Bereishit (Genesis) chapter 26 and Genesis 36 state different names for the wives of Esav (Esau). What are the different explanations to this problem? (Biblical Criticism explains this as two different traditions.) What are the traditional explanations to the problem?


There are basically two lists of wives and each one contains 3 names. Traditional sources differ on exactly how to answer the contradiction, with the opinions ranging from Esau having 3,4,5, or 6 wives all together. See http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/424/jbq_424_Kleinwivesofesau.pdf for an article which summarizes these views.

  • I have never seen a suggestion of him having more than 3, just they had pseudonyms and the Basemath in each case is a different one which makes it more complex. 2 were hittite women and the other was the daughter of Yishmael. – CashCow Sep 30 '15 at 11:02
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    Ok, so I suggest you read the article I linked to. – Reb Chaim HaQoton Sep 30 '15 at 16:25
  • That is interesting. I am curious as why Rashi describes the daughter of Yishmael as "another unsuitable wife". I don't know how righteous she was and obviously she didn't reform Eisav but her heritage seems fine.. – CashCow Sep 30 '15 at 16:38
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    Summary of the paper: Rashi takes them to be the same women listed under different names. Sefer ha-Yashar and others maintain that Esau had four wives, since they refuse to identify Judith and Oholibamah as the same woman. Nahmanides mostly agrees, with the caveat that Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite were not identical but sisters. In his view, therefore, Esau took five wives. Abraham Maimuni utterly rejects the notion of the Bible mentioning Esau's wives under different names. His explanation is that Esau had a total of six wives. – Eliezer Steinbock Oct 4 '15 at 11:55

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