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Esau’s descendents: Genesis 36 and parts of Chronicles

There are several accounts of Esau’s choice of wives. One has him taking three wives by the time Jacob fled to his Uncle Laban, with the third being NOT a Canaanite in an effort to please his parents:

  • Judith and Basemath from Hittite families
  • Mahalath, whose father was Ishmael

But the repentence, such as it was, might have been shortlived. Esau might have married more women, but we don’t know when:

Genesis 36:2—3 Esau married two young women from Canaan: Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite. He also married his cousin Basemath, who was the daughter of Ishmael and the sister of Nebaioth.

So now we have possibly three more wives

  • Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite (making her Basemath’s sister)
  • Basemath, daughter of Ishmael
  • Oholibamah, daughter of Anah the Hivite.

All up, it seems Esau had somewhere between three and six wives, depending on how you interpret the various records in various places of Genesis. There are issues with conflicting accounts of which families Basemath come from, possible alternative names of the wives (and maybe their fathers), questions about whether two women had the same name by coincidence, and a competitiveness that could have led Esau to marry two sets of sisters and ‘beat’ Jacob in the sister-marrying stakes.

This is covered quite well in Ishmael’s daughters and the riddle of Esau’s wives. It worth reading just for Esau’s possible family trees.