It seems there is a dispute regarding the names of Ishmael's 1st and 2nd wife.

According to Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer 30:6, Ishmael's first wife is Ayesha עישה from the daughters of Moav. ibid 2nd wife is Fatima פטימה (from Hagar's father's house).

However Sefer HaYashar holds that this first wife was called either Minbah, Merisa מריסה, or Meribah. Was unable to find the name of second wife in Sefer HaYashar.

  1. Why do the names differ from Perkei d'Rabbi Eliezer and Sefer HaYashar?

  2. Is this a case of the same person with different names?

  3. Is there an an alternative name for Fatima?

  4. Why are there 3 different spellings for Ishmael's 1st wife via Sefer HaYashar?



Sefar HaYashar; M.M. Noah (Mordechai Manuel), 1785-1851

Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities, p. 22 "Avraham"; Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer 30


1 Answer 1


I have only found a scientific paper on the issue, so you should definitely consult your rabbi about it. There seem to be two traditions, one is in the Sefer haYashar (Parashat Vayera):

ותיקח הגר לבנה אישה ממצרים ושמה מריסה. ותהר אשת ישמעאל, ותלד לו ארבעה בנים ובת אחת.‏

And Hagar took for her son a wife from among the ‎Egyptians, and her name was Minbah (sic!). And Ishmael’s wife conceived, and she bare unto him four sons ‎and one daughter.‎

There are various spellings of the names in the different manuscripts and editions, which is not unusual at all (possibly scribal errors), and even in the Torah we know many people having different names (Jacob and Israel to mention a famous one). The same work in another chapter names the wives as (Parashat Chayei Sarah):

ויקח ישמעאל אישה מארץ מצרים ושמה ריבה, היא מריסה. ותלד ריבה לישמעאל את נביות ואת קדר ואת אדביאל ואת מבשם ואת בשמת אחותם. ויגרש ישמעאל את ריבה ותלך מאיתו ותשב מצרימה בית אביה, כי היתה רעה מאוד בעיני ישמעאל ובעיני אברהם אביו. ויקח ישמעאל את בניו, ויקם וילך ארצה כנען אל אברהם אביו וישב שם. ואחר לקח ישמעאל אישה מארץ כנען ושמה מלכית, ותלד לו את משמע ואת דומה ואת משא ואת חדד ואת תימא ואת יטור ואת גפיש ואת קדמה.

And Ishmael took a wife from the land of Egypt, and her ‎name was Ribah, the same is Meribah (sic!). And Ribah bare unto Ishmael: Nebayoth, and Kedar, ‎and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and their sister Bosmath. And Ishmael disowned his wife Ribah, and ‎she went from him and returned to Egypt to the house of her father, and she dwelt there, for ‎she had been very wicked in the sight of Ishmael, and in the sight of his father Abraham. And ‎Ishmael afterward took a wife from the land of Canaan, and her name was Malchuth (sic!), and she ‎bare unto him: Nishma, and Dumah, and Masa, and Chadad, and Tema, and Yetur, and ‎Naphish, and Kedma.

These are obviously “speaking names” (or charactonyms), as riv and merivah means quarrel in Hebrew (hinting at Abraham's visit and the woman's unpleasant personality), while rivah means maiden. The other tradition can be found in Targum Pseudo-Yonathan (Bereishit 21:21):

וְיָתִיב בְּמַדְבְּרָא דְפָּארָן וּנְסֵיב אִתְּתָא יַת עֲדִישָׁא וְתֵרְכָהּ וּנְסִיבַת לֵיהּ אִמֵיהּ יַת פְּטִימָא אִתְּתָא מֵאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם.‏

And he dwelt in the wilderness of Pharan, and took for a wife Adisha, but put her away. And his mother took for him Phatima to wife, from the land of Mizraim.

In Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer (30:6) we find the same names:

שלח ישמעאל ולקח לו אשה מבנות מואב ועישה שמה. (...) והבין ישמעאל, ושלחה אמו ולקחה לו אשה מבית אביה, ופטימה שמה.‏

Ishmael sent for a wife from among the daughters of Moab, and 'Ayeshah was her name. (...) Ishmael understood, and his mother sent and took for him a wife from her father's house, and her name was Fatimah.

Scientists claim that there may be an Arabic influence in these latter midrashim, because Aisha was one of Muhammad's wives and Fatimah was his daughter, while the story of Abraham visiting his son is known from Arabic sources as well. It is very hard to tell, who had the story and the names first, but it seems quite plausible that the names were taken over from Arabic. Nevertheless, the identical stories about the visits suggest that the two pair of women are the same.

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