Basemath Wife of Esau:

Understanding Esau gives us an insight to his wife Basemath. Basemath and her marriage to Esau give us a precaution about being unequally yoked between believers and nonbelievers. Esau, like Jacob, was warned not to take a wife from the daughter of Canaan. There is no covenant with the Canaanites or unbelievers.

Genesis 26:6-9, Genesis 26:34-36, Genesis 28: 6-9, Genesis 36:2-4, Genesis 36:10-13

There is some confusion as to who Basemath is in the Old Testament. Basemath was the wife of Esau, the daughter of Elon the Hittite in Genesis 26:34. Genesis 36:2 claims that Adah is the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Basemath is referred to as the daughter of Ismael and sister of Nebaioth in Genesis 36:4. Genesis 28:9 refers to Mahalath as the daughter of Ishmael married to Esau. We know Genesis 36:13 tells us Basemath bore Reuel, Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.
Esau saw that Isaac, his father who had given the blessing to Jacob, his brother, instead of Esau. Jacob was told not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac. It was out of spite that Esau went to Ishmael, and married his daughter, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

Esau was forty years old when he married. This caused grief for Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 26:34-35). Canaan was cursed by Noah who said Canaan would be a servant of servants unto his brother. (Genesis 9:18-27). This must have broken Isaac and Rebekah’s heart. The reason forbidding of marrying the Canaanites was because Israel “served their gods” and turn away from the LORD. (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). It was not because of racial differences. (Deuteronomy 7:3–4).

This does give us some hints as to the character of Basemath. The Canaanites were a mixed breed they combined or merged different clans into their society either by treaties and or marriages. The Israelites were told to preserve their purity as the chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6) and it would destroy the purity of their faith. Basemath was from the un-chosen line of Ishmael. The LORD did bless Ishmael and promised to make him fruitful, and would multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes would he have and Ishmael would be a great nation. (Genesis 17:20). Ishmael would not share in the inheritance with Isaac. (Genesis 17:23-26).

The LORD God was with Ishmael as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. (Genesis 25:12-16). The Ishmaelite’s are thought to be the wandering Bedouin tribes who populated the North and West of the Arabian Peninsula giving growth to most of the Arab nations. Today they follow Mohammad, but they look to Ishmael as their spiritual father. Esau became the father of the Edomites.

Reconciliation between Esau and Jacob happened when they were reunited some twenty years later when Jacob returns to Canaan. Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojourning could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. The land of Edom is located south of the Dead Sea which is a mountain range in Edom extending from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. Esau is Edom. (Genesis 36: 6–8).
Ishmael and Esau did not inherit the line of the promise that was given to Isaac and Jacob. They both abandoned the land of promise because the LORD gave that promise to Isaac and Jacob. Galatians 4:30-31 tells us “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”

Basemath and her marriage to Esau give us a precaution about being unequally yoked between believers and nonbelievers. Esau, like Jacob, was warned not to take a wife from the daughter of Canaan. There is no covenant with the Canaanites or unbelievers.
2 Corinthians 6:14 also gives believers a warning: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
Deuteronomy 7:1-6 1 tells us: “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:

Holstein, Joanne “Basemath Wife of Esau:.” Becker Bible Studies Library Oct 2014.<,>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014, October) “Basemath Wife of Esau:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from,.

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014) “Basemath Wife of Esau:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (October),, (accessed).

Joanne Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is a graduate of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling with Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on historical development of Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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