Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Gemara on the war between Edom and Persia

The gemara from Yoma 10a - image courtesy of - discusses what will happen in this great war between Edom and Persia.

The gemara states as follows:
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of Rabbi [Yehuda HaNasi], 'in the future Rome will fall in the hand of Persia, as it says (Yirmiyahu 49), "therefore hear the advice of HaShem which he advised regarding Edom, and the Thoughts which He Thought regarding the inhabitants of Teman, [truly] the youngest of the sheep, [truly] they will make their dwelling places desolate." Rabba bar Ulla challenged this: [From where do we see] the implication that "the youngest of the sheep" is Persia? As it is written, (Daniel, 1), "The ram which you saw, with the horns, he [represents] the kings of Media and Persia. And say that ["the youngest of sheep" refers to] Yavan (Greeks), as it is written (also in Sefer Daniel), "and the young goat is the King of Yavan". When Rav Chaviva bar Surmaki went up, he said before the Rabbis, 'Whoever does not know the interpretation of the pasuk, should try to refute Rabbi [Yehuda HaNasi]?' 'What is "the youngest of the sheep" [referring to]? The youngest of his brothers. As Rav Yosef taught, "Tiras" is "Persia" (see Bereishis: 10, 2 - "Tiras" is the youngest of the children of Yefes). Rabba bar bar Channa said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan in the name of Rabbi Yehuda the son of Rabbi Ilai, 'In the future Rome will fall in the hand of Persia'; This is a Kal Va'Chomer (as if to say "how much more so") - If the first Beis HaMikdash (Jewish Temple) that the descendants of Shem built and was [subsequently] destroyed by the Chaldeans (Casdim) [and as a result] the Casdim fell at the hands of the Persians, the Second Beis HaMikdash which the Persians built and the Romans destroyed, is it not logical that the Romans would fall in the hands of the Persians? Rav said, 'In the future, Persia will fall in the hand of Rome'. Rav Kahana and Rav Assi said to Rav, 'The builders [of the Beis HaMikdash will fall] to [its] destroyers?' Rav said [in response] to them, "Yes! It is a decree of the King (i.e. HaShem). There are those who say that he (Rav) said to them, 'they (the Persians) also destroyed synagogues, and furthermore, it is a decree of the King that the builders will fall at the hands of the destroyers'... In another tractate of the gemara dealing with this war, the great commentators, Tosafos, comment that really Edom will win the war. However, in Yechezkhel 32, where the war of Gog and Magog is prophesized, we learn of three major wars that are to take place. According to the Malbim, (pasuk 24 - 25) both statements in the gemara are true, Persia will fall to Rome and Rome will fall to Persia! The Malbim says that the notzrim will fight the Yishmailim (two of the large religions). Persia will inflict great damage to Edom and the allies of Edom will come to inflict damage on Persia as a result. Edom is punished for instilling fear upon the residents of Eretz Yisrael, for destroying the Second Beis HaMikdash, and for harming Yisrael. Edom's allies will exact punishment on Persia for her attack against Edom. In the end, both Edom and Persia lose the war. This war is supposed to happen right around the coming of Mashiach!


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