Megillah, Daf Vav, Part 3



This sugya continues with some more geography.


אמר רבי אבהו: +צפניה ב‘+ ועקרון תעקרזו קסרי בת אדום, שהיא יושבת בין החולות, והיא היתה יתד תקועה לישראל בימי יוונים, וכשגברה מלכות בית חשמונאי ונצחום היו קורין אותה אחידת מגדל שיר.


R. Abbahu said: "Ekron shall be rooted up" (Zephaniah 2:4); this is Caesarea the daughter of Edom, which is situated among the sands, and which was a thorn in the side of Israel in the days of the Greeks. When the House of the Hasmoneans grew powerful and conquered them, they called it "The capture of the tower of Shir."


R. Abbahu identifies Ekron with the Greek city, Caesarea, which he calls daughter of Edom. Edom is related to Esau and in rabbinic literature is associated with Rome/Greece. I should note that I’m not sure if this is the same Caesarea that still exists to this day. I believe that it is a different one, for Ekron is located further south, in the area that is today Gaza.

This city was a thorn in the side of the Jews during the Hasmonean period, and when the Hasmoneans conquered it they called it "the capture of the tower of Shir."


אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא: מאי דכתיב +זכריה ט‘+ והסרתי דמיו מפיו ושקציו מבין שניו ונשאר גם הוא לאלהינו, והסרתי דמיו מפיוזה בית במיא שלהן, ושקציו מבין שניו, זה בית גליא שלהן, ונשאר גם הוא לאלהינואלו בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות שבאדום. +זכריה ט‘+ והיה כאלף ביהודה ועקרון כיבוסיאלו תראטריות וקרקסיות שבאדום שעתידין שרי יהודה ללמד בהן תורה ברבים.


R. Yose b. Hanina said: What is meant by what is written, "And I will take away his blood out of his mouth and his detestable things from between his teeth, and he also shall be a remnant for our God?" (Zechariah 9:7).

"And I will take away his blood out of his mouth": this refers to their sacrificial shrines.

"And his detestable things from between his teeth": this refers to their oracles.

"And he also shall be a remnant for our God": these are the synagogues and houses of learning in Edom.

"And he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite" (ibid): these are the theatres and circuses in Edom in which one day the chieftains of Judah shall publicly teach the Torah.


R. Yose b. Hanina now interprets a verse from Zechariah containing a prophecy against Zur. The prophecy mentions Ekron which was the topic above.

The midrash on the prophecy is understandable, I think. Note the theme of theaters and circuses becoming synagogues. This is a frequent theme in rabbinic literature.


אמר רבי יצחק: לשםזו פמייס, עקרון תעקרזו קסרי בת אדום, שהיא היתה מטרופולין של מלכים. איכא דאמרי: דמרבי בה מלכי, ואיכא דאמרי: דמוקמי מינה מלכי. קסרי וירושלים, אם יאמר לך אדם: חרבו שתיהןאל תאמן, ישבו שתיהןאל תאמן. חרבה קסרי וישבה ירושלים, חרבה ירושלים וישבה קסריתאמן. שנאמר +יחזקאל כ"ו+ אמלאה החרבה: אם מליאה זוחרבה זו. אם מליאה זו חרבה זו. רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר מהכא: +בראשית כ"ה+ ולאם מלאם יאמץ.


R. Yitzchak said: Leshem is Pamias. "Ekron shall be rooted out": this is Caesarea, the daughter of Edom, which was a metropolis of kings.

There are those who say that this means that kings were brought up there.

And there are those that say that kings were appointed from there.

Caesarea and Jerusalem [are rivals]. If one says to you that both are destroyed, do not believe him; if he says that both are flourishing, do not believe him; if he says that Caesarea is waste and Jerusalem is flourishing, or that Jerusalem is waste and Caesarea is flourishing, you may believe him, as it says, "I shall be filled, she is laid waste" (Ezekiel 26:2); if this one is filled, that one is laid waste, and if that one is filled, this one is laid waste.

R. Nahman b. Yitzchak derived the same lesson from here: "And the one nation shall be stronger than the other nation" (Genesis 25:23).


Leshem is a city conquered by the tribe of Dan. Pamias is the Greek name of the city.

Caesarea is again identified as Ekron. According to this statement, it seems to be a place where kings are made. I assume that this is related to the name of the city Caesarea, after Caesar.

The continuation of R. Yitzchak’s statement points out that Jewish culture and Greco-Roman culture (symbolized by Caesarea and Jerusalem) exist in an inverse relationship. When one thrives, the other suffers.

To be honest, I think this remains one of the great challenges of American Jewish existence. Can the "Greco-Roman" side, the part of us that wants to integrate with the modern world, adopt modern values and lifestyles, thrive at the same time that the traditional Jewish side thrives.