Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Name Game - Oholibamah

Rebecca and the wives of Esau
Rebecca and the wives of Esau, detail from the "Gates of Paradise" by Lorenzo Ghiberti

O-who? Throughout Biblical history, women occasionally show up in prominent places. Although her name is seldom recounted in Sunday School, this is a woman whose simple appearance in a genealogical line commands attention.

She is mentioned in Genesis 26, and 36, as one of the wives of Esau. He was criticized for taking these wives because they were Hittites, not Hebrews. We do know that her name was changed to Judith, which simply means “a Jewess.” Her Hittite name means “a tent in a high place.” There is a good chance that this indicates she was a priestess. “High Places” usually refers to places of idolatrous worship.

She may also have been the daughter of a strong and famous (in her time) woman. Commentators can’t seem to agree on whether her parent, Anah, is a man or a woman. The King James Version implies the feminine in one place and masculine in another (but it’s possible the term “son” could simply indicate that this is the person through whom the line of descendancy is traced.)

It is clear that she was the mother of three sons who became important chiefs: Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. Their lines continue through Biblical history. We would call them sheiks.

In the desert, it is a descendant of Korah (also named Korah) who led the rebellion against Moses (Numbers 26), although the name of Dathan is usually associated with that fiasco. The people who participated were swallowed up by an earthquake!

It is also a descendant of Oholibamah who found a spring of water in the desert- better than gold!

One thing is certain. Her name is mentioned repeatedly, which is unusual in itself when no particular story is told about a person. This clearly indicates that she was a person of importance.

Some of us will have no other claim to fame than that we raised our children to do great things after us (or notorious things... we don’t have much control over continuing generations!). Oholibamah was one of these people. But that’s a pretty important accomplishment!

Genesis 26
Genesis 36

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