🔼The name Kenizzite: Summary
- Hunter, Trapper
- From the verb קנז (qanaz), to hunt or snare.
🔼The name Kenizzite in the Bible
The Kenizzites were an ancient tribe who lived somewhere in the Levant long before Abraham settled in Canaan, which are mentioned along with the Kenites (קיני) and the Kadmonites (קדמני) and other, better known peoples (Genesis 15:19).
That is to say, it's generally understood that the list of nations whose territories would transfer to the descendants of Abraham were tribes or kingdoms that had to be engaged in warfare, but that's because folklore commonly understands Abraham to be a biological ancestor and theological pioneer and hero. In the he Bible (and observable reality for that matter) Abraham is a modus operandi, namely that of international trade, from which arose the perfection of language, script and eventually science, advanced technology, the internet and space travel.
Likewise the Kenizzites may not actually have been a populous gene pool deriving from some shared ancestor named Keniz or Kenaz (because that's implied in the name) but rather a recognizable and consistent way for relatively primitive people to exist. This modus operandi in turn follows naturally from the abilities, desires and concerns of human beings, which should be expected to be highly similar anywhere in the world, which in turn suggests that the Kenizzites were not even necessarily related or even aware of each other.
The only Kenizzite of whom we know the name is Jephunneh the Kenizzite, the father of Caleb, the friend of Joshua (Numbers 32:12). This is rather significant because Joshua and Caleb were the only two men who survived the wandering years of Israel in the wilderness. Only Joshua of Ephraim and Caleb the Kenizzite of Judah both personally remembered Egypt and as they settled in the Promised Land. Caleb additionally inherited the ancient city of Hebron, which would be the capital of Israel until king David moved it to Jerusalem.
🔼Etymology of the name Kenizzite
The verbs קנז (qanaz) and קנץ (qanas) are both assumed to be transliterations of the same cognate verb that means to hunt, snare or capture. Besides two names that derive from קנז (qanaz), a noun קנץ (qanas) occurs only in Job 18:2 and is assumed to describe a snare or other such implement of the hunt.
The name Kenizzite means Hunter or Trapper but is a name like Fisherman or Troglodyte or Tanner or Metallurgist or Technician (which was the profession of Jesus and Joseph; τεκτων, tekton). It doesn't describe physical descent but an occupational niche that would ultimately be absorbed into the world wide market of human trade. Since the Bible is only interested in the evolution of the wisdom tradition (rather than politics or biological descent) the nature of Kenizzite should be understood to relate to wisdom.
Just like Jesus taught his disciples to be "fishers of men", so should the Kenizzite be understood to be a "hunter of men" and just like the legendary Nimrod was a "mighty hunter before YHWH" so were the Kenizzites known for their contribution to the greater world of human interaction and exchange that would ultimately form the crib within which the Word of God could assume human form.