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I have a vague notion of hearing in various places that America or Western culture in general is Edom and that this final exile is called Galus Edom. Also as in reference to the blessings in Genesis 27, when one is in power (Esau) the other (Jacob) isn't. Anyway, is Western culture considered Edom?

If so, why them (when Europeans existed during the time of the Kingdom of Edom) and not whoever still lives in southern Jordan (where the Kingdom of Edom actually was)?

  • @HodofHod Hmm, kind of, but I kind of want to know why Jordan lost its "title" of Edom (that is, if Edom is considered some other vague notion of Rome or America or Western culture or Christianity). – A L Jul 10 '13 at 0:04
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    Because of where they settled. – Seth J Jul 10 '13 at 1:28
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Edom is considered by the Rabbis to be the Roman Empire, and while contemporary Western culture isn't Roman per se, it is directly descended from Roman culture and ideas.

Sources:

It's stated here - http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0006_0_05562.html - that the late Tanaic and Amoraic Rabbis identified Edom as the founders of the Roman Empire. Such comparisons are also scattered across the Gemarah.

This question - Are Europeans Edomites? - echoes this view as well, and describes the differences in opinion as to whether the comparisons of Rome to Edom are literal or metaphorical.

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    MarkN, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for contributing an answer! You could make this even more valuable by editing in a source for your point about the Rabbis' equation of Edom with Rome. I hope you'll look around and find other material here that interests you, perhaps including our 19 other questions about exile. – Isaac Moses Jul 9 '13 at 22:04
  • You may be accurate in stating that later Tanaitic sources correlated the two, but it seems historically/factually accurate to state that the tribe of Edom living proximal to the land of Israel before yishuv ha'aretz is certainly NOT the Roman empire that sprang up hundreds of years later after the fall of the Greeks. – Isaac Kotlicky Aug 23 '16 at 11:43
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See Tshuvas Yaavetz Chelek 1 Siman 46 where he asserts that the assumption that Italy is Edom is so strong and well known (even to all non-Jews) that he suggest against marrying a convert from Italy and surrounding countries until the third generation.

Also see the Gemara in Avoda Zara 11b, the bizarre spectacle performed in Rome to symbolize Esav defeating Yaakov. The Soncino brings a different pshat on the Gemara, but Rashi and everyone since learns as mentioned.

I do recall hearing a tape from Rabbi Avigdor Miller saying that the leaders of Rome were from Edom, not the commonfolk.

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To quote the ParshaBlog:

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.

Quoting ParshaBlog again, Ibn Caspi say pretty much the same thing:

Thus, nochri and ach are relative to one another, and are a matter of degree and so may be ambiguous in places. And so let us say we are willing to grant that an Edomi, elsewhere referred to as ach, would be encompassed in this prohibition of usury. Even so, the Edomites were obliterated by Nevuchadnezzar, as we see in sefer Yeshaya. And while the hamon am and others like them make this mistake in thinking that people of that country (?France, Spain?) were of Edom, this is indeed an error. There may be a few around Har Seir. And while the Egyptians returned to Egypt, the Edomite nation did not return. Furthermore, this country of Ibn Caspi was settled in the days of Nevuchadnezzar, with a different populace, that of the sons of Yefes, as Josephus notes.

Ibn Ezra and Ramban are cited here as agreeing. The afforementioned link brings those who disagree as well.

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People like to darshan that america is the child of rome. In truth the medrash rabba 75 9 says that yaakov avinu davened for the creation of barbaria and germania (not to be confused with the modern Germany, wiki it, it compromised southern germany and neighboring countries) to keep eisav, rome, busy so they wouldn't be free to slaughter the jews completely. (According to this medrash we now read the gemara in megila 6b 'germania shel edom' as germania the nemesis of edom, as the gemara does with the rabbanim lihavdil 'rabi yehuda shel hachachamim' meaning rabi yehuda who argues with the chachamim.) So considering that America was founded mainly by British immigrants and its religious and educational practices refaced by the southern germany immigrants (the largest immigrant group in america) i would venture to say America is the modern day realization of yaakov avinu's tefila, the country to save us from the horrible antisemitism rampant in all countries formerly of the roman empire, namely the entire europe. Not to say barbaria, Britain, or germania like us jews, but they are not eisav.

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    Hi. You've answered this question twice, and I can't tell how your answers relate to each other. If you want to add further information to an answer, please use the "edit" link below it to do so. This one doesn't look like a stand-alone answer, so later I'll delete it (after you've seen this). – Monica Cellio Jun 13 '14 at 14:12
  • The question seemed twofold. First the connection of western culture to edom, second how or why to assume they moved. My first answer addressed the second point, not answering it but addressing it. My second answer pertained to the issue of correlation of cultures. – user6591 Jun 13 '14 at 14:47
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    Ok. It would be better if you were to do both within one answer -- two-fold question calls for a two-fold answer rather than two one-fold answers. Thanks. – Monica Cellio Jun 13 '14 at 15:21

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