Who were the Kenizzites in the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Kenizzites

The Kenizzites refer to an Edomitish tribe mentioned in the Scriptures in relation to God’s covenant with Abraham. The Lord said to Abraham, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:18-21).

In this covenant, God reaffirmed His promise concerning possession of the land of Canaan. And for the first time the exact geographical limits of the Promised Land were indicated. These limits were registered during the reigns of David and Solomon (1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chronicles 9:26).


The Kenizzites were not mentioned among the other inhabitants of Canaan in Exodus 3:8 and Joshua 3:10. They probably inhabited some part of Arabia, in the confines of Syria. It is possible that the Kenizzites intermarried with the Israelites for Caleb is said to be the “son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite” (Numbers 32:12 and Joshua 14:134). Jephunneh the Kenizzite is derived from Kenaz (Genesis 36:15, 42; 1 Chronicles 1:36, 53).

It could be that Kenaz was a common ancestor of Othniel and Caleb (Joshua 15:17). Othniel was the first judge of Israel (Judges 3:9). And Caleb, despite his Kenizzite heritage, was included in the genealogical listing of Judah in 1 Chronicles 4:15. Others believe the Kenizzites were intermarried with Canaanites and lost their name as a people for their name is not found among the list of inhabitants of the Promised Land during the conquest of Joshua (Joshua 3:10).

Still others believe that the Kenizzites came from Edom and Esau because the Bible mentions Kenaz as a ruler of Edom: “And these were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families and their places, by their names: Chief Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon,  Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession. Esau was the father of the Edomites” (Genesis 36:40–43 also Genesis 36:15;  1 Chronicles 1:53; Genesis ).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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