דְּלָא קַטְלֵיהּ דָּוִד לְשִׁמְעִי דְּאִתְיְלִיד מִינֵּיהּ מָרְדֳּכַי דְּמִיקַּנֵּי בֵּיהּ הָמָן וּמָה שִׁילֵּם לִי יְמִינִי דְּלָא קַטְלֵיהּ שָׁאוּל לַאֲגָג דְּאִתְיְלִיד מִינֵּיהּ הָמָן דִּמְצַעַר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל the responsibility of Judah, as David did not kill Shimei, although he was liable to the death penalty. The grave consequences of this failure included that Mordecai was born from him, and it was he against whom Haman was jealous, leading Haman to issue a decree against all of the Jewish people. And how a Benjamite has repaid me is referring to the fact that Saul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, did not kill the Amalekite king Agag immediately, from whom Haman was later born, and he caused suffering to the Jewish people.
רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר לְעוֹלָם מִבִּנְיָמִן קָאָתֵי וְאַמַּאי קָרֵי לֵיהּ יְהוּדִי עַל שׁוּם שֶׁכָּפַר בָּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שֶׁכׇּל הַכּוֹפֵר בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה נִקְרָא יְהוּדִי כְּדִכְתִיב אִיתַי גּוּבְרִין יְהוּדָאיִן וְגוֹ׳ Rabbi Yoḥanan said a different explanation of the verse: Actually, Mordecai came from the tribe of Benjamin. Why, then, was he referred to as Yehudi? On account of the fact that he repudiated idol worship, for anyone who repudiates idolatry is called Yehudi. It is understood here in the sense of yiḥudi, one who declares the oneness of God, as it is written: “There are certain Jews [Yehuda’in] whom thou hast appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylonia, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: They serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:12). These three individuals were in fact Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were not all from the tribe of Judah but are referred to as Yehuda’in because they repudiated idol worship.
רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן פַּזִּי כִּי הֲוָה פָּתַח בְּדִבְרֵי הַיָּמִים אָמַר הָכִי כׇּל דְּבָרֶיךָ אֶחָד הֵם וְאָנוּ יוֹדְעִין לְדוֹרְשָׁן וְאִשְׁתּוֹ הַיְהוּדִיָּה יָלְדָה אֶת יֶרֶד אֲבִי גְדוֹר וְאֶת חֶבֶר אֲבִי שׂוֹכוֹ וְאֶת יְקוּתִיאֵל אֲבִי זָנוֹחַ וְאֵלֶּה בְּנֵי בִּתְיָה בַת פַּרְעֹה אֲשֶׁר לָקַח מָרֶד § Incidental to the exposition of the word Yehudi as one who repudiates idolatry, the Gemara relates that when Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi introduced his exposition of the book of Chronicles, he addressed the book of Chronicles and said as follows: All of your words are one, and we know how to expound them. This introduction made reference to the fact that the book of Chronicles cannot always be interpreted literally but requires exposition, as the same individual might be called by various different names, as in the following verse: “And his wife HaYehudiyya bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took” (I Chronicles 4:18).
אַמַּאי קָרֵי לַהּ יְהוּדִיָּה עַל שׁוּם שֶׁכָּפְרָה בַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה דִּכְתִיב וַתֵּרֶד בַּת פַּרְעֹה לִרְחוֹץ עַל הַיְאוֹר וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן שֶׁיָּרְדָה לִרְחוֹץ מִגִּילּוּלֵי בֵּית אָבִיהָ Why is she, who we are told at the end of the verse was Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, referred to as Yehudiyya? Because she repudiated idol worship, as it is written: “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself in the river” (Exodus 2:5), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: She went down to wash and purify herself from the idols of her father’s house.
יָלְדָה וְהָא רַבּוֹיֵי רַבִּיתֵיהּ לוֹמַר לְךָ שֶׁכׇּל הַמְגַדֵּל יָתוֹם וִיתוֹמָה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ מַעֲלֶה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִילּוּ יְלָדוֹ The Gemara understands that all the names referred to in the verse as children of Pharaoh’s daughter refer to Moses, as it will soon explain. The Gemara asks: Pharaoh’s daughter bore Moses? But didn’t she merely raise him? Rather, it is telling you that with regard to anyone who raises an orphan boy or girl in his house, the verse ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to him.
יֶרֶד זֶה מֹשֶׁה וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יֶרֶד שֶׁיָּרַד לָהֶם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל מָן בְּיָמָיו גְּדוֹר שֶׁגָּדַר פִּרְצוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל חֶבֶר שֶׁחִיבֵּר אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲבִיהֶן שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם סוֹכוֹ שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה לָהֶם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּסוּכָּה יְקוּתִיאֵל שֶׁקִּוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָאֵל בְּיָמָיו זָנוֹחַ שֶׁהִזְנִיחַ עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל The Gemara explains how all the names in fact are referring to Moses: “Jered”; this is Moses, and why was he called Jered? Because manna came down [yarad] for the Jewish people in his days. He was also called “Gedor” because he fenced in [gadar] the breaches of the Jewish people. He was called “Heber” because he connected [ḥibber] the Jewish people to their Father in Heaven. He was called “Soco” because he was for the Jewish people like a shelter [sukka] and shield. He was called “Jekuthiel” because the Jewish people trusted in God [kivu laEl] in his days. Lastly, he was called “Zanoah” because he caused the iniquities of the Jewish people to be disregarded [hizniaḥ].
אֲבִי אֲבִי אֲבִי אָב בַּתּוֹרָה אָב בְּחׇכְמָה אָב בִּנְבִיאוּת The Gemara notes that the words “father of” appear three times in that same verse: “And his wife Hajehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.” This teaches that Moses was a father to all of the Jewish people in three respects: A father in Torah, a father in wisdom, and a father in prophecy.
וְאֵלֶּה בְּנֵי בִּתְיָה אֲשֶׁר לָקַח מָרֶד וְכִי מֶרֶד שְׁמוֹ וַהֲלֹא כָּלֵב שְׁמוֹ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יָבֹא כָּלֵב שֶׁמָּרַד בַּעֲצַת מְרַגְּלִים וְיִשָּׂא אֶת בַּת פַּרְעֹה שֶׁמָּרְדָה בְּגִלּוּלֵי בֵּית אָבִיהָ The aforementioned verse stated: “And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took.” The Gemara asks: Was Bithiah’s husband’s name Mered? Wasn’t his name Caleb? Rather, the verse alludes to the reason that Caleb married Bithiah. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Let Caleb, who rebelled [marad] against the advice of the spies, come and marry the daughter of Pharaoh, who rebelled against the idols of her father’s home.
אֲשֶׁר הׇגְלָה מִירוּשָׁלַיִם אָמַר רָבָא שֶׁגָּלָה מֵעַצְמוֹ § The Gemara resumes its explanation of the book of Esther. The verse states with regard to Mordecai: “Who had been exiled from Jerusalem” (Esther 2:6). Rava said: This language indicates that he went into exile on his own, not because he was forced to leave Jerusalem. He knew that he would be needed by those in exile, and therefore he consciously left Jerusalem to attend to the needs of his people.
וַיְהִי אוֹמֵן אֶת הֲדַסָּה קָרֵי לַהּ הֲדַסָּה וְקָרֵי לַהּ אֶסְתֵּר תַּנְיָא רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר אֶסְתֵּר שְׁמָהּ וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמָהּ הֲדַסָּה עַל שֵׁם הַצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁנִּקְרְאוּ הֲדַסִּים וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וְהוּא עוֹמֵד בֵּין הַהֲדַסִּים The verse states: “And he had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther” (Esther 2:7). She is referred to as “Hadassah” and she is referred to as “Esther.” What was her real name? It is taught in a baraita that the Sages differed in their opinion as to which was in fact her name and which one was a description: Rabbi Meir says: Esther was her real name. Why then was she called Hadassah? On account of the righteous, who are called myrtles [hadassim], and so it states: “And he stood among the myrtles [hahadassim]” (Zechariah 1:8).
רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר הֲדַסָּה שְׁמָהּ וְלָמָּה נִקְרֵאת שְׁמָהּ אֶסְתֵּר עַל שֵׁם שֶׁהָיְתָה מַסְתֶּרֶת דְּבָרֶיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֵין אֶסְתֵּר מַגֶּדֶת אֶת עַמָּהּ וְגוֹ׳ Rabbi Yehuda differs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? Because she concealed [masteret] the truth about herself, as it is stated: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).
רַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה אוֹמֵר הֲדַסָּה שְׁמָהּ וְלָמָּה נִקְרֵאת אֶסְתֵּר שֶׁהָיוּ אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם קוֹרִין אוֹתָהּ עַל שׁוּם אִסְתַּהַר בֶּן עַזַּאי אוֹמֵר אֶסְתֵּר לֹא אֲרוּכָּה וְלֹא קְצָרָה הָיְתָה אֶלָּא בֵּינוֹנִית כַּהֲדַסָּה רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן קׇרְחָה אָמַר אֶסְתֵּר יְרַקְרוֹקֶת הָיְתָה וְחוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד מָשׁוּךְ עָלֶיהָ Rabbi Neḥemya concurs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? This was her non-Hebrew name, for owing to her beauty the nations of the world called her after Istahar, Venus. Ben Azzai says: Esther was neither tall nor short, but of average size like a myrtle tree, and therefore she was called Hadassah, the Hebrew name resembling that myrtle tree. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said: Esther was called Hadassah because she was greenish, having a pale complexion like a myrtle, but a cord of Divine grace was strung around her, endowing her with a beautiful appearance.
כִּי אֵין לָהּ אָב וָאֵם וּבְמוֹת אָבִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ לְמָה לִי אָמַר רַב אַחָא עִיבְּרַתָּה מֵת אָבִיהָ יְלָדַתָּה מֵתָה אִמָּהּ The verse initially states with regard to Esther: “For she had neither father nor mother” (Esther 2:7). Why do I need to be told in the continuation of the verse: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter”? Rav Aḥa said: This repetition indicates that when her mother became pregnant with her, her father died, and when she gave birth to her, her mother died, so that she did not have a mother or a father for even a single day.
וּבְמוֹת אָבִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ לְקָחָהּ מׇרְדֳּכַי לוֹ לְבַת תָּנָא מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי מֵאִיר אַל תִּקְרֵי לְבַת אֶלָּא לְבַיִת וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וְלָרָשׁ אֵין כֹּל כִּי אִם כִּבְשָׂה אַחַת קְטַנָּה אֲשֶׁר קָנָה וַיְחַיֶּהָ וַתִּגְדַּל עִמּוֹ וְעִם בָּנָיו יַחְדָּו מִפִּתּוֹ תֹאכַל וּמִכּוֹסוֹ תִשְׁתֶּה וּבְחֵיקוֹ תִשְׁכָּב וַתְּהִי לוֹ כְּבַת מִשּׁוּם דִּבְחֵיקוֹ תִשְׁכָּב הֲווֹת לֵיהּ (לְבַת) אֶלָּא (לְבַיִת) הָכִי נָמֵי לְבַיִת The verse states: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). A tanna taught a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: Do not read the verse literally as for a daughter [bat], but rather read it as for a home [bayit]. This indicates that Mordecai took Esther to be his wife. And so it states: “But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared: And it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his bread, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was like a daughter [kevat] to him” (II Samuel 12:3). The Gemara questions: Because it lay in his bosom, it “was like a daughter to him”? Rather, the parable in II Samuel referenced the illicit taking of another’s wife, and the phrase should be read: Like a home [bayit] to him, i.e., a wife. So too, here, Mordecai took her for a home, i.e., a wife.
וְאֵת שֶׁבַע הַנְּעָרוֹת וְגוֹ׳ אָמַר רָבָא שֶׁהָיְתָה מוֹנָה בָּהֶן יְמֵי שַׁבָּת וַיְשַׁנֶּהָ וְאֶת נַעֲרוֹתֶיהָ וְגוֹ׳ אָמַר רַב שֶׁהֶאֱכִילָהּ מַאֲכָל יְהוּדִי The verse states: “And the seven maids chosen to be given her out of the king’s house” (Esther 2:9). Rava said: She would have a separate maid attend her each day, and she would count the days of the week by them, so she was always aware when Shabbat was. The verse continues: “And he advanced her and her maids to the best place in the house of the women.” Rav said: The advancement in the verse signals that he fed her food of Jews, i.e., kosher food.
וּשְׁמוּאֵל אָמַר שֶׁהֶאֱכִילָהּ קְדָלֵי דַחֲזִירֵי And Shmuel said an alternative understanding: The advancement was a well-intentioned act in that he fed her pig hinds, thinking she would view it as a delicacy, although in fact they were not kosher.
וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר זֵרְעוֹנִים וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וַיְהִי הַמֶּלְצַר נוֹשֵׂא אֶת פַּת בָּגָם וְנוֹתֵן לָהֶם זֵרְעוֹנִים And Rabbi Yoḥanan said a third understanding: He gave her vegetables, which did not pose a problem with regard to the kosher laws. And so it states with regard to the kindness done for Daniel and his associates: “So the steward took away their food and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables” (Daniel 1:16).
שִׁשָּׁה חֳדָשִׁים בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמּוֹר מַאי שֶׁמֶן הַמּוֹר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא אָמַר סְטָכַת רַב הוּנָא אָמַר שֶׁמֶן זַיִת שֶׁלֹּא הֵבִיא שְׁלִישׁ תַּנְיָא רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר אַנְפָּקִינוֹן שֶׁמֶן זַיִת שֶׁלֹּא הֵבִיא שְׁלִישׁ וְלָמָּה סָכִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁמַּשִּׁיר אֶת הַשֵּׂיעָר וּמְעַדֵּן אֶת הַבָּשָׂר The verse states: “Six months with oil of myrrh” (Esther 2:12). The Gemara asks: What is “oil of myrrh”? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said: It is the aromatic oil called setakt. Rav Huna said: It is a cosmetic oil derived from olives that have not yet reached one-third of their growth. It is similarly taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Anpakinon is the oil of olives that have not reached one-third of their growth. And why is it smeared on the body? Because it removes the hair and softens the skin.
בָּעֶרֶב הִיא בָאָה וּבַבֹּקֶר הִיא שָׁבָה אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִגְּנוּתוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע לָמַדְנוּ שִׁבְחוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה מְשַׁמֵּשׁ מִטָּתוֹ בַּיּוֹם The verse states: “In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned” (Esther 2:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From the implicit criticism of that wicked man, Ahasuerus, who cohabited with many women, we have incidentally learned his praise as well, that he would not engage in sexual relations during the day, but in a more modest fashion at night.
וַתְּהִי אֶסְתֵּר נֹשֵׂאת חֵן אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר מְלַמֵּד שֶׁלְּכׇל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד נִדְמְתָה לוֹ כְּאוּמָּתוֹ וַתִּלָּקַח אֶסְתֵּר אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ אֶל בֵּית מַלְכוּתוֹ בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי הוּא חֹדֶשׁ טֵבֵת יֶרַח שֶׁנֶּהֱנֶה גּוּף מִן הַגּוּף The verse states: “And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked upon her” (Esther 2:15). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that she appeared to each and every one as if she were a member of his own nation, and therefore she obtained favor in the eyes of all. The next verse states: “So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tevet” (Esther 2:16). It was by act of divine providence that Esther was taken to Ahasuerus in a cold winter month, in which the body takes pleasure in the warmth of another body, and therefore she found favor in his eyes.
וַיֶּאֱהַב הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת אֶסְתֵּר מִכׇּל הַנָּשִׁים וַתִּשָּׂא חֵן וָחֶסֶד לְפָנָיו מִכׇּל הַבְּתוּלוֹת אָמַר רַב בִּיקֵּשׁ לִטְעוֹם טַעַם בְּתוּלָה טָעַם טַעַם בְּעוּלָה טָעַם The verse states: “And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins” (Esther 2:17). Rav said: This double language indicates that if he wanted to taste in her the taste of a virgin during intercourse, he tasted it, and if he wanted to experience the taste of a non-virgin, he tasted it, and therefore he loved her more than all the other women.
וַיַּעַשׂ הַמֶּלֶךְ מִשְׁתֶּה גָדוֹל עֲבַד מִשְׁתְּיָא וְלָא גַּלְּיָא לֵיהּ דַּלִּי כְּרָגָא וְלָא גַּלְּיָא לֵיהּ שַׁדַּר פַּרְדִּישְׁנֵי וְלָא גַּלְּיָא לֵיהּ The verse states: “Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast” (Esther 2:18). The Gemara explains that this was part of an attempt to have Esther reveal her true identity. He made a great feast in her honor, but she did not reveal her identity to him. He lowered the taxes [karga] in her name, but still she did not reveal it to him. He sent gifts [pardishenei] to the ministers in her name, but even so she did not reveal it to him.
וּבְהִקָּבֵץ בְּתוּלוֹת שֵׁנִית וְגוֹ׳ אֲזַיל שְׁקַל עֵצָה מִמָּרְדֳּכַי אֲמַר אֵין אִשָּׁה מִתְקַנְּאָה אֶלָּא בְּיֶרֶךְ חֲבֶירְתָּהּ וַאֲפִילּוּ הָכִי לָא גַּלְּיָא לֵיהּ דִּכְתִיב אֵין אֶסְתֵּר מַגֶּדֶת מוֹלַדְתָּהּ וְגוֹ׳ The verse states: “And when the virgins were gathered together the second time and Mordecai sat in the king’s gate” (Esther 2:19). The Gemara explains: The reason Ahasuerus gathered the women together was that he went and took advice from Mordecai as to what he should do to get Esther to reveal her identity. Mordecai said to him: As a rule, a woman is jealous only of the thigh of another woman. Therefore, you should take for yourself additional women. But even so she did not reveal her origins to him, as it is written: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).
אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר מַאי דִּכְתִיב § Rabbi Elazar said: What is the meaning of that which is written: