2

Genesis 28:9 NIV

9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Genesis 36:2-3 NIV

2 Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite— 3 also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.

In the above texts, these two women are said to be the wives of Esau and both of them are said to be sisters of Nebaoith, but in the other text Basemath is also called the daughter of Elon the Hittite

Genesis 26:34 NIV

34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.

Could this be referring to one and the same person?

2

In Genesis we have two lists of Esau's three wives.

List #1 Gen 26:34, 35, 28:9

  • Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite
  • Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite
  • Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael

List #2 Gen 36:2, 3

  • Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite
  • Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite
  • Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth

These apparently contradictory lists are simple to explain. It was certainly common for people to have more than one name such as Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel and this is also true for women as well. On this basis one might conclude:

  • Judith = Oholibamah
  • Basemath = Adah
  • Mahalath = Basemath

This identification is complicated by the fact that the list of fathers of the three girls is also different.

The safest is to conclude that we do not have enough information about this and the local customs to finally settle this matter.

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