smiths, the name of a tribe inhabiting the desert lying between
southern Israel and the mountains of Sinai. Jethro was of
this tribe (Judg. 1:16). He is called a "Midianite" (Num.
10:29), and hence it is concluded that the Midianites and the
Kenites were the same tribe. They were wandering smiths, "the
gipsies and travelling tinkers of the old Oriental world. They
formed an important guild in an age when the art of metallurgy
was confined to a few" (Sayce's Races, etc.). They showed
kindness to Israel in their journey through the wilderness. They
accompanied them in their march as far as Jericho (Judg. 1:16),
and then returned to their old haunts among the Amalekites, in
the desert to the south of Judah. They sustained afterwards
friendly relations with the Israelites when settled in Canaan
(Judg. 4:11, 17-21; 1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29). The Rechabites
belonged to this tribe (1 Chr. 2:55) and in the days of Jeremiah
(35:7-10) are referred to as following their nomad habits. Saul
bade them depart from the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:6) when, in
obedience to the divine commission, he was about to "smite
Amalek." And his reason is, "for ye showed kindness to all the
children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." Thus "God is
not unrighteous to forget the kindnesses shown to his people;
but they shall be remembered another day, at the farthest in the
great day, and recompensed in the resurrection of the just" (M.
Henry's Commentary). They are mentioned for the last time in
Scripture in 1 Sam. 27:10; compare 30:20.