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The meaning of Anah in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

a'-na ('anah, meaning uncertain; a Horite clan-name (Gen. 36)):

(1) Mother of Aholibamah, one of the wives of Esau and daughter of Zibeon (compare Genesis 36:2, Genesis 36:14, Genesis 36:18, Genesis 36:25). The Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Peshitta read "son," identifying this Anah with number 3 (see below); Genesis 36:2, read (ha-chori), for (ha-chiwwi).

(2) Son of Seir, the Horite, and brother of Zibeon; one of the chiefs of the land of Edom (compare Genesis 36:20-21 = I Chronicles 1:38). Seir is elsewhere the name of the land (compare Genesis 14:6; Isaiah 21:11); but here the country is personified and becomes the mythical ancestor of the tribes inhabiting it.

(3) Son of Zibeon, "This is Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness" (compare Genesis 36:24 = I Chronicles 1:40-41) The word ha-yemim, occurs only in this passage and is probably corrupt. Ball (Sacred Books of the Old Testament, Genesis, critical note 93) suggests that it is a corruption of we-hemam (compare Genesis 36:22) in an earlier verse. Jerome, in his commentary on Genesis 36:24, assembles the following definitions of the word gathered from Jewish sources. (1) "seas" as though yammim; (2) "hot springs" as though hammim; (3) a species of ass, yemim; (4) "mules." This last explanation was the one most frequently met with in Jewish lit; the tradition ran that Anah was the first to breed the mule, thus bringing into existence an unnatural species. As a punishment, God created the deadly water-snake, through the union of the common viper with the Libyan lizard (compare Gen. Rabbah 82 15, Yer. Ber 1 12b; Babylonian Pes 54a, Ginzberg, Monatschrift, XLII, 538-39).

The descent of Anah is thus represented in the three ways pointed out above as the text stands. If, however, we accept the reading ben, for bath, in the first case, Aholibamah will then be an unnamed daughter of the Anah of Genesis 36:24, not the Aholibamah, daughter of Anah of Genesis 36:25 (for the Anah of this verse is evidently the one of Genesis 36:20, not the Anah of Genesis 36:24). Another view is that the words, "the daughter of Zibeon," are a gloss, inserted by one who mistakenly identified the Anah of Genesis 36:25 with the Anah of Genesis 36:24; in this event, Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah, will be the one mentioned in Genesis 36:25.

The difference between (2) and (3) is to be explained on the basis of a twofold tradition. Anah was originally a sub-clan of the clan known as Zibeon, and both were "sons of Seir"—i.e. Horites.

H. J. Wolf


See more on the meaning of Anah in the Bible:
Anah {Easton's Bible Dictionary}
Anah {Hitchcock's Bible Name}

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