Q & A: Esau, Edom, Rome and the Christians
Question: Tradition has it that somehow Amalek wandered into Edom and in some unclear manner Rome was included in the Amalek family tree.
What explanation is given by the sources for this series of relocations???
It is clear that historically and factually this tradition is nonsense. Edom is not connected to Amalek and, moreover, the Hashmonaim converted the Edomites, and King Herod was even from amongst them…!!! Do the sources speak at all about the fact that the seed of Amalek became that of Edom and merged into the Jewish people…!! This means that mixed into the chosen nation are representatives of Amalek, whom we are commanded to destroy…Is this issue discussed, and what are the conclusions about Israel??? Now, if someone includes the “other side,” does he have to be destroyed?
|I will quote a summary of this issue from the “Between Jews and Christians,” Open University unit, pg 11-121:
After the destruction of the Second Temple, Edom became a soubriquet for Rome. Thus the new villain has taken on the name and fate of the old villain. Leading to this, it seems, is the prophetic image of Edom as the great destroyer, guilty of the ruin of Israel…Once the Roman empire became the Christian empire and Christianity took the place of idolatry as the religion of Rome, the name of Edom was transferred to the Christians…In Medieval Jewish literature the only Edom is Christianity, for the prophecies are customarily interpreted to mean the current, close, and familiar villain…How is Rome Edom? The author of Sefer Yosippon (an anonymous historic work written in southern Italy in the 10th century, a re-working of “Antiquity of the Jews” and “War of the Jews” by Flavius Josephus) suggests a genealogy for Rome which explains the connection between Aeneas, the founder of Rome according to Roman mythology, and Zepho (and not Amalek, as you wrote in your question), grandson of Esau. According to Sefer Yosippon Joseph enslaved Zepho the son of Eliphaz the son of Esau and brought him to Egypt. After Joseph’s death Zepho escaped Egypt and went to Africa, to Aegneus king of Carthage.
From Africa he went to the land of Chittim. Due to his bravery he was given dominion over all the land of Chittim and throughout Italy. His sons reigned after him, and that is why the Romans are Edomites. Zepho’s grandson, Latinus, is the one who gave the Romans their language and their alphabet. Thus, since Zepho went to Italy carrying the enmity against Jacob, there is no question that he bequeathed this enmity to his descendants, the Romans.
Isaac Abarbanel summarizes the Jewish view of Edom and adds:
“The true sages accepted as tradition that the soul of Esau was reborn as the soul of Jesus the Christian…and that is why he is called Yeshua, which is an anagram [in Hebrew] of Esau, and that is why any who follow his religion and his faith and worship him should properly be called children of Edom, since Jesus is Esau and Esau is Edom. This religion began in Rome and its roots are there. The Roman caesars and the kings of Christianity were the first who accepted it, and therefore all the Christians who believe in the religion of Jesus are without a doubt people of Edom the offspring of Esau.”
This is the way of the religious. They invent a “history” that will suit their whim. Ibn Ezra (on Genesis 27:40) slapped them down and wrote “And the sleepers who have not awoken from their foolish sleep will think that we are in the exile of Edom, but this is not so.”
See also what we wrote in the answer to The Holy Writ and historical events as a means of realizing religious people’s delusions.