word is that usually translated "wise," as in the case of Solomon, 2 Samuel 13:3), i.e. apparently one of those characters who, in the midst of great or royal families, pride themselves, and are renowned, for being acquainted with the secrets of the whole circle in which they move. His age naturally made him the friend of his cousin Amnon, heir to the throne (2 Samuel 13:3). He perceived from the prince's altered appearance that there was some unknown grief "Why art thou, the king's son, so lean?" and, when he had wormed it out, he gave him the fatal advice for ensnaring his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:5-6). B.C. cir. 1033. (See AMNON).

Again, when, in a later stage of the same tragedy, Amnon was murdered by Absalom, and the exaggerated report reached David that all the princes were slaughtered, Jonadab was already aware of the real state of the case. He was with the king and was able at once to reassure him (2 Samuel 13:32-33). (See ABSALOM).

2. A son or descendant of Rechab, the progenitor of a peculiar tribe, who held themselves bound by a vow to abstain from wine and never to relinquish the nomadic life (Jeremiah 35:6-19). (See RECHAB).

It appears from 1 Chronicles 2:55 that his father or ancestor Rechab ("the rider") belonged to a branch of the Kenites, the Arabian tribe which entered Palestine with the Israelites. One settlement of them was to be found in the extreme north, under the chieftainship of Heber (Judges 4:11), retaining their Bedouin customs under the oak which derived its name from their nomadic habits. The main settlement was in the south. Of these, one branch had nestled in the cliffs of Engedi (Judges 1:16; Numbers 24:21). Another had returned to the frontier of their native wilderness on the south of Judah (Judges 1:16). A third was established, under a fourfold division, at or near the town of Jabez, in Judah (1 Chronicles 2:55). (See KENITE).

To which of these branches Rechab and his son Jehonadab belonged is uncertain; he was evidently, however, the chieftain of an important family, if not the generally acknowledged head of the entire clan. The Bedouin habits, which were kept up by the various branches of the Kenite tribe (see Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11), were inculcated by Jehonadab with the utmost minuteness on his descendants or retainers; the more so, perhaps, from their being brought into closer connection with the inhabitants of the settled districts. The vow or rule which he prescribed to them is preserved to us: "Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons forever. Neither shall ye build houses, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers" (Jeremiah 35:6-7). This life, partly monastic, partly Bedouin, was observed with the tenacity with which, from generation to generation, such customs are continued in Arab tribes; and when, many years after the death of Jehonadab, the Rechabites (as they were called from his father) were forced to take refuge from the Chaldaean invasion within the walls of Jerusalem, nothing would induce them to transgress the rule of their ancestor, and, in consequence, a blessing was pronounced upon him and them by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 35:19): "Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me forever." (See RECHABITE).

Bearing in mind this general character of Jehonadab as an Arab chief, and the founder of a half-religious sect, perhaps in connection with the austere Elijah, and the Nazarites mentioned in Amos 2:11 (see Ewald, Alterthü mer, p. 92, 93), we are the better able to understand the single occasion on which he appears before us in the historical narrative (2 Kings 10:15 sq.). B.C. 883. Jehu was advancing, after the slaughter of Betheked, on the city of Samaria, when he suddenly met the austere Bedouin coming towards him (2 Kings 10:15). It seems that they were already known to each other (Josephus, Ant. 9:6, 6). The king was in his chariot; the Arab was on foot. It is not altogether certain which was the first to speak. The Hebrew text followed by the A.V. implies that the king blessed (A. Vers. "saluted") Jehonadab. The Sept. and Josephus (Ant. 9, 6, 6) imply that Jehonadab blessed the king. Each would have its peculiar appropriateness. The king then proposed their close union. "Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?" The answer of Jehonadab is slightly varied. In the Hebrew text he vehemently replies, "It is, it is: give me thine hand." In the Sept. and in the A.V., he replies simply, "It is;" and Jehu then rejoins, "If it is, give me thine hand." The hand, whether of Jehonadab or Jehu was offered and grasped. The king lifted him up to the edge of the chariot, apparently that he might whisper his secret into his ear, and said, "Come with me and see my zeal for Jehovah." It was the first indication of Jehu's design upon the worship of Baal, for which he perceived that the stern zealot would be a fit coadjutor. Having intrusted him with the secret, he (Sept.) or his attendants (Heb. and A.V.) caused Jehonadab to proceed with him to Samaria in the royal chariot. Jehonadab was evidently held in great respect among the Israelites generally; and Jehu was alive to the importance of obtaining the countenance and sanction of such a man to his proceedings; and as it is expressly said that Jehonadab went out to meet Jehu, it seems probable that the people of Samaria, alarmed at the menacing letter which they had received from Jehu, had induced Jehonadab to go to meet and appease him on the road. His venerated character, his rank as the head of a tribe, and his neutral position, well qualified him for this mission; and it was quite as much the interest of Jehonadab to conciliate the new dynasty, in whose founder he beheld the minister of the divine decrees, as it was that of Jehu to obtain his concurrence and support in proceedings which he could not but know were likely to render him odious to the people. So completely had the worship of Baal become the national religion, that even Jehonadab was able to conceal his purpose under the mask of conformity. No doubt he acted in concert with Jehu throughout; but the only occasion on which he is expressly mentioned is when (probably from his previous knowledge of the secret worshippers of Jehovah) he went with Jehu through the temple of Baal to turn out any that there might happen to be in the mass of pagan worshippers (2 Kings 10:23). (See JEHU).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jehonadab'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/jehonadab.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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