The Mission of the Kenites
1 Chronicles 2:55
And the families of the scribes which dwelled at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites…

This people is first mentioned in Genesis 15:19. They were a nomadic tribe, and their principal seat seems to have been the rocky tracts in the south and south-west of Palestine, near the Amalekites (see Numbers 24:21, 22). Jethro was a Kenite. Jael was wife of Heber the Kenite. Saul spared them in his expedition against the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:6). David maintained friendly relations with them (1 Samuel 30:29). The house of the Rechabites belonged to this tribe. The friendly feeling between the two tribes, based on the conduct of the Kenites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 18:10-19; Numbers 10:29-32), led to their intermixture and almost amalgamation with the Israelites - Kenite families not only dwelling among them, but being actually regarded as of one blood. Their semi-monastic austerity is their chief feature. They preserved their nomadic life and customs even when dwelling in the midst of the cities of Israel. Dean Stanley thus pictures a colony of them, that of Heber, the husband of Jael: "Between Hazor, the capital of Jabin, and Kedesh-Naphtali, birthplace of Barak - each within a day's journey of the other - lies, raised high above the plain of Merom, amongst the hills of Naphtali, a green plain. This plain is still and was then studded with massive terehinths. Underneath the spreading branches of one of them there dwelt, unlike the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, a settlement of Bedouins, living, as if in the desert, with their tents pitched and their camels and asses around them, whence the spot had acquired the name of 'The Terebiuth,' or 'Oak,' of the 'Unloading of Tents.'" It is from this peculiarity of the Kenites that we learn their mission.

I. THEIR NOMADIC LIFE REMINDED ISRAEL OF GOD'S MERCIES. For they had once been what the Kenites then were - a mere tribe or aggregation of tribes. But God had, in a most glorious and gracious way, made them a nation, and given them a land. Such a reminder brought home to them the claims of Jehovah, and should have renewed their devotion and allegiance to him. Compare the witness made by the hermits in the times of the early Church.

II. THEIR STRICT OBEDIENCE TO RULE REPROACHED ISRAEL FOR THE NEGLECT OF THE COVENANT. They were loyal to the customs and rules of their founder, whatever disabilities such loyalty might seem to entail. Illustrate by the story of testing the Rechabites with the offer of wine, given in Jeremiah 35. Impress that we need still the witness of virtue and excellence in those who are not with us; who are among us, but not of our party. And in this we may see some good in the association together in one nation of differing religious sects. Each may teach the others some valuable lessons, and find effective expression of some essential virtue. Our Lord, in his teachings, even ventured to draw lessons from the quick-witted example of the bad man. We may learn something of God and duty from all those with whom we are brought into even casual contact. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab.

WEB: The families of scribes who lived at Jabez: the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, the Sucathites. These are the Kenites who came of Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.

The Families of the Scribes
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