And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law
The posterity of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses; for though Jethro returned to his own country, after he had paid a visit to Moses in the wilderness, yet Hobab his son, at the persuasion of Moses, travelled with him and Israel through the wilderness, and went with them into Canaan, at least some of his descendants, and settled there, some in one part of the land, and some in another, of whom we read in several places of Scripture; they continued to the days of Jeremiah, and then went by the name of Rechabites, so called from Rechab, a descendant of Jethro: these
went up out of the city of palm trees;
from the city of Jericho, as the Targum, so called from the great number of palm trees which grew near it, see ( Deuteronomy 34:3 ) . This is to be understood not of the city itself, that was utterly destroyed by Joshua, and the rebuilding of it was forbidden under a curse, but the country adjacent, the valley in which it stood, which was set with palm trees; here was a grove of palm trees F13, and the garden of balsam, which grew nowhere else, as Strabo F14 says; and who also observes, that here was a royal palace in his time; this belonged to Herod king of Judea in the times of Augustus Caesar, to whose palm tree groves there Horace F15 refers. Here the Kenites first settled when they came first over Jordan with Joshua, being a most pleasant and delightful place, and suitable to such persons who dwelt in tents, as they did, and answered to the promise of Moses to Hobab, ( Numbers 10:29 ) ; and here it seems they had remained to this time: and now they left it, and came
with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah;
which was also a convenient place for the habitation of such persons, who loved a solitary life. Perhaps the Canaanites about Jericho might be troublesome to them, and therefore chose to stay no longer, there; or, having a peculiar affection for the tribe of Judah, they chose to be within their lot; and the rather, as they were a warlike and valiant tribe, they might expect the greater safety and protection among them:
which [lieth], in the south of Arad;
that is, which wilderness of Judah lay there, of which name there was a country or city, see ( Numbers 21:1 ) ( Joshua 12:14 ) ; and here some of them dwelt to the times of Saul, the Amalekites then having got possession of the southern parts, which they infested and were troublesome to, see ( 1 Samuel 15:6 ) ( 30:1 ) ;
and they went and dwelt among the people;
of the tribe of Judah, near some of the cities which were in the wilderness; of which see ( Joshua 15:63 ) .
F13 Justin. e Trogo, l. 36. c. 3.
F14 Geograph. l. 16. p. 525.
F15 Praeferat Herodis. Palmetis Pinguibus----De Arte Poet. ver. 184.