Megillah 12aמגילה י״ב א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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12aי״ב א

תניא נמי הכי ועוד שנה אחרת לבבל ועמד דריוש והשלימה

This is also taught in a baraita, as an indication that the years counted were only partial years: And when Belshazzar was killed, there was still another year left for Babylonia before the reckoning of the seventy years was completed. And then Darius arose and completed it. Although seventy years were previously counted according to Belshazzar’s count, from the exile of Jehoiakim, because the years were only partial, there was still one year left in order to complete those seventy years.

אמר רבא אף דניאל טעה בהאי חושבנא דכתיב (דניאל ט, ב) בשנת אחת למלכו אני דניאל בינותי בספרים מדקאמר בינותי מכלל דטעה

Rava said: Daniel also erred in this calculation, as it is written: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, meditated in the books over the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). From the fact that he said “I meditated,” a term indicating recounting and calculating, it can be inferred that he had previously erred.

מ"מ קשו קראי אהדדי כתיב (ירמיהו כט, י) מלאות לבבל וכתיב (דניאל ט, ב) לחרבות ירושלם

The Gemara comments: In any case, the verses contradict each other with regard to how the seventy years should be calculated. In one verse it is written: “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylonia I will remember [efkod] you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10), which indicates that the seventy years should be counted from the Babylonian exile. And in another verse it is written: “That he would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2), indicating that the seventy years are calculated from the destruction of Jerusalem.

אמר רבא לפקידה בעלמא והיינו דכתיב (עזרא א, ב) כה אמר כורש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה' אלהי השמים והוא פקד עלי לבנות לו בית בירושלם

Rava said in response: The seventy years that “are accomplished for Babylonia” were only for being remembered [lifekida], as mentioned in the verse, allowing the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael but not to build the Temple. And this is as it is written with regard to Cyrus’s proclamation permitting the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael, in the seventieth year of the Babylonian exile: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged [pakad] me to build Him a house in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2). The verse makes use of the same root, peh-kuf-dalet, heralding the return to Jerusalem to build the Temple, but not its actual completion.

דרש רב נחמן בר רב חסדא מאי דכתיב (ישעיהו מה, א) כה אמר ה' למשיחו לכורש אשר החזקתי בימינו וכי כורש משיח היה אלא א"ל הקב"ה למשיח קובל אני לך על כורש אני אמרתי הוא יבנה ביתי ויקבץ גליותי והוא אמר (עזרא א, ג) מי בכם מכל עמו ויעל:

Apropos its mention of Cyrus, the Gemara states that Rav Naḥman bar Rav Ḥisda interpreted homiletically a verse concerning Cyrus: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held” (Isaiah 45:1), which seemingly is referring to Cyrus as God’s anointed? Now was Cyrus God’s anointed one, i.e., the Messiah, that the verse should refer to him in this manner? Rather, the verse should be understood as God speaking to the Messiah with regard to Cyrus: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Messiah: I am complaining to you about Cyrus, who is not acting in accordance with what he is intended to do. I had said: “He shall build My House and gather My exiles” (see Isaiah 45:13), but he did not carry this out. Rather, he said: “Whoever is among you of all His people…let him go up to Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:3). He gave permission to return to Israel, but he did no more than that.

(אסתר א, ג) חיל פרס ומדי הפרתמים וכתיב למלכי מדי ופרס אמר רבא אתנויי אתנו בהדדי אי מינן מלכי מינייכו איפרכי ואי מינייכו מלכי מינן איפרכי

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretations of verses in the Megilla. The Megilla mentions that among those invited to the king’s feast were: “The army of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces” (Esther 1:3), and it is written near the conclusion of the Megilla: “In the book of chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia” (Esther 10:2). Why is Persia mentioned first at the beginning of the Megilla, while later in the Megilla, Media is mentioned first? Rava said in response: These two peoples, the Persians and the Medes, stipulated with each other, saying: If the kings will come from us, the ministers will come from you; and if the kings will come from you, the ministers will come from us. Therefore, in reference to kings, Media is mentioned first, whereas in connection with nobles and princes, Persia is given priority.

(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

The verse states: “When he showed the riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness” (Esther 1:4). Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: This teaches that Ahasuerus wore the priestly vestments. Proof for this assertion may be adduced from the fact that the same terms are written with regard to the priestly vestments, as it is written here: “The riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness.” And it is written there, with regard to the priestly garments: “For glory [kavod] and for majesty [tiferet]” (Exodus 28:2).

(שם, ה) ובמלאות הימים האלה וגו' 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

The verse states: “And when these days were fulfilled, the king made a feast for all the people that were present in Shushan the capital” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed as to whether this was a wise decision. One said: Ahasuerus arranged a feast for the residents of Shushan, the capital, after the feast for foreign dignitaries that preceded it, as mentioned in the earlier verses, indicating that he was a clever king. And the other one said: It is precisely this that indicates that he was a foolish king. The one who said that this proves that he was a clever king maintains that he acted well when he first brought close those more distant subjects by inviting them to the earlier celebration, as he could appease the residents of his own city whenever he wished. And the one who said that he was foolish maintains that he should have invited the residents of his city first, so that if those faraway subjects rebelled against him, these who lived close by would have stood with him.

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

The students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai asked him: For what reason were the enemies of Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves when exhibiting behavior that is not in their best interests, in that generation deserving of annihilation? He, Rabbi Shimon, said to them: Say the answer to your question yourselves. They said to him: It is because they partook of the feast of that wicked one, Ahasuerus, and they partook there of forbidden foods. Rabbi Shimon responded: If so, those in Shushan should have been killed as punishment, but those in the rest of the world, who did not participate in the feast, should not have been killed. They said to him: Then you say your response to our question. He said to them: It is because they prostrated before the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had made, as is recorded that the entire world bowed down before it, except for Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

אמרו לו וכי משוא פנים יש בדבר אמר להם הם לא עשו אלא לפנים אף הקב"ה לא עשה עמהן אלא לפנים והיינו דכתיב (איכה ג, לג) כי לא ענה מלבו:

They said to him: But if it is true that they worshipped idols and therefore deserved to be destroyed, why was a miracle performed on their behalf? Is there favoritism expressed by God here? He said to them: They did not really worship the idol, but pretended to do so only for appearance, acting as if they were carrying out the king’s command to bow before the idol. So too, the Holy One, Blessed be He, did not destroy them but did act angry with them only for appearance. He too merely pretended to desire to destroy them, as all He did was issue a threat, but in the end the decree was annulled. And this is as it is written: “For He does not afflict from His heart willingly” (Lamentations 3:33), but only for appearances’ sake.

(שם) בחצר גנת ביתן המלך רב ושמואל חד אמר הראוי לחצר לחצר הראוי לגינה לגינה הראוי לביתן לביתן וחד אמר הושיבן בחצר ולא החזיקתן בגינה ולא החזיקתן עד שהכניסן לביתן והחזיקתן במתניתא תנא הושיבן בחצר ופתח להם שני פתחים אחד לגינה ואחד לביתן

The verse states: “In the court of the garden of the king’s palace” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed with regard to how to understand the relationship between these three places: Court, garden, and palace: One said: The guests were received in different places. One who, according to his stature, was fit for the courtyard was brought to the courtyard; one who was fit for the garden was brought to the garden; and one who was fit for the palace was brought to the palace. And the other one said: He first sat them in the courtyard, but it did not hold them, as they were too numerous. He then sat them in the garden, but it did not hold them either, until he brought them into the palace and it held them. A third understanding was taught in a baraita: He sat them in the courtyard and opened two entranceways for them, one to the garden and one to the palace.

(שם, ו) חור כרפס ותכלת מאי חור רב אמר חרי חרי ושמואל אמר מילת לבנה הציע להם כרפס אמר ר' יוסי בר חנינא כרים של פסים

The verse states: “There were hangings of ḥur, karpas, and sky blue” (Esther 1:6). The Gemara asks: What is ḥur? Rav said: A fabric fashioned with many holes [ḥarei ḥarei], similar to lace. And Shmuel said: He spread out for them carpets of white wool, as the word ḥavar means white. And what is karpas? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: Cushions [karim] of velvet [pasim].

על גלילי כסף ועמודי שש מטות זהב וכסף תניא ר' יהודה אומר הראוי לכסף לכסף הראוי לזהב לזהב אמר לו ר' נחמיה א"כ אתה מטיל קנאה בסעודה אלא הם של כסף ורגליהן של זהב

The verse states: “On silver rods and pillars of marble; the couches were of gold and silver” (Esther 1:6). It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Some couches were of gold and others of silver. One who, according to his stature, was fit for silver sat on a couch of silver, and one who was fit for gold sat on one of gold. Rabbi Neḥemya said to him: This was not done. If so, you would cast jealousy into the feast, for the guests would be envious of each other. Rather, the couches themselves were made of silver, and their feet were made of gold.

בהט ושש א"ר אסי אבנים שמתחוטטות על בעליהן וכן הוא אומר (זכריה ט, טז) אבני נזר מתנוססות על אדמתו

The verse continues: “Upon a pavement of bahat and marble” (Esther 1:6). Rabbi Asi said with regard to the definition of bahat: These are stones that ingratiate themselves with their owners, as they are precious stones that people are willing to spend large amounts of money to acquire. And similarly, it states elsewhere that the Jewish people will be likened to precious stones: “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they shall be as “the stones of a crown, glittering over His land” (Zechariah 9:16).

ודר וסוחרת רב אמר דרי דרי ושמואל אמר אבן טובה יש בכרכי הים ודרה שמה הושיבה באמצע סעודה ומאירה להם כצהרים דבי רבי ישמעאל תנא שקרא דרור לכל בעלי סחורה

The verse concludes: “And dar and soḥaret (Esther 1:6). Rav said: Dar means many rows [darei darei] around. Similarly, soḥaret is derived from seḥor seḥor, around and around, meaning that the floor was surrounded with numerous rows of bahat and marble stones. And Shmuel said: There is a precious stone in the seaports, and its name is dara, and Ahasuerus placed it in the center of the feast, and it illuminated the festivities for them as the sun illuminates the world at midday. He explains that the word soḥaret is derived from tzohar, a light. A scholar from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught a baraita: This means that he proclaimed a remission for all the merchants, absolving them from paying their taxes, understanding that the word dar derives from deror, freedom, and soḥaret from soḥer, merchant.

(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 ויין מלכות רב אמר רב מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו יין שגדול הימנו בשנים

The verse states: “And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse [shonim] from one another” (Esther 1:7). The Gemara asks: Why does the verse use the term shonim to express that they are different? It should have said the more proper term meshunim. Rava said: A Divine Voice issued forth and said to them: The early ones, referring to Belshazzar and his people, were destroyed because they used these vessels, the vessels of the Temple, and yet you use them again [shonim]? The verse continues: “And royal wine in abundance [rav]” (Esther 1:7). Rav said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured well-aged wine that was older [rav] than himself in years.

(שם, ח) והשתיה כדת (אין אונס) מאי כדת א"ר חנן משום ר"מ כדת של תורה מה דת של תורה אכילה מרובה משתיה אף סעודתו של אותו רשע אכילה מרובה משתיה

The verse states: “And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel” (Esther 1:8). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “according to the law”? Rabbi Ḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir: The drinking was according to the law of the Torah. Just as, according to the law of the Torah, with regard to offerings, the food sacrificed on the altar is greater in quantity than the drink, for the wine libation is quantitatively much smaller than the sacrificial offerings it accompanies, so too, at the feast of that wicked man, the food was greater in quantity than the drink.

אין אונס אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו מיין מדינתו לעשות כרצון איש ואיש אמר רבא לעשות כרצון מרדכי והמן, מרדכי דכתיב איש יהודי המן איש צר ואויב

The verse states: “None did compel” (Esther 1:8). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured a drink from wine of his own country, so that he would feel entirely free, as if he were in his home country. The verse continues: “That they should do according to every man’s pleasure” (Esther 1:8). Rava commented on the literal meaning of the verse, which is referring to two men, a man and a man [ish va’ish], and said: The man and man whom they should follow indicates that they should do according to the wishes of Mordecai and Haman. The two of them served as butlers at the feast, and they were in charge of distributing the wine. Why is the verse interpreted in this way? Mordecai is called “man,” as it is written: “There was a certain Jewish man [ish] in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair” (Esther 2:5). And Haman is also called man, as it states: “A man [ish] who is an adversary and an enemy, this evil Haman” (Esther 7:6).

(שם, ט) גם ושתי המלכה עשתה משתה נשים בית המלכות בית הנשים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא שניהן לדבר עבירה נתכוונו היינו דאמרי אינשי איהו בקרי ואתתיה

The verse states: “Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women, in the royal house, which belonged to King Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:9). The Gemara questions why she held the feast in the royal house, a place of men, rather than in the women’s house, where it should have been. Rava said in response: The two of them had sinful intentions. Ahasuerus wished to fornicate with the women, and Vashti wished to fornicate with the men. This explains the folk saying that people say: He with pumpkins and his wife