"The chief of Magdiel and the chief of Iram." (Gen. 36:43)

G‑d told Abraham that the Jewish people would be subjugated over the course of history by four kingdoms. The final subjugation, which immediately precedes the messianic age, will be under Rome.(Bereishit Raba 44:20) Our present exile is seen as an extension of the Roman subjugation, since culturally and legally western civilization shares the values and worldview of ancient Rome. It may be divided into two eras, Magdiel and Iram, both of which refer to Rome.(See Nachmanides on this verse.)

Magdiel, which connotes "towering over G‑d," refers to the first era of the Roman exile, during which Rome actively opposed G‑dliness. However, through the refinement of the descendants of Esau during the exile, the loftiness ("Rome" in Hebrew means lofty!) of "Rome" is revealed. This will lead to the era of Iram.

Iram, whom the Midrash (Bereishit Raba 83:4) describes as gathering treasures for the Messiah, refers to the time when "Rome" will no longer battle G‑d but will in fact use its "treasures," i.e., its resources, to contribute to the unfolding of the messianic era.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, vol. 5, pp. 411-412
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org