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Answering The Atheist
June 30, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 26

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who was Bashemath's father? Genesis 26:34 says Elon the Hittite, while Genesis 36:2-3 says Ishmael. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Notice from Genesis 36:2-3, Esau had three wives:
(1) Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite,
(2) Aholibamah the daughter of Anah (granddaughter of Zibeon the Hittite), and
(3) Bashemath, the daughter of Ishmael (and sister of Nebajoth).

The other text introduced by the questioner only mentions two of these wives:
(1) Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and
(2) Bashemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite.

According to Genesis 28:9, Esau thereafter added a third wife, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, sister of Nebajoth. Three women, five names? Yes, three women, five names. There are several instances in the Bible where more than one name is applied to an individual, and such is also the case here. Now, let's sort out who is who.

TEXT WIFE 1 WIFE 2 WIFE 3
36:2-3 Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite Aholibamah, daughter of Anah(mother) Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael
26:34 Bashemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite Judith, daughter of Beeri(father) - - -
28:9 - - - - - - Malalath, daughter of Ishmael

The questioner assumed that the Bashemath of Genesis 36:2-3 was the same woman as the Bashemath of Genesis 26:34. It is the same name, but two different women were known by this name. One Bashemath (also known as Adah) was the daughter of Elon the Hittite, while the other Bashemath (also known as Malalath) was the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebajoth.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible