Bene-Kedem (Heb. Beney'-Ke'dem, בּנֵיאּקֶדֶם, "Children of the East"), an appellation given to a people,, or to peoples dwelling to the east of Palestine. It occurs in the following passages of the O.T.:
(1) Ge 29:1, "Jacob came into the land of the people of the East," in which was therefore reckoned Haran.
(2) Job 1:3, Job was "the greatest of all the men of the East." SEE JOB.
(3) Judges 6:3, 33: 7:12; 8:10.
In the first three passages the Bene-Kedem are mentioned together with the Midianites and the Amalekites; and in the fourth the latter peoples seem to be included in this common name: "Now Zebah and Zalmunna [were] in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand [men], all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the East." In the events to which these passages of Judges relate, we find a "curious reference to the language spoken by these Eastern tribes, which was understood by Gideon and his servant (or one of them) as they listened to the talk in the camp; and from this it is to be inferred that they spoke a dialect intelligible to an Israelite- an inference bearing on an affinity of race, and thence on the growth of the Semitic languages.
(4) 1Ki 4:30, "Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East country."
(5) From Isa 11:1; Isa 14, it is difficult to deduce an argument, but in Eze 25:4,10, Ammon is delivered to the "men of the East," and its city, Rabbah, is prophesied to become "a stable for camels, and the Ammonites a couching-place for flocks;" referring, apparently, to the habits of the wandering Arabs; while "palaces" and "dwellings," also mentioned and thus rendered in the Auth. Vers., may be better read "camps" and "tents." The words of Jeremiah (Jer 49:28) strengthen the supposition just mentioned: "Concerning Kedar, and concerning Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, shall smite, thus saith the Lord, Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the East. Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains [i.e. tents], and all their vessels, and their camels." Opinions are divided as to the extension of the appellation of Bene-Kedem; some (as Rosenmuller and Winer) holding that it came to signify the Arabs generally. From a consideration of the passages above cited and that which makes mention of the land of Kedem, Ge 25:6, SEE ISHMAEL, we think (with Gesenius) that it primarily signified the peoples of the Arabian deserts (east of Palestine and Lower Egypt), and chiefly the tribes of Ishmael and of Keturah, extending perhaps to Mesopotamia and Babylonia (to which we may suppose Kedem to apply in Nu 23:7, as well as in Isa 2:6); and that it was sometimes applied to the Arabs and their country generally. The only positive instance of this latter signification of Kedem occurs in Ge 10:30, where "Sephar, a mount of the East," is by the common agreement of scholars situate in Southern Arabia. SEE ARABIA; SEE SEPHAR.
In the O.T., עֲרָבָ, "Arabia," with its conjugate forms, seems to be a name of the peoples otherwise called Bene-Kedem, and with the same limitations. The same may be observed of ἡ άνατολή, "the East," in the N.T. (Mt 2:1 sq.). The Hebrews word 'Kedem," with its adjuncts (in the passages above referred to), is translated by the Sept. and in the Vulg., and sometimes transcribed (Κεδέμ) by the former, except the Sept. in 1Ki 4:30, and Sept. and Vulg. in Isa 2:6, where they make Kedem to relate to ancient time. SEE EAST.