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בס"ד

Notes on Megillat Esther

Source Sheet by Tzvi Pittinsky
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  1. (א) וַיְהִ֖י בִּימֵ֣י אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ ה֣וּא אֲחַשְׁוֵר֗וֹשׁ הַמֹּלֵךְ֙ מֵהֹ֣דּוּ וְעַד־כּ֔וּשׁ שֶׁ֛בַע וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים וּמֵאָ֖ה מְדִינָֽה׃ (ב) בַּיָּמִ֖ים הָהֵ֑ם כְּשֶׁ֣בֶת ׀ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֗וֹשׁ עַ֚ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַלְכוּת֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּשׁוּשַׁ֥ן הַבִּירָֽה׃ (ג) בִּשְׁנַ֤ת שָׁלוֹשׁ֙ לְמָלְכ֔וֹ עָשָׂ֣ה מִשְׁתֶּ֔ה לְכָל־שָׂרָ֖יו וַעֲבָדָ֑יו חֵ֣יל ׀ פָּרַ֣ס וּמָדַ֗י הַֽפַּרְתְּמִ֛ים וְשָׂרֵ֥י הַמְּדִינ֖וֹת לְפָנָֽיו׃ (ד) בְּהַרְאֹת֗וֹ אֶת־עֹ֙שֶׁר֙ כְּב֣וֹד מַלְכוּת֔וֹ וְאֶ֨ת־יְקָ֔ר תִּפְאֶ֖רֶת גְּדוּלָּת֑וֹ יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים שְׁמוֹנִ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת יֽוֹם׃ (ה) וּבִמְל֣וֹאת ׀ הַיָּמִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה עָשָׂ֣ה הַמֶּ֡לֶךְ לְכָל־הָעָ֣ם הַנִּמְצְאִים֩ בְּשׁוּשַׁ֨ן הַבִּירָ֜ה לְמִגָּ֧דוֹל וְעַד־קָטָ֛ן מִשְׁתֶּ֖ה שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים בַּחֲצַ֕ר גִּנַּ֥ת בִּיתַ֖ן הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ו) ח֣וּר ׀ כַּרְפַּ֣ס וּתְכֵ֗לֶת אָחוּז֙ בְּחַבְלֵי־ב֣וּץ וְאַרְגָּמָ֔ן עַל־גְּלִ֥ילֵי כֶ֖סֶף וְעַמּ֣וּדֵי שֵׁ֑שׁ מִטּ֣וֹת ׀ זָהָ֣ב וָכֶ֗סֶף עַ֛ל רִֽצְפַ֥ת בַּהַט־וָשֵׁ֖שׁ וְדַ֥ר וְסֹחָֽרֶת׃ (ז) וְהַשְׁקוֹת֙ בִּכְלֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב וְכֵלִ֖ים מִכֵּלִ֣ים שׁוֹנִ֑ים וְיֵ֥ין מַלְכ֛וּת רָ֖ב כְּיַ֥ד הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ח) וְהַשְּׁתִיָּ֥ה כַדָּ֖ת אֵ֣ין אֹנֵ֑ס כִּי־כֵ֣ן ׀ יִסַּ֣ד הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ עַ֚ל כָּל־רַ֣ב בֵּית֔וֹ לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת כִּרְצ֥וֹן אִישׁ־וָאִֽישׁ׃ (ט) גַּ֚ם וַשְׁתִּ֣י הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה עָשְׂתָ֖ה מִשְׁתֵּ֣ה נָשִׁ֑ים בֵּ֚ית הַמַּלְכ֔וּת אֲשֶׁ֖ר לַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֽוֹשׁ׃ (ס) (י) בַּיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י כְּט֥וֹב לֵב־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ בַּיָּ֑יִן אָמַ֡ר לִ֠מְהוּמָן בִּזְּתָ֨א חַרְבוֹנָ֜א בִּגְתָ֤א וַאֲבַגְתָא֙ זֵתַ֣ר וְכַרְכַּ֔ס שִׁבְעַת֙ הַסָּ֣רִיסִ֔ים הַמְשָׁ֣רְתִ֔ים אֶת־פְּנֵ֖י הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֽוֹשׁ׃ (יא) לְ֠הָבִיא אֶת־וַשְׁתִּ֧י הַמַּלְכָּ֛ה לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ בְּכֶ֣תֶר מַלְכ֑וּת לְהַרְא֨וֹת הָֽעַמִּ֤ים וְהַשָּׂרִים֙ אֶת־יָפְיָ֔הּ כִּֽי־טוֹבַ֥ת מַרְאֶ֖ה הִֽיא׃ (יב) וַתְּמָאֵ֞ן הַמַּלְכָּ֣ה וַשְׁתִּ֗י לָבוֹא֙ בִּדְבַ֣ר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּיַ֣ד הַסָּרִיסִ֑ים וַיִּקְצֹ֤ף הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ מְאֹ֔ד וַחֲמָת֖וֹ בָּעֲרָ֥ה בֽוֹ׃ (יג) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ לַחֲכָמִ֖ים יֹדְעֵ֣י הָֽעִתִּ֑ים כִּי־כֵן֙ דְּבַ֣ר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ לִפְנֵ֕י כָּל־יֹדְעֵ֖י דָּ֥ת וָדִֽין׃ (יד) וְהַקָּרֹ֣ב אֵלָ֗יו כַּרְשְׁנָ֤א שֵׁתָר֙ אַדְמָ֣תָא תַרְשִׁ֔ישׁ מֶ֥רֶס מַרְסְנָ֖א מְמוּכָ֑ן שִׁבְעַ֞ת שָׂרֵ֣י ׀ פָּרַ֣ס וּמָדַ֗י רֹאֵי֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ הַיֹּשְׁבִ֥ים רִאשֹׁנָ֖ה בַּמַּלְכֽוּת׃ (טו) כְּדָת֙ מַֽה־לַּעֲשׂ֔וֹת בַּמַּלְכָּ֖ה וַשְׁתִּ֑י עַ֣ל ׀ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־עָשְׂתָ֗ה אֶֽת־מַאֲמַר֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ בְּיַ֖ד הַסָּרִיסִֽים׃ (ס) (טז) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מומכן [מְמוּכָ֗ן] לִפְנֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וְהַשָּׂרִ֔ים לֹ֤א עַל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְבַדּ֔וֹ עָוְתָ֖ה וַשְׁתִּ֣י הַמַּלְכָּ֑ה כִּ֤י עַל־כָּל־הַשָּׂרִים֙ וְעַל־כָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֕ר בְּכָל־מְדִינ֖וֹת הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֽוֹשׁ׃ (יז) כִּֽי־יֵצֵ֤א דְבַר־הַמַּלְכָּה֙ עַל־כָּל־הַנָּשִׁ֔ים לְהַבְז֥וֹת בַּעְלֵיהֶ֖ן בְּעֵינֵיהֶ֑ן בְּאָמְרָ֗ם הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֡וֹשׁ אָמַ֞ר לְהָבִ֨יא אֶת־וַשְׁתִּ֧י הַמַּלְכָּ֛ה לְפָנָ֖יו וְלֹא־בָֽאָה׃ (יח) וְֽהַיּ֨וֹם הַזֶּ֜ה תֹּאמַ֣רְנָה ׀ שָׂר֣וֹת פָּֽרַס־וּמָדַ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר שָֽׁמְעוּ֙ אֶת־דְּבַ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל שָׂרֵ֣י הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וּכְדַ֖י בִּזָּי֥וֹן וָקָֽצֶף׃ (יט) אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֗וֹב יֵצֵ֤א דְבַר־מַלְכוּת֙ מִלְּפָנָ֔יו וְיִכָּתֵ֛ב בְּדָתֵ֥י פָֽרַס־וּמָדַ֖י וְלֹ֣א יַעֲב֑וֹר אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־תָב֜וֹא וַשְׁתִּ֗י לִפְנֵי֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וּמַלְכוּתָהּ֙ יִתֵּ֣ן הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ לִרְעוּתָ֖הּ הַטּוֹבָ֥ה מִמֶּֽנָּה׃ (כ) וְנִשְׁמַע֩ פִּתְגָ֨ם הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֲשֶֽׁר־יַעֲשֶׂה֙ בְּכָל־מַלְכוּת֔וֹ כִּ֥י רַבָּ֖ה הִ֑יא וְכָל־הַנָּשִׁ֗ים יִתְּנ֤וּ יְקָר֙ לְבַעְלֵיהֶ֔ן לְמִגָּד֖וֹל וְעַד־קָטָֽן׃ (כא) וַיִּיטַב֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר בְּעֵינֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וְהַשָּׂרִ֑ים וַיַּ֥עַשׂ הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ כִּדְבַ֥ר מְמוּכָֽן׃ (כב) וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח סְפָרִים֙ אֶל־כָּל־מְדִינ֣וֹת הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אֶל־מְדִינָ֤ה וּמְדִינָה֙ כִּכְתָבָ֔הּ וְאֶל־עַ֥ם וָעָ֖ם כִּלְשׁוֹנ֑וֹ לִהְי֤וֹת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ שֹׂרֵ֣ר בְּבֵית֔וֹ וּמְדַבֵּ֖ר כִּלְשׁ֥וֹן עַמּֽוֹ׃ (פ)

    (1) It happened in the days of Achashverosh—that Achashverosh who reigned over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. (2) In those days, when King Achashverosh occupied the royal throne in the fortress Shushan, (3) in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all the officials and courtiers—the administration of Persia and Media, the nobles and the governors of the provinces in his service. (4) For no fewer than a hundred and eighty days he displayed the vast riches of his kingdom and the splendid glory of his majesty. (5) At the end of this period, the king gave a banquet for seven days in the court of the king’s palace garden for all the people who lived in the fortress Shushan, high and low alike. (6) [There were hangings of] white cotton and blue wool, caught up by cords of fine linen and purple wool to silver rods and alabaster columns; and there were couches of gold and silver on a pavement of marble, alabaster, mother-of-pearl, and mosaics. (7) Royal wine was served in abundance, as befits a king, in golden beakers, beakers of varied design. (8) And the rule for the drinking was, “No restrictions!” For the king had given orders to every palace steward to comply with each man’s wishes. (9) In addition, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for women, in the royal palace of King Achashverosh. (10) On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he ordered Mehuman, Bizzetha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs in attendance on King Achashverosh, (11) to bring Queen Vashti before the king wearing a royal diadem, to display her beauty to the peoples and the officials; for she was a beautiful woman. (12) But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command conveyed by the eunuchs. The king was greatly incensed, and his fury burned within him. (13) Then the king consulted the sages learned in procedure. (For it was the royal practice [to turn] to all who were versed in law and precedent. (14) His closest advisers were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven ministers of Persia and Media who had access to the royal presence and occupied the first place in the kingdom.) (15) “What,” [he asked,] “shall be done, according to law, to Queen Vashti for failing to obey the command of King Achashverosh conveyed by the eunuchs?” (16) Thereupon Memucan declared in the presence of the king and the ministers: “Queen Vashti has committed an offense not only against Your Majesty but also against all the officials and against all the peoples in all the provinces of King Achashverosh. (17) For the queen’s behavior will make all wives despise their husbands, as they reflect that King Achashverosh himself ordered Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come. (18) This very day the ladies of Persia and Media, who have heard of the queen’s behavior, will cite it to all Your Majesty’s officials, and there will be no end of scorn and provocation! (19) “If it please Your Majesty, let a royal edict be issued by you, and let it be written into the laws of Persia and Media, so that it cannot be abrogated, that Vashti shall never enter the presence of King Achashverosh. And let Your Majesty bestow her royal state upon another who is more worthy than she. (20) Then will the judgment executed by Your Majesty resound throughout your realm, vast though it is; and all wives will treat their husbands with respect, high and low alike.” (21) The proposal was approved by the king and the ministers, and the king did as Memucan proposed. (22) Dispatches were sent to all the provinces of the king, to every province in its own script and to every nation in its own language, that every man should wield authority in his home and speak the language of his own people.

  2. The fundamental question about chapter 1 is why is this chapter even here? There is no mention of the Jews in this chapter, no mention of the main protagonists in the story, Esther, Mordecai, or Haman. Certainly no mention of any decree against the Jews. That does not come until chapter 3. This chapter could be here to teach us about to teach us about Achashverosh and the Persian court which he rules and could offer hints about the Jewish who lived in this time.

  3. מגילה י״ב א:י״ט-ל״ג

    (שם, ד) בהראותו את עושר כבוד מלכותו א"ר יוסי בר חנינא מלמד שלבש בגדי כהונה כתיב הכא יקר תפארת גדולתו וכתיב התם (שמות כח, ב) לכבוד ולתפארת (שם, ה)...

    (שם, ז) והשקות בכלי זהב וכלים מכלים שונים משונים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא יצתה בת קול ואמרה להם ראשונים כלו מפני כלים ואתם שונים בהם

    When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom (Esther 1:4): R. Yose b. Hanina said: This shows that he arrayed himself in priestly robes. It is written here, “And the riches of his glorious [tif’eret] kingdom,” and it is written elsewhere [in connection with the priestly garments], “For splendor and for glory, [tif’eret]” (Exodus 28:2)...

    And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse [shonim] one from another. Rava said: A heavenly voice went forth and said to them, Your predecessors met their end (kalu) on account of vessels (kelim), and yet you use them again [shonim]? 

  4. רש"י על מגילה י״ב א:ע״א:א׳

    הראשונים - כלומר בלשצר וחבורתו:

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  6. According to Daniel 5:1-31, King Belshazzar of Babylon takes sacred golden and silver vesselsfrom the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar. Using these holy items, the King and his court praise 'the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone'. Immediately, the disembodied fingers of a human hand appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words "MENE", "MENE", "TEKEL", "UPHARSIN"

    Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  7. (א) בֵּלְשַׁאצַּ֣ר מַלְכָּ֗א עֲבַד֙ לְחֶ֣ם רַ֔ב לְרַבְרְבָנ֖וֹהִי אֲלַ֑ף וְלָקֳבֵ֥ל אַלְפָּ֖א חַמְרָ֥א שָׁתֵֽה׃ (ב) בֵּלְשַׁאצַּ֞ר אֲמַ֣ר ׀ בִּטְעֵ֣ם חַמְרָ֗א לְהַיְתָיָה֙ לְמָאנֵי֙ דַּהֲבָ֣א וְכַסְפָּ֔א דִּ֤י הַנְפֵּק֙ נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּ֣ר אֲב֔וּהִי מִן־הֵיכְלָ֖א דִּ֣י בִירוּשְׁלֶ֑ם וְיִשְׁתּ֣וֹן בְּה֗וֹן מַלְכָּא֙ וְרַבְרְבָנ֔וֹהִי שֵׁגְלָתֵ֖הּ וּלְחֵנָתֵֽהּ׃ (ג) בֵּאדַ֗יִן הַיְתִיו֙ מָאנֵ֣י דַהֲבָ֔א דִּ֣י הַנְפִּ֗קוּ מִן־הֵֽיכְלָ֛א דִּֽי־בֵ֥ית אֱלָהָ֖א דִּ֣י בִירֽוּשְׁלֶ֑ם וְאִשְׁתִּ֣יו בְּה֗וֹן מַלְכָּא֙ וְרַבְרְבָנ֔וֹהִי שֵׁגְלָתֵ֖הּ וּלְחֵנָתֵֽהּ׃ (ד) אִשְׁתִּ֖יו חַמְרָ֑א וְ֠שַׁבַּחוּ לֵֽאלָהֵ֞י דַּהֲבָ֧א וְכַסְפָּ֛א נְחָשָׁ֥א פַרְזְלָ֖א אָעָ֥א וְאַבְנָֽא׃ (ה) בַּהּ־שַׁעֲתָ֗ה נפקו [נְפַ֙קָה֙] אֶצְבְּעָן֙ דִּ֣י יַד־אֱנָ֔שׁ וְכָֽתְבָן֙ לָקֳבֵ֣ל נֶבְרַשְׁתָּ֔א עַל־גִּירָ֕א דִּֽי־כְתַ֥ל הֵיכְלָ֖א דִּ֣י מַלְכָּ֑א וּמַלְכָּ֣א חָזֵ֔ה פַּ֥ס יְדָ֖ה דִּ֥י כָתְבָֽה׃ (ו) אֱדַ֤יִן מַלְכָּא֙ זִיוֺ֣הִי שְׁנ֔וֹהִי וְרַעיֹנֹ֖הִי יְבַהֲלוּנֵּ֑הּ וְקִטְרֵ֤י חַרְצֵהּ֙ מִשְׁתָּרַ֔יִן וְאַ֨רְכֻבָּתֵ֔הּ דָּ֥א לְדָ֖א נָֽקְשָֽׁן׃
    (1) King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his thousand nobles, and in the presence of the thousand he drank wine. (2) Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple at Jerusalem to be brought so that the king and his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines could drink from them. (3) The golden vessels that had been taken out of the sanctuary of the House of God in Jerusalem were then brought, and the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines drank from them. (4) They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. (5) Just then, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace opposite the lampstand, so that the king could see the hand as it wrote. (6) The king’s face darkened, and his thoughts alarmed him; the joints of his loins were loosened and his knees knocked together.
  8. The Talmud explains that Achashverosh dressed in garments of the Kohen Gadol and used vessels from the Temple. This is derived from the textual similarities between this chapter and the chapters in the Torah which describe the Mishkan. See parallels below.

  9. (א) וְאַתָּ֡ה הַקְרֵ֣ב אֵלֶיךָ֩ אֶת־אַהֲרֹ֨ן אָחִ֜יךָ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֣יו אִתּ֔וֹ מִתּ֛וֹךְ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִ֑י אַהֲרֹ֕ן נָדָ֧ב וַאֲבִיה֛וּא אֶלְעָזָ֥ר וְאִיתָמָ֖ר בְּנֵ֥י אַהֲרֹֽן׃ (ב) וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ בִגְדֵי־קֹ֖דֶשׁ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן אָחִ֑יךָ לְכָב֖וֹד וּלְתִפְאָֽרֶת׃ (ג) וְאַתָּ֗ה תְּדַבֵּר֙ אֶל־כָּל־חַכְמֵי־לֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִלֵּאתִ֖יו ר֣וּחַ חָכְמָ֑ה וְעָשׂ֞וּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵ֧י אַהֲרֹ֛ן לְקַדְּשׁ֖וֹ לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִֽי׃ (ד) וְאֵ֨לֶּה הַבְּגָדִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַעֲשׂ֗וּ חֹ֤שֶׁן וְאֵפוֹד֙ וּמְעִ֔יל וּכְתֹ֥נֶת תַּשְׁבֵּ֖ץ מִצְנֶ֣פֶת וְאַבְנֵ֑ט וְעָשׂ֨וּ בִגְדֵי־קֹ֜דֶשׁ לְאַהֲרֹ֥ן אָחִ֛יךָ וּלְבָנָ֖יו לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִֽי׃ (ה) וְהֵם֙ יִקְח֣וּ אֶת־הַזָּהָ֔ב וְאֶת־הַתְּכֵ֖לֶת וְאֶת־הָֽאַרְגָּמָ֑ן וְאֶת־תּוֹלַ֥עַת הַשָּׁנִ֖י וְאֶת־הַשֵּֽׁשׁ׃ (פ) (ו) וְעָשׂ֖וּ אֶת־הָאֵפֹ֑ד זָ֠הָב תְּכֵ֨לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֜ן תּוֹלַ֧עַת שָׁנִ֛י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ מָשְׁזָ֖ר מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה חֹשֵֽׁב׃ (ז) שְׁתֵּ֧י כְתֵפֹ֣ת חֹֽבְרֹ֗ת יִֽהְיֶה־לּ֛וֹ אֶל־שְׁנֵ֥י קְצוֹתָ֖יו וְחֻבָּֽר׃ (ח) וְחֵ֤שֶׁב אֲפֻדָּתוֹ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֔יו כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֖הוּ מִמֶּ֣נּוּ יִהְיֶ֑ה זָהָ֗ב תְּכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ מָשְׁזָֽר׃

    (1) You shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons, from among the Israelites, to serve Me as priests: Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron. (2) Make sacral vestments for your brother Aaron, for dignity and adornment. (3) Next you shall instruct all who are skillful, whom I have endowed with the gift of skill, to make Aaron’s vestments, for consecrating him to serve Me as priest. (4) These are the vestments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a fringed tunic, a headdress, and a sash. They shall make those sacral vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons, for priestly service to Me; (5) they, therefore, shall receive the gold, the blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and the fine linen. (6) They shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, worked into designs. (7) It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached; they shall be attached at its two ends. (8) And the decorated band that is upon it shall be made like it, of one piece with it: of gold, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen...

  10. Chapter 1 teaches us about the character of Achashverosh. He is a glutton for power. He is pure "Thumos" spirit in the writings of Plato. Yet he desires the approbation of the people throwing them an over the top party. He is all spirit, willing to do anything to assert a feeling of control over others. He wants to gain this control by making his people love him and does this not only by making this feast but by making the central feature of this feast the copious amounts of alcohol to release the inhibitions from the people.

  11. Thumos “Spiritedness” in Plato’s Republic, Book 3

    And is he likely to be brave who has no spirit, whether horse or dog or any other animal? Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?

    I have.

    Then now we have a clear notion of the bodily qualities which are required in the guardian.

    True.

    And also of the mental ones; his soul is to be full of spirit?

    Yes.

    But are not these spirited natures apt to be savage with one another, and with everybody else?

    A difficulty by no means easy to overcome, he replied.

    Whereas, I said, they ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends; if not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for their enemies to destroy them.

  12. Yoram Hazony, God and Politics in Esther

    “It is no coincidence, either, that the material gift of choice is alcohol, an agent whose actions is directly on the spirit, “releasing inhibitions”, “steadying the nerves,” “making the heart merry,” all of these affectations deriving from a chemically enhanced sense of power and control”.

  13. מגילה י״ב ב:ו׳-י״ב

    וכן בסעודתו של אותו רשע הללו אומרים מדיות נאות והללו אומרים פרסיות נאות אמר להם אחשורוש כלי שאני משתמש בו אינו לא מדיי ולא פרסי אלא כשדיי רצונכם לראותה 

    And so at the feast of that wicked one. These said, The Median women are the most beautiful, and others said, The Persian women are the most beautiful. Ahashverosh said to them, The vessel that I use is neither Median nor Persian, but Chaldean. Would you like to see her?

  14. Achashverosh asks to bring Vashti to show off to the people. He treats Vashti as an object, a "vessel" for his "use". Vashti refuses which causes a challenge to Achashverosh spirit. He turns his personal shame into an affair of state, asking his advisors what to do. Memuchan transforms this into an affront on all men and a challenge to their leadership in the family. So Vashti is banished and a royal decree comes forth that "every man should wield authority in his home".

  15. רב ושמואל חד אמר מלך פיקח היה וחד אמר מלך טיפש היה מאן דאמר מלך פיקח היה שפיר עבד דקריב רחיקא ברישא דבני מאתיה כל אימת דבעי מפייס להו ומאן דאמר טיפש היה דאיבעי ליה לקרובי בני מאתיה ברישא דאי מרדו ביה הנך הני הוו קיימי בהדיה שאלו תלמידיו את רשב"י מפני מה נתחייבו שונאיהן של ישראל שבאותו הדור כליה אמר להם אמרו אתם אמרו לו מפני שנהנו מסעודתו של אותו רשע אם כן שבשושן יהרגו שבכל העולם כולו אל יהרגו אמרו לו אמור אתה אמר להם מפני שהשתחוו לצלם 

    Rav and Shmuel, One said he was a clever king, and the other said that he was a foolish king. The one who said he was a clever king said that he did well in entertaining his distant subjects first, because he could win over the inhabitants of his own city any time he wished. The one who held that he was foolish says that he ought to have entertained the inhabitants of his city first, so that if the others rebelled against him, these would have supported him. His disciples asked R. Shimon b. Yohai, Why did the enemies of Israel in that generation deserve extermination? He said to them: You answer. They said: Because they enjoyed the feast of that wicked one. [He said to them]: If so, those in Shushan should have been killed, not those throughout the rest of the world? They then said: You answer. He said to them: It was because they bowed down to an image. 

  16. מגילה י״ב ב:נ״ט-ס״ד
    להיות כל איש שורר בביתו אמר רבא אלמלא אגרות הראשונות לא נשתייר משונאיהן של ישראל שריד ופליט אמרי מאי האי דשדיר לן להיות כל איש שורר בביתו פשיטא אפילו קרחה בביתיה פרדשכא ליהוי
    That every man should reign in his house. Rava said: Had it not been for these first letters, there would have been left no shred or remnant of the [enemies of] Israel. People said: What does he mean by sending us word that every man should reign in his own house? Of course he should! Even a weaver in his own house must be commander!
  17. Chapter 1 sets the stage for Megillat Esther by introducing the character of Achashverosh as a king of pure spirit who was either greatly clever or foolish (or perhaps both). The Jews are not mentioned but Chazal theorize that they must have been at the king's feast like everyone else and this is the reason for the decree against them that follows. By celebrating with the king at this feast they are involved in debauchery, drunkenness and also worship verging on idolatry for a ruler who is celebrating his power over the people and by using vessels from the Temple, perhaps his power over God as well. 

  18. (א) אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה כְּשֹׁ֕ךְ חֲמַ֖ת הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ זָכַ֤ר אֶת־וַשְׁתִּי֙ וְאֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֔תָה וְאֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־נִגְזַ֖ר עָלֶֽיהָ׃ (ב) וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ נַעֲרֵֽי־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מְשָׁרְתָ֑יו יְבַקְשׁ֥וּ לַמֶּ֛לֶךְ נְעָר֥וֹת בְּתוּל֖וֹת טוֹב֥וֹת מַרְאֶֽה׃ (ג) וְיַפְקֵ֨ד הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ פְּקִידִים֮ בְּכָל־מְדִינ֣וֹת מַלְכוּתוֹ֒ וְיִקְבְּצ֣וּ אֶת־כָּל־נַעֲרָֽה־בְ֠תוּלָה טוֹבַ֨ת מַרְאֶ֜ה אֶל־שׁוּשַׁ֤ן הַבִּירָה֙ אֶל־בֵּ֣ית הַנָּשִׁ֔ים אֶל־יַ֥ד הֵגֶ֛א סְרִ֥יס הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ שֹׁמֵ֣ר הַנָּשִׁ֑ים וְנָת֖וֹן תַּמְרוּקֵיהֶֽן׃ (ד) וְהַֽנַּעֲרָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּיטַב֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ תִּמְלֹ֖ךְ תַּ֣חַת וַשְׁתִּ֑י וַיִּיטַ֧ב הַדָּבָ֛ר בְּעֵינֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וַיַּ֥עַשׂ כֵּֽן׃ (ס)

    (1) Some time afterward, when the anger of King Achashverosh subsided, he thought of Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. (2) The king’s servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for Your Majesty. (3) Let Your Majesty appoint officers in every province of your realm to assemble all the beautiful young virgins at the fortress Shushan, in the harem under the supervision of Hege, the king’s eunuch, guardian of the women. Let them be provided with their cosmetics. (4) And let the maiden who pleases Your Majesty be queen instead of Vashti.” The proposal pleased the king, and he acted upon it.

  19. Achashverosh consults his servants, he never decides anything on his own. They give him a plan to "wield authority in his home" as his royal decree had stated by kidnapping virgins and forcing himself upon them. Each would only be with him once and then never hear from him again unless he calls for them. In this way he guarantees himself the position of power over these inexperienced young girls.

  20. (ה) אִ֣ישׁ יְהוּדִ֔י הָיָ֖ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֑ה וּשְׁמ֣וֹ מָרְדֳּכַ֗י בֶּ֣ן יָאִ֧יר בֶּן־שִׁמְעִ֛י בֶּן־קִ֖ישׁ אִ֥ישׁ יְמִינִֽי׃ (ו) אֲשֶׁ֤ר הָגְלָה֙ מִיר֣וּשָׁלַ֔יִם עִם־הַגֹּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָגְלְתָ֔ה עִ֖ם יְכָנְיָ֣ה מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֶגְלָ֔ה נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּ֖ר מֶ֥לֶךְ בָּבֶֽל׃

    (5) In the fortress Shushan lived a Jew by the name of Mordecai, son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. (6) [Kish] had been exiled from Jerusalem in the group that was carried into exile along with King Jeconiah of Judah, which had been driven into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.—

  21.  

    Towards the beginning of the Megilla, we encounter a well-known verse that makes reference to the exile of King Yehoyachin at the hands of the Babylonians: "There lived a Jew… who had been exiled from Jerusalem in the group that was carried into exile along with Yechonya [an alternate name for Yehoyachin], the king of Judah" (2:5-6). This is the earliest date mentioned throughout the Megilla. It seems that the one exiled along with Yehoyachin was not Mordechai himself, but rather his great-grandfather, Kish: "There lived a Jew… by the name of Mordechai, son of Yair, son of Shimi, son of Kish the Benjaminite, who had been exiled…"

    This exile of Yehoyachin occurred eleven years prior to the destruction of the first Temple, whereupon Benei Yisrael were driven to Babylonia. With the declaration of the Persian king Koresh (Cyrus) allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem, the Babylonian exile could have effectively ended. As we know, however, only a minority of the nation - and not necessarily those of the upper classes - heeded the call to return. The number of returnees was small, and, correspondingly, so was the level of activity in Eretz Yisrael upon their arrival. For good reason, the halakha requires that cities fortified specifically from the time of Yehoshua (the original conquest of Eretz Yisrael) read the Megilla on the fifteenth, and not those fortified since the early Second Temple era, when the story of Esther actually took place. The situation of the Land of Israel at that time was woeful. As we know from Ezra and Nechemia, even the wall fortifying the city of Jerusalem hardly served as a sturdy fortress.

    As detailed in the books of Ezra and Nechemia, four waves of Jews returned from Babylonia after Koresh's proclamation, under the leadership of: Sheshbatzar; Yehoshua the High Priest and Zerubavel; Ezra; and Nechemia. The book of Ezra (chapter 4) also delineates the dynasty of the Persian monarchy, mentioning four kings: Koresh, Daryavesh, Achashverosh and Artachshasta. The text provides no information at all regarding the relevant dates or chronology of Koresh's reign, but it does tell us that the Jews dedicated the Second Temple in the sixth of year of Daryavesh's reign.

    As the books of Ezra and Nechemia describe, during the period of Achashverosh's reign the situation in Eretz Yisrael was grim. The small handful of Jews that populated the Land faced many different types of problems - spiritual, security-related, economic and social. Intermarriage became rampant and the people sensed an apparent lack of religious leadership. Ezra, who migrated to Eretz Yisrael towards the beginning of Artachshasta's reign, offered suggestions and attempted to ameliorate the situation, meeting with only limited success.

    This is the historical framework of the period. During the reign of Achashverosh, the vast majority of the Jewish people still lived in exile. The hopes for the complete redemption of Israel, as prophesied by Yirmiyahu, Yeshayahu, Hoshea, Amos, Yechezkel, Mikha, Chagai and Zekharya, were to have been realized through the Second Temple. Primarily because of the fact that most of the nation simply did not return to Jerusalem, this did not occur. The prophecies were not fulfilled during the Second Temple period; the house spoken of by Yechezkel remained far from reality.

     

    -The Historical Framework of Megillat Esther

    Based on a shiur by Rav David Nativ

    Translated by David Silverberg

  22. (ז) וַיְהִ֨י אֹמֵ֜ן אֶת־הֲדַסָּ֗ה הִ֤יא אֶסְתֵּר֙ בַּת־דֹּד֔וֹ כִּ֛י אֵ֥ין לָ֖הּ אָ֣ב וָאֵ֑ם וְהַנַּעֲרָ֤ה יְפַת־תֹּ֙אַר֙ וְטוֹבַ֣ת מַרְאֶ֔ה וּבְמ֤וֹת אָבִ֙יהָ֙ וְאִמָּ֔הּ לְקָחָ֧הּ מָרְדֳּכַ֛י ל֖וֹ לְבַֽת׃ (ח) וַיְהִ֗י בְּהִשָּׁמַ֤ע דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וְדָת֔וֹ וּֽבְהִקָּבֵ֞ץ נְעָר֥וֹת רַבּ֛וֹת אֶל־שׁוּשַׁ֥ן הַבִּירָ֖ה אֶל־יַ֣ד הֵגָ֑י וַתִּלָּקַ֤ח אֶסְתֵּר֙ אֶל־בֵּ֣ית הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אֶל־יַ֥ד הֵגַ֖י שֹׁמֵ֥ר הַנָּשִֽׁים׃ (ט) וַתִּיטַ֨ב הַנַּעֲרָ֣ה בְעֵינָיו֮ וַתִּשָּׂ֣א חֶ֣סֶד לְפָנָיו֒ וַ֠יְבַהֵל אֶת־תַּמְרוּקֶ֤יהָ וְאֶת־מָנוֹתֶ֙הָ֙ לָתֵ֣ת לָ֔הּ וְאֵת֙ שֶׁ֣בַע הַנְּעָר֔וֹת הָרְאֻי֥וֹת לָֽתֶת־לָ֖הּ מִבֵּ֣ית הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיְשַׁנֶּ֧הָ וְאֶת־נַעֲרוֹתֶ֛יהָ לְט֖וֹב בֵּ֥ית הַנָּשִֽׁים׃ (י) לֹא־הִגִּ֣ידָה אֶסְתֵּ֔ר אֶת־עַמָּ֖הּ וְאֶת־מֽוֹלַדְתָּ֑הּ כִּ֧י מָרְדֳּכַ֛י צִוָּ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־תַגִּֽיד׃ (יא) וּבְכָל־י֣וֹם וָי֔וֹם מָרְדֳּכַי֙ מִתְהַלֵּ֔ךְ לִפְנֵ֖י חֲצַ֣ר בֵּית־הַנָּשִׁ֑ים לָדַ֙עַת֙ אֶת־שְׁל֣וֹם אֶסְתֵּ֔ר וּמַה־יֵּעָשֶׂ֖ה בָּֽהּ׃ (יב) וּבְהַגִּ֡יעַ תֹּר֩ נַעֲרָ֨ה וְנַעֲרָ֜ה לָב֣וֹא ׀ אֶל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֗וֹשׁ מִקֵּץ֩ הֱי֨וֹת לָ֜הּ כְּדָ֤ת הַנָּשִׁים֙ שְׁנֵ֣ים עָשָׂ֣ר חֹ֔דֶשׁ כִּ֛י כֵּ֥ן יִמְלְא֖וּ יְמֵ֣י מְרוּקֵיהֶ֑ן שִׁשָּׁ֤ה חֳדָשִׁים֙ בְּשֶׁ֣מֶן הַמֹּ֔ר וְשִׁשָּׁ֤ה חֳדָשִׁים֙ בַּבְּשָׂמִ֔ים וּבְתַמְרוּקֵ֖י הַנָּשִֽׁים׃ (יג) וּבָזֶ֕ה הַֽנַּעֲרָ֖ה בָּאָ֣ה אֶל־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ אֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֹּאמַ֜ר יִנָּ֤תֵֽן לָהּ֙ לָב֣וֹא עִמָּ֔הּ מִבֵּ֥ית הַנָּשִׁ֖ים עַד־בֵּ֥ית הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יד) בָּעֶ֣רֶב ׀ הִ֣יא בָאָ֗ה וּ֠בַבֹּקֶר הִ֣יא שָׁבָ֞ה אֶל־בֵּ֤ית הַנָּשִׁים֙ שֵׁנִ֔י אֶל־יַ֧ד שַֽׁעֲשְׁגַ֛ז סְרִ֥יס הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ שֹׁמֵ֣ר הַפִּֽילַגְשִׁ֑ים לֹא־תָב֥וֹא עוֹד֙ אֶל־הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ כִּ֣י אִם־חָפֵ֥ץ בָּ֛הּ הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וְנִקְרְאָ֥ה בְשֵֽׁם׃ (טו) וּבְהַגִּ֣יעַ תֹּר־אֶסְתֵּ֣ר בַּת־אֲבִיחַ֣יִל דֹּ֣ד מָרְדֳּכַ֡י אֲשֶׁר֩ לָקַֽח־ל֨וֹ לְבַ֜ת לָב֣וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ לֹ֤א בִקְשָׁה֙ דָּבָ֔ר כִּ֠י אִ֣ם אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֹאמַ֛ר הֵגַ֥י סְרִיס־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ שֹׁמֵ֣ר הַנָּשִׁ֑ים וַתְּהִ֤י אֶסְתֵּר֙ נֹשֵׂ֣את חֵ֔ן בְּעֵינֵ֖י כָּל־רֹאֶֽיהָ׃ (טז) וַתִּלָּקַ֨ח אֶסְתֵּ֜ר אֶל־הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ֙ אֶל־בֵּ֣ית מַלְכוּת֔וֹ בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִ֖י הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ טֵבֵ֑ת בִּשְׁנַת־שֶׁ֖בַע לְמַלְכוּתֽוֹ׃ (יז) וַיֶּאֱהַ֨ב הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֶת־אֶסְתֵּר֙ מִכָּל־הַנָּשִׁ֔ים וַתִּשָּׂא־חֵ֥ן וָחֶ֛סֶד לְפָנָ֖יו מִכָּל־הַבְּתוּלֹ֑ת וַיָּ֤שֶׂם כֶּֽתֶר־מַלְכוּת֙ בְּרֹאשָׁ֔הּ וַיַּמְלִיכֶ֖הָ תַּ֥חַת וַשְׁתִּֽי׃ (יח) וַיַּ֨עַשׂ הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה גָד֗וֹל לְכָל־שָׂרָיו֙ וַעֲבָדָ֔יו אֵ֖ת מִשְׁתֵּ֣ה אֶסְתֵּ֑ר וַהֲנָחָ֤ה לַמְּדִינוֹת֙ עָשָׂ֔ה וַיִּתֵּ֥ן מַשְׂאֵ֖ת כְּיַ֥ד הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יט) וּבְהִקָּבֵ֥ץ בְּתוּל֖וֹת שֵׁנִ֑ית וּמָרְדֳּכַ֖י יֹשֵׁ֥ב בְּשַֽׁעַר־הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (כ) אֵ֣ין אֶסְתֵּ֗ר מַגֶּ֤דֶת מֽוֹלַדְתָּהּ֙ וְאֶת־עַמָּ֔הּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ מָרְדֳּכָ֑י וְאֶת־מַאֲמַ֤ר מָרְדֳּכַי֙ אֶסְתֵּ֣ר עֹשָׂ֔ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר הָיְתָ֥ה בְאָמְנָ֖ה אִתּֽוֹ׃ (ס)

    (7) He was foster father to Hadassah—that is, Esther—his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was shapely and beautiful; and when her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter. (8) When the king’s order and edict was proclaimed, and when many girls were assembled in the fortress Shushan under the supervision of Hegai, Esther too was taken into the king’s palace under the supervision of Hegai, guardian of the women. (9) The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he hastened to furnish her with her cosmetics and her rations, as well as with the seven maids who were her due from the king’s palace; and he treated her and her maids with special kindness in the harem. (10) Esther did not reveal her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had told her not to reveal it. (11) Every single day Mordecai would walk about in front of the court of the harem, to learn how Esther was faring and what was happening to her. (12) When each girl’s turn came to go to King Achashverosh at the end of the twelve months’ treatment prescribed for women (for that was the period spent on beautifying them: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and women’s cosmetics, (13) and it was after that that the girl would go to the king), whatever she asked for would be given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. (14) She would go in the evening and leave in the morning for a second harem in charge of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, guardian of the concubines. She would not go again to the king unless the king wanted her, when she would be summoned by name. (15) When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail—the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter—to go to the king, she did not ask for anything but what Hegai, the king’s eunuch, guardian of the women, advised. Yet Esther won the admiration of all who saw her. (16) Esther was taken to King Achashverosh, in his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. (17) The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the virgins. So he set a royal diadem on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (18) The king gave a great banquet for all his officials and courtiers, “the banquet of Esther.” He proclaimed a remission of taxes for the provinces and distributed gifts as befits a king. (19) When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai sat in the palace gate. (20) But Esther still did not reveal her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had instructed her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai’s bidding, as she had done when she was under his tutelage.

  23. מגילה י״ג א:ל״א-ל״ב

    ר' נחמיה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת אסתר שהיו אומות העולם קורין אותה על שום אסתהר

    R. Nehemiah says: Hadassah was her name. Why then was she called Esther? All peoples called her so after Istahar.

  24. רש"י על מגילה י״ג א:ל״ב:א׳

    אסתהר - ירח יפה כלבנה:

  25. Mordecai instructs Esther to use her non-Jewish name meaning "star" and also related to Ishtar the Persian queen of heaven associated with the planet Venus. This despite the fact that she was raised with the Hebrew name Hadassa. He tells her to not reveal that she is a Jew. He wants her to act passive and submissive but he will use this to accumulate power that he can use to influence the king and defend the Jews when necessary.

  26. (כא) בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔ם וּמָרְדֳּכַ֖י יֹשֵׁ֣ב בְּשַֽׁעַר־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ קָצַף֩ בִּגְתָ֨ן וָתֶ֜רֶשׁ שְׁנֵֽי־סָרִיסֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ מִשֹּׁמְרֵ֣י הַסַּ֔ף וַיְבַקְשׁוּ֙ לִשְׁלֹ֣חַ יָ֔ד בַּמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵֽרֹשׁ׃ (כב) וַיִּוָּדַ֤ע הַדָּבָר֙ לְמָרְדֳּכַ֔י וַיַּגֵּ֖ד לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֑ה וַתֹּ֧אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֛ר לַמֶּ֖לֶךְ בְּשֵׁ֥ם מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (כג) וַיְבֻקַּ֤שׁ הַדָּבָר֙ וַיִּמָּצֵ֔א וַיִּתָּל֥וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם עַל־עֵ֑ץ וַיִּכָּתֵ֗ב בְּסֵ֛פֶר דִּבְרֵ֥י הַיָּמִ֖ים לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (פ)

    (21) At that time, when Mordecai was sitting in the palace gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the threshold, became angry, and plotted to do away with King Achashverosh. (22) Mordecai learned of it and told it to Queen Esther, and Esther reported it to the king in Mordecai’s name. (23) The matter was investigated and found to be so, and the two were impaled on stakes. This was recorded in the book of annals at the instance of the king.

  27. מגילה י״ג ב:ל״ז-מ׳

    אמר רבי יוחנן בגתן ותרש שני טרסיים הוו והיו מספרין בלשון טורסי ואומרים מיום שבאת זו לא ראינו שינה בעינינו בא ונטיל ארס בספל כדי שימות והן לא היו יודעין כי מרדכי מיושבי לשכת הגזית היה והיה יודע בשבעים לשון

    R. Yohanan said: Bigtan and Teresh were two Tarseans and conversed in the Tarsean language. They said: From the day this woman came we have been able to get no sleep. Come, let us put poison in the dish so that he will die. They did not know that Mordecai was one of those who had seats in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, and that he understood seventy languages.

  28. Mordecai did not passively submit to Achashverosh like most people. Rather he placed himself in a position where he could become privy to sensitive information and then use his connection to Esther to pass the information along to the king. In this way he took the initiative to become indispensable. He chose against resistance and submission to the despotic authority and rather chose to actively support him so that he and Esther could find favor with the king and use this to ultimately help the Jewish people.

     

    The reference to Mordecai sitting in the Lishkat Hagazit, the seat of the Sanhedrin also implies that sitting in the palace gate did not just represent a location but some type of authority. Mordecai seems to serve in some governmental capacity in Persia acting as a judge similar to the capacity he would have in the Jewish court.

  29. (א) אַחַ֣ר ׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה גִּדַּל֩ הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֜וֹשׁ אֶת־הָמָ֧ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֛תָא הָאֲגָגִ֖י וַֽיְנַשְּׂאֵ֑הוּ וַיָּ֙שֶׂם֙ אֶת־כִּסְא֔וֹ מֵעַ֕ל כָּל־הַשָּׂרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּֽוֹ׃ (ב) וְכָל־עַבְדֵ֨י הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ אֲשֶׁר־בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ כֹּרְעִ֤ים וּמִֽשְׁתַּחֲוִים֙ לְהָמָ֔ן כִּי־כֵ֖ן צִוָּה־ל֣וֹ הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וּמָ֨רְדֳּכַ֔י לֹ֥א יִכְרַ֖ע וְלֹ֥א יִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֶֽה׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֨אמְר֜וּ עַבְדֵ֥י הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֲשֶׁר־בְּשַׁ֥עַר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ לְמָרְדֳּכָ֑י מַדּ֙וּעַ֙ אַתָּ֣ה עוֹבֵ֔ר אֵ֖ת מִצְוַ֥ת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ד) וַיְהִ֗י באמרם [כְּאָמְרָ֤ם] אֵלָיו֙ י֣וֹם וָי֔וֹם וְלֹ֥א שָׁמַ֖ע אֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וַיַּגִּ֣ידוּ לְהָמָ֗ן לִרְאוֹת֙ הֲיַֽעַמְדוּ֙ דִּבְרֵ֣י מָרְדֳּכַ֔י כִּֽי־הִגִּ֥יד לָהֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־ה֥וּא יְהוּדִֽי׃ (ה) וַיַּ֣רְא הָמָ֔ן כִּי־אֵ֣ין מָרְדֳּכַ֔י כֹּרֵ֥עַ וּמִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֶ֖ה ל֑וֹ וַיִּמָּלֵ֥א הָמָ֖ן חֵמָֽה׃

    (1) Some time afterward, King Achashverosh promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite; he advanced him and seated him higher than any of his fellow officials. (2) All the king’s courtiers in the palace gate knelt and bowed low to Haman, for such was the king’s order concerning him; but Mordecai would not kneel or bow low. (3) Then the king’s courtiers who were in the palace gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s order?” (4) When they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s resolve would prevail; for he had explained to them that he was a Jew. (5) When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel or bow low to him, Haman was filled with rage.

  30. Plato's Republic, Book 8

    [567b] And is it not likely that some of those who helped to establish and now share in his power, voicing their disapproval of the course of events, will speak out frankly to him and to one another... Then the tyrant must do away with all such if he is to maintain his rule, until he has left no one of any worth, friend or foe. 

  31. (א) אחר הדברים האלה בארו המפרשים כי אחר שנשכח מאחשורוש שאסתר הגידה זאת בשם מרדכי, וזה המלך היה חפץ מאד ביחוד לשלם גמול למטיביו, ולא מצא דבר במה שישלם לאסתר עבור שהצילה נפשו משחת, חשב כי אך בזאת יאות לה במה שייטיב להשרים אשר יעצוהו לקחת את אסתר, שהראשון מסריסיו היה מהומן, והוא יעצהו לבקש לו נערות בתולות וע''י נשא את אסתר, ולכן העלהו על במתי עב, וגם כי אחר שנשכח ממנו מי היה המגלה מדבר בגתן ותרש, היה נקל להמן אשר שעתו הצליחה לו לפתות לב המלך שהוא היה המגיד דבר, ולכן העלהו לגדולה, ובאופן שהמן התלבש בטלית שאינו שלו, והכבוד הלז היה באמת מגיע למרדכי אך מאת ה' היתה נסבה שתחול על ראש הרשע לפי שעה עד בא העת להחזיר העטרה לבעליה :

  32. (ב) איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה - יהודי - למה נקרא שמו יהודי, והלא ימיני הוא? - לפי שייחד שמו של הקדוש ברוך הוא כנגד כל באי עולם. הדא הוא דכתיב: לא יכרע ולא ישתחוה. וכי קנתרן היה ועובר על גזירת המלך? - אלא כשצוה אחשורוש להשתחוות להמן, חקק עבודת כוכבים על לבו, ונתכוון כדי שישתחוו לעבודת כוכבים. וכשהיה רואה המן שאין מרדכי משתחוה לו, נתמלא חימה. ומרדכי אומר לו: יש אדון המתגאה על כל גאים, היאך אני מניחו ואשתחוה לעבודת כוכבים. ולפי שייחד שמו של הקדוש ברוך הוא נקרא יהודי. לומר: יהודי יחידי...

    (2) "Jewish" -- Why was he called 'Judean' if he was of Benjamin? Because he attested to the unity of God in the world as it says "[and Mordechai] would not kneel and would not bow] (therefore he was called a part of Judah which means 'to acknowledge God'). And [why] was he a contrarian that ignored the king's decree? Because when Ahasuerus decreed that everyone should bow to Haman, Haman started wearing an idol so that everyone would bow to the idol, and when he saw that Mordechai refused to bow he became very angry. Mordechai told him "there is a Lord who is above all the arrogant. How can I forsake him and bow to an idol?" Thus, because he attested to God's unity, he was called The Jew i.e. the only Jew.

  33. (א) אחר הדברים האלה גדל המלך אחשורוש את המן בן המדתא האגגי וגו'. ידמה שלגודל מעלתו אצל המלך צוה לכל השרים שישתחוו לו ויעשוהו אלוה... ולזאת הסבה ברח מרדכי מלכרוע ולהשתחוות להמן כי לולי זה לא היה ראוי לו שיעבור את מצות המלך בעבור מניעת כבוד שר אחד מן השרים וזה מבואר מהמאמר כורעים ומשתחוים להמן כי כן צוה לו המלך רוצה לומר כי כן צוה המלך בעצמו:

  34. Two fundamental questions:

    1. Why did Achashverosh appoint Haman at this juncture to become his second on command?

    2. Why did Mordecai refuse to bow down to Haman?

     

    1. The assassination plot of Bigtan and Teresh although discovered in time, created a crisis for Achachverosh. Previously, Achashverosh had ruled as a limited monarch, regularly consulting with a large group of advisors. There are some 18 advisors and servants mentioned by name in the first two chapters and every decision from the decision to banish Vashti to the pageant to find a new queen is established by their suggestion. But now two of his close advisors have conspired against him and Achashverosh's response is to no longer trust his advisors and therefore consolidate his power to one trusted advisor who will rule above all of the others, Haman.

    Malbim explains that in the confusion after the assassination attempt, Mordecai's role in saving Achashverosh's life was forgotten and Haman was able insinuate that he was the one who revealed the plot and saved the king and therefore Achashverosh appointed Haman as his most trusted second hand man.

     

    2. Mordecai did not bow because by elevating Haman above all advisors Achashverosh has moved to an absolute monarchy. As long as Achashverosh consulted with many advisors his power was limited and the chances of him making evil decisions mitigated by his advisors. Now by elevating Haman as the only advisor he will listen to, Achashverosh has become an absolute despot and this Mordecai cannot countenance.

     

    The Midrash brings another reason for Mordecai's refusal to bow connecting with the fact he was a Jew. Haman wore an idol so when they bowed to him, they bowed to the idol. Ralbag learns that Haman did not necessarily wear a god, he was given the status of a god who must be bowed down to. For this reason, Mordecai would not bow.

     

    "We usually understand idolatry to refer to the making of figures... that represented gods or... were... considered gods whose pleasure and grace were thought necessary to obtain human good: sustenance, fertility, victory, peace. Frequently, there were men who claimed the ability to provide these things, and these men were referred to as gods." -Hazony, God and Politics in Esther   

     

    The system of idolatry was moral relativism that there are different standards of morality based on time and place based on the "gods" of this place. For examples, see the story of the Samaritans in 2 Kings 17:26 who ask about the law of the Jewish God once they are settled in Israel. They assume the Jewish God rules Israel and has his own morality which must be followed in his land like the other gods who rule their lands.

     

    Monotheism believes in one God who gives one moral standard by which all are judged no matter the time or place. This is why Mordecai could not accept the promotion of Haman and his establishment as a "god". As long as Achashverosh made his decisions based on a group of advisors, there was hope that these decisions could be moral as a settlement between many competing perspectives and interests. When Haman takes over and establishes his desires, needs, wants as the only ones that matter and the only ones that Achashverosh will listen to that is elevating his morality above the universal morality of God. Mordecai will not serve the god of Haman just like he will not serve any other idol.

  35. (כה) חָלִ֨לָה לְּךָ֜ מֵעֲשֹׂ֣ת ׀ כַּדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה לְהָמִ֤ית צַדִּיק֙ עִם־רָשָׁ֔ע וְהָיָ֥ה כַצַּדִּ֖יק כָּרָשָׁ֑ע חָלִ֣לָה לָּ֔ךְ הֲשֹׁפֵט֙ כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מִשְׁפָּֽט׃
    (25) Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
  36. (יז) וַתִּירֶ֤אןָ הַֽמְיַלְּדֹת֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְלֹ֣א עָשׂ֔וּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר דִּבֶּ֥ר אֲלֵיהֶ֖ן מֶ֣לֶךְ מִצְרָ֑יִם וַתְּחַיֶּ֖יןָ אֶת־הַיְלָדִֽים׃
    (17) The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.
  37. (יא) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י מַכֶּ֥ה אִישׁ־עִבְרִ֖י מֵאֶחָֽיו׃ (יב) וַיִּ֤פֶן כֹּה֙ וָכֹ֔ה וַיַּ֖רְא כִּ֣י אֵ֣ין אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּךְ֙ אֶת־הַמִּצְרִ֔י וַֽיִּטְמְנֵ֖הוּ בַּחֽוֹל׃
    (11) Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. (12) He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
  38. (טו) כְּעַ֞ן הֵ֧ן אִֽיתֵיכ֣וֹן עֲתִידִ֗ין דִּ֣י בְעִדָּנָ֡א דִּֽי־תִשְׁמְע֡וּן קָ֣ל קַרְנָ֣א מַשְׁרוֹקִיתָ֣א קיתרס [קַתְר֣וֹס] שַׂבְּכָ֡א פְּסַנְתֵּרִין֩ וְסוּמְפֹּ֨נְיָ֜ה וְכֹ֣ל ׀ זְנֵ֣י זְמָרָ֗א תִּפְּל֣וּן וְתִסְגְּדוּן֮ לְצַלְמָ֣א דִֽי־עַבְדֵת֒ וְהֵן֙ לָ֣א תִסְגְּד֔וּן בַּהּ־שַׁעֲתָ֣ה תִתְרְמ֔וֹן לְגֽוֹא־אַתּ֥וּן נוּרָ֖א יָקִֽדְתָּ֑א וּמַן־ה֣וּא אֱלָ֔הּ דֵּ֥י יְשֵֽׁיזְבִנְכ֖וֹן מִן־יְדָֽי׃ (טז) עֲנ֗וֹ שַׁדְרַ֤ךְ מֵישַׁךְ֙ וַעֲבֵ֣ד נְג֔וֹ וְאָמְרִ֖ין לְמַלְכָּ֑א נְבֽוּכַדְנֶצַּ֔ר לָֽא־חַשְׁחִ֨ין אֲנַ֧חְנָה עַל־דְּנָ֛ה פִּתְגָ֖ם לַהֲתָבוּתָֽךְ׃ (יז) הֵ֣ן אִיתַ֗י אֱלָהַ֙נָא֙ דִּֽי־אֲנַ֣חְנָא פָֽלְחִ֔ין יָכִ֖ל לְשֵׁיזָבוּתַ֑נָא מִן־אַתּ֨וּן נוּרָ֧א יָקִֽדְתָּ֛א וּמִן־יְדָ֥ךְ מַלְכָּ֖א יְשֵׁיזִֽב׃ (יח) וְהֵ֣ן לָ֔א יְדִ֥יעַ לֶהֱוֵא־לָ֖ךְ מַלְכָּ֑א דִּ֤י לאלהיך [לֵֽאלָהָךְ֙] לָא־איתינא [אִיתַ֣נָא] פָֽלְחִ֔ין וּלְצֶ֧לֶם דַּהֲבָ֛א דִּ֥י הֲקֵ֖ימְתָּ לָ֥א נִסְגֻּֽד׃ (ס)
    (15) Now if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue that I have made when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, lyre, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all other types of instruments, [well and good]; but if you will not worship, you shall at once be thrown into a burning fiery furnace, and what god is there that can save you from my power?” (16) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego said in reply to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter, (17) for if so it must be, our God whom we serve is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will save us from your power, O king. (18) But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue of gold that you have set up.”
  39. Civil Disobedience By Henry David Thoreau

    [If government] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn....

    I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side...

  40. Mordecai exercises civil disobedience against the injustice of Haman something we have seen numerous times in Tanach in the past starting with Abraham the first Hebrew whose very name indicates that the world is on one side. Abraham is willing to even defy God when it is a question of moral justice. Later the midwives defy Pharaoh rather than kill the Jewish boys when they are born. Moses stands up to an Egyptian who is striking an Israelite. Hananiah Mishael and Azariah are willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace rather than bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Now Mordecai defies Haman because he is a Jew and will not bow down to Haman as a god.

  41. (ו) וַיִּ֣בֶז בְּעֵינָ֗יו לִשְׁלֹ֤ח יָד֙ בְּמָרְדֳּכַ֣י לְבַדּ֔וֹ כִּֽי־הִגִּ֥ידוּ ל֖וֹ אֶת־עַ֣ם מָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַיְבַקֵּ֣שׁ הָמָ֗ן לְהַשְׁמִ֧יד אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֛ים אֲשֶׁ֛ר בְּכָל־מַלְכ֥וּת אֲחַשְׁוֵר֖וֹשׁ עַ֥ם מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (ז) בַּחֹ֤דֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ נִיסָ֔ן בִּשְׁנַת֙ שְׁתֵּ֣ים עֶשְׂרֵ֔ה לַמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ הִפִּ֣יל פּוּר֩ ה֨וּא הַגּוֹרָ֜ל לִפְנֵ֣י הָמָ֗ן מִיּ֧וֹם ׀ לְי֛וֹם וּמֵחֹ֛דֶשׁ לְחֹ֥דֶשׁ שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂ֖ר הוּא־חֹ֥דֶשׁ אֲדָֽר׃ (ס) (ח) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָמָן֙ לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ עַם־אֶחָ֗ד מְפֻזָּ֤ר וּמְפֹרָד֙ בֵּ֣ין הָֽעַמִּ֔ים בְּכֹ֖ל מְדִינ֣וֹת מַלְכוּתֶ֑ךָ וְדָתֵיהֶ֞ם שֹׁנ֣וֹת מִכָּל־עָ֗ם וְאֶת־דָּתֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֵינָ֣ם עֹשִׂ֔ים וְלַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֵין־שֹׁוֶ֖ה לְהַנִּיחָֽם׃ (ט) אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב יִכָּתֵ֖ב לְאַבְּדָ֑ם וַעֲשֶׂ֨רֶת אֲלָפִ֜ים כִּכַּר־כֶּ֗סֶף אֶשְׁקוֹל֙ עַל־יְדֵי֙ עֹשֵׂ֣י הַמְּלָאכָ֔ה לְהָבִ֖יא אֶל־גִּנְזֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (י) וַיָּ֧סַר הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶת־טַבַּעְתּ֖וֹ מֵעַ֣ל יָד֑וֹ וַֽיִּתְּנָ֗הּ לְהָמָ֧ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֛תָא הָאֲגָגִ֖י צֹרֵ֥ר הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ (יא) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְהָמָ֔ן הַכֶּ֖סֶף נָת֣וּן לָ֑ךְ וְהָעָ֕ם לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת בּ֖וֹ כַּטּ֥וֹב בְּעֵינֶֽיךָ׃ (יב) וַיִּקָּרְאוּ֩ סֹפְרֵ֨י הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֨ה עָשָׂ֣ר יוֹם֮ בּוֹ֒ וַיִּכָּתֵ֣ב כְּֽכָל־אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֣ה הָמָ֡ן אֶ֣ל אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנֵֽי־הַ֠מֶּלֶךְ וְֽאֶל־הַפַּח֞וֹת אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ עַל־מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֗ה וְאֶל־שָׂ֤רֵי עַם֙ וָעָ֔ם מְדִינָ֤ה וּמְדִינָה֙ כִּכְתָבָ֔הּ וְעַ֥ם וָעָ֖ם כִּלְשׁוֹנ֑וֹ בְּשֵׁ֨ם הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹשׁ֙ נִכְתָּ֔ב וְנֶחְתָּ֖ם בְּטַבַּ֥עַת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יג) וְנִשְׁל֨וֹחַ סְפָרִ֜ים בְּיַ֣ד הָרָצִים֮ אֶל־כָּל־מְדִינ֣וֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ֒ לְהַשְׁמִ֡יד לַהֲרֹ֣ג וּלְאַבֵּ֣ד אֶת־כָּל־הַ֠יְּהוּדִים מִנַּ֨עַר וְעַד־זָקֵ֨ן טַ֤ף וְנָשִׁים֙ בְּי֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר לְחֹ֥דֶשׁ שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂ֖ר הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֑ר וּשְׁלָלָ֖ם לָבֽוֹז׃ (יד) פַּתְשֶׁ֣גֶן הַכְּתָ֗ב לְהִנָּ֤תֵֽן דָּת֙ בְּכָל־מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֔ה גָּל֖וּי לְכָל־הָֽעַמִּ֑ים לִהְי֥וֹת עֲתִדִ֖ים לַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ (טו) הָֽרָצִ֞ים יָצְא֤וּ דְחוּפִים֙ בִּדְבַ֣ר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְהַדָּ֥ת נִתְּנָ֖ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֑ה וְהַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ יָשְׁב֣וּ לִשְׁתּ֔וֹת וְהָעִ֥יר שׁוּשָׁ֖ן נָבֽוֹכָה׃ (פ)

    (6) But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone; having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to do away with all the Jews, Mordecai’s people, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus. (7) In the first month, that is, the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, pur—which means “the lot”—was cast before Haman concerning every day and every month, [until it fell on] the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar. (8) Haman then said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them. (9) If it please Your Majesty, let an edict be drawn for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the stewards for deposit in the royal treasury.” (10) Thereupon the king removed his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the foe of the Jews. (11) And the king said, “The money and the people are yours to do with as you see fit.” (12) On the thirteenth day of the first month, the king’s scribes were summoned and a decree was issued, as Haman directed, to the king’s satraps, to the governors of every province, and to the officials of every people, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language. The orders were issued in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet. (13) Accordingly, written instructions were dispatched by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, massacre, and exterminate all the Jews, young and old, children and women, on a single day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—that is, the month of Adar—and to plunder their possessions. (14) The text of the document was to the effect that a law should be proclaimed in every single province; it was to be publicly displayed to all the peoples, so that they might be ready for that day. (15) The couriers went out posthaste on the royal mission, and the decree was proclaimed in the fortress Shushan. The king and Haman sat down to feast, but the city of Shushan was dumfounded.

  42. (א) מני אפרים שרשם בעמלק אחריך בנימין (שופטים ה' י"ד). ד"א מני אפרים [וגו'] מהו אחריך בנימן אמר הקב"ה לעולם אחריך בנימן לתבוע מן זרעו של עמלק ותדע לך איש מזרעו של עמלק עמד ונזדווג לישראל ולא עמד כנגדו אלא מזרעו של בנימן ומי היה זה זה המן הרשע שנאמר גדל המלך אחשורוש את המן בן המדתא האגגי (אסתר ג' א') אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא חייך [איש מזרעו] של בנימן מוכן לך לבא ולקעקע את שרשיך ומי הוא זה זה היה מרדכי שנאמר איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה ושמו מרדכי בן יאיר בן שמעי בן קיש איש ימיני (שם ב' ה'):

  43. וַֽיְהִי־אִ֣ישׁ מבן־ימין [מִבִּנְיָמִ֗ין] וּ֠שְׁמוֹ קִ֣ישׁ בֶּן־אֲבִיאֵ֞ל בֶּן־צְר֧וֹר בֶּן־בְּכוֹרַ֛ת בֶּן־אֲפִ֖יחַ בֶּן־אִ֣ישׁ יְמִינִ֑י גִּבּ֖וֹר חָֽיִל׃ ב וְלוֹ־הָיָ֨ה בֵ֜ן וּשְׁמ֤וֹ שָׁאוּל֙ בָּח֣וּר וָט֔וֹב וְאֵ֥ין אִ֛ישׁ מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל ט֣וֹב מִמֶּ֑נּוּ מִשִּׁכְמ֣וֹ וָמַ֔עְלָה גָּבֹ֖הַּ מִכָּל־הָעָֽם׃
    There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of substance. He had a son whose name was Saul, an excellent young man; no one among the Israelites was handsomer than he; he was a head taller than any of the people.
  44. וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל אֹתִ֨י שָׁלַ֤ח יְהוָה֙ לִמְשָׁחֳךָ֣ לְמֶ֔לֶךְ עַל־עַמּ֖וֹ עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְעַתָּ֣ה שְׁמַ֔ע לְק֖וֹל דִּבְרֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ (ס) ב כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת פָּקַ֕דְתִּי אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה עֲמָלֵ֖ק לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֥ם לוֹ֙ בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ בַּעֲלֹת֖וֹ מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ ג עַתָּה֩ לֵ֨ךְ וְהִכִּֽיתָ֜ה אֶת־עֲמָלֵ֗ק וְהַֽחֲרַמְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ וְלֹ֥א תַחְמֹ֖ל עָלָ֑יו וְהֵמַתָּ֞ה מֵאִ֣ישׁ עַד־אִשָּׁ֗ה מֵֽעֹלֵל֙ וְעַד־יוֹנֵ֔ק מִשּׁ֣וֹר וְעַד־שֶׂ֔ה מִגָּמָ֖ל וְעַד־חֲמֽוֹר׃ (ס) ד וַיְשַׁמַּ֤ע שָׁאוּל֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם וַֽיִּפְקְדֵם֙ בַּטְּלָאִ֔ים מָאתַ֥יִם אֶ֖לֶף רַגְלִ֑י וַעֲשֶׂ֥רֶת אֲלָפִ֖ים אֶת־אִ֥ישׁ יְהוּדָֽה׃ ה וַיָּבֹ֥א שָׁא֖וּל עַד־עִ֣יר עֲמָלֵ֑ק וַיָּ֖רֶב בַּנָּֽחַל׃ ו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שָׁא֣וּל אֶֽל־הַקֵּינִ֡י לְכוּ֩ סֻּ֨רוּ רְד֜וּ מִתּ֣וֹךְ עֲמָלֵקִ֗י פֶּן־אֹֽסִפְךָ֙ עִמּ֔וֹ וְאַתָּ֞ה עָשִׂ֤יתָה חֶ֙סֶד֙ עִם־כָּל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּעֲלוֹתָ֖ם מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וַיָּ֥סַר קֵינִ֖י מִתּ֥וֹךְ עֲמָלֵֽק׃ ז וַיַּ֥ךְ שָׁא֖וּל אֶת־עֲמָלֵ֑ק מֵֽחֲוִילָה֙ בּוֹאֲךָ֣ שׁ֔וּר אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ח וַיִּתְפֹּ֛שׂ אֶת־אֲגַ֥ג מֶֽלֶךְ־עֲמָלֵ֖ק חָ֑י וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֖ם הֶחֱרִ֥ים לְפִי־חָֽרֶב׃ ט וַיַּחְמֹל֩ שָׁא֨וּל וְהָעָ֜ם עַל־אֲגָ֗ג וְעַל־מֵיטַ֣ב הַצֹּאן֩ וְהַבָּקָ֨ר וְהַמִּשְׁנִ֤ים וְעַל־הַכָּרִים֙ וְעַל־כָּל־הַטּ֔וֹב וְלֹ֥א אָב֖וּ הַחֲרִימָ֑ם וְכָל־הַמְּלָאכָ֛ה נְמִבְזָ֥ה וְנָמֵ֖ס אֹתָ֥הּ הֶחֱרִֽימוּ׃ (פ)
    Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over His people Israel. Therefore, listen to the LORD’s command! “Thus said the LORD of Hosts: I am exacting the penalty for what Amalek did to Israel, for the assault he made upon them on the road, on their way up from Egypt. Now go, attack Amalek, and proscribe all that belongs to him. Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses!” Saul mustered the troops and enrolled them at Telaim: 200,000 men on foot, and 10,000 men of Judah. Then Saul advanced as far as the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the wadi. Saul said to the Kenites, “Come, withdraw at once from among the Amalekites, that I may not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they left Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from among the Amalekites. Saul destroyed Amalek from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is close to Egypt, and he captured King Agag of Amalek alive. He proscribed all the people, putting them to the sword; but Saul and the troops spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the second-born, the lambs, and all else that was of value. They would not proscribe them; they proscribed only what was cheap and worthless.
  45. (ח) וַיָּבֹ֖א עֲמָלֵ֑ק וַיִּלָּ֥חֶם עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בִּרְפִידִֽם׃ (ט) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֤ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ בְּחַר־לָ֣נוּ אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְצֵ֖א הִלָּחֵ֣ם בַּעֲמָלֵ֑ק מָחָ֗ר אָנֹכִ֤י נִצָּב֙ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ הַגִּבְעָ֔ה וּמַטֵּ֥ה הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּיָדִֽי׃ (י) וַיַּ֣עַשׂ יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר אָֽמַר־לוֹ֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה לְהִלָּחֵ֖ם בַּעֲמָלֵ֑ק וּמֹשֶׁה֙ אַהֲרֹ֣ן וְח֔וּר עָל֖וּ רֹ֥אשׁ הַגִּבְעָֽה׃ (יא) וְהָיָ֗ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ים מֹשֶׁ֛ה יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֣ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר יָנִ֛יחַ יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֥ר עֲמָלֵֽק׃ (יב) וִידֵ֤י מֹשֶׁה֙ כְּבֵדִ֔ים וַיִּקְחוּ־אֶ֛בֶן וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ תַחְתָּ֖יו וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב עָלֶ֑יהָ וְאַהֲרֹ֨ן וְח֜וּר תָּֽמְכ֣וּ בְיָדָ֗יו מִזֶּ֤ה אֶחָד֙ וּמִזֶּ֣ה אֶחָ֔ד וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה עַד־בֹּ֥א הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃ (יג) וַיַּחֲלֹ֧שׁ יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶת־עֲמָלֵ֥ק וְאֶת־עַמּ֖וֹ לְפִי־חָֽרֶב׃ (פ) (יד) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כְּתֹ֨ב זֹ֤את זִכָּרוֹן֙ בַּסֵּ֔פֶר וְשִׂ֖ים בְּאָזְנֵ֣י יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ כִּֽי־מָחֹ֤ה אֶמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (טו) וַיִּ֥בֶן מֹשֶׁ֖ה מִזְבֵּ֑חַ וַיִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ נִסִּֽי׃ (טז) וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כִּֽי־יָד֙ עַל־כֵּ֣ס יָ֔הּ מִלְחָמָ֥ה לַיהוָ֖ה בַּֽעֲמָלֵ֑ק מִדֹּ֖ר דֹּֽר׃ (פ)
    (8) Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. (9) Moses said to Joshua, “Pick some men for us, and go out and do battle with Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill, with the rod of God in my hand.” (10) Joshua did as Moses told him and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (11) Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; but whenever he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. (12) But Moses’ hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur, one on each side, supported his hands; thus his hands remained steady until the sun set. (13) And Joshua overwhelmed the people of Amalek with the sword. (14) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Inscribe this in a document as a reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven!” (15) And Moses built an altar and named it Adonai-nissi. (16) He said, “It means, ‘Hand upon the throne of the LORD!’ The LORD will be at war with Amalek throughout the ages.”
  46. (יז) זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ (יח) אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים׃ (יט) וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ (פ)
    (17) Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt— (18) how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. (19) Therefore, when the LORD your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
  47. Haman is from King Agag who was spared by King Shaul the son of Kish from Binyamin. Mordecai is a descendant of Shaul from the tribe of Binyamin. (His father Kish is named after the Kish who is the father of Shaul.) Mordecai from the tribe of Binyamin is carrying on the war from generation to generation with Haman who is descended from Agag and from the people of Amalek. Amalek are the unique enemies of the Jews. They prey on the weak and weary, the stragglers in the back of the camp. Similarly Haman's decree of destruction of the Jewish people is not just for the Jewish men but for the women and children. He is uniquely called the "enemy of the Jews". 

     

    What makes Amalek so unique? They use terror tactics. They prey on the weak to demoralize the Jewish people with the hope that the Jews will give up the possibility of a fight and back off. Idolatry is using moral standards from a local perspective. One worships a god of one locale who sets rules for that place. Amalek does not adapt relative morality. They have no moral standards. In this way they are the antithesis of the Jewish belief system in one moral standard based on a universal God. Haman follows the Amalekites in his pursuit of power without limit and willingness to destroy all the Jewish people, "the young and old, children and women".

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  49. A Jewish man is travelling in a train reading an Arab newspaper.

    His friend happens to also be on the train and confronts, “What are you doing reading that?!”

    The man replies, “I got sick of the Jewish newspapers. All I ever read about was Jes living in poor conditions, Israel getting attacked, and Jews being persecuted…

    Now that I read the Arab newspaper we rule the world! We control the media, run the banks, and are all wealthy. That’s much better news!” -Coolhurl.com

  50. Yoram Hazony, God and Politics in Esther

    Ironically, it is the very weakness of the Jews, their dispersion and lack of a government capable of defending their interests, that then becomes the basis for the paranoia with regard to them. That the Jews are "dispersed in all the provinces of your kingdom" implies that the degree of their subversion can be virtually infinite. Like the king's servants, the Jews are everywhere, and it is a small step from here to controlling the financial system, the press, hostile foreign powers, or the world. It is precisely the same sense of the mysterious powers of the Jews that Haman uses to convince the king that there is no choice but to eradicate the menace:

     

    "There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them. If it please Your Majesty, let an edict be drawn for their destruction."

  51. (א) וּמָרְדֳּכַ֗י יָדַע֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשָׂ֔ה וַיִּקְרַ֤ע מָרְדֳּכַי֙ אֶת־בְּגָדָ֔יו וַיִּלְבַּ֥שׁ שַׂ֖ק וָאֵ֑פֶר וַיֵּצֵא֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֔יר וַיִּזְעַ֛ק זְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה וּמָרָֽה׃ (ב) וַיָּב֕וֹא עַ֖ד לִפְנֵ֣י שַֽׁעַר־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ כִּ֣י אֵ֥ין לָב֛וֹא אֶל־שַׁ֥עַר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ בִּלְב֥וּשׁ שָֽׂק׃ (ג) וּבְכָל־מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֗ה מְקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְדָתוֹ֙ מַגִּ֔יעַ אֵ֤בֶל גָּדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְצ֥וֹם וּבְכִ֖י וּמִסְפֵּ֑ד שַׂ֣ק וָאֵ֔פֶר יֻצַּ֖ע לָֽרַבִּֽים׃
    (1) When Mordecai learned all that had happened, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went through the city, crying out loudly and bitterly, (2) until he came in front of the palace gate; for one could not enter the palace gate wearing sackcloth.— (3) Also, in every province that the king’s command and decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing, and everybody lay in sackcloth and ashes.—
  52. (א) ומרדכי ידע . בעל החלום אמר לו שהסכימו העליונים לכך לפי שהשתחוו לצלם בימי נבוכדנצר ושנהנו מסעודת אחשורוש :

  53. It is interesting that Rashi conflates the two reasons mentioned by Chazal why the Jews were punished with the decree of Haman. They bowed down to the statue long ago during the time of Nebuchadnezzar and they benefited from the feast of Achashverosh. Rashi then seems to view this as a continuation of the first sin. Celebrating at Achashverosh's feast is tantamount to idolatry. Perhaps this explains the intertextuality in chapter 1 of Esther with the building of the mishkan from the Torah. The Jews at the feast were substituting worship of God at the Temple in Jerusalem with worship of the Persian dynasty at his seat of power in Shushan. Mordecai on the other hand by refusing to bow to Haman who was viewed as a god begins to reverse this sin which began which began with the bowing in the time of Achashverosh.

     

    Here in chapter 4, Mordecai continues his public protest in the king's court by parading around the city in sackcloth. He does this to exert public pressure on the government by confronting everyone with the injustice and forcing them to choose whether they side with the royal decree or with Mordecai's protest of this decree. 

  54. (ד) וַ֠תָּבוֹאינָה נַעֲר֨וֹת אֶסְתֵּ֤ר וְסָרִיסֶ֙יהָ֙ וַיַּגִּ֣ידוּ לָ֔הּ וַתִּתְחַלְחַ֥ל הַמַּלְכָּ֖ה מְאֹ֑ד וַתִּשְׁלַ֨ח בְּגָדִ֜ים לְהַלְבִּ֣ישׁ אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַ֗י וּלְהָסִ֥יר שַׂקּ֛וֹ מֵעָלָ֖יו וְלֹ֥א קִבֵּֽל׃ (ה) וַתִּקְרָא֩ אֶסְתֵּ֨ר לַהֲתָ֜ךְ מִסָּרִיסֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֶעֱמִ֣יד לְפָנֶ֔יהָ וַתְּצַוֵּ֖הוּ עַֽל־מָרְדֳּכָ֑י לָדַ֥עַת מַה־זֶּ֖ה וְעַל־מַה־זֶּֽה׃ (ו) וַיֵּצֵ֥א הֲתָ֖ךְ אֶֽל־מָרְדֳּכָ֑י אֶל־רְח֣וֹב הָעִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֥י שַֽׁעַר־הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ז) וַיַּגֶּד־ל֣וֹ מָרְדֳּכַ֔י אֵ֖ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר קָרָ֑הוּ וְאֵ֣ת ׀ פָּרָשַׁ֣ת הַכֶּ֗סֶף אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָמַ֤ר הָמָן֙ לִ֠שְׁקוֹל עַל־גִּנְזֵ֥י הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ ביהודיים [בַּיְּהוּדִ֖ים] לְאַבְּדָֽם׃ (ח) וְאֶת־פַּתְשֶׁ֣גֶן כְּתָֽב־הַ֠דָּת אֲשֶׁר־נִתַּ֨ן בְּשׁוּשָׁ֤ן לְהַשְׁמִידָם֙ נָ֣תַן ל֔וֹ לְהַרְא֥וֹת אֶת־אֶסְתֵּ֖ר וּלְהַגִּ֣יד לָ֑הּ וּלְצַוּ֣וֹת עָלֶ֗יהָ לָב֨וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֧לֶךְ לְהִֽתְחַנֶּן־ל֛וֹ וּלְבַקֵּ֥שׁ מִלְּפָנָ֖יו עַל־עַמָּֽהּ׃ (ט) וַיָּב֖וֹא הֲתָ֑ךְ וַיַּגֵּ֣ד לְאֶסְתֵּ֔ר אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֥י מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (י) וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶסְתֵּר֙ לַהֲתָ֔ךְ וַתְּצַוֵּ֖הוּ אֶֽל־מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (יא) כָּל־עַבְדֵ֣י הַמֶּ֡לֶךְ וְעַם־מְדִינ֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ יֽוֹדְעִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר כָּל־אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֡ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָבֽוֹא־אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ֩ אֶל־הֶחָצֵ֨ר הַפְּנִימִ֜ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־יִקָּרֵ֗א אַחַ֤ת דָּתוֹ֙ לְהָמִ֔ית לְ֠בַד מֵאֲשֶׁ֨ר יֽוֹשִׁיט־ל֥וֹ הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶת־שַׁרְבִ֥יט הַזָּהָ֖ב וְחָיָ֑ה וַאֲנִ֗י לֹ֤א נִקְרֵ֙אתי֙ לָב֣וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ זֶ֖ה שְׁלוֹשִׁ֥ים יֽוֹם׃
    (4) When Esther’s maidens and eunuchs came and informed her, the queen was greatly agitated. She sent clothing for Mordecai to wear, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he refused. (5) Thereupon Esther summoned Hathach, one of the eunuchs whom the king had appointed to serve her, and sent him to Mordecai to learn the why and wherefore of it all. (6) Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the palace gate; (7) and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and all about the money that Haman had offered to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. (8) He also gave him the written text of the law that had been proclaimed in Shushan for their destruction. [He bade him] show it to Esther and inform her, and charge her to go to the king and to appeal to him and to plead with him for her people. (9) When Hathach came and delivered Mordecai’s message to Esther, (10) Esther told Hathach to take back to Mordecai the following reply: (11) “All the king’s courtiers and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any person, man or woman, enters the king’s presence in the inner court without having been summoned, there is but one law for him—that he be put to death. Only if the king extends the golden scepter to him may he live. Now I have not been summoned to visit the king for the last thirty days.”
  55. When Esther first hears of the decree against the Jews and Mordecai's demand that she intercede with the king, Esther hesitates. She gives a number of reasons why she cannot do it.

    1) No, because it is against the law.

    2) No, because I will die.

    3) He will not forgive me because no one else behaves this way.

    4) He will not forgive me because he does not care enough for me.

    5) No, because my effort will change nothing.

     

    Her hesitation makes sense since Mordecai is asking her both to repeat Vashti's crime by defying the king's command and to confirm Haman's charge that the Jews are insubordinate.

  56. (יב) וַיַּגִּ֣ידוּ לְמָרְדֳּכָ֔י אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֥י אֶסְתֵּֽר׃ (פ) (יג) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר מָרְדֳּכַ֖י לְהָשִׁ֣יב אֶל־אֶסְתֵּ֑ר אַל־תְּדַמִּ֣י בְנַפְשֵׁ֔ךְ לְהִמָּלֵ֥ט בֵּית־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מִכָּל־הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ (יד) כִּ֣י אִם־הַחֲרֵ֣שׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי֮ בָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּאת֒ רֶ֣וַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַעֲמ֤וֹד לַיְּהוּדִים֙ מִמָּק֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת׃ (טו) וַתֹּ֥אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֖ר לְהָשִׁ֥יב אֶֽל־מָרְדֳּכָֽי׃ (טז) לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים הַֽנִּמְצְאִ֣ים בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן וְצ֣וּמוּ עָ֠לַי וְאַל־תֹּאכְל֨וּ וְאַל־תִּשְׁתּ֜וּ שְׁלֹ֤שֶׁת יָמִים֙ לַ֣יְלָה וָי֔וֹם גַּם־אֲנִ֥י וְנַעֲרֹתַ֖י אָצ֣וּם כֵּ֑ן וּבְכֵ֞ן אָב֤וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־כַדָּ֔ת וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָבַ֖דְתִּי אָבָֽדְתִּי׃ (יז) וַֽיַּעֲבֹ֖ר מָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַיַּ֕עַשׂ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוְּתָ֥ה עָלָ֖יו אֶסְתֵּֽר׃ (ס)

    (12) When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, (13) Mordecai had this message delivered to Esther: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. (14) On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.” (15) Then Esther sent back this answer to Mordecai: (16) “Go, assemble all the Jews who live in Shushan, and fast in my behalf; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens will observe the same fast. Then I shall go to the king, though it is contrary to the law; and if I am to perish, I shall perish!” (17) So Mordecai went about [the city] and did just as Esther had commanded him.

  57. (יד) ממקום אחר. מצד אחר או מדרך אחרת, והטעם שיתכן שיבא להם ריוח ולא על ידיך, ויש אומרים כי זה רמז לשם המבורך כי קדמונינו ז"ל קראוהו מקום עולמו, ואמת כי ככה דבריהם, רק לא מצאנו זה השם במקרא, רק נקרא מעון שהוא למעלה, ואילו היה ככה מה טעם לומר אחר, ויש שאלה למה לא נכתב השם במגלה הזאת, והגאון רב סעדי' ז"ל השיב, כי המלך צוה למרדכי שיכתוב המגלה ויעתיקוה בלשון פרס בספר דברי הימים, ואלו היה כותב שם השם היו הפרסיים מחלפים אותו בשם ע"ז:

  58. The lack of God's name in Megillat Esther is most apparent in Mordecai's response to Esther and then her call to the Jews. Mordecai says: "Relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter" instead of saying deliverance will come from God. Then Esther calls for a 3 day fast obviously so the people will spend the time in reflection and prayer to God and yet there is no mention of God here. The Ibn Ezra quotes an interesting reason why God is missing in Esther from Rav Saadiah Gaon. The Megillah was written in Persian for the royal archive so if God name would appear, Persians would have substituted this for their gods.

    Mordecai's response to Esther is two-fold. On the one hand, his belief in the eternity of the Jewish people means that ultimately Esther's actions will not make a difference. Salvation for the Jewish people will surely come, if not through Esther then from some other place. On the other hand, if Esther does not act she and her household will surely be lost. Salvation might come to the Jews but it could be at a great cost and great casualties for the Jewish people.

     

    Consider the figures of Yosef vs. Moshe. Yosef worked within the system of Pharaoh's court. When the Jewish future enslavement and suffering became apparent while he was still a prince in Egypt, Yosef did nothing to stop it since it could harm his position with Pharaoh. Even though the Jews were ultimately saved many generations later, they endured countless suffering and many deaths because of this enslavement. Moshe on the other hand used his position as one raised in the royal court to challenge Pharaoh and ultimately free the Jews from slavery.

     

    Esther had a similar choice. Should she do nothing since to act could risk her position in the Persian power structure or should she find a way to defy the decree against the Jews even at personal risk?

     

    "Mordecai's certainty [that if Esther did nothing she and her family would be lost] comes from an understanding that the battle of the court Jew is ultimately the struggle to save, not the Jewish people, but himself. Exposing himself to the relentless encroachment of foreign values... perhaps, as Yosef claims, he will sometimes be able to achieve that good in the course of executing his assigned duties. But the proof that he lives as a Jew come not when he executes his assigned tasks on the path to worldly power.  It comes when he cannot pursue these tasks as expected- when the demands of power, expedience, and interest of the state are opposed to what is Jewish and what is right, when he stands to lose everything as Avraham lost everything in rejecting Mesopotamia. Only then does it become clear whether he is still fighting the battle of the Jew, or whether this cause has been sacrificed to the enslaving idol. In the rejection of the idol, only in the rejection of the idol, does the Jewish soul persist. 

     

    That is why, while Esther may or may not succeed in saving numbers of Jews by interceding with the king, the only one who will be lost for certain with her silence is herself." Hazony, God and Politics in Esther

  59. (א) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וַתִּלְבַּ֤שׁ אֶסְתֵּר֙ מַלְכ֔וּת וַֽתַּעֲמֹ֞ד בַּחֲצַ֤ר בֵּית־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ הַפְּנִימִ֔ית נֹ֖כַח בֵּ֣ית הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְ֠הַמֶּלֶךְ יוֹשֵׁ֞ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֤א מַלְכוּתוֹ֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הַמַּלְכ֔וּת נֹ֖כַח פֶּ֥תַח הַבָּֽיִת׃ (ב) וַיְהִי֩ כִרְא֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ אֶת־אֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֗ה עֹמֶ֙דֶת֙ בֶּֽחָצֵ֔ר נָשְׂאָ֥ה חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינָ֑יו וַיּ֨וֹשֶׁט הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּ֗ר אֶת־שַׁרְבִ֤יט הַזָּהָב֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּיָד֔וֹ וַתִּקְרַ֣ב אֶסְתֵּ֔ר וַתִּגַּ֖ע בְּרֹ֥אשׁ הַשַּׁרְבִֽיט׃ (ס) (ג) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מַה־לָּ֖ךְ אֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֑ה וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֛ךְ עַד־חֲצִ֥י הַמַּלְכ֖וּת וְיִנָּ֥תֵֽן לָֽךְ׃
    (1) On the third day, Esther put on royal apparel and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, facing the king’s palace, while the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room facing the entrance of the palace. (2) As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor. The king extended to Esther the golden scepter which he had in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. (3) “What troubles you, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be granted you.”
  60. (ג) ויאמר לה המלך מה לך אסתר המלכה. הנה בראות המלך כי היא התירה עצמה למות לבא אל החצר הפנימית אשר לא כדת כדי שתוכל לדבר עמו חשב כי לענין קשה וגדול נצטרכה אסתר ולזה שאל המלך מה לך אסתר המלכה ומה בקשתך כי ידמה שהיא באה לפניו אם בעבור דבר קשה מאד לה אם לבקשת דבר קשה מאד וגדול. ואפשר כי מרוב הצער והפחד קרה לה כדמיון עלוף (fainting) כמו שנזכר בספר יוסיפין (Josephus) ולזה התעורר המלך במהירות להצילה מפחד המות:

  61. Josephus on Esther, Chapter 9 Esther Faces Death

    When she came to him he was sitting on his throne in his royal apparel, which was a robe interwoven with gold and precious stones, that made him seem to her more terrible, and when he looked at her harshly and with a face on fire with anger, she suddenly was taken faint with fear and fell in dread upon the side of her maid. But the king, by the will of God, I think, changed his intention, and afraid for his wife, lest she suffer a serious injury out of her fear, he leaped from his throne and took her in his arms until she came to herself, embracing her, and speaking comfortably to her, and urging her to take heart and not to expect any sad fate for her coming to him without being summoned, because that law had been made for subjects, but she who ruled equally with himself had complete security. So saying, he put the scepter into her hand and laid his staff upon her neck, in accordance with the law; and so freed her from fear.

  62. (א) וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בְּחֹ֣דֶשׁ נִיסָ֗ן שְׁנַ֥ת עֶשְׂרִ֛ים לְאַרְתַּחְשַׁ֥סְתְּא הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ יַ֣יִן לְפָנָ֑יו וָאֶשָּׂ֤א אֶת־הַיַּ֙יִן֙ וָאֶתְּנָ֣ה לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְלֹא־הָיִ֥יתִי רַ֖ע לְפָנָֽיו׃ (ב) וַיֹּאמֶר֩ לִ֨י הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ מַדּ֣וּעַ ׀ פָּנֶ֣יךָ רָעִ֗ים וְאַתָּה֙ אֵֽינְךָ֣ חוֹלֶ֔ה אֵ֣ין זֶ֔ה כִּי־אִ֖ם רֹ֣עַֽ לֵ֑ב וָאִירָ֖א הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד׃ (ג) וָאֹמַ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ לְעוֹלָ֣ם יִחְיֶ֑ה מַדּ֜וּעַ לֹא־יֵרְע֣וּ פָנַ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר הָעִ֜יר בֵּית־קִבְר֤וֹת אֲבֹתַי֙ חֲרֵבָ֔ה וּשְׁעָרֶ֖יהָ אֻכְּל֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ׃ (ס) (ד) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לִי֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ עַל־מַה־זֶּ֖ה אַתָּ֣ה מְבַקֵּ֑שׁ וָֽאֶתְפַּלֵּ֔ל אֶל־אֱלֹהֵ֖י הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (ה) וָאֹמַ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב וְאִם־יִיטַ֥ב עַבְדְּךָ֖ לְפָנֶ֑יךָ אֲשֶׁ֧ר תִּשְׁלָחֵ֣נִי אֶל־יְהוּדָ֗ה אֶל־עִ֛יר קִבְר֥וֹת אֲבֹתַ֖י וְאֶבְנֶֽנָּה׃
    (1) In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, wine was set before him; I took the wine and gave it to the king—I had never been out of sorts in his presence. (2) The king said to me, “How is it that you look bad, though you are not ill? It must be bad thoughts.” I was very frightened, (3) but I answered the king, “May the king live forever! How should I not look bad when the city of the graveyard of my ancestors lies in ruins, and its gates have been consumed by fire?” (4) The king said to me, “What is your request?” With a prayer to the God of Heaven, (5) I answered the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, to rebuild it.”
  63. After fasting for 3 days, Esther is in a pitiful state but this works to her advantage. She almost faints which arouses Achashverosh's fear and he grabs her to save her from death. This is similar to Nehemiah when he appears before the Persian king Artaxerxes a few years later.

  64. (ג) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהּ֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מַה־לָּ֖ךְ אֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֑ה וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֛ךְ עַד־חֲצִ֥י הַמַּלְכ֖וּת וְיִנָּ֥תֵֽן לָֽךְ׃ (ד) וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֔ר אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ ט֑וֹב יָב֨וֹא הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ הַיּ֔וֹם אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂ֥יתִי לֽוֹ׃ (ה) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מַהֲרוּ֙ אֶת־הָמָ֔ן לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת אֶת־דְּבַ֣ר אֶסְתֵּ֑ר וַיָּבֹ֤א הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וְהָמָ֔ן אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשְׂתָ֥ה אֶסְתֵּֽר׃ (ו) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּר֙ בְּמִשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֔יִן מַה־שְּׁאֵלָתֵ֖ךְ וְיִנָּ֣תֵֽן לָ֑ךְ וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֛ךְ עַד־חֲצִ֥י הַמַּלְכ֖וּת וְתֵעָֽשׂ׃ (ז) וַתַּ֥עַן אֶסְתֵּ֖ר וַתֹּאמַ֑ר שְׁאֵלָתִ֖י וּבַקָּשָׁתִֽי׃ (ח) אִם־מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֜ן בְּעֵינֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְאִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ ט֔וֹב לָתֵת֙ אֶת־שְׁאֵ֣לָתִ֔י וְלַעֲשׂ֖וֹת אֶת־בַּקָּשָׁתִ֑י יָב֧וֹא הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ וְהָמָ֗ן אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֣ה לָהֶ֔ם וּמָחָ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה כִּדְבַ֥ר הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃
    (3) “What troubles you, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be granted you.” (4) “If it please Your Majesty,” Esther replied, “let Your Majesty and Haman come today to the feast that I have prepared for him.” (5) The king commanded, “Tell Haman to hurry and do Esther’s bidding.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. (6) At the wine feast, the king asked Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” (7) “My wish,” replied Esther, “my request— (8) if Your Majesty will do me the favor, if it please Your Majesty to grant my wish and accede to my request—let Your Majesty and Haman come to the feast which I will prepare for them; and tomorrow I will do Your Majesty’s bidding.”
  65. מגילה ט״ו ב:מ״ג-ס״ט
    יבא המלך והמן אל המשתה ת"ר מה ראתה אסתר שזימנה את המן ר"א אומר פחים טמנה לו שנאמר (תהלים סט, כג) יהי שלחנם לפניהם לפח ר' יהושע אומר מבית אביה למדה שנאמר (משלי כה, כא) אם רעב שונאך האכילהו לחם וגו' ר"מ אומר כדי שלא יטול עצה וימרוד ר' יהודה אומר כדי שלא יכירו בה שהיא יהודית ר' נחמיה אומר כדי שלא יאמרו ישראל אחות יש לנו בבית המלך ויסיחו דעתן מן הרחמים ר' יוסי אומר כדי שיהא מצוי לה בכל עת ר"ש בן מנסיא אומר אולי ירגיש המקום ויעשה לנו נס רבי יהושע בן קרחה אומר אסביר לו פנים כדי שיהרג הוא והיא רבן גמליאל אומר מלך הפכפכן היה אמר רבי גמליאל עדיין צריכין אנו למודעי דתניא ר' אליעזר המודעי אומר קנאתו במלך קנאתו בשרים רבה אמר (משלי טז, יח) לפני שבר גאון אביי ורבא דאמרי תרוייהו (ירמיהו נא, לט) בחומם אשית את משתיהם וגו' אשכחיה רבה בר אבוה לאליהו א"ל כמאן חזיא אסתר ועבדא הכי א"ל ככולהו תנאי וככולהו אמוראי
    “Let the king and Haman come to a banquet” (Esther 5:4). Our Rabbis taught: What did Esther see that she invited Haman? R. Elazar said: She set a trap for him, as it says. “Let their table before them become a snare” (Psalms 69:23). R. Joshua said: She learned to do so from her father’s house, as it says. “If your enemy be hungry give him bread to eat” (Proverbs 25:21-22). R. Meir said: so that he should not form a conspiracy and rebel. R. Judah said: So that they should not discover that she was a Jew. R. Nehemiah said: So that Israel should not say, We have a sister in the palace, and so should neglect [to pray for] mercy. R. Yose said: So that he should always be at hand for her. R. Shimon b. Menassiah said: [She said], Perhaps God will notice and perform a miracle for us R. Joshua b. Korha said: [She said], I will encourage him so that he may be killed, both he and I. Rabban Gamaliel said: [She said; Ashvesosh] is a flip flopping king. R. Gamaliel said: We still require the Modai, as it has been taught: R. Eliezer of Modiin says, She made the king jealous of him and she made the princes jealous of him.. Rabbah said: [She said], “Pride goes before the fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Abaye and Rava both of whom said: [She said], “With their poison I will prepare their feast” (Jeremiah 51:39). Rabbah b. Abbuha found Elijah and said to him: Which of these reasons prompted Esther to act as she did? He replied: [All] the reasons given by all the Tannaim and all the Amoraim.
  66. (ד) יבוא המלך והמן . רבותינו אמרו טעמים הרבה בדבר מה ראתה אסתר שזימנה את המן כדי לקנאו במלך ובשרים שהמלך יחשוב שהוא חשוק אליה ויהרגנו ועוד טעמים רבים :

  67. There are many reasons brought by Chazal why Esther would invite Haman and Achashverosh to the feast. Rashi cites the most straightforward reason. Esther needs to drive a wedge between Achashverosh and his most trusted advisor Haman who has been given total power over the kingdom. If she argues directly pleading her case, she will likely lose against Haman. She needs to find a way for Haman to appear flawed in judgement or suspect in the king's eyes. She does this by inviting both of them to the feast. She wants Achashverosh to suspect that something is going on between Esther and Haman. That there is plotting of sorts. However, when the banquet arrives so soon afterward, Esther suspects that her plan has not aroused in the king any suspicion. So she quickly changes course and invites them both to a second banquet on the following day, hoping that overnight Achashverosh will start to have second thoughts.

  68. (ט) וַיֵּצֵ֤א הָמָן֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא שָׂמֵ֖חַ וְט֣וֹב לֵ֑ב וְכִרְאוֹת֩ הָמָ֨ן אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַ֜י בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְלֹא־קָם֙ וְלֹא־זָ֣ע מִמֶּ֔נּוּ וַיִּמָּלֵ֥א הָמָ֛ן עַֽל־מָרְדֳּכַ֖י חֵמָֽה׃ (י) וַיִּתְאַפַּ֣ק הָמָ֔ן וַיָּב֖וֹא אֶל־בֵּית֑וֹ וַיִּשְׁלַ֛ח וַיָּבֵ֥א אֶת־אֹהֲבָ֖יו וְאֶת־זֶ֥רֶשׁ אִשְׁתּֽוֹ׃ (יא) וַיְסַפֵּ֨ר לָהֶ֥ם הָמָ֛ן אֶת־כְּב֥וֹד עָשְׁר֖וֹ וְרֹ֣ב בָּנָ֑יו וְאֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר גִּדְּל֤וֹ הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וְאֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִשְּׂא֔וֹ עַל־הַשָּׂרִ֖ים וְעַבְדֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יב) וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָמָן֒ אַ֣ף לֹא־הֵבִיאָה֩ אֶסְתֵּ֨ר הַמַּלְכָּ֧ה עִם־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֥ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֖תָה כִּ֣י אִם־אוֹתִ֑י וְגַם־לְמָחָ֛ר אֲנִ֥י קָֽרוּא־לָ֖הּ עִם־הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יג) וְכָל־זֶ֕ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ שֹׁוֶ֖ה לִ֑י בְּכָל־עֵ֗ת אֲשֶׁ֨ר אֲנִ֤י רֹאֶה֙ אֶת־מָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֔י יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּשַׁ֥עַר הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (יד) וַתֹּ֣אמֶר לוֹ֩ זֶ֨רֶשׁ אִשְׁתּ֜וֹ וְכָל־אֹֽהֲבָ֗יו יַֽעֲשׂוּ־עֵץ֮ גָּבֹ֣הַּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים אַמָּה֒ וּבַבֹּ֣קֶר ׀ אֱמֹ֣ר לַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְיִתְל֤וּ אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַי֙ עָלָ֔יו וּבֹֽא־עִם־הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֶל הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֖ה שָׂמֵ֑חַ וַיִּיטַ֧ב הַדָּבָ֛ר לִפְנֵ֥י הָמָ֖ן וַיַּ֥עַשׂ הָעֵֽץ׃ (פ)
    (9) That day Haman went out happy and lighthearted. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the palace gate, and Mordecai did not rise or even stir on his account, Haman was filled with rage at him. (10) Nevertheless, Haman controlled himself and went home. He sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh, (11) and Haman told them about his great wealth and his many sons, and all about how the king had promoted him and advanced him above the officials and the king’s courtiers. (12) “What is more,” said Haman, “Queen Esther gave a feast, and besides the king she did not have anyone but me. And tomorrow too I am invited by her along with the king. (13) Yet all this means nothing to me every time I see that Jew Mordecai sitting in the palace gate.” (14) Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a stake be put up, fifty cubits high, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then you can go gaily with the king to the feast.” The proposal pleased Haman, and he had the stake put up.
  69. Haman leaves the feast happy and sees Mordecai continuing in his disobedience refusing even to acknowledge his presence. Haman realizes that there are still 11 months until the decree against the Jews. In that time, a political eternity, if Mordecai continues in his protest he could possibly get sympathizers to the Jewish plight. Something must be done quickly and decisively. Haman's advisors propose to publicly hang Mordecai on a high gallows which will not only neutralize the thread but serve as a public warning to anyone else who may want to resist Haman. However, Haman must get permission for this from Achashverosh. This puts Haman in a position of weakness since this is a personal request for Haman to knock off a rival which cannot be interpreted as helping the king. The king might not approve of this since he wants to appear magnanimous and giving to members of his court, not killing them off. 

  70. (א) בַּלַּ֣יְלָה הַה֔וּא נָדְדָ֖ה שְׁנַ֣ת הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לְהָבִ֞יא אֶת־סֵ֤פֶר הַזִּכְרֹנוֹת֙ דִּבְרֵ֣י הַיָּמִ֔ים וַיִּהְי֥וּ נִקְרָאִ֖ים לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ב) וַיִּמָּצֵ֣א כָת֗וּב אֲשֶׁר֩ הִגִּ֨יד מָרְדֳּכַ֜י עַל־בִּגְתָ֣נָא וָתֶ֗רֶשׁ שְׁנֵי֙ סָרִיסֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מִשֹּׁמְרֵ֖י הַסַּ֑ף אֲשֶׁ֤ר בִּקְשׁוּ֙ לִשְׁלֹ֣חַ יָ֔ד בַּמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֽוֹשׁ׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מַֽה־נַּעֲשָׂ֞ה יְקָ֧ר וּגְדוּלָּ֛ה לְמָרְדֳּכַ֖י עַל־זֶ֑ה וַיֹּ֨אמְר֜וּ נַעֲרֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ מְשָׁ֣רְתָ֔יו לֹא־נַעֲשָׂ֥ה עִמּ֖וֹ דָּבָֽר׃
    (1) That night, sleep deserted the king, and he ordered the book of records, the annals, to be brought; and it was read to the king. (2) There it was found written that Mordecai had denounced Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the threshold, who had plotted to do away with King Ahasuerus. (3) “What honor or advancement has been conferred on Mordecai for this?” the king inquired. “Nothing at all has been done for him,” replied the king’s servants who were in attendance on him.
  71. (א) נדדה שנת המלך . נס היה , ויש אומרים שם את לבו על שזמנה אסתר את המן שמא נתנה עיניה בו ויהרגהו :

    (ב) להביא את ספר הזכרנות . דרך המלכים כששנתן נודדת אומרים לפניהם משלים ושיחות עד ששנתם חוזרת עליהם , ורבותינו אמרו מתוך שנתן לבו על המן ואסתר אמר אי אפשר שלא ידע אדם עצתם שהוא אוהבי ויגלה לי וחזר ואמר שמא עשה לי אדם טובה ולא גמלתיו ואין חוששין עוד לי , לפיכך ויאמר להביא את ספר הזכרונות :

    (1) The king's sleep was disturbed: It was a miracle (that he couldn't sleep that night). And some say (another interpretation): He had on his heart (i.e., he was troubled) that Esther had invited Haman. Maybe she had set her eyes in him and he would then kill him.

  72. (א) בלילה ההוא נדדה שנת המלך וגו'. ידמה שזה סבב מסבב הסבות להשגחה על ישראל ועל מרדכי עם שדברי אסתר סבבו גם כן לאחשורוש מבוכות ומחשבות כי לא היה יודע על מה ועל מה תשתדל אסתר בזה האופן לבקש מהמלך במשתה בקשתה ועל מה הצטרכה לקרוא להמן עמו שתי פעמים ולפי שהיה נהוג בעת שתדד שנת המלך להביא לפניו ספר הזכרונות דברי הימים לפי ששם ספורים תשמח הנפש בשמיעותם ויהיה זה סבה להביא השינה עם שזה גם כן יביא למלך להזכיר מה שקרה וילמד בזה דעת לעתיד ויתיישר גם כן לתת גמול טוב לאשר גמלו וההפך להפך:

  73. מגילה ט״ז א:ה׳-ו׳
    (אסתר ו, ג) לא נעשה עמו דבר אמר רבא לא מפני שאוהבין את מרדכי אלא מפני ששונאים את המן
    “There was nothing done for him” (Esther 6:3). Rava said: [They answered him thus] not because they loved Mordecai but because they hated Haman.
  74. The king can't sleep because he starts to wonder why Esther has invited him and Haman to two banquets. Perhaps Esther and Haman and plotting against him. He orders that the book of records be read to him. This could just be a pleasant diversion for him or it could be a part of his thinking process. Achashverosh wonders if there is a plot against him why hasn't any of his allies revealed it to him. He realizes how precarious a position he is in since he appointed Haman to be the only advisor with power and a voice and he has pushed away any other advisor who could help him. He is looking for allies who have helped in the past. Perhaps he did not pay them back for their favors for the king so they are not coming forward now. And he finds Mordecai's involvement saving him from the previous plot on his life.

     

    The king asks his servant what was done for Mordecai. For the first time in the story since Haman was promoted to a position of authority, someone other than Haman responds to the king. The servant responds that nothing was done to repay Mordecai for saving Achashverosh's life.

     

    The king thinks back to Haman's justification for killing the Jews. Haman had said that it was of no benefit to the king to keep the Jews. Why would Haman say this after what Mordecai had done? Perhaps Haman was involved in the plot with Bigtan and Teresh which Mordecai had foiled.

  75. (ד) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מִ֣י בֶחָצֵ֑ר וְהָמָ֣ן בָּ֗א לַחֲצַ֤ר בֵּית־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ הַחִ֣יצוֹנָ֔ה לֵאמֹ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ לִתְלוֹת֙ אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַ֔י עַל־הָעֵ֖ץ אֲשֶׁר־הֵכִ֥ין לֽוֹ׃ (ה) וַיֹּ֨אמְר֜וּ נַעֲרֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֵלָ֔יו הִנֵּ֥ה הָמָ֖ן עֹמֵ֣ד בֶּחָצֵ֑ר וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ יָבֽוֹא׃ (ו) וַיָּבוֹא֮ הָמָן֒ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מַה־לַעֲשׂ֕וֹת בָּאִ֕ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֣ץ בִּיקָר֑וֹ וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הָמָן֙ בְּלִבּ֔וֹ לְמִ֞י יַחְפֹּ֥ץ הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת יְקָ֖ר יוֹתֵ֥ר מִמֶּֽנִּי׃ (ז) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הָמָ֖ן אֶל־הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ אִ֕ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֥ץ בִּיקָרֽוֹ׃ (ח) יָבִ֙יאוּ֙ לְב֣וּשׁ מַלְכ֔וּת אֲשֶׁ֥ר לָֽבַשׁ־בּ֖וֹ הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְס֗וּס אֲשֶׁ֨ר רָכַ֤ב עָלָיו֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר נִתַּ֛ן כֶּ֥תֶר מַלְכ֖וּת בְּרֹאשֽׁוֹ׃ (ט) וְנָת֨וֹן הַלְּב֜וּשׁ וְהַסּ֗וּס עַל־יַד־אִ֞ישׁ מִשָּׂרֵ֤י הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ הַֽפַּרְתְּמִ֔ים וְהִלְבִּ֙ישׁוּ֙ אֶת־הָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֣ץ בִּֽיקָר֑וֹ וְהִרְכִּיבֻ֤הוּ עַל־הַסּוּס֙ בִּרְח֣וֹב הָעִ֔יר וְקָרְא֣וּ לְפָנָ֔יו כָּ֚כָה יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה לָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֥ץ בִּיקָרֽוֹ׃ (י) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לְהָמָ֗ן מַ֠הֵר קַ֣ח אֶת־הַלְּב֤וּשׁ וְאֶת־הַסּוּס֙ כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבַּ֔רְתָּ וַֽעֲשֵׂה־כֵן֙ לְמָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֔י הַיּוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ אַל־תַּפֵּ֣ל דָּבָ֔ר מִכֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּֽרְתָּ׃ (יא) וַיִּקַּ֤ח הָמָן֙ אֶת־הַלְּב֣וּשׁ וְאֶת־הַסּ֔וּס וַיַּלְבֵּ֖שׁ אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַיַּרְכִּיבֵ֙הוּ֙ בִּרְח֣וֹב הָעִ֔יר וַיִּקְרָ֣א לְפָנָ֔יו כָּ֚כָה יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה לָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ חָפֵ֥ץ בִּיקָרֽוֹ׃
    (4) “Who is in the court?” the king asked. For Haman had just entered the outer court of the royal palace, to speak to the king about having Mordecai impaled on the stake he had prepared for him. (5) “It is Haman standing in the court,” the king’s servants answered him. “Let him enter,” said the king. (6) Haman entered, and the king asked him, “What should be done for a man whom the king desires to honor?” Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?” (7) So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor, (8) let royal garb which the king has worn be brought, and a horse on which the king has ridden and on whose head a royal diadem has been set; (9) and let the attire and the horse be put in the charge of one of the king’s noble courtiers. And let the man whom the king desires to honor be attired and paraded on the horse through the city square, while they proclaim before him: This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor!” (10) “Quick, then!” said the king to Haman. “Get the garb and the horse, as you have said, and do this to Mordecai the Jew, who sits in the king’s gate. Omit nothing of all you have proposed.” (11) So Haman took the garb and the horse and arrayed Mordecai and paraded him through the city square; and he proclaimed before him: This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor!
  76. Achashverosh is up till early morning when he finds Haman in the courtyard. The king decides to take Haman down a notch by posing the question, what should be done for the man the king desires to honor. He knows Haman will naturally assume the king is talking about him. Haman's answer with its focus on the royal crown, garments and horse confirms Achashverosh's suspicions that Haman is hungry for the crown. He orders Haman to do everything he said to Mordecai. "The vizier, the paradigm of total power, seeks out the dissident Jew and publicly carries out the doom of submission to him - just as the other men in the court had humbled themselves before Haman in the preceding weeks."

  77. (יב) וַיָּ֥שָׁב מָרְדֳּכַ֖י אֶל־שַׁ֣עַר הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ נִדְחַ֣ף אֶל־בֵּית֔וֹ אָבֵ֖ל וַחֲפ֥וּי רֹֽאשׁ׃ (יג) וַיְסַפֵּ֨ר הָמָ֜ן לְזֶ֤רֶשׁ אִשְׁתּוֹ֙ וּלְכָל־אֹ֣הֲבָ֔יו אֵ֖ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר קָרָ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֩אמְרוּ֩ ל֨וֹ חֲכָמָ֜יו וְזֶ֣רֶשׁ אִשְׁתּ֗וֹ אִ֣ם מִזֶּ֣רַע הַיְּהוּדִ֡ים מָרְדֳּכַ֞י אֲשֶׁר֩ הַחִלּ֨וֹתָ לִנְפֹּ֤ל לְפָנָיו֙ לֹא־תוּכַ֣ל ל֔וֹ כִּֽי־נָפ֥וֹל תִּפּ֖וֹל לְפָנָֽיו׃
    (12) Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, while Haman hurried home, his head covered in mourning. (13) There Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had befallen him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish stock, you will not overcome him; you will fall before him to your ruin.”
  78. (יג) אשר החלות לנפל וגו' . אמרה אומה זו נמשלו לכוכבים ולעפר כשהם יורדים יורדים עד לעפר ושהם עולים עולים עד לרקיע ועד הכוכבים :

  79. After Haman's public humiliation, his wife Zeresh responds that Haman will never prevail over the Jew. Rashi explains that Jews are either as low as the dust of the earth or as high as the stars in the heaven. Zeresh's response is the claim that the Jews have almost unparalleled power and therefore they can never be vanquished.

  80. (יד) עוֹדָם֙ מְדַבְּרִ֣ים עִמּ֔וֹ וְסָרִיסֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ הִגִּ֑יעוּ וַיַּבְהִ֙לוּ֙ לְהָבִ֣יא אֶת־הָמָ֔ן אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשְׂתָ֥ה אֶסְתֵּֽר׃
    (14) While they were still speaking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurriedly brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.
  81. (יד) עודם וגו’ ויבהלו. להביאו מהרה, ויש לשאול למה לא אמרה אסתר למלך במשתה הראשן מה שאמרה ביום השני, התשובה כי היתה מתפחדת מאוד בעבור גודל מעלת המן ופחדה שתזיק לנפשה ולא תועיל לעמה, והנה ראתה שהתענו היהודים אשר בשושן והשם לא קבל תפלתם כי לא ראתה סימן הקבלה, איחרה לדבר אולי ישמע אוד השם את תפלתם וכאשר ראתה שהחל המן ליפול סר הפחד ממנה ואמרה המן הרע הזה:

  82. (א) וַיָּבֹ֤א הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וְהָמָ֔ן לִשְׁתּ֖וֹת עִם־אֶסְתֵּ֥ר הַמַּלְכָּֽה׃ (ב) וַיֹּאמֶר֩ הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּ֜ר גַּ֣ם בַּיּ֤וֹם הַשֵּׁנִי֙ בְּמִשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֔יִן מַה־שְּׁאֵלָתֵ֛ךְ אֶסְתֵּ֥ר הַמַּלְכָּ֖ה וְתִנָּ֣תֵֽן לָ֑ךְ וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֛ךְ עַד־חֲצִ֥י הַמַּלְכ֖וּת וְתֵעָֽשׂ׃ (ג) וַתַּ֨עַן אֶסְתֵּ֤ר הַמַּלְכָּה֙ וַתֹּאמַ֔ר אִם־מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֤ן בְּעֵינֶ֙יךָ֙ הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְאִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ ט֑וֹב תִּנָּֽתֶן־לִ֤י נַפְשִׁי֙ בִּשְׁאֵ֣לָתִ֔י וְעַמִּ֖י בְּבַקָּשָׁתִֽי׃ (ד) כִּ֤י נִמְכַּ֙רְנוּ֙ אֲנִ֣י וְעַמִּ֔י לְהַשְׁמִ֖יד לַהֲר֣וֹג וּלְאַבֵּ֑ד וְ֠אִלּוּ לַעֲבָדִ֨ים וְלִשְׁפָח֤וֹת נִמְכַּ֙רְנוּ֙ הֶחֱרַ֔שְׁתִּי כִּ֣י אֵ֥ין הַצָּ֛ר שֹׁוֶ֖ה בְּנֵ֥זֶק הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ס) (ה) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וַיֹּ֖אמֶר לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֑ה מִ֣י ה֥וּא זֶה֙ וְאֵֽי־זֶ֣ה ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁר־מְלָא֥וֹ לִבּ֖וֹ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת כֵּֽן׃ (ו) וַתֹּ֣אמֶר־אֶסְתֵּ֔ר אִ֚ישׁ צַ֣ר וְאוֹיֵ֔ב הָמָ֥ן הָרָ֖ע הַזֶּ֑ה וְהָמָ֣ן נִבְעַ֔ת מִלִּפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וְהַמַּלְכָּֽה׃ (ז) וְהַמֶּ֜לֶךְ קָ֤ם בַּחֲמָתוֹ֙ מִמִּשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֔יִן אֶל־גִּנַּ֖ת הַבִּיתָ֑ן וְהָמָ֣ן עָמַ֗ד לְבַקֵּ֤שׁ עַל־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה כִּ֣י רָאָ֔ה כִּֽי־כָלְתָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו הָרָעָ֖ה מֵאֵ֥ת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ח) וְהַמֶּ֡לֶךְ שָׁב֩ מִגִּנַּ֨ת הַבִּיתָ֜ן אֶל־בֵּ֣ית ׀ מִשְׁתֵּ֣ה הַיַּ֗יִן וְהָמָן֙ נֹפֵ֔ל עַל־הַמִּטָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶסְתֵּ֣ר עָלֶ֔יהָ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ הֲ֠גַם לִכְבּ֧וֹשׁ אֶת־הַמַּלְכָּ֛ה עִמִּ֖י בַּבָּ֑יִת הַדָּבָ֗ר יָצָא֙ מִפִּ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וּפְנֵ֥י הָמָ֖ן חָפֽוּ׃ (ס)

    (1) So the king and Haman came to feast with Queen Esther. (2) On the second day, the king again asked Esther at the wine feast, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” (3) Queen Esther replied: “If Your Majesty will do me the favor, and if it pleases Your Majesty, let my life be granted me as my wish, and my people as my request. (4) For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, massacred, and exterminated. Had we only been sold as bondmen and bondwomen, I would have kept silent; for the adversary is not worthy of the king’s trouble.” (5) Thereupon King Ahasuerus demanded of Queen Esther, “Who is he and where is he who dared to do this?” (6) “The adversary and enemy,” replied Esther, “is this evil Haman!” And Haman cringed in terror before the king and the queen. (7) The king, in his fury, left the wine feast for the palace garden, while Haman remained to plead with Queen Esther for his life; for he saw that the king had resolved to destroy him. (8) When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet room, Haman was lying prostrate on the couch on which Esther reclined. “Does he mean,” cried the king, “to ravish the queen in my own palace?” No sooner did these words leave the king’s lips than Haman’s face was covered.

  83. מגילה ט״ז א:פ״ג-פ״ו
    ויאמר המלך אחשורוש ויאמר לאסתר המלכה ויאמר ויאמר למה לי אמר רבי אבהו בתחלה על ידי תורגמן כיון דאמרה ליה מדבית שאול קאתינא מיד ויאמר לאסתר המלכה:
    “Then King Ahashverosh said, and he said to Esther the queen.” Why “said” and again “said”? R. Abbahu said: He first spoke to her through an intermediary. When she told him that she came from the house of Saul, he immediately,”said to Esther the queen.”
  84. (ה) ויאמר. הזכיר ויאמר פעמים שבכעסו אמר פעם אחר פעם כמו ויאמר יצחק אל אברהם אביו ויאמר:

  85. סוטה ט׳ א:ל״ז-ט׳ ב:י׳

    שכל הנותן עיניו במה שאינו שלו מה שמבקש אין נותנין לו ומה שבידו נוטלין הימנו וכן מצינו בנחש הקדמוני שנתן עיניו במה שאינו ראוי לו מה שביקש לא נתנו לו ומה שבידו נטלוהו ממנו אמר הקב"ה אני אמרתי יהא מלך על כל בהמה וחיה ועכשיו (בראשית ג, יד) ארור הוא מכל הבהמה ומכל חית השדה אני אמרתי יהלך בקומה זקופה עכשיו על גחונו ילך אני אמרתי יהא מאכלו מאכל אדם עכשיו עפר יאכל הוא אמר אהרוג את אדם ואשא את חוה עכשיו איבה אשית בינך ובין האשה ובין זרעך ובין זרעה וכן מצינו בקין וקרח ובלעם ודואג ואחיתופל וגחזי ואבשלום ואדוניהו ועוזיהו והמן שנתנו עיניהם במה שאינו ראוי להם מה שביקשו לא ניתן להם ומה שבידם נטלוהו מהם...

  86. When Esther reveals the plot to Achashverosh she avoids mentioning the Jews by name so as not to make it immediately clear to Achashverosh that he is directly responsible for the threat on her life. Achashverosh stammers repeating "and he said" twice. The Talmud says this is because Achashverosh starts to speak directly to Esther as he realizes that she is a Jew from royal stock. The more simple explanation is brought by Ibn Ezra. In his anger, Achashverosh starts repeating himself.

     

    After the revelation, Achashverosh leaves the room since he is acting out of spirit and has lost control of himself. He does not wish to act when he has lost control. He realizes that he made the decree that every man should be in control in his house, married Esther after the grand beauty pageant, and appointed Haman as his sole advisor to gain control. But this very act has caused him to lose control of his wife at the hands of Haman.

     

    When Achashverosh returns, Haman is prostrated on the couch by Esther. Contrast this with all the times the members of the court prostrated themselves to Haman and only Mordecai refuses to bow.

     

    The king then responds, “Does he mean to ravish the queen in my own palace?” Chazal compare Haman to the snake in the Garden of Eden who tried to take what was not his and not only is he not allowed to acquire it but he loses what is his. Haman sought to take the queen from Achashverosh. It was not of a sexual nature but was close enough because it came from Haman's inability to keep his hands off what is not is. 

  87. (ט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר חַ֠רְבוֹנָה אֶחָ֨ד מִן־הַסָּרִיסִ֜ים לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ גַּ֣ם הִנֵּה־הָעֵ֣ץ אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֪ה הָמָ֟ן לְֽמָרְדֳּכַ֞י אֲשֶׁ֧ר דִּבֶּר־ט֣וֹב עַל־הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ עֹמֵד֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הָמָ֔ן גָּבֹ֖הַּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים אַמָּ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ תְּלֻ֥הוּ עָלָֽיו׃ (י) וַיִּתְלוּ֙ אֶת־הָמָ֔ן עַל־הָעֵ֖ץ אֲשֶׁר־הֵכִ֣ין לְמָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַחֲמַ֥ת הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ שָׁכָֽכָה׃ (פ)
    (9) Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “What is more, a stake is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai—the man whose words saved the king.” “Impale him on it!” the king ordered. (10) So they impaled Haman on the stake which he had put up for Mordecai, and the king’s fury abated.
  88. (ט) ויאמר חרבונה. דברי יחיד כי חרבונה הוא אליהו ז"ל, ולפי דעתי שהטעם שזה הסריס הוא הנזכר בתחלת הספר כי הוא מהז' הסריסים עשה טובה לישראל ובאה ישועה על ידו כאלו אליהו ז"ל היה שהוא הבשר בבוא הישועה:

  89. (א) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא נָתַ֞ן הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ֙ לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה אֶת־בֵּ֥ית הָמָ֖ן צֹרֵ֣ר היהודיים [הַיְּהוּדִ֑ים] וּמָרְדֳּכַ֗י בָּ֚א לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ כִּֽי־הִגִּ֥ידָה אֶסְתֵּ֖ר מַ֥ה הוּא־לָֽהּ׃ (ב) וַיָּ֨סַר הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ אֶת־טַבַּעְתּ֗וֹ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱבִיר֙ מֵֽהָמָ֔ן וַֽיִּתְּנָ֖הּ לְמָרְדֳּכָ֑י וַתָּ֧שֶׂם אֶסְתֵּ֛ר אֶֽת־מָרְדֳּכַ֖י עַל־בֵּ֥ית הָמָֽן׃ (פ)
    (1) That very day King Ahasuerus gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Mordecai presented himself to the king, for Esther had revealed how he was related to her. (2) The king slipped off his ring, which he had taken back from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman’s property.
  90. Harvona was mentioned in chapter 1 as one of Achashverosh's attendants but he disappeared from the story once Haman took power. Harvona however kept track of events and knew the details of Haman's plans for Mordecai, the height of the gallows for example. Harvona now turns the table on Haman. This could be for his own personal reasons, he wants to regain some power in Achashverosh's court once he perceives a weakness in Haman. But it is also a public move from the camp of Haman to the camp of Mordecai. For this reason, Chazal compare him to Eliyahu. Harvona at this moment brings salvation to the Jews whether that was his intention or not.

     

    Harvona's move shows the political dictum that "strength attracts strength, and power attracts power". Once it is clear that Mordecai is gaining the power though the public demonstration in the streets of Shushan in the previous chapter and now through Esther's turning the tables on Haman, Harvona and others as well will change their allegiances to Mordecai.

     

    Now Haman is gone and Mordecai has been elevated to a position of authority but the decree against the Jews still remains and this is when the real work will begin.

  91. (ז) ויאמר המלך. יש לשאול איך יוכל המלך להשיב את הספרים ואין ככה דת מדי ופרס וככה אמר אין להשיב, והתשובה שרמז למרדכי המלך מה יעשה והוא שיכתבו ספר שהמלך אמר להמן שיהרגו היהודים את אויביהם בי"ג לחדש אדר, וכאשר היתה טבעת המלך ביד המן הפך הדברים וכאשר נודע למלך הדבר צוה לתלות את המן בעבור ששלח ידו ומחשבתו ליהודים. וכבר רמזו קדמונים ז"ל לטעם הזה לולי אגרות הראשונות לא נתקיימו האחרונות. והנה די למרדכי ולישראל שינצלו ולמה יהרגו עוד שונאיהם, רק לא יתכן שינצלו אם לא תעשה דת המל וזהו, הנה בית המן נתתי לאסתר, בעבור שהוא מדבר עם שניהם [מקומו אחר המאמר הסמוך]:

  92. (ג) וַתּ֣וֹסֶף אֶסְתֵּ֗ר וַתְּדַבֵּר֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וַתִּפֹּ֖ל לִפְנֵ֣י רַגְלָ֑יו וַתֵּ֣בְךְּ וַתִּתְחַנֶּן־ל֗וֹ לְהַֽעֲבִיר֙ אֶת־רָעַת֙ הָמָ֣ן הָֽאֲגָגִ֔י וְאֵת֙ מַֽחֲשַׁבְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָשַׁ֖ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִֽים׃ (ד) וַיּ֤וֹשֶׁט הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְאֶסְתֵּ֔ר אֵ֖ת שַׁרְבִ֣ט הַזָּהָ֑ב וַתָּ֣קָם אֶסְתֵּ֔ר וַֽתַּעֲמֹ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ה) וַ֠תֹּאמֶר אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ ט֜וֹב וְאִם־מָצָ֧אתִי חֵ֣ן לְפָנָ֗יו וְכָשֵׁ֤ר הַדָּבָר֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְטוֹבָ֥ה אֲנִ֖י בְּעֵינָ֑יו יִכָּתֵ֞ב לְהָשִׁ֣יב אֶת־הַסְּפָרִ֗ים מַחֲשֶׁ֜בֶת הָמָ֤ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֙תָא֙ הָאֲגָגִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֣ר כָּתַ֗ב לְאַבֵּד֙ אֶת־הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּכָל־מְדִינ֥וֹת הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ו) כִּ֠י אֵיכָכָ֤ה אוּכַל֙ וְֽרָאִ֔יתִי בָּרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־יִמְצָ֣א אֶת־עַמִּ֑י וְאֵֽיכָכָ֤ה אוּכַל֙ וְֽרָאִ֔יתִי בְּאָבְדַ֖ן מוֹלַדְתִּֽי׃ (ס)
    (3) Esther spoke to the king again, falling at his feet and weeping, and beseeching him to avert the evil plotted by Haman the Agagite against the Jews. (4) The king extended the golden scepter to Esther, and Esther arose and stood before the king. (5) “If it please Your Majesty,” she said, “and if I have won your favor and the proposal seems right to Your Majesty, and if I am pleasing to you—let dispatches be written countermanding those which were written by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, embodying his plot to annihilate the Jews throughout the king’s provinces. (6) For how can I bear to see the disaster which will befall my people! And how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred!”
  93. As far as Achashverosh is concerned everything is over with the killing of Haman and the elevating of Mordecai but the decree against the Jews remains So after waiting two months to see if Achashverosh would de anything about the decree, Esther has to interecede a second time.

     

    Esther's appeal utilizes three forms of political pressure.

     

    1) The king's interest

     

    If it please Your Majesty...

    if I have won your favor

     

    2) Justice

    The proposal seems right to Your Majesty...

    If I am pleasing to you

     

    3) Fear of Esther herself

    For how can I bear to see the disaster which will befall my people...

    How can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred

     

    Esther starts with the formulaic requests to the king, if I please your majesty, and turns to a more personal appeal for favor, if I have won favor. She then honors the king by appealing to his objective sense of justice, if the proposal seems right, and then to the question if she is deserving of justice, if it is pleasing to you, even if the king has no interest. Finally she then appeals to Achashverosh's fear of rejection when she asks, how can I bear to see the disaster... befall my people... how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred.

  94. (ז) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹשׁ֙ לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה וּֽלְמָרְדֳּכַ֖י הַיְּהוּדִ֑י הִנֵּ֨ה בֵית־הָמָ֜ן נָתַ֣תִּי לְאֶסְתֵּ֗ר וְאֹתוֹ֙ תָּל֣וּ עַל־הָעֵ֔ץ עַ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־שָׁלַ֥ח יָד֖וֹ ביהודיים [בַּיְּהוּדִֽים׃] (ח) וְ֠אַתֶּם כִּתְב֨וּ עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים כַּטּ֤וֹב בְּעֵֽינֵיכֶם֙ בְּשֵׁ֣ם הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְחִתְמ֖וּ בְּטַבַּ֣עַת הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ כִּֽי־כְתָ֞ב אֲשֶׁר־נִכְתָּ֣ב בְּשֵׁם־הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְנַחְתּ֛וֹם בְּטַבַּ֥עַת הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ אֵ֥ין לְהָשִֽׁיב׃ (ט) וַיִּקָּרְא֣וּ סֹפְרֵֽי־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ בָּֽעֵת־הַ֠הִיא בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֜י הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ סִיוָ֗ן בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֣ה וְעֶשְׂרִים֮ בּוֹ֒ וַיִּכָּתֵ֣ב כְּֽכָל־אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֣ה מָרְדֳּכַ֣י אֶל־הַיְּהוּדִ֡ים וְאֶ֣ל הָאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִֽים־וְהַפַּחוֹת֩ וְשָׂרֵ֨י הַמְּדִינ֜וֹת אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ מֵהֹ֣דּוּ וְעַד־כּ֗וּשׁ שֶׁ֣בַע וְעֶשְׂרִ֤ים וּמֵאָה֙ מְדִינָ֔ה מְדִינָ֤ה וּמְדִינָה֙ כִּכְתָבָ֔הּ וְעַ֥ם וָעָ֖ם כִּלְשֹׁנ֑וֹ וְאֶ֨ל־הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים כִּכְתָבָ֖ם וְכִלְשׁוֹנָֽם׃ (י) וַיִּכְתֹּ֗ב בְּשֵׁם֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹ֔שׁ וַיַּחְתֹּ֖ם בְּטַבַּ֣עַת הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיִּשְׁלַ֣ח סְפָרִ֡ים בְּיַד֩ הָרָצִ֨ים בַּסּוּסִ֜ים רֹכְבֵ֤י הָרֶ֙כֶשׁ֙ הָֽאֲחַשְׁתְּרָנִ֔ים בְּנֵ֖י הָֽרַמָּכִֽים׃ (יא) אֲשֶׁר֩ נָתַ֨ן הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לַיְּהוּדִ֣ים ׀ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּכָל־עִיר־וָעִ֗יר לְהִקָּהֵל֮ וְלַעֲמֹ֣ד עַל־נַפְשָׁם֒ לְהַשְׁמִיד֩ וְלַהֲרֹ֨ג וּלְאַבֵּ֜ד אֶת־כָּל־חֵ֨יל עַ֧ם וּמְדִינָ֛ה הַצָּרִ֥ים אֹתָ֖ם טַ֣ף וְנָשִׁ֑ים וּשְׁלָלָ֖ם לָבֽוֹז׃ (יב) בְּי֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד בְּכָל־מְדִינ֖וֹת הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר לְחֹ֥דֶשׁ שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂ֖ר הוּא־חֹ֥דֶשׁ אֲדָֽר׃ (יג) פַּתְשֶׁ֣גֶן הַכְּתָ֗ב לְהִנָּ֤תֵֽן דָּת֙ בְּכָל־מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֔ה גָּל֖וּי לְכָל־הָעַמִּ֑ים וְלִהְי֨וֹת היהודיים [הַיְּהוּדִ֤ים] עתודים [עֲתִידִים֙] לַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה לְהִנָּקֵ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיהֶֽם׃ (יד) הָרָצִ֞ים רֹכְבֵ֤י הָרֶ֙כֶשׁ֙ הָֽאֲחַשְׁתְּרָנִ֔ים יָֽצְא֛וּ מְבֹהָלִ֥ים וּדְחוּפִ֖ים בִּדְבַ֣ר הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וְהַדָּ֥ת נִתְּנָ֖ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֥ן הַבִּירָֽה׃ (פ)

    (7) Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “I have given Haman’s property to Esther, and he has been impaled on the stake for scheming against the Jews. (8) And you may further write with regard to the Jews as you see fit. [Write it] in the king’s name and seal it with the king’s signet, for an edict that has been written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet may not be revoked.” (9) So the king’s scribes were summoned at that time, on the twenty-third day of the third month, that is, the month of Sivan; and letters were written, at Mordecai’s dictation, to the Jews and to the satraps, the governors and the officials of the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia: to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language. (10) He had them written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet. Letters were dispatched by mounted couriers, riding steeds used in the king’s service, bred of the royal stud, (11) to this effect: The king has permitted the Jews of every city to assemble and fight for their lives; if any people or province attacks them, they may destroy, massacre, and exterminate its armed force together with women and children, and plunder their possessions— (12) on a single day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, namely, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar. (13) The text of the document was to be issued as a law in every single province: it was to be publicly displayed to all the peoples, so that the Jews should be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. (14) The couriers, mounted on royal steeds, went out in urgent haste at the king’s command; and the decree was proclaimed in the fortress Shushan.

  95. (ח) אין להשיב . אין נאה להשיבו ולעשות כתב המלך בזיוף :

  96. מגילה י״א א:כ׳
    (משלי כט, ב) ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם ובמשול רשע יאנח עם ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם זה מרדכי ואסתר דכתיב והעיר שושן צהלה ושמחה ובמשול רשע יאנח עם זה המן דכתיב והעיר שושן נבוכה
    “When the righteous are increased the people rejoice, but when the wicked rules the people sigh” (Proverbs 29:2). “When the righteous are increased the people rejoice” — this is Mordecai and Esther, as it is written, “And the city of Shushan shouted and was glad” (Esther 8:15). “But when the wicked rules the people sigh” — this is Haman, as it is written, “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” (Esther 3:15).
  97. Esther's appeal works but Achashverosh says that he cannot revoke a royal edict. This might or might not be true. (Rashi says it would be unseemly to do this.) But either way, politically it would be quite difficult to have people throughout the far reaches of the empire receive a decree of the Jew's destruction and then only two months later receive another decree revoking the first. (Luckily the people did not immediately act on the first decree since they are used to the king sending ridiculous edicts like the one in chapter 1 that every man should be the ruler in his home).  

     

    Ibn Ezra says the king suggested to Mordecai to utilize the exact same wording against the enemies of the Jews in the second decree as was used in the first decree against the Jews, "destroy, massacre, and exterminate... women and children...". This would then suggest to the people that the first decree was made in error. Achashverosh gave Haman the signet ring to make a decree against the enemies of the Jews. Haman, on his own accord, changed it to be the opposite. Once Achashverosh finds out he immediately hangs Haman for his insubordination and, two months later, puts out a second decree correcting the first. This way the king saves face and there is some explanation, albeit not a truthful one, for the two contradictory edicts.

     

    Hazony views that Mordecai's decree carefully mirrors Haman's decree to give the Jews confidence and strike fear into the hearts of the anti-Semites.

     

  98. (טו) וּמָרְדֳּכַ֞י יָצָ֣א ׀ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ בִּלְב֤וּשׁ מַלְכוּת֙ תְּכֵ֣לֶת וָח֔וּר וַעֲטֶ֤רֶת זָהָב֙ גְּדוֹלָ֔ה וְתַכְרִ֥יךְ בּ֖וּץ וְאַרְגָּמָ֑ן וְהָעִ֣יר שׁוּשָׁ֔ן צָהֲלָ֖ה וְשָׂמֵֽחָה׃ (טז) לַיְּהוּדִ֕ים הָֽיְתָ֥ה אוֹרָ֖ה וְשִׂמְחָ֑ה וְשָׂשֹׂ֖ן וִיקָֽר׃ (יז) וּבְכָל־מְדִינָ֨ה וּמְדִינָ֜ה וּבְכָל־עִ֣יר וָעִ֗יר מְקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְדָתוֹ֙ מַגִּ֔יעַ שִׂמְחָ֤ה וְשָׂשׂוֹן֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים מִשְׁתֶּ֖ה וְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב וְרַבִּ֞ים מֵֽעַמֵּ֤י הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ מִֽתְיַהֲדִ֔ים כִּֽי־נָפַ֥ל פַּֽחַד־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃
    (15) Mordecai left the king’s presence in royal robes of blue and white, with a magnificent crown of gold and a mantle of fine linen and purple wool. And the city of Shushan rang with joyous cries. (16) The Jews enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honor. (17) And in every province and in every city, when the king’s command and decree arrived, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many of the people of the land professed to be Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.
  99. (ו) ח֣וּר ׀ כַּרְפַּ֣ס וּתְכֵ֗לֶת אָחוּז֙ בְּחַבְלֵי־ב֣וּץ וְאַרְגָּמָ֔ן עַל־גְּלִ֥ילֵי כֶ֖סֶף וְעַמּ֣וּדֵי שֵׁ֑שׁ מִטּ֣וֹת ׀ זָהָ֣ב וָכֶ֗סֶף עַ֛ל רִֽצְפַ֥ת בַּהַט־וָשֵׁ֖שׁ וְדַ֥ר וְסֹחָֽרֶת׃
    (6) [There were hangings of] white cotton and blue wool, caught up by cords of fine linen and purple wool to silver rods and alabaster columns; and there were couches of gold and silver on a pavement of marble, alabaster, mother-of-pearl, and mosaics.
  100. (י) עשרת בני המן . ראיתי בסדר עולם אלו עשרה שכתבו שטנה על יהודה וירושלים כמו שכתוב בספר עזרא ( עזרא ד ) ובמלכות אחשורוש בתחלת מלכותו כתבו שטנה על ישבי יהודה וירושלם , ומה היא השטנה לבטל העולים מן הגולה בימי כורש שהתחילו לבנות את הבית והלשינו עליהם הכותים והחדילום וכשמת כורש ומלך אחשורוש והתנשא המן דאג שלא יעסקו אותן שבירושלים בבנין ושלחו בשם אחשורוש לשרי עבר הנהר לבטלן :

  101. There are many parallels/contrasts between this moment towards the end of the Megillah and the beginning of the story. Mordecai is wearing royal robes of blue, white, gold, linen, and purple wool which parallels the curtains at the draperies and vessels at the feast in the beginning of the story. The people of Shushan shouted with joy when word came of the decree for the Jews to defend themselves contrasting with the reaction of the perplexing reaction of the people when the Haman's decree against the Jews was first promulgated. 

     

    Mordecai does six acts to rally the Jews and cause the anti-Semites to despair. 1) Mordecai's decree permitting Jews to assemble and defend themselves. 2) Mordecai's public appearances in Shushan. 3) The public celebrations of the Jews. In the next chapter for the war, Mordecai does 3 more acts. 4) Organizing Jewish military power. 5) Rallying the support of provincial and local governments. 6) Building his own reputation. The first three efforts are aimed to raise the morale of Mordecai's own camp, the Jews. This counters Haman's decree against Jewish men, children and women, and property which were designed to make the Jews feel things were hopeless. Once Mordecai was successful with the Jews, his reputation spread to the non-Jews as well so he could get the help of the local governments to fight the Anti-Semites.  

  102. (א) וּבִשְׁנֵים֩ עָשָׂ֨ר חֹ֜דֶשׁ הוּא־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֗ר בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר יוֹם֙ בּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִגִּ֧יעַ דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ וְדָת֖וֹ לְהֵעָשׂ֑וֹת בַּיּ֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֨ר שִׂבְּר֜וּ אֹיְבֵ֤י הַיְּהוּדִים֙ לִשְׁל֣וֹט בָּהֶ֔ם וְנַהֲפ֣וֹךְ ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁלְט֧וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֛ים הֵ֖מָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶֽם׃ (ב) נִקְהֲל֨וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים בְּעָרֵיהֶ֗ם בְּכָל־מְדִינוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֳחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ לִשְׁלֹ֣חַ יָ֔ד בִּמְבַקְשֵׁ֖י רָֽעָתָ֑ם וְאִישׁ֙ לֹא־עָמַ֣ד לִפְנֵיהֶ֔ם כִּֽי־נָפַ֥ל פַּחְדָּ֖ם עַל־כָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃ (ג) וְכָל־שָׂרֵ֨י הַמְּדִינ֜וֹת וְהָאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִ֣ים וְהַפַּח֗וֹת וְעֹשֵׂ֤י הַמְּלָאכָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַמֶּ֔לֶךְ מְנַשְּׂאִ֖ים אֶת־הַיְּהוּדִ֑ים כִּֽי־נָפַ֥ל פַּֽחַד־מָרְדֳּכַ֖י עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ (ד) כִּֽי־גָ֤דוֹל מָרְדֳּכַי֙ בְּבֵ֣ית הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְשָׁמְע֖וֹ הוֹלֵ֣ךְ בְּכָל־הַמְּדִינ֑וֹת כִּֽי־הָאִ֥ישׁ מָרְדֳּכַ֖י הוֹלֵ֥ךְ וְגָדֽוֹל׃ (פ) (ה) וַיַּכּ֤וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֙ בְּכָל־אֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם מַכַּת־חֶ֥רֶב וְהֶ֖רֶג וְאַבְדָ֑ן וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ בְשֹׂנְאֵיהֶ֖ם כִּרְצוֹנָֽם׃ (ו) וּבְשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֗ה הָרְג֤וּ הַיְּהוּדִים֙ וְאַבֵּ֔ד חֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִֽישׁ׃ (ז) וְאֵ֧ת ׀ פַּרְשַׁנְדָּ֛תָא וְאֵ֥ת ׀ דַּֽלְפ֖וֹן וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אַסְפָּֽתָא׃ (ח) וְאֵ֧ת ׀ פּוֹרָ֛תָא וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲדַלְיָ֖א וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲרִידָֽתָא׃ (ט) וְאֵ֤ת ׀ פַּרְמַ֙שְׁתָּא֙ וְאֵ֣ת ׀ אֲרִיסַ֔י וְאֵ֥ת ׀ אֲרִדַ֖י וְאֵ֥ת ׀ וַיְזָֽתָא׃ (י) עֲ֠שֶׂרֶת בְּנֵ֨י הָמָ֧ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֛תָא צֹרֵ֥ר הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים הָרָ֑גוּ וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם׃ (יא) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא בָּ֣א מִסְפַּ֧ר הַֽהֲרוּגִ֛ים בְּשׁוּשַׁ֥ן הַבִּירָ֖ה לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ס) (יב) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֗ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֡ה הָרְגוּ֩ הַיְּהוּדִ֨ים וְאַבֵּ֜ד חֲמֵ֧שׁ מֵא֣וֹת אִ֗ישׁ וְאֵת֙ עֲשֶׂ֣רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֔ן בִּשְׁאָ֛ר מְדִינ֥וֹת הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ מֶ֣ה עָשׂ֑וּ וּמַה־שְּׁאֵֽלָתֵךְ֙ וְיִנָּ֣תֵֽן לָ֔ךְ וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵ֥ךְ ע֖וֹד וְתֵעָֽשׂ׃ (יג) וַתֹּ֤אמֶר אֶסְתֵּר֙ אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב יִנָּתֵ֣ן גַּם־מָחָ֗ר לַיְּהוּדִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּשׁוּשָׁ֔ן לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת כְּדָ֣ת הַיּ֑וֹם וְאֵ֛ת עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֖ן יִתְל֥וּ עַל־הָעֵֽץ׃ (יד) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ לְהֵֽעָשׂ֣וֹת כֵּ֔ן וַתִּנָּתֵ֥ן דָּ֖ת בְּשׁוּשָׁ֑ן וְאֵ֛ת עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת בְּנֵֽי־הָמָ֖ן תָּלֽוּ׃ (טו) וַיִּֽקָּהֲל֞וּ היהודיים [הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים] אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן גַּ֠ם בְּי֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר וַיַּֽהַרְג֣וּ בְשׁוּשָׁ֔ן שְׁלֹ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִ֑ישׁ וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם׃ (טז) וּשְׁאָ֣ר הַיְּהוּדִ֡ים אֲשֶׁר֩ בִּמְדִינ֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ נִקְהֲל֣וּ ׀ וְעָמֹ֣ד עַל־נַפְשָׁ֗ם וְנ֙וֹחַ֙ מֵאֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם וְהָרֹג֙ בְּשֹׂ֣נְאֵיהֶ֔ם חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים אָ֑לֶף וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָֽׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם׃

    (1) And so, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—that is, the month of Adar—when the king’s command and decree were to be executed, the very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them in their power, the opposite happened, and the Jews got their enemies in their power. (2) Throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the Jews mustered in their cities to attack those who sought their hurt; and no one could withstand them, for the fear of them had fallen upon all the peoples. (3) Indeed, all the officials of the provinces—the satraps, the governors, and the king’s stewards—showed deference to the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. (4) For Mordecai was now powerful in the royal palace, and his fame was spreading through all the provinces; the man Mordecai was growing ever more powerful. (5) So the Jews struck at their enemies with the sword, slaying and destroying; they wreaked their will upon their enemies. (6) In the fortress Shushan the Jews killed a total of five hundred men. (7) They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, (8) Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, (9) Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, (10) the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the foe of the Jews. But they did not lay hands on the spoil. (11) When the number of those slain in the fortress Shushan was reported on that same day to the king, (12) the king said to Queen Esther, “In the fortress Shushan alone the Jews have killed a total of five hundred men, as well as the ten sons of Haman. What then must they have done in the provinces of the realm! What is your wish now? It shall be granted you. And what else is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” (13) “If it please Your Majesty,” Esther replied, “let the Jews in Shushan be permitted to act tomorrow also as they did today; and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on the stake.” (14) The king ordered that this should be done, and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan. Haman’s ten sons were impaled: (15) and the Jews in Shushan mustered again on the fourteenth day of Adar and slew three hundred men in Shushan. But they did not lay hands on the spoil. (16) The rest of the Jews, those in the king’s provinces, likewise mustered and fought for their lives. They disposed of their enemies, killing seventy-five thousand of their foes; but they did not lay hands on the spoil.

  103. (יג) ינתן גם מחר ליהודים אשר בשושן. ידמה שנתבאר לה שנשארו שם עדיין מאויבי ישראל כי שם היו גדולי אומת עמלק ולזה בקשה זה מהמלך עם שכוונתה היה לתלות עשרת בני המן כדי שייראו האנשים הנותרים לעשות כן:

  104. The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli 

    Chapter III — Concerning Mixed Principalities

    Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

    Chapter XVII — Concerning Cruelty and Clemency

    Therefore a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow murders or robberies; for these are wont to injure the whole people, whilst those executions which originate with a prince offend the individual only.

  105. One might argue that the Mordecai's Jewish war against the anti-Semites was unusually harsh with some 75,000 dead amongst the enemies of the Jews. Mordecai was following the playbook of Machiavelli. If one follows a minimalist approach against a threat one risks the enemy hoping for revenge and therefore continuing to be a threat. One also risks others following the example of the enemy due to the weak response and becoming a threat as well.

     

    Finally and most importantly, Mordecai needed the king to be inclined towards him and the Jews. Achashverosh's position towards the Jews prior to this even after the execution of Haman was not that strong. Rather than rescind the original decree against the Jews, Achashverosh merely gave Mordecai the signet ring and do as is good in your eyes. He did not seem to be the least bit distressed which contrasts with the distress of Darius in Daniel chapter 6 when he is exceedingly distressed when he realizes he unwittingly made an irreversible decree to throw Daniel into the Lion's Den.

     

    Strength attracts strength and power attracts power so Achashverosh is more attracted to the Jews when they take a position of strength against the Jews. We see this in Achashverosh's conversation with Esther. For the first time in the story, Achashverosh initiates the conversation because of his worry about the number of people being killed. Furthermore, he says, "What is your wish now? It shall be granted you. And what else is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” Earlier, he had always made an upper limit on his promises to Esther, up to half of the kingdom. Now Achashverosh offers Esther anything. With the Jewish strength, we have gone full circle. Esther, who was originally the helpless victim taken against her will to the king's harem is now the ruler in the house, calling the shots for Achashverosh to follow.

     

    It is difficult to view the bloodshed of this war with our modern sensibilities. Mordecai lived in a different with different standards which Mordecai and the Jews had to follow as well to assure Jewish survival in this cruel period. One standard that the Jews did keep then which shows the purity of their fight is that they did not fight for plunder. Rather they never touched the spoils, but they did not lay hands on the spoil." This was despite the fact that Mordecai's decree specifically allowed the Jews to "plunder their possessions". This indicates that the Jews even in fighting a bloody war, held themselves to a higher standard than their enemies so they had a "purity of arms".

  106. (יז) בְּיוֹם־שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֑ר וְנ֗וֹחַ בְּאַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה׃ (יח) והיהודיים [וְהַיְּהוּדִ֣ים] אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן נִקְהֲלוּ֙ בִּשְׁלֹשָׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וּבְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר בּ֑וֹ וְנ֗וֹחַ בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה׃ (יט) עַל־כֵּ֞ן הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים הפרוזים [הַפְּרָזִ֗ים] הַיֹּשְׁבִים֮ בְּעָרֵ֣י הַפְּרָזוֹת֒ עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֠ת י֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר שִׂמְחָ֥ה וּמִשְׁתֶּ֖ה וְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב וּמִשְׁל֥וֹחַ מָנ֖וֹת אִ֥ישׁ לְרֵעֵֽהוּ׃ (פ) (כ) וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב מָרְדֳּכַ֔י אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח סְפָרִ֜ים אֶל־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּכָל־מְדִינוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ הַקְּרוֹבִ֖ים וְהָרְחוֹקִֽים׃ (כא) לְקַיֵּם֮ עֲלֵיהֶם֒ לִהְי֣וֹת עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֠ת י֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר וְאֵ֛ת יוֹם־חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר בּ֑וֹ בְּכָל־שָׁנָ֖ה וְשָׁנָֽה׃ (כב) כַּיָּמִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר־נָ֨חוּ בָהֶ֤ם הַיְּהוּדִים֙ מֵא֣וֹיְבֵיהֶ֔ם וְהַחֹ֗דֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר֩ נֶהְפַּ֨ךְ לָהֶ֤ם מִיָּגוֹן֙ לְשִׂמְחָ֔ה וּמֵאֵ֖בֶל לְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת אוֹתָ֗ם יְמֵי֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֣ה וְשִׂמְחָ֔ה וּמִשְׁל֤וֹחַ מָנוֹת֙ אִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֔הוּ וּמַתָּנ֖וֹת לָֽאֶבְיוֹנִֽים׃ (כג) וְקִבֵּל֙ הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הֵחֵ֖לּוּ לַעֲשׂ֑וֹת וְאֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־כָּתַ֥ב מָרְדֳּכַ֖י אֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ (כד) כִּי֩ הָמָ֨ן בֶּֽן־הַמְּדָ֜תָא הָֽאֲגָגִ֗י צֹרֵר֙ כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים חָשַׁ֥ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים לְאַבְּדָ֑ם וְהִפִּ֥יל פּוּר֙ ה֣וּא הַגּוֹרָ֔ל לְהֻמָּ֖ם וּֽלְאַבְּדָֽם׃ (כה) וּבְבֹאָהּ֮ לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּלֶךְ֒ אָמַ֣ר עִם־הַסֵּ֔פֶר יָשׁ֞וּב מַחֲשַׁבְתּ֧וֹ הָרָעָ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־חָשַׁ֥ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וְתָל֥וּ אֹת֛וֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֖יו עַל־הָעֵֽץ׃ (כו) עַל־כֵּ֡ן קָֽרְאוּ֩ לַיָּמִ֨ים הָאֵ֤לֶּה פוּרִים֙ עַל־שֵׁ֣ם הַפּ֔וּר עַל־כֵּ֕ן עַל־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הָאִגֶּ֣רֶת הַזֹּ֑את וּמָֽה־רָא֣וּ עַל־כָּ֔כָה וּמָ֥ה הִגִּ֖יעַ אֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ (כז) קִיְּמ֣וּ וקבל [וְקִבְּל֣וּ] הַיְּהוּדִים֩ ׀ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ם ׀ וְעַל־זַרְעָ֜ם וְעַ֨ל כָּל־הַנִּלְוִ֤ים עֲלֵיהֶם֙ וְלֹ֣א יַעֲב֔וֹר לִהְי֣וֹת עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֣ת שְׁנֵ֤י הַיָּמִים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה כִּכְתָבָ֖ם וְכִזְמַנָּ֑ם בְּכָל־שָׁנָ֖ה וְשָׁנָֽה׃ (כח) וְהַיָּמִ֣ים הָ֠אֵלֶּה נִזְכָּרִ֨ים וְנַעֲשִׂ֜ים בְּכָל־דּ֣וֹר וָד֗וֹר מִשְׁפָּחָה֙ וּמִשְׁפָּחָ֔ה מְדִינָ֥ה וּמְדִינָ֖ה וְעִ֣יר וָעִ֑יר וִימֵ֞י הַפּוּרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה לֹ֤א יַֽעַבְרוּ֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְזִכְרָ֖ם לֹא־יָס֥וּף מִזַּרְעָֽם׃ (ס) (כט) וַ֠תִּכְתֹּב אֶסְתֵּ֨ר הַמַּלְכָּ֧ה בַת־אֲבִיחַ֛יִל וּמָרְדֳּכַ֥י הַיְּהוּדִ֖י אֶת־כָּל־תֹּ֑קֶף לְקַיֵּ֗ם אֵ֣ת אִגֶּ֧רֶת הַפּוּרִ֛ים הַזֹּ֖את הַשֵּׁנִֽית׃ (ל) וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח סְפָרִ֜ים אֶל־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִ֗ים אֶל־שֶׁ֨בַע וְעֶשְׂרִ֤ים וּמֵאָה֙ מְדִינָ֔ה מַלְכ֖וּת אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ דִּבְרֵ֥י שָׁל֖וֹם וֶאֱמֶֽת׃ (לא) לְקַיֵּ֡ם אֵת־יְמֵי֩ הַפֻּרִ֨ים הָאֵ֜לֶּה בִּזְמַנֵּיהֶ֗ם כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ קִיַּ֨ם עֲלֵיהֶ֜ם מָרְדֳּכַ֤י הַיְּהוּדִי֙ וְאֶסְתֵּ֣ר הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה וְכַאֲשֶׁ֛ר קִיְּמ֥וּ עַל־נַפְשָׁ֖ם וְעַל־זַרְעָ֑ם דִּבְרֵ֥י הַצֹּמ֖וֹת וְזַעֲקָתָֽם׃ (לב) וּמַאֲמַ֣ר אֶסְתֵּ֔ר קִיַּ֕ם דִּבְרֵ֥י הַפֻּרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְנִכְתָּ֖ב בַּסֵּֽפֶר׃ (פ)
    (17) That was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar; and they rested on the fourteenth day and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking. ( (18) But the Jews in Shushan mustered on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, and so rested on the fifteenth, and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking.) (19) That is why village Jews, who live in unwalled towns, observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and make it a day of merrymaking and feasting, and as a holiday and an occasion for sending gifts to one another. (20) Mordecai recorded these events. And he sent dispatches to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, near and far, (21) charging them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, every year— (22) the same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor. (23) The Jews accordingly assumed as an obligation that which they had begun to practice and which Mordecai prescribed for them. (24) For Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the foe of all the Jews, had plotted to destroy the Jews, and had cast pur—that is, the lot—with intent to crush and exterminate them. (25) But when [Esther] came before the king, he commanded: “With the promulgation of this decree, let the evil plot, which he devised against the Jews, recoil on his own head!” So they impaled him and his sons on the stake. (26) For that reason these days were named Purim, after pur. In view, then, of all the instructions in the said letter and of what they had experienced in that matter and what had befallen them, (27) the Jews undertook and irrevocably obligated themselves and their descendants, and all who might join them, to observe these two days in the manner prescribed and at the proper time each year. (28) Consequently, these days are recalled and observed in every generation: by every family, every province, and every city. And these days of Purim shall never cease among the Jews, and the memory of them shall never perish among their descendants. (29) Then Queen Esther daughter of Abihail wrote a second letter of Purim for the purpose of confirming with full authority the aforementioned one of Mordecai the Jew. (30) Dispatches were sent to all the Jews in the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the realm of Ahasuerus with an ordinance of “equity and honesty:” (31) These days of Purim shall be observed at their proper time, as Mordecai the Jew—and now Queen Esther—has obligated them to do, and just as they have assumed for themselves and their descendants the obligation of the fasts with their lamentations. (32) And Esther’s ordinance validating these observances of Purim was recorded in a scroll.
  107. (א) וַיָּשֶׂם֩ הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ אחשרש [אֲחַשְׁוֵר֧וֹשׁ ׀] מַ֛ס עַל־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְאִיֵּ֥י הַיָּֽם׃ (ב) וְכָל־מַעֲשֵׂ֤ה תָקְפּוֹ֙ וּגְב֣וּרָת֔וֹ וּפָרָשַׁת֙ גְּדֻלַּ֣ת מָרְדֳּכַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר גִּדְּל֖וֹ הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ הֲלוֹא־הֵ֣ם כְּתוּבִ֗ים עַל־סֵ֙פֶר֙ דִּבְרֵ֣י הַיָּמִ֔ים לְמַלְכֵ֖י מָדַ֥י וּפָרָֽס׃ (ג) כִּ֣י ׀ מָרְדֳּכַ֣י הַיְּהוּדִ֗י מִשְׁנֶה֙ לַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וְגָדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְרָצ֖וּי לְרֹ֣ב אֶחָ֑יו דֹּרֵ֥שׁ טוֹב֙ לְעַמּ֔וֹ וְדֹבֵ֥ר שָׁל֖וֹם לְכָל־זַרְעֽוֹ׃
    (1) King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the mainland and the islands. (2) All his mighty and powerful acts, and a full account of the greatness to which the king advanced Mordecai, are recorded in the Annals of the Kings of Media and Persia. (3) For Mordecai the Jew ranked next to King Ahasuerus and was highly regarded by the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brethren; he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his kindred.
  108. שבת פ״ח א:ט״ז-כ״ד
    (שמות יט, יז) ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר א"ר אבדימי בר חמא בר חסא מלמד שכפה הקב"ה עליהם את ההר כגיגית ואמר להם אם אתם מקבלים התורה מוטב ואם לאו שם תהא קבורתכם א"ר אחא בר יעקב מכאן מודעא רבה לאורייתא אמר רבא אעפ"כ הדור קבלוה בימי אחשורוש דכתיב (אסתר ט, כז) קימו וקבלו היהודים קיימו מה שקיבלו כבר
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  109. (י) ואתם כתבו על היהודים כטוב בעיניכם בשם המלך - ושלחו לכל המדינות להשמיד להרוג ולאבד את כל שונאי היהודים. ביום אשר שברו אויבי היהודים לשלוט בהם, ונהפוך הוא להם, (ישעיה נה) והיה לה' לשם, זה הנס שעשה הקדוש ברוך הוא, שלא נעשה כמוהו. יש לך בעולם שנעשה כנס הזה, שעשו נקמה ישראל באומות העולם ועשו בשונאיהם כרצונם?!

  110. Mordecai appears to have been the first Jewish leader to establish a festival since Moshe. Why did these events warrant a holiday?


    In Persia, for the first time in history, being Jewish became a matter of choice. Jews were not segregated in ghettos. They were dispersed throughout the empire and if they wished they could easily assimilate into the populace like the 10 tribes who became "lost" before them. This is why Rava in the Talmud says that until the Purim story, the Jews were "forced" to keep the Torah and only now during the Persian exile do the Jews renew their covenant of their own free will. Until now, dispersion and diaspora meant death for the Jewish people. Mordecai and Esther wanted to change this. 


    Purim provided the opportunity for life in the exile to mean something different. The message of Purim is that if the Jew will stand up for himself and his faith then the diaspora can allow power for the Jews, not just the individual Jew but for the Jewish people. As the Midrash exclaims, "Was there ever in history such a miracle, that Israel should wreak vengeance on the other nations and do with their enemies as they pleased?" In establishing Purim, opened the way to an exile that although bitter could offer triumph and life to the Jews.

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