Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
MONDRIAAN, Marlene E.. Who were the Kenites?. Old testam. essays [online]. 2011, vol.24, n.2, pp. 414-430. ISSN 2312-3621.
This article examines the Kenite tribe, particularly considering their importance as suggested by the Kenite hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, the Kenites, and the Midianites, were the peoples who introduced Moses to the cult of Yahwism, before he was confronted by Yahweh from the burning bush. Scholars have identified the Cain narrative of Gen 4 as the possible aetiological legend of the Kenites, and Cain as the eponymous ancestor of these people. The purpose of this research is to ascertain whether there is any substantiation for this allegation connecting the Kenites to Cain, as well as contemplating the Kenites' possible importance for the Yahwistic faith. Information in the Hebrew Bible concerning the Kenites is sparse. Traits associated with the Kenites, and their lifestyle, could be linked to descendants of Cain. The three sons of Lamech represent particular occupational groups, which are also connected to the Kenites. The nomadic Kenites seemingly roamed the regions south of Palestine. According to particular texts in the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh emanated from regions south of Palestine. It is, therefore, plausible that the Kenites were familiar with a form of Yahwism, a cult that could have been introduced by them to Moses, as suggested by the Kenite hypothesis. Their particular trade as metalworkers afforded them the opportunity to also introduce their faith in the northern regions of Palestine. This article analyses the etymology of the word "Kenite, " the ancestry of the Kenites, their lifestyle, and their religion. The research leads to the conclusion that the Kenites could be linked to Cain, and also supports the Kenite hypothesis, thereby suggesting that they introduced the faith of Yahwism to Moses, and thus indirectly to the Israelites.