Arrangement 8: Esau


A sub-stemma of 23 roundels. Dimensions: 8 wide by 8 tall. Liber Genealogus counterpart: section 14.

Esau stemma from Plutei and Roda

The upper two plots are from Plutei (left) and Roda (right). Lower, at right from the San Juan bible. Bottom: the Morgan Beatus (left) and the Foigny bible (right).

Esau stemma from Plutei and Roda


From the differences between the Liber Genealogus and the graphic, it is clear this arrangement has undergone a complex evolution. The traverse order for this section in the Liber Genealogus is plainly based on the original fifth-century layout. It is possible that the manuscripts have entirely lost salient features of the original graphic form.

It is striking that the Plutei and Roda arrangements are very similar, which can be taken as an indication that the Spanish archetype did indeed employ something resembling this layout. The Morgan stemma contains an extra, 28th roundel born of a copying error, further discussed below. The other layouts are evidently corrupted.

The roundels with dotted lines in two of the plots mark the top left roundels of the Horrites, the next roundel assembly. It will be plain that the two assemblies interlocked in some way, and this notation is carried over into the reconstruction shown here.

In the manuscripts, this section is notable for combining several graphic techniques. The versions show the five sons of Esau in what is essentially a radiating pattern, with the father at centre. The grandchildren are arranged in vertical pendant chains. Amalek (cA) is given a special position below his mother.

Job, the hero of the Book of Job, is interpreted as being the Jobab of Esau's family from Genesis. The manuscripts generally add alongside him Busurra, the "mother" (rather than birthplace) of Job, and Dinah, his reputed wife, in a variety of positions.

The left-to-right order of Esau's five wives is established by the text of Genesis. The first two wives are introduced at Gen 26: 34-35. The remaining three are listed at Gen 36:1-5. The order is thus: the childless Ioudin, Basemmath, the childless Maeleth, Ada, Olibema. (There is a recapitulation of the wife names in fresh order at Gen 36:1-5, but this latter order is ignored by the Great Stemma and the Liber Genealogus.) The Great Stemma joins Ioudin and Basemmath in a gloss, hic due de filiabus Canaan (i.e., these two are of Canaanite descent, from Gen 26: 34-35).

The wife order is echoed in a similar left-to-right array of the corresponding eldest sons: Ragouel (son of Basemmath), Eliphaz (of Ada) and Ieous (eldest of Olibema). To make the connections clearer, in all the drawings on this page I have marked the mothers and sons with numbers as follows: 2-2', 4-4' and 5-5', 5'', 5'''.

The analysis relies on the Plutei and Roda manuscripts and to some extent Iota. None of the other surviving manuscripts add anything of interest about this section. All are plainly defective in some way.

The arrangement of the Esau section in the Beta manuscripts is elegant, but flawed. A rococco system of connectors was developed by the Beta editor. There is however no evidence that these curly connectors are in any way original, and a little scrutiny of the names in the roundels shows that the left-hand group, the descendants of Ragouel, follows no logical order.

The roundel marked "extra" is an interloper that does not belong in this group.

The roundel marked "cA" is that for Amalek, which ought to have been placed higher near his concubine mother (c). Curiously, this error is repeated in the Iota manuscripts, so it must be a very ancient corruption.

Among the peculiarities that stand out in most of the manuscripts is that Busurra, wife of Zaret, is pushed to the bottom of the page, below Dinah, although one would expect to find her roundel next to that of her husband. Elsewhere Busurra (B) is shown to the left of Zaret. The Liber Genealogus G makes no mention of her. It seems Busurra is likely to be an inserted gloss, perhaps of ancient date, but not original, so it is omitted from the reconstruction.

Dinah's position also varies greatly in the recensions as to suggest she arrived in the chart as as a scribbled extra note, not part of the design. She too is not named as Job's wife in the LGG, so is eliminated from the reconstruction.

This leads to the following schematic, where connectors are rejoined accordingly and the rows and columns brought into alignment:

The wives of Esau are assumed to have been placed in row 1 of the chart, like the great majority of other wives in the Great Stemma. The empty space at right, where four dotted roundels are visible, is assumed to have been an inset reserved for the Horrites, also believed by early biblical scholars to be descendants of Esau. The two modules fit together snugly to form a larger combined group.

Two matters of curiosity remain. The first is that the Liber Genealogus G takes the middle line of names in a slightly different order: primitivus Theman (T), secundus Omar (O), III Sofar Nomadorum rex (S), IIII Gothomi (G), V Zenez (C). This cannot be a simple mistake, because ordinal numbers are given with the names. It may be that a different, amended version of the Great Stemma was in circulation and that this order is an echo of its existence.

The other matter of interest is the roundel representing Thamna, inscribed Temna concubina Elifaz (marked with a lower-case c). It is likely that the Great Stemma's designer believed she was the same person as Tamna filia Lotan, the lowest of the four dotted roundels foreshadowing the Horrite group at right. Some kind of attempt may have originally been made to present her in both of her roles, perhaps using a connector that snaked across the intermediate column between the two roundels.

It is also conceivable (though there is no evidence for it) that her two roles might have been combined into a single roundel.

Next: The Horrites

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