(Kenʹiz·zite) [Of (Belonging to) Kenaz].
1. Member of a non-Israelite people in or near Canaan whose territory was promised by Jehovah to Abram’s seed. (Ge 15:18, 19) The Kenizzites evidently moved into the Negeb from the SE, possibly spreading over part of Edom as well as what became southern Judah, doing so prior to the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land.
The Kenizzites have been linked by some scholars with the Kenaz who was a sheik of Edom descended from Esau through Eliphaz (Ge 36:15, 16), and thus are viewed as a prominent Edomite family. There is, however, uncertainty as to the actual identity of the patronymic ancestor of the Kenizzites since the Bible itself does not provide details in this regard. The fact that, in Abram’s time, Jehovah listed the Kenizzites among those occupying territory that was to become the possession of Abram’s seed (Ge 15:18, 19) does not favor the view that the Kenizzites were descendants of Esau, who had not then been born.
2. Faithful Caleb is called “the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite.” (Nu 32:12; Jos 14:6, 14) Jephunneh could have descended from some member of the non-Israelite Kenizzites (Ge 15:18, 19) who associated with the descendants of Jacob (Israel), marrying an Israelite wife. However, more likely the name Kenizzite in his case derives from some ancestral Judean family head named Kenaz, even as Caleb’s brother was so named.—Jos 15:17; Jg 1:13; 1Ch 4:13.