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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
Ke´nites, a tribe of Midianites dwelling among the Amalekites (; comp. ), or occupying in semi-nomadic life the same region with the latter people in Arabia Petræa. When Saul was sent to destroy the Amalekites, the Kenites, who had joined them, perhaps upon compulsion, were ordered to depart from them that they might not share their fate; and the reason assigned was, that they 'shewed kindness to the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt.' This kindness is supposed to have been that which Jethro and his family showed to Moses, as well as to the Israelites themselves, in consequence of which the whole tribe appears to have been treated with consideration, while the family of Jethro itself accompanied the Israelites into Palestine, where they continued to lead a nomad life, occupying there a position similar to that of the Tartar tribes in Persia at the present day. To this family belonged Heber, the husband of that Jael who slew Sisera, and who is hence called 'Heber the Kenite' (). At a later age other families of Kenites are mentioned as resident in Palestine, among whom were the Rechabites (; ); but it is not clear whether these were subdivisions of the increasing descendants of Jethro, as seems most likely, or families which availed themselves of the friendly-dispositions of the Israelites towards the tribe to settle in the country. It appears that, whatever was the general condition of the Midianites, the tribe of the Kenites possessed a knowledge of the true God in the time of Jethro [HOBAB]; and that those families which settled in Palestine did not afterwards lose that knowledge, but increased it, is clear from the passages which have been cited [MIDIANITES; RECHABITES].
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Kenites'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/k/kenites.html.