Biblical Nations - Obscure People Groups

Now that we have completed our look at the early inhabitants of Canaan prior to its conquest by the children of Israel, I want to take one post to address some of the minor groups who are mentioned in Scripture.  Although we are given names of many tribes and nations, sometimes there simply isn't enough information or history to conclusively place or identify.  In fact, some of them may actually represent titles or designations that do not refer to genealogy or location at all, although I have attempted to remove some of the names that seem to fit that description.

Ashurites - 2 Samuel 2:8-9 - After the death of Saul, his son Ish-bosheth engaged in a lengthy war of succession against David.  Despite the similar name, this group of people is probably not descended from Abraham's son, Asshurim, who was born to Keturah after the death of Sarah.  The Ashurites were listed, however, as one of the tribes under the rule of Ish-bosheth alongside the people of Israel.

Elkoshites - Nahum 1:1 - Although not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, the prophet Nahum is listed as an Elkoshite.  Assuming he was an Israelite by genealogy, it can be assumed that Elkosh was the name of a city or region, but no such location is mentioned in the Bible or other writings. 

Gammadim - Ezekiel 27:11 - During the destruction of Tyre, the prophet Ezekiel mentions men from Gamad as being in the city's towers.  Although they participated in the defense of an acclaimed city, no locations are known that match the description.  At least some scholars believe the Hebrew consonants align with the Canaanite tribe of the Zemarites, who were mentioned briefly in last week's study. 

Horonites - Nehemiah 2:19 - A nemesis of Nehemiah named Sanballat is described as a Horonite.  This designation may reference a city in Samaria, Beth-Horon, or in Moab, Horonaim.  As both the Samaritans and Moabites were enemies of the Hebrew remnant, either would be plausible. 

Maonites - Judges 10:12 - One of the groups that opposed Israel during the time of the judges was Maon.  Several cities have been connected to this group, including Ma'an, Beth-meon, and Baal-meon.  The sites spam from Arabia to southern Judah, but no conclusive evidence has allowed for a single location to be determined. 

Paltites - 2 Samuel 23:26 - One of David's mighty men was Helez the Paltite.  He may have been a non-Hebrew from Beth-Pelet fighting for Israel's king, as many of the other men of valor were.  Or he could have been associated with a clan descended from Caleb known as Pelet.  A parallel passage in 1 Chronicles uses the term Pelonite, which would tie Helez with another warrior named Ahijah.

Next week I will shift our focus to look into some of the major groups that either oppressed or fully controlled the children of Israel during their history.  I hope you'll continue following along! 


  1. Who were the ones you omitted?

    1. Apharsathchites, Chemarims, and various subgroups of the Israelites that are listed as descendants of specific individuals. There are also names among the servants of Solomon that don't have Hebrew names but their designation could either be based on genealogy or unknown places.


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