I always heard some Rabbis and even written in books and commentaries that the Romans are the descendants of Edom. Is there a verse in the Tanach saying that ? if not, is there a page in the Talmud saying that ?


2 Answers 2


Chazal identify Rome with Edom such as in Eicha Rabbati (parsha 4):

שישי ושמחי בת אדום. זו קיסרין ורומי

However, the Parshablog here cites (and translates) Shadal as follows:

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.

In addition, Ibn Caspi is cited here as agreeing with Shadal.

אדום כבר נמחה שמו וזכרו על יד נבוכד נצר ואם שבו צד מצרים וזולתם, אדום לא שב, כמו שפרש ישעיה שהפליג בספור תרבנו מדור לדור תחרב לנצח נצחים וגו׳ (ישעיה ל״ר י') יעוין שמה, לכן מהיום ההוא והנה לא נמצא אדומי רק שנים ושלשה מפוזרים אנה ואנה סביבות הר שעיר, שהוא קרוב לארץ ישראל, ומה מאד יתעה המוננו וזולתנו שיחשבו כי בני הארץ הזאת הם אדומים

This is also the opinion of Ibn Ezra, and Ramban.

  • BTW I know that Eicha Rabbasi may have actually been redacted after the time of Chazal.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 20, 2015 at 15:58
  • I did read in the book "The Essential Zohar" By Rav P.S. Berg (I know his ideas are not loved by Jewish authorities) that in the end of days when the patriarchs set on the feast of G-d, the glass of wine will be passed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, .... till it come to David because only David saw himself worthy of giving the blessing. Anyway, the reason why Isaac didn't find himself worthy of giving the blessing over the wine is because his descendants destroyed the temple. I understood from that that he meant Edom.
    – mil
    Aug 20, 2015 at 16:16
  • 1
    . מגילה-דף ו - ב גרממיא של אדום
    – user6591
    Aug 20, 2015 at 17:53
  • שני גוים בבטנך. גיים כתיב, אלו אנטונינוס ורבי, שלא פסקו מעל שלחנם לא צנון ולא חזרת לא בימות החמה ולא בימות הגשמים: ושני לאמים. אין לאום אלא מלכות: ממעיך יפרדו. מן המעים הם נפרדים, זה לרשעו וזה לתמו: מלאם יאמץ. לא ישוו בגדולה, כשזה קם זה נופל, וכן הוא אומר (יחזקאל כו ב) אמלאה החרבה, לא נתמלאה צור אלא מחרבנה של ירושלים:
    – user6591
    Aug 20, 2015 at 17:59

There is at least one reference in the Talmud that the Romans are descendants of Edom.

Avoda Zara 10b:

אמר ליה אנטונינוס לרבי אתינא לעלמא דאתי. אמר ליה הן. הא כתיב שמה אדום מלכיה ושריה

Antoninus (the Roman emperor) said to Rebbi "will I come to the next world?" He said to him "yes." [He responded] "But is it not written (Yechezkel 32:29) 'There [in Gehinnom] is Edom and its kings"...

The Talmud here clearly associates the Romans with the Edomites.

This proof is brought by R' Eliezer Mimetz in Sefer Yere'im Amud Arayos siman 43.

  • Where does that Gemara discuss lineage? It certainly does clearly associate, as you said.
    – Double AA
    Dec 13, 2016 at 4:45
  • @DoubleAA I and the Yere'im found it reasonable to assume that to be an Edomite you must descend from them. (I am aware that R' Yaakov Emden has a Teshuva which suggests otherwise.) As an aside, did you not have this question on the other answer here? Dec 14, 2016 at 4:03
  • Chazal clearly associate the two as you mention. The relevant question seems to be is that association thematic/metaphorical or biological. Nothing here helps answer that. The other answer did bring sources which directly address that.
    – Double AA
    Dec 14, 2016 at 5:11

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