In Genesis 15:19, Kenites were first mentioned, where did they came after the global flood since the only survivors were 4 couples?

  • Kenites were also mentioned in Numbers 24:21, Judges 4:11, 1 Samuel 15:6, 27:10, 30:29, 1 Chronicles 2:55 but seems no clue for their origin Commented Jun 22 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


The origin of the Kenites is obscure. As the OP mentions, they first appear in the biblical record in the Book of Genesis at the time of Abraham, where they are described as occupying part of the land of Canaan. Regarding their more ancient origin, the name "Kenite" is derived from the Hebrew Qayin, which is identical with the name "Cain." The name could also derive from Kenan, the son of Enos (Genesis 5:9). They traveled with Israel in the later period of the Exodus, and Moses' father-in-law Jethro/Hobab is said to be a Kenite in Judges 1:16. Yet another possibility is that the Kenites of Numbers and Judges are related to Kenaz the brother of Caleb. Indeed, in Chronicles 2, Caleb is described as being the ancestor of certain Kenite clans.

The descendants of Salma (Caleb's granson): Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth Beth Joab, half the Manahathites, the Zorites, and the clans of scribes who lived at Jabez: The Tirathites, Shimeathites and Sucathites. These are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab (1 Chronicles 2:50-55).

The Kenites are also described as an established tribe when Caleb was still relatively young. Numbers 24 relates a prophecy of Balaam:

21 Upon seeing the Kenites, he recited his poem: Though your dwelling is safe, and your nest is set on a cliff; 22 Yet Kain will be destroyed when Asshur takes you captive.

The Jewish Encyclopedia has a useful article that summarizes the biblical data and also provides a critical appraisal, concluding:

The Kenites, then, were a nomadic tribe, more advanced in the arts of life than Israel. Their habitat, according to the first Biblical reference to them, was in the Sinaitic peninsula... and a part of them, viz., Jethro and his family (Num. x. 29-32; Judges l.c.), migrated with the Israelites to the neighborhood of Jericho, afterward settled in the south of Judah, and were finally absorbed by that tribe.

Conclusion: The origin of the Kenites of Abraham's time simply cannot be known. The Kenites of Numbers and later periods were a Midianite/Canaanite tribe that intermarried with the Israelites and eventually became part of Israel.

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