Do any midrashim etc detail the names and background of each the wives of the sons of Jacob?

I know the book of Jubilees does, but that is not considered 'canonical'.

Besides that, I only know of the few mentions we get in the Torah of a couple of the wives and daughters - Judah's Canaanite wife Bat-Shua, then Tamar, and that Joseph married Asenath, who could be either Egyptian or Dinah's daughter by Shechem's rape, depending on interpretation (plus the mention that Asher had a daughter called Serach).

Aish seems to reckon that they generally all married foreign women who converted: https://aish.com/conversion-in-biblical-times/?gclid=CjwKCAjwjMiiBhA4EiwAZe6jQ0dFkz2tQdIIziYfT_LE-4OGOWyu2EgFw4388cqU9pZg2-5ueEV9SBoCYhQQAvD_BwE

I'm aware that there is also the interpretation that each of the Shevatim was born with an accompanying unmentioned sister, but that points towards all of them marrying their half-sisters, which seems a bit much even for the Torah, especially if we go with the tradition that they all followed the laws (or tried to) even before it was given.

Edit: Further on this, Shemida seems to be named as a son of Manasseh according to Numbers 26:32, Joshua 17:2, and 1 Chronicles 7:19. We hear that Manasseh's unnamed wife bears Asriel and that Aramiah/Amoritess concubine bears Machir and that lineage continues to Gilead, but it's then unclear who bore Shemida, Helek, Hepher etc (these all seem to be Manasseh's sons, although I've also seen them described as Gilead's sons). Any clarification?

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    Just note Bat-Shua wasn't her name. Her name isn't given. Her father was Shua and she's referred to as "the daughter of Shua"
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 14:50
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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/78862/759
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 14:51
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    @DoubleAA Thankyou for the link. I was already aware that 'Bat-Shua' = 'daughter of Shua', it was just quicker to write it that way.
    – ANH
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 15:18
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    Ephraim's wife is mentioned in Chronicles 1:7:23, but nameless.
    – Harel13
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 18:48
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    I'm relieved you mentioned that about Miriam I was SO sure that was true and then when I saw in the gemara he married Batya I thought I was crazy. Looks like a stirah in the gemara. Re Joan of Arc, yes that was a joke.
    – Avraham
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


The Torah Shleima to Number 26:59 brings an interesting manuscript midrash that says Levi's wife was named Otah, literally "Her." This is based on the apparently ungrammatical structure of the pasuk:

נט וְשֵׁם אֵשֶׁת עַמְרָם, יוֹכֶבֶד בַּת-לֵוִי, אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה אֹתָהּ לְלֵוִי, בְּמִצְרָיִם; וַתֵּלֶד לְעַמְרָם, אֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-מֹשֶׁה, וְאֵת, מִרְיָם אֲחֹתָם. The name of Amram's wife [was] Yocheved bat Levi, who her (otah) bore to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aharon, Moses, and Miriam their sister.

It would seem the pasuk should have said "hi" (i.e., she) bore rather than "otah" (i.e., her). So the midrash explains that Otah is a proper name, which would make the pasuk grammaical.


The Farhi Bible in the Sassoon Collection (Ms. 368) includes, among other things, a list of the names of ancient matriarchs from the Tanachic period, including those of the wives of the Shevatim. The list was published first by Avraham Harkavy who chanced upon the FB when he visited Damascus and later by David Sassoon, after having purchased the FB from the Farhi family. They had some disagreements on the reading. I'll note Harkavy's differences in parentheses:

  • Reuven's wife: Ada - עדה
  • Shimon's wife: Yiv'ah - יבעה (Harkavy: Yavah - יבה)
  • Levi's wife: Nivnet - נבנת
  • Yehuda's wife: Bat Shua - בת שוע (Harkavy skipped this one)
  • Yissachar's wife: Azekah - עזקה
  • Zevulun's wife: Azani - עזני
  • Dan's wife: Eglah - עגלה
  • Naftali's wife: Retzuyah - רצויה
  • Gad's wife: Ma'achah - מעכה
  • Asher's wife: Yonah - יונה
  • Yosef's wife: Asenat - אסנת (Harkavy skipped this one)
  • Binyamin's wife: Yiskah - יסכה

Sassoon's reading; Harkavy's reading.

Most of the names appear also in Jubilees's list (or very similar variants), but there are a couple of differences:

In Jubilees, Levi's wife is called Milkah and Zevulun's wife is called Niemin, while here they are Nivnet and Azani respectively. And in the FB's list there's no mention of Shimon taking a second wife, as stated in Jubilees.

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