When it comes to lambasting the Bible, critics love nothing more than to point out “them darn genealogical contradictions“.
And it’s true.
At first glance there appear to be contradictions.
Take a look at the following:
Esau’s wives in Genesis 26
Esau’s wives in Genesis 36
The only agreement between these two lists is Basemath, but when you check closely, you find out that her father is different.
In Genesis 26, she is the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
In Genesis 36, she is the daughter of Ishmael.
The truth is, even when examining Yeshua’s genealogy in the Scriptures, we’ll notice different family tree listings.
What are we to make of these apparent differences and how are we to answer those critics who throw these contradictions in our face as irrefutable evidence that the Bible is anything but the living Word of God?
Well the first answer and a point I’ve been trying to drive home since day one is that we’ve got to throw away our linear European Western perspective and properly view our Bible as the Middle Eastern, Hebrew-semitic, tribal document that it is.
Here are two good reasons for the difference in the names of Esau’s wives in Genesis 26 and Genesis 36.
FIRST POSSIBLE TOTALLY FEASIBLE REASON:
Depending on where they were living at the time, some of these wives went by two different names, which would have been a normal thing at the time.
SECOND POSSIBLE ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY FEASIBLE REASON:
These names were all the wives of Esau. However, the first list was used for one purpose and the second list was used for another.
“One list used for one purpose and another list used for another?!”
“What the hell does that mean?!” you may be thinking.
In those times it was common to map out a family tree based on pure genealogy and firstborns when one wanted to emphasize blood lines.
However, a slightly different list would result when one wanted to emphasize the tribal leaders and kings.
There is NO conflict…just a difference in the purpose of the list being used.
Think about what happens in our day and age when two people intermarry and divorce at a rate faster than rabbits on steroids can procreate.
It’s not unusual that brothers and sisters living together will have different last names.
This is because in our society (America), when a divorced woman remarries she adopts the name of her current husband.
My point is that just because we see an apparent conflict in the genealogical listings is NOT a good reason to dismiss our Bibles as not being of divine origin.
Quite the contrary, the very fact that the Bible writers appear to not be hiding anything when they recorded these names I believe strongly testifies to the integrity of the genealogical record.
There is no indication that anything was doctored up.
We simply have an honest and straightforward compilation.
There are multiple reasons why a person’s name might change in the Scriptures.
If a widow married a husband of a different nationality, her name would change.
If the family relocated to another country and adopted the local customs for naming people, name changes would occur.
If a family switched allegiance from one god to another, name changes would occur and so on.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN GENESIS CHAPTER 37