Genesis 36:2
Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(2) Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite.—In Genesis 26:34, she is called “Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite,” and is placed second. Here she is everywhere placed first. We do not often elsewhere find women possessed of two names, but it has not been sufficiently borne in mind that she was a Hittite, and her own name in her own language neither Adah nor Bashemath. As Adah means ornament, and Bashemath sweet-scented, both may possibly have been terms of endearment, arising from modifications of her Hittite name.

Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite.—She is supposed to answer to Judith the daughter of “Beeri the Hittite,” in Genesis 26:34. But in Genesis 36:24-25, we find her genealogy given again, and Zibeon, the father of Anah, the father of Aholibamah, is there described as a Horite. Now, as Hivi (Hivite) and Hori (Horite) differ in Hebrew only in the length of the top of the middle letter, and as mistakes in the transcription of Biblical names are of constant occurrence, it seems certain that Aholibamah was a Horite, and therefore, entirely distinct from Judith. Judith, the first wife, apparently had no children, and hence arose the temptation to Esau to marry some one besides. Hence, too, Adah comes in her proper order, as being the first wife who had sons; and Eliphaz as the son of the first wife who had children, has the right of primogeniture. Hence, too, Aholibamah in the genealogy is always placed third. She was the fourth and last wife taken, and her children are placed after those of Bashemath. And this was a matter of far too great importance in a genealogy for there to be any mistake made in it. And now we see the reason for giving the genealogy of the Horites, and also why Esau took the Horite land for a possession. In some expedition into the country of Seir, Esau had married the daughter of one of the dukes there, and through her had acquired a right to ducal rank. Through her family, moreover, he had friendly relations with one portion at least of the Horite people. Our knowledge of the princely Hittites has of late been too largely increased for us to be able to connect a Horite race with them, and Rebekah distinctly calls Judith and Adah-Bashemath daughters of Heth. Excepting the Semites, no race in Palestine stands so high as the Hittites, and no race so low as the Horites. But their rulers were probably of a higher breed; and Esau’s invasions of their country, his final settlement there, and the introduction of the genealogy of “Seir the Horite,” together with Aholibamah’s place as the last of Esau’s wives, all are facts which strongly confirm the supposition of his having contracted a Horite marriage during Jacob’s absence in Padan-aram.

The meanness of the Horites is not a deduction merely from their having dwelt in caves, for the country is so admirably adapted to this mode of living that it still exists there; but they are omitted from the table of nations in Genesis 10, and seem generally to have been a feeble aboriginal race.

36:1-43 Esau and his descendants. - The registers in this chapter show the faithfulness of God to his promise to Abraham. Esau is here called Edom, that name which kept up the remembrance of his selling his birth-right for a mess of pottage. Esau continued the same profane despiser of heavenly things. In outward prosperity and honour, the children of the covenant are often behind, and those that are out of the covenant get the start. We may suppose it a trial to the faith of God's Israel, to hear of the pomp and power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt; but those that look for great things from God, must be content to wait for them; God's time is the best time. Mount Seir is called the land of their possession. Canaan was at this time only the land of promise. Seir was in the possession of the Edomites. The children of this world have their all in hand, and nothing in hope, Lu 16:25; while the children of God have their all in hope, and next to nothing in hand. But, all things considered, it is beyond compare better to have Canaan in promise, than mount Seir in possession.Esau took his wives. - From the word "his" we conclude that this sentence does not refer to his marrying these wives, but to his taking them with him when he removed from Kenaan. Hence, the sentence, after being interrupted by the intervening particulars, is resumed and completed in the sixth verse. The date of this event is therefore, some time after Jacob's flight to Padan-aram, and before his return. The daughter of Ishmael he only married after Jacob's departure, and by her he had one son who was born in Kenaan. We may therefore, suppose that, about eighteen years after Jacob's flight, Isaac had assigned to Esau a sufficient stock of cattle and goods for a separate establishment, the extent of Esau's portion and of that which Isaac had reserved for Jacob had become so great as to demand pasture grounds widely removed from one another, and Esau's former habits and his last matrimonial alliances had drawn him toward Mount Seir. He married his first wives when he was forty years of age Genesis 26:34, and as Jacob was seventy-seven when he left his home, at eighteen years after that date, Esau had been fifty-five years married to his first two wives, and somewhat less than eighteen to Ishmael's daughter.

Of the daughters of Kenaan. - This refers to the two following wives mentioned in this verse, and distinguishes them from the third, mentioned in the following verse, who is of the family of Ishmael. "Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite." On comparing the account of his two wives whom he married at forty with the present, the first, namely, Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, no longer appears either by her own name, that of her father, or that of her tribe. Hence, we presume that in the course of the past forty-seven years she has died without male issue. This presumption is favored by the circumstance that the daughter of Elon the Hittite is now advanced into the first place. If it seems undesirable to anyone to make any presumption of this kind, we have only to say that in the absence of the connecting links in a historical statement like this, we must make some supposition to show the possibility of the events related. The presumption we have made seems easier and therefore, more likely than that the names of the individual, the father and the tribe, should be all different, and the order of the two wives reversed, and yet that the same person should be intended; and hence, we have adopted it as a possible arrangement, leaving to others the preference of any other possibility that may be suggested. For after all it should be remembered that testimony only could determine what were the actual circumstances. She who was formerly called Basemath appears here with the name of Adah. At a time when proper names were still significant, the application of more than one name to the same individual was not unusual.

Oholibamah, daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibon the Hivite. - This may have been the fourth wife of Esau in the order of time, though she is here classed with the daughter of Elon, because she was of the daughters of Kenaan. "Daughter of Zibon" means his granddaughter, by the mother's side. "The Hivite" Genesis 10:17. Zibon is thus distinguished from the Horite of the same name Genesis 36:20. The Hivite race we have already met with at Shekem Genesis 34:2. They also held four cities a short way north of Jerusalem, of which Gihon was the chief Joshua 9:3, Joshua 9:7,Joshua 9:17. It was easy, therefore, for Anah the Horite to marry the daughter of Zibon the Hivite. "Basemath," previously called Mahalath.

2, 3. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan—There were three, mentioned under different names; for it is evident that Bashemath is the same as Mahalath (Ge 28:9), since they both stand in the relation of daughter to Ishmael and sister to Nebajoth; and hence it may be inferred that Adah is the same as Judith, Aholibamah as Bathsemath (Ge 26:34). It was not unusual for women, in that early age, to have two names, as Sarai was also Iscah [Ge 11:29]; and this is the more probable in the case of Esau's wives, who of course would have to take new names when they went from Canaan to settle in mount Seir. If this account be compared with that Genesis 26:34, we shall find some difficulties, which yet admit of an easy reconciliation, if these things be considered.

1. That it is very usual, and confessed by all, that the same persons are oft called by several names.

2. That the names of some persons are in Scripture given to others, because of a great resemblance between them. Upon which account the parents of the Israelites are called Armorites and Hittites, Ezekiel 16:3; and the governors of Jerusalem are called the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10; and John the Baptist is called Elias, Matthew 17:12.

3. That the same men ere ofttimes denominated from several countries, as Christ is noted to have a threefold country in Scripture; Bethlehem by his birth, Nazareth by his education, and Capernaum by his much residence and preaching there.

4. That the same names are sometimes common to men and women.

5. That persons are called the children, not only of their immediate parents, but of their grandparents, and of those who adopted them. These things premised, the seeming contradictions objected by infidels do vanish. She who was properly called Judith, Genesis 26:24, is here called Aholibamah, a name which seems to be given her either by Isaac or by Moses, from her settledness in her idolatrous courses. And Adah was also called Bashemath, Genesis 26:34; and Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter, was called Bashemath, either because in her principles and manners she resembled Esau’s other wife so called, or to show that Ishmael’s marriage to a third wife was no less opprobrious to him and displeasing to his parents than the former.

Anah, a man, and the son of Zibeon, as appears from Genesis 35:24, called here a Hivite, is called Beeri the Hittite, Genesis 26:34, either because those two people were mixed together in habitation and by marriage, or because the one people were larger than the other, and comprehended under their name, or because he was a Hivite by birth, a Hittite by habitation or incorporation with them. Hence also we may learn how Aholibamah here comes to be the daughter both of Anah and of Zibeon; the one being either the natural or proper father, and the other either the grandfather, or father by adoption.

And Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan,.... Of the Canaanites, the posterity of cursed Canaan, most of them were of them, though not all, the two following were, and so those, if different from them in Genesis 26:34, one of his wives was of the family of Ishmael, as after related:

Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; according to Jarchi and Aben Ezra, this is the same with Bashemath, Genesis 26:34; and that she had two names:

and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; the daughter of the one, and the granddaughter of the other, it being usual in Scripture to call grandchildren children, for Zibeon and Anah were father and son, Genesis 36:24; and the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Syriac versions read here, "the daughter of Anah the son of Zibeon": there are an Anah and a Zibeon who were brethren, Genesis 36:20; wherefore Aben Ezra supposes that these two brothers, or the father and son, lay with the same woman, and it could not be known whose child it was that was born of her, and therefore this was called the daughter of them both. Jarchi supposes this wife of Esau to be the same with Judith, Genesis 26:34; but not only the names differ, but also the names of their fathers, and of the tribe or nation they were of.

Esau took his wives of the {b} daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

(b) Besides those wives spoken of in Ge 26:34.

2. Esau took his wives] The list of Esau’s wives in this chapter does not agree with that in Genesis 26:34 and Genesis 28:9.

(a) In this passage and in Genesis 36:9-14 Esau’s wives are (1) Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite; (2) Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; (3) Basemath, the daughter of Ishmael, and sister of Nebaioth.

(b) In Genesis 26:34 (P) and Genesis 28:9 (P) Esau’s wives are (1) Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite; (2) Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite; (3) Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, and sister of Nebaioth. Thus there are two widely differing versions of P tradition. For the differences are too considerable to have arisen from corruptions in the text.

Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite] “Daughter,” as in Genesis 36:14. But the reading “son” is found in LXX, Sam. and Syr. Pesh., and is to be preferred; see Genesis 36:24. “Daughter” is probably a correction, on the assumption that “Anah” was a feminine name.

the Hivite] For “Hivite” should be read “Horite,” if the Anah of Genesis 36:2 be the same as the Anah in Genesis 36:24. Probably, in Genesis 36:25, “the daughter of Anah” has been introduced as a gloss.

Verses 2, 3. - Esau took his wives (the expression refers in this place not to the marriage, but to the removal, of his wives) of the daughters of Canaan; - i.e. who were of the daughters of Canaan (vide Genesis 26:34) - Adah - "Ornament," "Beauty" (Gesenius); the name also of one of Lamech's wives (cf. Genesis 4:19) - the daughter of Elon - "Oak" (Gesenius) - the Hittite, and Aholibamah - "Tent of the High Place" (Gesenius) - the daughter of Anah - "Answering" (Gesenius) - the daughter - i.e. the grand-daughter, though, after the LXX. and the Samaritan, some read the son, as in ver. 24 (Gesenius, Kalisch, Furst, et alii) - of Zibeon - "Colored" (Gesenius); "Wild," "Robber" (Furst) - the Hivite; and Bashemath - "Sweet-smelling" (Gesenius) - Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth - "High Place" (Gesenius). The difference between this account and that previously given (Genesis 26:34; Genesis 28:9) will appear at a glance by setting the two lists of wives in parallel columns: - 1. Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite. 1. Aholibamah, daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. 2. Bashemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 2. Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 3. Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, sister of Nebajoth. 3. Bashemath, Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth. The two lists agree in saying

(1) that Esau had three wives,

(2) that one of them was the daughter of Elon the Hittite,

(3) that another of them was Ishmael's daughter, the sister of Nebajoth, and

(4) that the name of one of them was Bashemath.

The discrepancy between the two is greatest in respect of the first wife, who appears with a different name and a different parentage in the two lists; while with reference to the second and the third wives, it is only the difference of name that requires to be accounted for. Now since the two lists belong to the so-called Elohistic document (Tuch, Bleak, Stahelin, Davidson, et alii), the hypothesis must be discarded "that the Hebrew text, though containing several important coincidences, evidently embodies two accounts irreconcilably different" (Kalisch) - a conclusion which can only be maintained by ascribing to the author the most absolute literary incompetence. Equally the conjecture must be set aside that the two lists refer to different persons, the second three being names of wives which Esau took on the decease of the first. The solutions that appear most entitled to acceptance, though all are more or less conjectural, proceed upon the supposition that Esau had only three wives, or at most four.

1. On the hypothesis that Esau had not more than three wives, it is only needful to presume that each of them had two names, a not unusual circumstance in Oriental countries (Rosenmüller, Havernick) - one of them, probably that contained in the present list, bestowed on the occasion of marriage; and that Anah, the father of Aholibamah, was the same person with Beeri, or the Well-Man, who received that cognomen from the incident related in ver. 24, viz., that he discovered certain hot springs while feeding his father's asses (Hengstenberg, Keil, Kurtz) - the peculiarity that in one place (Genesis 26:34) he is styled a Hittite, in another (Genesis 36:2) a Hivite, and in a third (Genesis 36:20) a Horite, being explained by the conjecture that the first was the generic term for the race, the second the specific designation of the tribe, and the third the particular name for the inhabitants of the district to which he belonged (Keil, Lange, 'Speaker s Commentary).

2. Another solution gives to Esau four wives, by supposing Judith to have died without issue (Murphy, Jacobus), or, in consequence of being childless, though still living, to have been passed over in silence in the former genealogical register (Quarry), and Aholibamah to have been the fourth partner whom Esau espoused. The Samaritan version reads Mahalath for Bashemath in the second list, which it regards as an error of transcription (W. L. Alexander in Kitto's ' Cyclopedia'); while others think that Adah has been written by inadvertence for Bashemath (Inglis)'; but such conjectures are as unnecessary as they are manifestly arbitrary. Genesis 36:2Esau's Wives and Children. His Settlement in the Mountains of Seir. - In the heading (Genesis 36:1) the surname Edom is added to the name Esau, which he received at his birth, because the former became the national designation of his descendants. - Genesis 36:2, Genesis 36:3. The names of Esau's three wives differ from those given in the previous accounts (Genesis 26:34 and Genesis 28:9), and in one instance the father's name as well. The daughter of Elon the Hittite is called Adah (the ornament), and in Genesis 26:34 Basmath (the fragrant); the second is called Aholibamah (probably tent-height), the daughter of Anah, daughter, i.e., grand-daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and in Genesis 26:34, Jehudith (the praised or praiseworthy), daughter of Beeri the Hittite; the third, the daughter of Ishmael, is called Basmath here and Mahalath in Genesis 28:9. This difference arose from the fact, that Moses availed himself of genealogical documents for Esau's family and tribe, and inserted them without alteration. It presents no irreconcilable discrepancy, therefore, but may be explained from the ancient custom in the East, of giving surnames, as the Arabs frequently do still, founded upon some important or memorable event in a man's life, which gradually superseded the other name (e.g., the name Edom, as explained in Genesis 25:30); whilst as a rule the women received new names when they were married (cf. Chardin, Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. ii. p. 223-6). The different names given for the father of Aholibamah or Judith, Hengstenberg explains by referring to the statement in Genesis 36:24, that Anah, the son of Zibeon, while watching the asses of his father in the desert, discovered the warm springs (of Calirrhoe), on which he founds the acute conjecture, that from this discovery Anah received the surname Beeri, i.e., spring-man, which so threw his original name into the shade, as to be the only name given in the genealogical table. There is no force in the objection, that according to Genesis 36:25 Aholibamah was not a daughter of the discoverer of the springs, but of his uncle of the same name. For where is it stated that the Aholibamah mentioned in Genesis 36:25 was Esau's wife? And is it a thing unheard of that aunt and niece should have the same name? If Zibeon gave his second son the name of his brother Anah (cf. Genesis 36:24 and Genesis 36:20), why could not his son Anah have named his daughter after his cousin, the daughter of his father's brother? The reception of Aholibamah into the list of the Seirite princes is no proof that she was Esau's wife, but may be much more naturally supposed to have arisen from the same (unknown) circumstance as that which caused one of the seats of the Edomitish Alluphim to be called by her name (Genesis 36:41). - Lastly, the remaining diversity, viz., that Anah is called a Hivite in Genesis 36:2 and a Hittite in Genesis 26:34, is not to be explained by the conjecture, that for Hivite we should read Horite, according to Genesis 36:20, but by the simple assumption that Hittite is used in Genesis 26:34 sensu latiori for Canaanite, according to the analogy of Joshua 1:4; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; just as the two Hittite wives of Esau are called daughters of Canaan in Genesis 28:8. For the historical account, the general name Hittite sufficed; but the genealogical list required the special name of the particular branch of the Canaanitish tribes, viz., the Hivites. In just as simple a manner may the introduction of the Hivite Zibeon among the Horites of Seir (Genesis 36:20 and Genesis 36:24) be explained, viz., on the supposition that the removed to the mountains of Seir, and there became a Horite, i.e., a troglodyte, or dweller in a cave. - The names of Esau's sons occur again in 1 Chronicles 1:35. The statement in Genesis 36:6, Genesis 36:7, that Esau went with his family and possessions, which he had acquired in Canaan, into the land of Seir, from before his brother Jacob, does not imply (in contradiction to Genesis 32:4; Genesis 33:14-16) that he did not leave the land of Canaan till after Jacob's return. The words may be understood without difficulty as meaning, that after founding a house of his own, when his family and flocks increased, Esau sought a home in Seir, because he knew that Jacob, as the heir, would enter upon the family possessions, but without waiting till he returned and actually took possession. In the clause "went into the country" (Genesis 36:6), the name Seir or Edom (cf. Genesis 36:16) must have dropt out, as the words "into the country" convey no sense when standing by themselves.
Genesis 36:2 Interlinear
Genesis 36:2 Parallel Texts

Genesis 36:2 NIV
Genesis 36:2 NLT
Genesis 36:2 ESV
Genesis 36:2 NASB
Genesis 36:2 KJV

Genesis 36:2 Bible Apps
Genesis 36:2 Parallel
Genesis 36:2 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 36:2 Chinese Bible
Genesis 36:2 French Bible
Genesis 36:2 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 36:1
Top of Page
Top of Page