🔼The name Basemath: Summary
- Sweet Fragrances, Pleasant Smelling
- From the verb בשם (basam), to smell sweet, be precious or pure.
🔼The name Basemath in the Bible
There are two or three women named Basemath (or Basemeth according to some translations) in the Bible:
- The first Basemath is a wife of Esau and daughter of Elon the Hittite (Genesis 26:34). In Genesis 36:2 Esau marries Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite. That means that Adah is either a sister of Basemath the First, or the same woman with two names.
- The latter is probable, because in Genesis 36:3 Esau marries Basemath the Second, who is the daughter of Ishmael and a sister of Nebaioth. A few chapters before, in Genesis 28:9, Esau marries Mahalath, who is also a daughter of Ishmael, and a sister of Nebaioth. So Mahalath may be a sister of Basemath the Second but may also be the same woman with two names.
- Finally, there is Basemath, a daughter of Solomon who married Ahimaaz (1 Kings 4:15).
🔼Etymology of the name Basemath
The name Basemath comes from the common Hebrew noun בשם (basam) meaning spice, sweet smell:
The meaning of the unused verb בשם (basam) is unknown but it possibly meant to smell pleasant. Its sole extant derivative is the noun בשם (basam), which describes spice or balsam, or their signature sweet smell. These commodities in turn served as tokens or even units of wealth. And since they were produced via painstaking purification, they also denoted purity and cleanness.
The added letter ת (taw) may be a remnant of a plural form. That way the name Basemath means Sweet Fragrances.
For a meaning of the name Basemath, BDB Theological Dictionary reads Perfume but adds a question mark. NOBSE Study Bible Name List renders Fragrance. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Pleasant Smelling.