The Gemara in Avoda Zara 2b says:

וכי מאחר דחזו לקמאי דלא מהני ולא מידי מ"ט עיילי סברי הנך אישתעבדו בהו בישראל ואנן לא שעבדנו בישראל מאי שנא הני דחשיבי ומאי שנא הני דלא חשיבי להו משום דהנך משכי במלכותייהו עד דאתי משיחא

The Gemara asks: But once the other nations see that every-thing said by the first ones, Rome and Persia, is completely ineffective, what is the reason that they come forward? The Gemara answers that they think: Those Empires subjugated the Jewish people, but we did not subjugate the Jewish people. The Gemara further asks: What is different about these, Rome and Persia, which were singled out explicitly, and what is different about those other empires that come afterward, which were not singled out and mentioned by name? It is because with regard to these, Rome and Persia, their kingship extends until the coming of the Messiah.

I suppose we could say that Persia today is basically Iran, but can we really say that Rome still exists today? Is the Gemara saying something other than that Rome will exist until the time of Moshiach?

  • 3
    Rome = Christians, Persia = Muslims.
    – ezra
    Aug 28, 2019 at 3:38
  • Rome is the western world, and the West is admittedly their successors May 17, 2020 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


Many meforshim understand that when the Gemara refers to Rome it is referring to the Christian nations. See here for example in the Ramban in Sefer HaGeulah - start from last word on the sixth line. http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=41398&st=&pgnum=51&hilite=

(The discussion of the four kingdoms is from the beginning of the perek which starts 3 pages earlier.)

  • 1
    +1 This exhile (as opposed to the brief Babylonian exhile between the two temples) is referred to as the "Roman Exhile" and Western Civilization is referred to as "Rome" in many, many sources. In fact, the Edom/Esav = Rome = Western Civilization trope is so common I'm not sure where to begin looking for sources to cite Aug 27, 2019 at 23:07

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