Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Toledot: Is Edom Equal to Rome And Christiandom?

Shadal says no, against Ibn Ezra. The practical upshot of this is whether the various prophecies about Esav and Yaakov are to be applied to Romans and Christians.

This was worthy in and of itself of mention and translation, but I was further spurred to post this by an Anonymous comment on one of my preceding posts, about Esav as a good guy.

The first comment of Shadal I'll cite is on the following verse, in Bereishit 25, about the prophecy given to Rivkah:

כג וַיֹּאמֶר ה לָהּ, שְׁנֵי גֹיִים בְּבִטְנֵךְ, וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים, מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ; וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ, וְרַב יַעֲבֹד צָעִיר. 23 And the LORD said unto her: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
Should we take this as prophecy to be applied nowadays, and/or to messianic times? Shadal says no:
ורב יעבוד צעיר: הגוי והלאום הנולד מן הבכור יעבוד לנולד מן הצעיר, והכוונה על אדום שנכבשו תחת יד ישראל בימי דוד ובימי הורקנוס
"And the elder shall serve the younger": The nations born from the firstborn will serve the one born from the younger. And the intent is to Edom which is conquered under the hand of Israel in the days of David and in the days of Hyrcanus.
Thus, it would seem that this prophecy has already been fulfilled.

Should we equate Edom with Rome, or with Christiandom? Once again, Shadal says no. And while it certainly is possible that such is intended as apologetics, it seems quite motivated by peshat concerns, and is fairly convincing. On Bereishit 27:40:
מ וְעַל-חַרְבְּךָ תִחְיֶה, וְאֶת-אָחִיךָ תַּעֲבֹד; וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר תָּרִיד, וּפָרַקְתָּ עֻלּוֹ מֵעַל צַוָּארֶךָ. 40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and thou shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt break loose, that thou shalt shake his yoke from off thy neck.
Shadal writes:
ודע כי אדום האמור בתורה ובשאר ספרי הקודש הוא עם השוכן בין ים סוף וים המלח, ומעולם אין הכוונה על מלכות רומי ולא על אחד מגויי אירופה, וכל ימי עמידת הבית הראשון והשני לא נקראו בשם אדום רק בני עשו ממש, אבל אחר חרבן הבית החלו היהודים לקרוא למלכות רומי בשם אדום, והיה זה מפני שהאדומים היו על הרוב צוררים ישראל, על כן היה שם אדום שנוא ומתועב אצלנו, ובפרט אחר שמלך הורדוס שהיה אדומי הרע לישראל מאד, וכשנחרב הבית ביד הרומאים, עברה שנאת היהודים מאדום לרומי, על כן (וגם מפני היראה) כינו את רומי בשם אדום ; ואין הכוונה כלל על בעלי האמונה החדשה, אלא על מלכות רומי שהחריבה את ביתנו, ועל כל המקומות שפשטה שם מלכותם ולשונם. ואל תשמע לדברי ראב"ע שאמר כי בעלי האמונה החדשה נקראו אדום מפני שהראשונים שהאמינו בנוצרי היו מבני אדום ; כי אמנם כל זה שקר וכזב, כי הראשונים שהאמינו בנוצרי היו יהודים ויונים ורומאים, לא אדומים, ושם אדום הוא כינוי לרומאים ולעמים אחרים מצד שהיו בימים ההם תחת ממשלת הרומאים, ולא מצד אמונתם.

And know that Edom mentioned in the Torah and other holy books {of Tanach} refers to the nation which dwells between the Reed Sea and the Dead Sea, and it was never the intent to refer to the kingdom of Rome nor any of the nations of Europe. And all of the days the First Temple stood, and the Second {Temple}, the only one called Edom were the actual descendants of Esav. However, after the destruction of the {second} Temple, the Jews began to call the kingdom of Rome by the name Edom. And this was because in general, the Edomites tormented Israel, and therefore the name Edom was hated and detested by us. And specifically, after the Herod reigned, who was an Edomite who was very bad to Israel. And when the Temple was destroyed at the hands of the Romans, the hatred of the Jews passed from Edom to Rome. Therefore (and also because of fear), they nicknamed Rome with the name Edom. And the intent is not at all to the people of the new faith {=Christians}, but rather to the Roman empire which destroyed our Temple, and to all the places that their rule and language extended.

And do not listen to the words of Ibn Ezra who said that the people of the new faith are called Edom because the first ones who believed in the Nazarene were from the people of Edom. For this is falsehood and lies, for the first one who believed in the Nazarene were Jews, Greeks, and Romans, not Edomites. And the name Edom is a nickname for the Romans and to other nations from the aspect that they were, in those days, under Roman rule, and not because of their {Christian} faith.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really interesting. Thank you for the post. (I am the same Anonymous as the one commenting on your first post on Toldot.)

Anonymous said...

I believe that, according to Jastrow, the Edom/Rome association began when Herod's dynasty (who were in fact descended from Edomites) brought the Jewish kingdom under Roman control.

joshwaxman said...

nice.
syncs nicely with what Shadal says about Herod.

scott said...

How can all the Judgments declared by the Word of God come upon Edom, in the "Last Days" or in the "Great Day of the Lord," if there is NO EDOM IN EXISTENCE?"
see Obad. 15. and Joel 3:2-6 and 19
also-
Amos 9:11 "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places,
restore its ruins,
and build it as it used to be,

12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that bear my name, [f] "
declares the LORD, who will do these things.

13 "The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills.

14 I will bring back my exiled [g] people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,"
says the LORD your God.


"The great kingdom of Rome was built by Zepho, son of Eliphaz, son of Esau. (Yelamdeinu, Batei Midrashos 160)."

The Great Wise Men and Rabbis Kimchi, Ibn-Ezra, and Maimonides, and Abarbanel, all unite with the foregoing Scripture testimony in saying, that all the Gentile Christians are the seed, or children, of Esau, or Edom, and that "the prophets did not only prophecy against the land of Edom, which is in the neighborhood of the land of Israel, but against the seed of Rome, or Edom, which is of the root, or rather children of Kittim, or Chittim."

Kimchi says, in his commentary on Joel 3:19, "Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for their violence against the children of Judah."

"The prophet mentions Egypt and Edom; Egypt on account of the Turks, and Edom on account of the Roman Empire; and these two have now had the dominion for a long time, and will continue until the redemption. This is the fourth Beast in the vision of Daniel. And this is said because the majority is composed of Edomites. For although many other nations are mixed among them, as is also the case with the Turkish Empire, they are called from their root," or origin. Kimchi wrote in the 12th century, and therefore includes the Greek empire, because the government of Constantinople was long before overturned.

Ibn Ezra says, "Rome, which led us away captive, is of the seed of Kittim; and so the Targumist has said, in Num. 24:24. 'And ships shall come from the coast of Kittim.' And this is the same as the Greek monarchy, as I have explained in the Book of Daniel, and there were very few who believed on the man of whom they made a God. But when Rome believed, in the days of Constantine, who changed the whole religion, and put an Image of that man upon his standard, there were none in the world who observed the New Law, except a few Edomites, therefore Rome is called the Kingdom of Edom." See his comment on Gen. 20.

Abarbanel says, "From this you may learn that the prophet (Obadiah) did not prophecy only against the land of Edom, which is in the neighborhood of the land of Israel, but also against the people which branches off from thence, and is spread through the whole world, and is the people of the Christians in this our day, for they are the children of Edom."* Abarbanel's comment on Obadiah.

The great Maimonides gives a like testimony. "The Edomites are Idolaters, and Sunday,* the first day of the week, is the day of their festival, therefore it is forbidden to have commerce with them in the land of Israel, on that day."

joshwaxman said...

Shadal presumably knew of all these sources, and yet says otherwise.

For example, you mention Ibn Ezra, yet Shadal explicitly argues with him, writing "And do not listen to the words of Ibn Ezra who said that the people of the new faith are called Edom." He would similarly argue with any other Biblical commentators (e.g. Kimchi and Abarbanel) who suggest the same. Shadal is certainly not shy about arguing on them in other places. And Ibn Ezra are not saying this via ruach hakodesh, but based on their own understanding of matters. And Shadal (and we) can argue. He would either argue on that midrash or claim that it is meant homiletically, as a way of equating the two, because "the hatred of the Jews passed from Edom to Rome."

In terms of the prophecies, are we sure these refer to some future time? One opinion, rejected in perek chelek, is that *all* messianic prophecies already happened in the days of Chizkiyahu (presumably only prophecy up to his day). Shadal suggested that the prophecy by Rivkah was fulfilled "in the days of David and in the days of Hyrcanus." Perhaps these other prophecies as well, were already fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Edom.

Your citation of Amos is one interpretation, but note that you are juxtaposing pasuk 12 with pasuk 13. If you look at the context, you will notice that pasuk 12 ends one prophecy and pasuk 13 begins a new one. It seems fairly straightforward to say that pasuk 11-12 are about the destruction of Edom, back then, while 13 and on, if indeed referring to end of days, has nothing to do with the destruction of Edom.

What Maimonides says is not testimony that these people are the same as the Biblical Edomites. It is just Rabbinic usage, as Shadal already said.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

scott said...

This was the basis for my post-

The great kingdom of Rome was built by Zepho, son of Eliphaz, son of Esau. (Yelamdeinu, Batei Midrashos 160)."

Also, the following verses refer to messianic times, "latter end", "in those days", the "house of Joseph" referring to moshiach ben Joseph. The Midrashim and Talmud are clear on these issues.

Who are the "wise men of Edom" today?

God says "Amalek was first of the nations, (grandson of Esau as you know Gen. 36:9 and 12) but his latter end shall be that he perish forever," (Num. 24:20,) and this corresponds with Obadiah and all the rest of the Prophets.

Obadiah 8 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"will I not destroy the wise men of Edom,
men of understanding in the mountains of Esau?

18 The house of Jacob will be a fire
and the house of Joseph a flame;
the house of Esau will be stubble

joshwaxman said...

As I noted above, Shadal would either argue on that midrash (he is a pashtan, and agrees with the school of thought that one can argue on midrash), or understands is figuratively, that they are alike, and thus it is as if Tzefo built Rome.

There is not a monolithic approach to these matters. But to approach it, (if we cared to) we would have to go through each source in midrash and Talmud.

Shadal, again, would presumably argue that not every "latter days" means end-of-days, and the one in Ovadiah is one such.

For example, see what he says on Genesis 29:1:
And Jacob called unto his sons, and said: 'Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the end of days.

Shadal notes that "acharit hayamim" means "in the days to come," rather than "in the end of days." There is an "acharon" which still has something after it. And he gives examples from other places in Bible. He writes:

באחרית הימים : בימים הבאים, בימים האחרונים, ויש אחרון שאחריו אחרון, כמו ואת לאה וילדיה אחרונים ( למעלה ל"ג ב' ), וכל מה שאיננו ראשון נקרא אחרון, וכן מילת אחרית ענינה תוצאה כמו כי אם יש אחרית ( משלי כ"ג י"ח ) כי אחרית לאיש שלום (תהלים ל"ז ל"ז ) ועיין ירמיה כ"ט י"א , ובמדבר כ"ד י"ד , ואין הכונה כאן על ימות המשיח אלא על כיבוש ארץ ישראל וחילוקה.
וכבר היו אנשים בין האחרונים מכחישי הנבואה שאמרו שלא אמר יעקב הפרשה הזאת, רק אחר כמה דורות נכתבה, וכבר הכו על קדקדם; אך כל משכיל יראה ויבין כי אי אפשר להעלות על הדעת שאדם בימי דוד או אפילו בימי משה יתעורר להטיח דברים נגד שבט ראובן ושמעון, ובפרט נגד שבט לוי שכבר היה מקודש, ויאמר "בסודם אל תבוא נפשי וגו', ארור אפם כי עז וגו'" על מעשה ישן נושן שכבר נשכח, ויקובלו דבריו אשר בדה מלבו, ולא יתרעמו השבטים ההם וימחקו דבריו, אחר שלא היו הדברים ההם בקבלה אצלם מימות יעקב; ובפרט הכהנים בני לוי שהיו תופשי התורה, איך קיימו הדברים האלה בספר התורה, אם לא שכן קיבלו מאבותיהם, כי כן אמר להם יעקב אביהם בעת מותו?

scott said...

Was not the following written after the days of Hyrcanus? If the Edomites were destroyed by Hyrcanus who are the chieftans of Edom discussed by the Sages-

Megilla 6a Do not grant Esau the wicked desire of his heart, this refers to Germamya of Edom who if they would but go forth, would destroy the entire world". There are 300 crowned princes of Germamya of Edom and 365 cheiftans of Rome.

Rashi on Megilla 6a - "Esau's descendants, the Roman nation, conqured and destroyed much of Eretz Yisrael". Germamya the name of a monarchy from the kingdom of Edom/Esau

If you think Shadal would argue on that Yelamdeinu Batei Midrashos 160or understand it figuratively you are obviously allowed to have that opinion.

But you in your own words are "presuming".

Fact is -

It is also possible Shadal may have not known about this Midrash and others like it, and if he did he may have had a different view.

Think about the similarities of Amalek, Haman, and Hitler. This is something Shadal could not take into consideration (obviously).

"Let the Jews who are in Shushan do tomorrow as they have done today and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows" as the ten Nazis were at Nuremberg.

R S Hirsh Commentary on Gen 25:23 Rebecca was in formed she carried two nations in her womb,...The whole history is nothing else than a struggle as to whether spirit or sword, or as our Sages say (Meg 6a) whether Caesaria or Jerusalem will have the upper hand."

scott said...

By the end of the middle ages, which had seen Britain and France emerge as unified nations, Germany remained a crazy patchwork of some 300 individual states.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" WL Shirer pg 131

joshwaxman said...

Let us put it this way:

Not all midrashim are created equally. There are early midrashim, and there are late midrashim. There are midrashim from the Tannaim, from the Amoraim, contemporary to Rashi (e.g. Bereishit Rabbati from Rav Moshe haDarshan), and even later midrashim.

Midrash denotes the method being used, rather than it being some sort of tradition that one cannot argue with.

You are citing this midrash yelamdeinu, but likely this is the only time you have seen anything from this particular midrash. You are likely getting the citation specifically from the following website, which is the only place it occurs (or possibly one other place, which cites it):
here.

But do you know how old this midrash is, in a way that should or should not make it binding on Shadal?

The midrash in question is going on the verse in Bereishit 36:6
ויקח עשו את נשיו ואת בניו ואת בנתיו ואת כל נפשות ביתו ואת מקנהו ואת כל בהמתו ואת כל קנינו
אשר רכש בארץ כנען וילך אל ארץ מפני יעקב אחיו:

The midrash states (in Hebrew):
מדרש ילמדנו (מאן) ילקוט תלמוד תורה - בראשית אות קנב דף צ"ו, ע"ב (לבר' ל"ו, ו'). ד"ה וילך אל ארץ
דף צ"ו, ע"ב (לבר' ל"ו, ו'). וילך אל ארץ, זו מלכות רומי רבתי, שבנאה צפו בן אליפז בן עשו, ובא עליו תורנוש מארץ אלישע ונלחם בו והרגו, ושמע עשו הרשע הריגת נכדו ובא לנחמו, לפיכך הניח ארץ מולדתו, הה"ד וילך אל ארץ מפני יעקב אחיו. ילמדנו פ' וישב יעקב.

This particular midrash is in Yalkut Talmud Torah by Rabbi Yaakov Sikili, and is from the 14th century.

This is post-Talmudic, and post-Geonic. It is after *Ibn Ezra*, (who died in 1167) and Shadal explicitly argues on Ibn Ezra on this matter! The author of this late midrash agreed with Ibn Ezra, and wrote a midrash in accordance with it.

From reading Shadal in general, I can tell you that even if he was aware of this late midrash in accord with (and based on) Ibn Ezra, this would not compel him to say other than what he said. Not any more than Ibn Ezra's position caused him to change his mind.

In terms of whether he know "others like it," he was a very big talmid chacham who knew his stuff. It is *possible* he was simply unaware of certain sources, but that should not be the first assumption. He writes here a short commentary, and is not going to take the time to list and respond to every single source.

Shadal said what his general approach is to equations of Rome and Edom in Chazal:
והיה זה מפני שהאדומים היו על הרוב צוררים ישראל, על כן היה שם אדום שנוא ומתועב אצלנו, ובפרט אחר שמלך הורדוס שהיה אדומי הרע לישראל מאד, וכשנחרב הבית ביד הרומאים, עברה שנאת היהודים מאדום לרומי, על כן (וגם מפני היראה) כינו את רומי בשם אדום

scott said...

Let's put it this way. I am simply stating what I have learned and discerned.

I have quoted enough sources to show the obvious connections between Esau/Rome/Christianity.

The Discovery Seminar by Aish haTorah gives a much better explanation of this than I can. I definitely believe they and their sources have a much better explanation than you and Shadal.

This is a matter for orthodox Judaism to settle. Just like conversion and agunot.

Shadal is one source, I have quoted many. No, numbers don't prove everything, but you are not only disagreeing with me but many others like you with Semicha.

Shalom

Ruth said...

Vayishlach 5765
Magdiel- this is Rome.[1]



The rabbinic identification of Rome with the Biblical figure of Esau is basic to the traditional understanding of much of the relevant sections of Chumash Bareishis. Esau's faults and shortcomings as well as his complex and tortured relationship with his brother Yakov was seen by the Rabbis through the prism of this identification, so much so that the conflict of these two brothers typifies the struggle for spiritual and moral supremacy between Rome and Jerusalem.

It is somewhat unclear, though, what supports this identification. The voluminous Roman chronicles do not appear to contain any awareness of descent from Esau[2], although a memory of such an ignoble descent certainly could have been lost[3] or suppressed. Our tradition does preserve the particulars of Roman descent from Esau.

"The great kingdom of Rome was built by Zepho, son of Eliphaz, son of Esau. Tirtat of the land of Elisha attacked him and killed him (Yelamdeinu, Batei Midrashos 160)."

The Malbim in his commentary to Obadia 1,1 suggests that in addition to genealogical descent, the identification of Rome and Esau is also based on the "founding of their faith by children of Edom, as R. Isaac Abarbanel wrote to Isaiah 34, with proofs."

This comment of the Malbim may lead us the supposition that identification of Rome as Esau rests on the very visible traits that Roman, and subsequently Western civilization, shares with the character traits of Esau as he is described in the Chumash. In fact, it is my impression that midrashic collections seem to highlight especially these cultural qualities when they discuss Esau. The limitations of space do not allow a full treatment of this subject, which in truth deserves a book length treatment; we can, however, manage to briefly focus on two or three of them.

Among such traits is the individualism and disdain for tradition and authority that is such an obvious feature of Western civilization and also of Esau who was a "self-made man". Esau willingly gave up his birthright in order to build his future with his own toil and effort. "Esau showed to others that (in his opinion) the institution of birthright is not morally correct. Rather one who is more talented, of his own right should be honored above others. Many great leaders of the nations of the worlds followed Esau 's opinion and disparaged the status of birth; rather, (they held) everything depends on the natural abilities of each individual (Netsiv, Haemek Davar to Genesis 23,34).

One trait of Esau that few will fail to recognize in the civilization and culture of the West is the emphasis on the image over substance, leavened with a good measure of hypocrisy.[4]

He (Esau) was a hypocrite (Shocher Tov 14,3).
Esau would hunt him (Yitshak) and deceive him with words (Genesis Rabbah 63,10).

Nevertheless, the emphasis on the appearances brings a certain measure of outward nobility and aristocratic bearing which is evident in the outside trappings of Esau's civilization, his architecture, art, music - the brilliance of classical Western culture. The Maharal writes: " The verse "two proud ones in your belly" alludes to the wide view of Israel and Edom, not just Rebbi and Antoninus alone (see our Midrash Toldos for a technical discussion of this statement) - that they possess a specific substance. They have a live force of substance and they comport themselves with worth in their eating. This means that there is one who eats like an animal, without raising himself in it but Israel and Esau do not conduct themselves so. They prepare a proper environment to make their eating more important. So also Esau comports himself in his clothing to this day to honor himself in his dress and to raise his self respect above that of other nations, also through great buildings. Not so Ishmael - they do not care about their clothing, cuisine, bathhouses[5].... this means that they (sons of Esau) have a self-worth in their life-force[6][7] (Gur Arye, Gen. 25, 24).

The following midrash typifies the personalization of Rome and the West as Esau while not sparing his hypocrisy.[8]

In the future Esau will wrap himself in a tallis, sit down next to Yakov and say to him, "You are my brother"....Yakov will say to him, "My brother, you will not be like me. "I will lead you to death, I will be the pestilence that leads you to Sheol (Hoshea 13,14). Had I upheld degrees that you promulgated against me, I would have been guilty at the eyes of Heaven. Had I violated them, you would have killed me? (Yalkut Shimoni, Yirmiahu 333)

"That was Esau's intention when he told Yakov, "Let us travel together and I will go before you (Genesis 33,12). He wanted them to join together in both this world and the world to come, to meet each other halfway, with each modifying his conduct until they were alike (Yalkut Shimoni, Genesis 133). Indeed, Esau will even adopt certain tenets of Judaism-such as monotheism, the Divinity of the Torah, and reward and punishment-but only if Israel will give up some of its heritage. Similarly, according to Tanna D'Bei Eliahu Zuta(19), Esau proposed. "Give up some of the mitzvos that divide us. You will thereby enjoy this world and still have half the world to come. Isn't that enough? (Bais Halevy, Vayishlach).

Can one see relevance in these ancient writings for the world of today? Do we not see the pinnacle of Esau's civilization, the country that is the utmost embodiment of his values of individualism and superficiality/ image, offering this bargain to sons of Yakov, and most of them have taken it. In return, Esau has placed his political and military might in service of common goals, in support of the so-called "Judeo-Christian" values. Will this friendship continue when Esau sees that Yakov returns to his Law and rejects his extended hand and his conditions of friendship?[9]

To summarize, the Chazal were keen observers of human nature and the political and social cultures that surrounded them. They unerringly ferreted out the personality traits of Biblical figures that they were then able to match with national characters and identify one with the other. In this way, aided by received traditions, they were able to predict how these nations are likely to behave down even to our time.

I appreciate comments or questions at mlevinmd@aol.com


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1 PRD"R Eliezer 38

2 I recall that Maor Einaim of R. Azariah D'Rossi does quote a source to this effect (the so-called pseudo Barusso); however, this source is now widely thought to have been a later forgery. I unfortunately do not currently have access to this work and am unable to cite a reference.

3 The Talmud does record such an awareness among the contemporary Romans. "...once in 70 years they bring a normal person and make him ride a lame person....and they say: Woe is to this one when this one arises (A"Z 11b).

4 See a discussion of the difference between Esau and Ishmael in Kol Dodi Dofek, A.D.Goldberg, Ohel, Wycliffe Ohio, p. 73-76. R. Goldberg points out on the basis of various sources that Esau is good on the outside but evil inside. Ishmael, on the other hand, commits all kinds of unspeakable atrocities outside but on the inside possesses fear of G-d.

5 See A"Z 2b regarding Esau's (Roman) building activities. See also Shocher Tov 14,3

6 I translate nefesh as life-force in this context but other translations are certainly possible.

7 Eating and clothing are recurrent themes in descriptions of Esau in the Chumash. A number of midrashim narrow down on these themes.

8 See Beis Halevy , Vayishlach.

9 Esau had many descendants and they undoubtedly differed in regard to the "Jewish question". Some, like Eliphaz, would not hurt Yakov even under pressure (His father commanded him to fight the sons of Yakov but because he grew up with Job, he did not fight them, Lekach Tov, Shemos 17,8). Others, like Amalek, are inveterate Jew-haters. So also in out day, many different attitudes and approaches can be seen among the descendents of Esau.

http://www.aishdas.org/midrash/5765/vayishlach.html

joshwaxman said...

yes, see my last comment (three comments up) where I link to this website.

this is the web-source of the midrash under discussion.

One point:
"The Malbim in his commentary to Obadia 1,1 suggests that in addition to genealogical descent, the identification of Rome and Esau is also based on the "founding of their faith by children of Edom, as R. Isaac Abarbanel wrote to Isaiah 34, with proofs."

This comment of the Malbim may lead us the supposition that identification of Rome as Esau rests on the very visible traits that Roman, and subsequently Western civilization, shares with the character traits of Esau as he is described in the Chumash."

This does not follow. The Malbim is not saying this at all. Rather, as least from what is being quoted, he is extending the designation of "Edom" to include not just genealogical connection but rather any follower of the faith created by Edom, that is, Christianity. The remainder of the essay rests on this supposition, but I do not think the supposition is firmly rooted.

scott said...

Before you study Shadal read Megilla 6a and then you will see that Shadal's words are "falsehood and lies".

and thanks Ruth for your post.

joshwaxman said...

Shadal has in all likelihood *seen* Megillah 6a-b. And while it sets up Rome as descendants of Edom, Shadal can either

a) understand this as homiletic, akin to how they nicknamed Rome as Edom. See e.g. Maharatz Chayes on the nature of midrash, and how not all are intended literally, but were expounded to make some point.

or

b) say that this particular gemara is incorrect. See for example Shmuel haNagid and R' Avraham son of Rambam as to the claim that we can argue on midrash, even ones put forth in the gemara. (And many standard parshanim argue on midrashim in ways that do not allow the midrash to be simultaneously true as the peshat.)

I think it quite possible, also, that if you ask the Rabbis at Aish HaTorah, they will not be so quick to dismiss Shadal as an acceptable interpretation, at the least.

scott said...

First you wrote "Should we equate Edom with Rome, or with Christiandom? Once again, Shadal says no"

Now you write that he may "understand this as homiletic, akin to how they nicknamed Rome as Edom".

Fact is you are not sure.

You are a rationalist my friend. I lean in between the mystical and rational.

Zepho built Rome,...what he made houses? No children?

Peshat, Rezaz, Derash, and Sod are all valid.

Kenny S said...

The Talmud uses the term Esau to mean a Jew who took Jewish ideas but denied Judaism, and it generally refers to Rome. Because Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, indeed, the older brother, the greatest converts, who became the greatest rabbis, are from the Edomite line. Two of the most famous ones are Onkelos, in the time of Hillel, who authored the accepted Aramaic translation of the bible, and Akilas. Both were from the family of the Roman emperor," Rabbi David Eidensohn

Would this not apply to Jesus and Paul in addition to Rome?

joshwaxman said...

You are picking up on my writing style, in which I often qualify what I say. This is not a mark of weakness, that should be picked up upon to reject what I say.

See this recent post at KallahMagazine for an expansion upon this idea:
http://kallahmagazine.com/WordPress/?p=648
here.

To the point you raised. Shadal *does* say no. Read what Shadal says, and he *does* say no. There is no question about it. He said what he said.

The thing I am not sure about (and cannot be sure about, because I am not him and he is dead) is how he understands a particular gemara, in light of what he says here. He *could* say (a), or (b), or (c) which I did not mention or did not think of, or (d) he could be wrong. How could I possibly know? Still, (a) and (b) are very plausible to me as explaining Shadal, and I would lean towards (a).

The midrash about Tzefo, as mentioned, is quite late, post Ibn Ezra, and Shadal (and Ibn Ezra) can reject the historicity of midrashim. And they do.

"Peshat, Rezaz, Derash, and Sod are all valid."
perhaps, but meaning what. not necessarily literally. And, as mentioned, there is a valid, established school of thought that permits rejecting the historicity of midrashim. (Tzefo building Rome seems parallel to Remus and Romulus building Rome, and the point in the midrash seems that of establishing a country (Eretz), which was attacked.)

At any rate, I wish you much hatzlacha in your way -- but if you ever have a crisis of faith that causes you to question Aish's answers, please remember that their's is not the only approach, and that there are other valid Orthodox approaches.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

joshwaxman said...

"Would this not apply to Jesus and Paul in addition to Rome?"

perhaps it could in theory, assuming Rabbi Eidensohn is correct. But in practice, we would need to do a search on all occurrences of Edom as it occurs in Talmud and see if it is ever used in this context.

scott said...

Thanks for your kind words and willingness to debate.

I'll be in touch,...

Shalom,
Kol Tuv

scott said...

One word on Amos -you wrote "Your citation of Amos is one interpretation, but note that you are juxtaposing pasuk 12 with pasuk 13. If you look at the context, you will notice that pasuk 12 ends one prophecy and pasuk 13 begins a new one. It seems fairly straightforward to say that pasuk 11-12 are about the destruction of Edom, back then, while 13 and on, if indeed referring to end of days, has nothing to do with the destruction of Edom.
"

This is clearly one prophecy not two. The fact can be deduceced by comparing verse 11 to verse 15. "I will restore David's (ie Mashiach)tent,...they will possess Edom,,...I will plant Israel in their own land, never to be uprooted again.

It's clearly talking about the days of the Mashiach and is one prophecy-

Amos 9:11 "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places,
restore its ruins

12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that bear my name, [f] "
declares the LORD, who will do these things.

13 "The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills.

14 I will bring back my exiled [g] people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,"
says the LORD your God.

joshwaxman said...

1)

prophecy can often be interpreted in many different ways, and so I don't put too much stock in any one interpretation.

In terms of "Sukkat David," in verse 9:11, if I recall correctly from an Amos class I once took, there are different understandings of the phrase. E.g. it could refer to the Temple, or it could refer to the kingship under Davidic reign. If the former, well, Amos prophesied during the first Temple, and the temple was indeed rebuilt, as the second Temple. We need not say it refers to messiah. Even if the latter, it need not refer to mashiach. The Exilarchs traced their lineage back to the Davidic dynasty. As did Hillel. This could be construed as restoring to rule.

See here:
http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:H_FnUy-x-WIJ:www.davidicdynasty.org/word/chart4.doc+hillel+zerubavel&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us&client=firefox-a

We might also conceivably say that "David's fallen tent" refers to *Judea*, as a location, rather than specifically Davidic reign. And Hyrcanus would fit the bill, during this restoration of autonomy in Judea, when he attacked Edom. All in all, there are all sorts of explanations, which do not require this to be messianic, which are possible.

2) I do not see the comparison between the first and second groups of verses, but comparisons in theme could well be due to the fact that the same prophet said both.

That said, my impression that these are (or could be) separate prophecies is based on two factors:

i. נְאֻם-ה, "saith the LORD," opens and closes each quote. And it occurs at the end of 12 and the beginning of 13. At the very least, it is a close-parentheses and an open-parentheses.

ii. There is a petucha, a Masoretically required gap, between verse 12 and verse 13. See here:

http://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1509.htm

It appears as a {P} or a {פ} at the end of verse 12. This denotes a new topic or subtopic, or prophecy.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

scott said...

It is a subtopic rather than a new prophecy. Rashi does mention this as referring to the "the day destined for the redemption" and does not consider them seperate-

11. On that day, I will raise up the fallen Tabernacle of David, and I will close up their breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and build it up as in the days of yore.
On that day And, after all these will befall him, that day will come, the day destined for the redemption, and thereon…
I will raise up the fallen Tabernacle of David Jonathan renders: the kingdom of the house of David.
12. In order that they inherit the remnant of Edom and all the nations because My Name is called upon them, says the Lord Who does this.
In order that they inherit [I.e, in order that] Israel [inherit] the remnant of Edom etc.
because My Name is called upon them Heb. אֲשֶׁר, like כִּי, because.
13. Behold days are coming, says the Lord, that the plowman shall meet the reaper and the treader of the grapes the one who carries the seed, and the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
that the plowman shall meet the reaper (Lev. 26:5) “And your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing.” They will not finish plowing until the harvest comes, and they will not finish harvesting until the time of sowing comes.
shall melt Heb. תִּתְמוֹגַגְנָה. Jonathan renders: shall split. Tilled soil splits when rains come.
sweet wine Heb. עָסִיס. Good and sweet wine.
14. And I will return the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall rebuild desolate cities and inhabit [them], and they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their produce.
15. And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no longer be uprooted from upon their land, that I have given them, said the Lord your God.

joshwaxman said...

1. yes, I know Rashi. Rashi is presenting his own interpretation, not the *only* possible interpretation. On many different prophecies, if you check out the various commentaries, they present differing interpretations of those prophecies. I do not know what Shadal would say, but the fact that Rashi offers this explanation is no reason that Shadal would be compelled to agree with it.

2. That Rashi interprets it as referring to "the day destined for the redemption" does not mean (necessarily) that he understands it as the same prophecy. Prophets can have multiple prophecies, at different times, on the same topic. (Regardless, the prophecy does not start at verse 11.)

scott said...

Above you make an excellent point "Not all midrashim are created equally. There are early midrashim, and there are late midrashim. There are midrashim from the Tannaim,...You are citing this midrash yelamdeinu, but likely this is the only time you have seen anything from this this particular midrash,...This particular midrash is in Yalkut Talmud Torah by Rabbi Yaakov Sikili, and is from the 14th century."

Tou are absolutely right "all Midrashim are not created the same". Your logic is based on the time the Midrashim were written and you correctly point the one I quoted was from the 14th century.

Okay, let us follow that logic. Please consider these quotes among the earlist Midrashim written. Surely they are not all homiletic and it is very possible these Midrashim may be taken literally as some Midrashim can-

Esther Rabah 3, 5:
Claimed the Collective Soul of Israel before the Holy One, may He Be Blessed: "Master of the Universe, You saw that the evil Esau would come in the future to destroy the Jerusalem Temple, and exile Israel from their Land ... but [why is it that], 'You helped an orphan' (Psalms 10:14) - two orphans that remained of him [Esau], Romus and Romilus: You permitted the female wolf to nurse them, and in the end they stood and built two great towers in Rome."

Breishit Rabah, 67, 6:
Concerning Esau - "From the fat of the earth will be your home" (Genesis 27:39) - this is Italy.
Explanation of the Maharzu (Rabbi Zev the son of Israel Issar Einhorn of Horodna): Italy - that is, Rome, as it is written in Josephus [Flavius, an historian who lived at the end of the Second Temple period in Israel], that the son of Elifaz [the son of Esau] sailed to and was made king in Italy, and he stayed there, he and his descendants. Therefore, Rome is considered to be Edom.

Pirkei d'Rebbe Eliezer, 38:
And Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all the members of his household, and his flocks and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the Land of Canaan, and he went to another land because of Jacob his brother (Genesis 36:6-8) - And as a reward for uprooting all that was his to make room for Jacob his brother, he was given 100 cities, from Seir until Magdiel, as it is said, "The Chief of Magdiel, the Chief of Iram" (Genesis 36:43) - this is Rome.

Also consider how Rashi points out "for all time". How can this be true if Hyrcanus did away with Edom?- Rashi on Exodus 17:16: The hand of the Holy One May He Be Blessed is lifted up above His throne in an oath, that it shall be for Him war and enmity against Amalek for all time.

Now what is your refutation? It can't be the age of the Midrashim so you must find something else, which I am sure you will!

Shalom!!!

scott said...

You wrote-"That Rashi interprets it as referring to "the day destined for the redemption" does not mean (necessarily) that he understands it as the same prophecy."

I did not mean to imply what you are assuming. I meant two seperate points 1 Rashi refers it to the redemtion and 2 based on his commentary they are not seperate prophecies..

joshwaxman said...

My point was not about the age of the midrash being alone what makes it authoritative. The point was that there is no distinction between a midrash created by Rabbi X and a peshat created by Rabbi Y. And that just as Shadal can argue on Ibn Ezra, he can argue on others that are darshanim, just as he can argue on pashtanim.

But this is not painting myself in a corner that therefore Shadal must accept every early midrash. Indeed, there are many places where he rejects early midrashim! See his peirush on chumash to see what I mean.

I have to surrender the computer at the moment. But to give you some dates on the midrashim you mentioned:
Esther Rabba is post-Talmudic, with parts drawn from early material and some from sefer Yosipon (11th century). It was put together around 12th-13th century.

Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer is also post-Talmudic, not before the 8th century.

Bereishit Rabba is indeed an early midrash, and is the aggadic material of the Amoraim of Talmud Yerushalmi.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

scott said...

What is up with you and Shadal?

Why are you constantly referring almost only to him?

How did you first come across him, and why do you rely so much on his words without balancing them with a variety of other authoritative positions/opinions?

Is this seeking the truth?

scott said...

You dating of the Midrashim is debated-

Aggadic Midrash

—— Tannaitic ——
Seder Olam Rabbah
Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael
Alphabet of Akiba ben Joseph
Baraita of the Forty-nine Rules
Baraita on the Thirty-two Rules
Baraita on Tabernacle Construction
—— 400–600 ——
Genesis Rabbah • Eichah Rabbah
Pesikta de-Rav Kahana
Esther Rabbah • Midrash Iyyov
Leviticus Rabbah • Seder Olam Zutta
Midrash Tanhuma • Megillat Antiochus
—— 650–900 ——
Avot of Rabbi Natan
Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther_Rabba

joshwaxman said...

"What is up with you and Shadal?"

Because that is the point of this post. I cited what Shadal has to say. You challenged me about whether Shadal would really say it if he saw these midrashim, and I am responding within his position.

Even according to the disputed estimate, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer is post-Talmudic. 650 is post-Talmudic. (The late dating is based, IIRC, on a reference to the wives of Muhammed, and to the building of a mosque on the Temple mount.) 400 for Esther Rabba would be just about the time of Rav Ashi. Perhaps I will respond more to the point later.

Plenty of others hold you can argue with midrashim. But I am indeed responding within Shadal.

scott said...

Peace about Shadal, I understand - you are correct. It's your column you decide the post topic!

Kol Tuv

joshwaxman said...

if you are interested in more about Shadal, by the way, I've been translating sections of his "Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah." Namely, the parts where he discusses the age of trup and nikkud, whether one is allowed to argue on trup and nikkud, and how classic commentators (Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Rabbenu Bachya, Abarbanel, and Radak) did exactly that.

You can check the latest post on this subject
here.

joshwaxman said...

Correcting my earlier comment:

a bit of wrap-up:
1. Meforshim are entitled to their opinions, and you can certainly rely on Abarbanel, if you life. However, we are also entitled to evaluate matters ourselves. It is not a matter of blindly following Shadal because of his conclusion, but rather, as a matter of history, he seems correct that it does not seem to be true that (a) Rome was in any way related to the Biblical nation of Edom, or that (b) the early Christians were from Edom (unless we agree to (a)).

2. Early midrashim, or gemaras, can possibly prove one of things. They could prove that Rome really *was* Edom, or they could prove that Chazal *thought* that Rome was Edom. If the former, then it is a reason to reject Shadal's interpretation. If the latter, it is *also* a reason to reject some of Shadal, namely his explanation of Chazal's referral to Rome as Edom. For Shadal claimed that this was just a "nickname." (He further argues that even Chazal, in this nickname, only referred to the Roman empire, but not Ibn Ezra's extension to include Christians. And Rome is not very powerful nowadays.)

It is possible that it is all a nickname. But it is also possible that, akin to what Shadal writes, they became equated in the popular mindset, because of their hating/hated status, such that they even framed derashot as if Rome = Edom.

It is almost inconceivable (to me) that Shadal was unaware of gemaras such as Megillah 6a, when he wrote that Edom is not equal to Rome. For one of Shadal's primary sources is Rashi, and his commentary should be viewed as, in part, responding to Rashi. And Rashi on Bereishit 25, which is one of the places Shadal writes this (see above), writes that:
Two nations are in your womb [The word גוֹיִם] is written גֵייִם [which is pronounced] like גֵאִים (exalted persons). These were Antoninus and Rabbi [Judah the Prince], from whose tables neither radishes nor lettuce were lacking either in the summer or in the winter. — [From Avodah Zarah 11a]

So he knew that some of these midrashim explicitly equated Rome and Edom, on the level of derashot and not just on the level of nickname. Which makes me think he meant it in the broader sense.

Whether we agree with him is certainly another matter.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Deuteronomy 4:28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
Deuteronomy 28:36 The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone.

Deuteronomy 28:64 Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.

“I might almost say that the verse in the Bible, occurring repeatedly: 'Thou shalt serve strange gods, wood and stone. (Deut. xxviii. 36, 64), contains an allusion to those who worship the wood and those who worship the stone” Judah Halevi - al Khazari

Wood and stone, this refers to the respective religions of Esau - Christianity, and Ishmael – Islam. HaGaon Rebbi Eliyahu of Vilna Aderet Eliyahu on Deut 29:16

Spiritual symbolism is important here - The Christian Cross is wood, and inside the Kaaba, the black box the Muslims pray towards, is a stone. No these items are not worshipped per say, but are by their choice symbolic of their religions- All Muslims worldwide must face the kabba when they pray and the stone is the most important part of the kaaba. xtians are commanded ‘Matthew 16:24 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (many other examples in NT)

Jer 16:13. And I will cast you off this land to a land that you and your fathers did not know, and you shall serve there other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.
and you will serve there other gods Targum Jonathan paraphrases: And you will serve there nations that worship idols day and night.

14. Therefore, behold days are coming, says the Lord, and it shall no longer be said, "As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,"

Therefore An expression of an oath. Although you betrayed Me, I have an oath that I will redeem you.

and it shall no longer be said Our Rabbis expounded: Not that the departure from Egypt shall be uprooted from its place, but the final redemption will be the most important and the departure from Egypt secondary to it.

15. But, "As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the northland and from all the lands where He had driven them, " and I will restore them to their land that I gave to their forefathers.

Targum Onkelos on Deut 4:28 And there you will serve other nations, worshipers of idols , the work of human hands , wood and stone


Deut 4:25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger,
26 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.
27 The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you.
28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him.
31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.
32 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?

33 Has any other people heard the voice of God [a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?

34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire.
37 Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength,
38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.
39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

3 times we enetered the Land and 3 times Amalek tried to murder all Jews - Amalek, Haman, Hitler.

Coincidence? Of course not!

attilashrugs said...

1. I am trying to recall where it was that I read that someone claimed that when _______ happened the angel took a stick and mud and built the site of Rome, And when _______ happened the walls of Rome were built.
2. I was interested in the comments on whether or not all Prophecy has been fulfilled. That would be sad. But here is one that clearly has not: Ezekiel 37:15 to the end.

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