#67. Who were Esau’s wives: Judith and Basemath OR Adah, Aholibamah, and Basemath? (Gen 26:34 vs Gen 36:2-3)


Back to looking at some of the discrepancies in the book of Genesis’ genealogical lists (see also #7, #8-9, #20-21, #23).

Genesis 26:34 states that Esau’s wives were: 1) Judith daughter of the Hittite Beeri, and 2) Basemath, daughter of the Hittite Elon.

Genesis 36:2-3 lists: 1) Adah, daughter of the Hittite Elon, 2) Aholibamah, daughter of the Hivite Zibeon, and 3) Basemath, but here daughter of Ishmael.

Both of these passages are normally attributed to P. So perhaps there was some variation within the Priestly tradition itself. We can also visibly see that details in one tradition get presented in a different manner in the other tradition. Namely, there seems to have been some confusion over Basemath, and whose daughter she was!

On the other hand, the former passage, Genesis 26:34, is part and parcel to P’s continuous narrative (Gen 26:34-35 + 27:46-28:9) where Esau is used as a negative example of what happens when one practices exogamy—namely, they lose their inheritance and are “cut off” from the covenantal community (see #48).

The latter text, Genesis 36:2-3 comes within a larger section of Esau’s/Edom‘s full genealogy. It is quite possible that the Priestly author who penned the narratives now contained in Genesis and the Priestly author who penned these non-narrative genealogical sections were different authors, writing at different times.

At any rate, the two lists are contradictory, even if the whos, hows, and whys elude us.

5 thoughts on “#67. Who were Esau’s wives: Judith and Basemath OR Adah, Aholibamah, and Basemath? (Gen 26:34 vs Gen 36:2-3)

  1. Look like there were 2 Aholibamah namely:

    1)Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon
    …and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite Gen 36:2; Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon Gen 36:14

    2)Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the son of Seir
    These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan Gen 36:20-21
    and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah.Gen 36:26

    Do you see any contradiction here?

  2. Here are the relevant passages:

    Genesis 26:34:
    34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite;

    Genesis 29:8-9
    8So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please his father Isaac, 9Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, and sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

    Genesis 36:2-5
    36:1These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom). 2Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah son of Zibeon the Hivite, 3and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth.

    Note that in the first reference, Esau marries two Canaanite women. In the second, “in addition to the [Canaanite] wives he had,” he adds an Ishmaelite woman. We would expect a summary of Esau’s wives to include one Ishmaelite and two Canaanites, and that is precisely what the third reference says! The various harmonization attempts, which claim that Esau gave some wives different names or that he had anywhere from four to six wives, add unneeded assumptions. More likely is that it was known that Esau took an Ishmaelite wife after taking two Canaanite wives, and and their exact names and ancestry circulated as different traditions.

  3. To understand the confusion of Esau’s wives, one must consider ALL scriptures referring to the particular topic. The Book of Jasher (which the KJV bible makes reference to in 2 Samuel 1:18 and Joshua 10:13) clears this up.

    1. Judith/Jehudith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite. (Genesis 26:34)

    **[Jasher 28:22] “And Esau there saw in the land of Seir the daughter of a man of Canaan, and her name was Jehudith, the daughter of Beeri, son of Epher, from the families of Heth the son of Canaan.”

    2. Bashemath/Bosmath/Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite. (Genesis 26:34; 36:2)

    **[Jasher 29:12] “And when Esau saw that Jacob had fled and escaped from him, and that Jacob had cunningly obtained the blessing, then Esau grieved exceedingly, and he was also vexed at his father and mother; and he also rose up and took his wife and went away from his father and mother to the land of Seir, and he dwelt there; and Esau saw there a woman from amongst the daughters of Heth whose name was Bosmath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and he took her for a wife in addition to his first wife, and Esau called her name Adah, saying the blessing had in that time passed from him.”

    3. Mahalath/Machlath/Bashemath/Bosmath, the daughter of Ishmael, the sister of Nebajoth/Nebayoth. (Genesis 28:9; changed to Bashemath in Ch 36:3)

    **[Jasher 29:43] “Then he went to the house of Ishmael his uncle, and in addition to his older wives he took Machlath the daughter of Ishmael, the sister of Nebayoth, for a wife.”

    >>>Here Mahalath/Machlath’s name was changed to Bashemath/Bosmath<<<

    **[Jasher 30:17] "And in the third year of Jacob's dwelling in Haran, Bosmath, the daughter of Ishmael, the wife of Esau, bare unto him a son, and Esau called his name Reuel."

    4. Aholibamah/Ahlibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. (Genesis 36:2)

    **[Jasher 30:24] "And in the sixth year Esau took for a wife, in addition to his other wives, Ahlibamah, the daughter of Zebeon the Hivite, and Esau brought her to the land of Canaan."

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