In Genesis 26, Esau is said to have taken Canaanite wives, Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite (Gen.
Basemath daughter of Elon the Oholibamah daughter of Anah Hittite daughter of Zibeon the Hivite 3.
He explains that Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite was previously referred to as Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.
When the Bible lists Esau's wives in Genesis 36, it states: Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women--Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath daughter of Ishmael (Gen.
On two occasions, Josephus refers only to the three wives of Esau mentioned in Genesis 36, namely, Oholibamah, Adah, and Basemath. He does so in the section of his Antiquities which roughly corresponds to Genesis 26 and again in the section corresponding to Genesis 36.
Firstly, if Adah was Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite, why is she listed as first among Esau's wives in Genesis 36, but second in Genesis 26?
Solomon Luria (1510-1573) observes that in Genesis 26 the Bible specifically refers to Adah/Basemath as Basemath, thus alluding to her idolatrous incense, despite the fact that Oholibamah is called Judith in the same passage to make her seem more righteous.
David Pardo (1718-1790) notes that the name Basemath, which recalls the word for incense (besamim), has good and bad connotations.
These explanations account for the inconsistencies in the order of Esau's wives and for Esau's alteration of Oholibamah's name to Judith without changing the name of Basemath. However, as mentioned above, Rashi's as sumption that Oholibamah was identical with Judith has still to explain why Judith is called the daughter of Beeri the Hittite while Oholibamah's lineage makes her the daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite.
(23) Subsequently, after an account of how Jacob received the blessing, Sefer haYashar relates that Esau married Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite, whom he called Adah because the blessing had been stripped (adah) from him.
(63) Other famous polygamous men from the Genesis narrative include Abraham (married to Sarah, and later, Hagar the concubine (64)), Abraham's brother Nahor (married to Milcah and his concubine Reumah (65)), Jacob (married to Leah and Rachel, along with the concubines Bilhah and Zilpah), Esau (married to Judith, Basemath
, Mahalath, Adah, and Oholibamah), and Esau's son Eliphaz.
Although censure is not the only conceivable explanation for anonymity, it makes sense also with Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39 and contrasts with many major and minor female characters who are named in Genesis: Eve (Genesis 1-4), Adah wife of Lamech (4:19-23), Zillah (4:19-23), Namah (4:19-23), Milcah (11:29, 22:20-23, 24:15-47), Sarai/Sarah (17-18, 20-21, 23-25, 49), Hagar (16, 21, 25), Rebekah (24-29, 35, 49), Keturah (25), Judith (26:34), Basemath
(26:34, 36:3-17), Mahalath (28:9), Rachel (29-31, 33, 35, 46, 48), Leah (29-31, 33-35, 46, 49), Bilhah (29-30, 35, 37, 46), Zilpah (29-30, 35, 37, 46), Dinah (30, 34, 46), Adah wife of Esau (36:6-16), Oholibamah (36:2-41), Timnah (38:12-14), Mehetabel (36:39), Tamar (14, 38), and Asenath (41, 46).