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Kedemites or Easterners

KEDEMITES OR EASTERNERS (Heb. בְּנֵי קֶדֶם (benei kedem, bene qedem), adjective qadmoni, קַדְמֹנִי; Gen. 15:19) is a general designation for the peoples living on the eastern border of Syria and Palestine, from as far north as Haran (Gen. 29:1–4) to as far south as the northern end of the Red Sea (Gen. 25:1–6). In Israelite ethnology, all these peoples, and the Ishmaelites as well, who ranged from the border of Egypt to Assyria (i.e., the Middle Euphrates), and who included the inhabitants of Tema and Dumah (Gen. 25:12–18), were all related. Their center of dispersion was the Middle Euphrates region – called Aram-Naharaim (Gen. 24:10; Deut. 23:5), Paddan-Aram (Gen. 28:2, 5, 6, 7; 31:18 (or Paddan, Gen. 48:7)), "the country Aram" (Hos. 12:13), or simply Aram (Num. 23:7). From here Abraham and Lot moved to Canaan (Gen. 12:5). Lot eventually moved to Transjordan and became the ancestor of Moab and Ammon (Gen. 19:30ff.), while Abraham became the ancestor of all the other Kedemites, including the Ishmaelites, and of the Israelites as well. His son Isaac and the latter's son Jacob-Israel married wives from Abraham's original home-land, where Jacob even lived for 20 years. Hence the confession, "My father was a wandering/ fugitive Aramean who migrated to Egypt" (Deut. 26:5). The Israelites acknowledged all those peoples as their kin in contrast to the Canaanites. The Kedemites enjoyed among the Israelites a great reputation for wisdom. Not only does David quote a Kedemite proverb which he characterizes as such, but the wisdom of the Kedemites is rated only lower than Solomon's though higher than that of the Egyptians (I Kings 5:10), and Isaiah represents the Egyptian king's wise men as seeking to impress him by claiming descent from sages of Kedem (this, not "of old," is the meaning of qedem in Isa. 19:11). A wise instruction by the mother of a Kedemite king, *Lemuel , to her royal son is preserved, according to the superscription, in Proverbs 31:1–9; for Massa is the name of an Ishmaelite tribe (Gen. 25:14; on the Aramaizing diction, see *Job ). *Agur son of Jakeh was doubtless of the same nationality as Lemuel, according to Proverbs 30:1, where ha-massa'i, "the Massaite," is to be read. The reputed wisdom of the Edomites (included among the Kedemites in Isa. 11:14) is alluded to in Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 7 end, 8.


M. Cogan, I Kings (AB; 2000), 220.

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.