The Kenites were an Old Testament biblical tribe friendly to the Hebrews. They shared the lands in south Palestine with the Hebrews until the time of David. The father of Moses' wife was a Kenite, as was the husband of Jael.

Some biblical scholars have argued that the Israelites were introduced to the worship of God by the Kenites (this is known as the Kenite Hypothesis).

A tribe or clan, a branch of which dwelt in Canaan or vicinity in the time of Abraham (Genesis 15:19), while another branch of the same tribe settled in Midian, and, by the time of Moses, had become incorporated with the Midianites (Judges 1:16; 4:11; cp. Numbers 10:29). The Kenites of Midian may, however, have been of a different descent from the Kenites who dwelt in Canaan. Numbers 24:21,22.

{Jewish Sects and Orders}

We read of "Kenites" among the inhabitants of Canaan in the days of Abraham (Genesis 15:19). The name (like Smith) seems originally to have denoted a worker in metals, and may have arisen from some specialty of the tribe in work or warfare. They were evidently a nomad race, and we next meet with them in the land of Midian, the Sinaitic peninsula; Jethro, the Midianite priest, whose daughter Moses espoused (Exodus 3:1), being also a Kenite (Judges 1:16). For a time, then, the Kenites had cast in their lot with the descendants of Keturah; but they afterwards followed the destinies of Israel, influenced no doubt by their connection with Moses. Balaam in his prophecy refers to the Kenite tents as on the outskirts of the Israelite camp (Numbers 24:21). Jethro himself declined to follow his son-in-law to Canaan, but his son Hobab seems, after some hesitation, to have remained with Moses (Exodus 18:27; Numbers 10:29,32); and the clan eventually occupied "the wilderness" in the south of Judah, dwelling in tents, although in close and recognized alliance with the Israelite community - in fact a kind of gypsy race. As circumstances might dictate, they would pass from spot to spot; and we meet with a Kenite settlement in the uplands of Naphtali, to the north, mentioned in the history on account of Jael's exploit (Judges 4:11,17); while in after days mention is made of Kenites as dispersed among the Amalekites of the Negeb or South Country (1 Samuel 15:6; see also 27:10). They ranked among the friends of David when a fugitive from Saul (1 Samuel 30:29); and through all changes were faithful to the religion of Israel.

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