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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621

Old testam. essays vol.24 n.2 Pretoria  2011

 

Who were the Kenites?

 

 

Marlene E. Mondriaan

University of Pretoria

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

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.


 

 

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Correspondence:
Marlene E. Mondriaan
Department of Ancient Languages
University of Pretoria, 0002
South Africa
E-mail: justusvw@gmail.com