In Breishis 36:2, Rashi says

Oholibamah: She is [identical to] Judith (mentioned above 26:34). He (Esau) nicknamed her Judith (יְהוּדִית) to imply that she denied the validity of idolatry, so that he might deceive his father.

It seems that the reason the name Yehudis was chosen because it signifies being like a Jew (Yehudi). But this name for Jews only started getting used around the time of the Babylonian exile (it is mentioned in Megillas Esther). It's unlikely that Esav prophetically foresaw this. So then why did he choose to name her after one particular son of Yaakov (Yehuda)?

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    – rosends
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 22:51
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/101415/13438
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 23:15
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    @rosends : Can you please summarize that link (as an answer?)
    – user9806
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 23:35
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    Perhaps the simplest answer is not that the name "was chosen because it signifies being like a Jew," but rather that the name itself implies gratitude to and recognition of HaShem (which is also the significance behind Yehuda's own name, B'reishis 29:35).
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


The Gemarah (Megillah 13a) states that the term Yehudi refers to one who rejects idolatry:

רבי יוחנן אמר לעולם מבנימן קאתי ואמאי קרי ליה יהודי על שום שכפר בע"ז שכל הכופר בע"ז נקרא יהודי כדכתיב (דניאל ג, יב) איתי גוברין יהודאין וגו'

The Maharsha cites the Gemarah in Sotah 10a that the name 'Yehuda' is meant to include the four letters of God's name. The implication being that the root of the word connotes a repudiation of idolatry, not necessarily Jewishness though it came to mean that as well.


Rashi says on Genesis 36:2:

אהליבמה. הִיא יְהוּדִית, וְהוּא כִנָּה שְׁמָהּ יְהוּדִית לוֹמַר שֶׁהִיא כּוֹפֶרֶת בַּעֲ"זָ כְּדֵי לְהַטְעוֹת אֶת אָבִיו: אהליבמה OHOLIBAMAH is identical with Judith. He (Esau) changed her name to Judith (Jewess), suggesting that she had abandoned idol-worship, so that he might deceive his father.

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    Isn't this the same quote as brought in the question? Do you have something to add to it?
    – b a
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 21:25

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