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Kenites

Meaning: smiths

the name of a tribe inhabiting the desert lying between southern Israel and the mountains of Sinai

Jethro was of this tribe (Judges 1:16). He is called a “Midianite” (Numbers 10:29), and hence it is concluded that the Midianites and the Kenites were the same tribe. They were wandering smiths, “the gipsies and travelling tinkers of the old Oriental world. They formed an important guild in an age when the art of metallurgy was confined to a few” (Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce, Races, etc.). They showed kindness to Israel in their journey through the wilderness. They accompanied them in their march as far as Jericho (Judges 1:16), and then returned to their old haunts among the Amalekites, in the desert to the south of Judah. They sustained afterwards friendly relations with the Israelites when settled in Canaan (Judges 4:11, 17-21; 1 Samuel 27:10; 30:29).

The Rechabites belonged to this tribe (1 Chronicles 2:55) and in the days of Jeremiah (35:7-10) are referred to as following their nomad habits. Saul bade them depart from the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:6) when, in obedience to the divine commission, he was about to “smite Amalek.” And his reason is, “for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” Thus “God is not unrighteous to forget the kindnesses shown to his people; but they shall be remembered another day, at the farthest in the great day, and recompensed in the resurrection of the just” (Matthew Henry's Commentary). They are mentioned for the last time in Scripture in 1 Samuel 27:10; compare 30:20.