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The Romans Were Not Edomites

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Given the historical and spiritual significance of the Bible, Kevin has devoted himself to studies through prayer and discernment.

Welcome. Today we are going to go over the doctrine that says that the Edomites are the progenitor of the Romans, and show how this is entirely false according to scripture.

  1. Simeon ben Yohai
  2. Rabbi Akiva
  3. Who Built the Kazneh?
  4. Edomite Coins
  5. The Macedonians
  6. The Book of Jasher
  7. Who Are The Romans?

Simeon ben Yohai

We will be reading "Picture History of Jewish Civilization" and "The Secrets of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai" in this lesson. But first, we need to get some info on that last book. Rabbi Simon did not write this book. It is a commentary on his teachings. He was a 2nd-century tannaitic sage in ancient Israel, said to be active after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. This book about his writings was written in the 8th century A.D.

"Picture History of Jewish Civilization"

This is where it quotes "The Secrets of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai"

  • "And when he saw that the kingdom of the sons of Ishmael would eventually spread throughout the world, Simeon Bar Yochai wept and said, lord of the universe, is it not enough for your sons what the evil kingdom of Edom [Rome] did to them, that you must also send the kingdom of Ismael against us? The holy one blessed be he answered, "Do not fear, son of man, for the holy one be he brings the kingdom of Ishmael only to save you from this evil one, and He sets a prophet of his choice over them, and they will come and restore it [to the Jews], and there will be a great hatred between them and the children of Esau [Rome]."

There is a lot more information we need to get on "The Secrets of Rabbi Simon ben Yohai". It is a Jewish myth of the mid-eighth century, which present a Judaic messianic interpretation of the Arab conquest of the early 7th century. This was a Judaic messianic story, meaning they did not believe in the Savior of the New Testament. This story was about the first coming of whom they believed might be the Savior that would bring about the end. The 8th century has gone by us. So this itself is not a reliable source. Now we need to understand where the idea of an Edom-Rome connection came about. Why did they refer to Edom as Rome?

In Jewish history, the Roman Empire was identified with Edom, specifically the Amalekites. Spanish Rabbinic leader Rambam and Ezra, French Rabbinic leader Rashi, and more use Edomite to refer to Rome, the Byzantine Empire. Here is an excerpt from Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon in his book "Gate of Redemption" in regards to Rambam.

First Gate

  • "The ships will come from the coast of Kittim (Numbers 24 24).... I have just said that the Kittim are Romans, we find Kittim to be one of the children of Javan, the ancestors of the Greeks. Kittim, however, became the head of the large family which eventually became the separate nation named for Kittim, their ancestor. Thus we have found in the Torah of Moshe (Moses), peace be upon him, a clear promise of the future redemption which is to come upon us."

Third Gate

  • "We who rely on the opinion of our Rabbis of blessed memory believe that we are presently in the exile of Edom (Rome) and that we shall have no respite from it until the coming of the Messiah (Their first coming of the Messiah, not the true Second Coming as he had already come before that point). The Edomites, the nation around Mount Seir, descended from Esau, who was the first to mistakenly follow after the man who claimed that he was the Messiah. They also ascribed Elohimliness to him."

These men do not even acknowledge the true Savior. They are saying the Edomites acknowledged him.

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  • "When they came to the land of Italy, their errors spread to the nearby city of Rome. There in the days of Constantine who ruled over Rome, the council under the authority of the bishop of the city of Rome determined their belief in him and established it as the religion of the empire. This above all else is the main cause and reason that Rome and Edom are considered as one kingdom although they are different nations. In spite of that difference they are related because of their uniformity of belief which makes them one people and one nation."

So even when they called Rome and Edom the same thing, they established a clear distinction between them as races. It was never used to refer to them as the same exact race of people.

"The Jewish Encyclopedia: Use Of Name:"

  • "The name "Edom" is used by the Talmudists for the Roman empire, and they applied to Rome every passage of the Bible referring to Edom or to Esau. In Leviticus Rabbah (xiii.) Rome, under the name of "Edom," is compared to a boar, and the symbolic name "Seir" was used by the poets of the Middle Ages not only for Rome (comp. Ecclus. 1. 26, Hebr.), but also for Christianity (Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 620). On this account, the word "Edom" was often expunged by the censor and another name substituted (Popper, "Censorship of Hebrew Books," p. 58). In place of "Edom," the word "Ḥazir" (swine) was occasionally used, perhaps as a mere term of reproach (but see Epstein, "Beiträge zur Jüd. Alterthumskunde," p. 35). In Midrash Tanḥuma Bereshit, Hadrian is called "the King of Edom." The Talmudists, however, made an exception in favor of Antoninus Pius, whom they assured would attain paradise, because he had not acted in the manner of Esau ('Ab. Zarah 10b). 'Abodah Zarah 10a, however, explaining Obadiah, verse 2, says that Edom had neither written nor spoken language. This is inconsistent with its application to Rome."

Here we see that the Talmudists decided to refer to every mention of the Edomites as the Roman Empire without the use of context.

  • "When traditional Jews read the Torah’s accounts of Jacob’s twin brother Esau, they are more than likely to call forth sinister associations of his absolute and perverse wickedness. Nor is this stigma limited to the particular person from the book of Genesis; Esau assumed the status of a timeless prototype whose hatred that was embodied in subsequent oppressors of Israel, especially the mighty Roman empire." (When in Edom... by Eliezer Segal.)
  • "The equation of Esau with Rome is so pervasive in our tradition that it can demand considerable effort to confront the actual words and stories of the Torah, and to remind ourselves that the Esau who emerges from that narrative, though perhaps not the brightest lentil in the pottage, is hardly the epitome of evil into which he was transformed by Midrashic expositions

Rabbi Akiva


In “The Story of the Jewish People: Being a History of the Jewish People Since Bible Times, Volume 1.”, Rabbi Akiva states that the Edomites are the Romans.

  • “"Why," asked Turnus Rufus of Rabbi Akiba on a subsequent occasion, "have we incurred the hatred of your God so that he says: ' I hate Esau '? (the Romans were said to be the descendants of Esau).”

There are a few things wrong with the idea that this proves Esau and the Romans are the same race. Firstly, just because there was an Edomite in Rome does not mean all Edomites are Romans. Secondly, Akiva was one of the reasons the Jews equated Esau with Rome not based on fact, but false interpretation as shown earlier.