דלא קטליה דוד לשמעי דאתיליד מיניה מרדכי דמיקני ביה המן ומה שילם לי ימיני דלא קטליה שאול לאגג דאתיליד מיניה המן דמצער לישראל
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.
רבי יוחנן אמר לעולם מבנימן קאתי ואמאי קרי ליה יהודי על שום שכפר בע"ז שכל הכופר בע"ז נקרא יהודי כדכתיב (דניאל ג, יב) איתי גוברין יהודאין וגו'
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.
רבי שמעון בן פזי כי הוה פתח בדברי הימים אמר הכי כל דבריך אחד הם ואנו יודעין לדורשן (דברי הימים א ד, יח) ואשתו היהודיה ילדה את ירד אבי גדור ואת חבר אבי שוכו ואת יקותיאל אבי זנוח ואלה בני בתיה בת פרעה אשר לקח מרד
§ 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).
אמאי קרי לה יהודיה על שום שכפרה בע"ז דכתיב (שמות ב, ה) ותרד בת פרעה לרחוץ על היאור ואמר רבי יוחנן שירדה לרחוץ מגילולי בית אביה
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.
ילדה והא רבויי רביתיה לומר לך שכל המגדל יתום ויתומה בתוך ביתו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו
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.
ירד זה משה ולמה נקרא שמו ירד שירד להם לישראל מן בימיו גדור שגדר פרצותיהן של ישראל חבר שחיבר את ישראל לאביהן שבשמים סוכו שנעשה להם לישראל כסוכה יקותיאל שקוו ישראל לאל בימיו זנוח שהזניח עונותיהן של ישראל
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].
אבי אבי אבי אב בתורה אב בחכמה אב בנביאות
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.
ואלה בני בתיה אשר לקח מרד וכי מרד שמו והלא כלב שמו אמר הקב"ה יבא כלב שמרד בעצת מרגלים וישא את בת פרעה שמרדה בגלולי בית אביה
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.
אשר הגלה מירושלם אמר רבא שגלה מעצמו
§ 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.
ויהי אומן את הדסה קרי לה הדסה וקרי לה אסתר תניא ר"מ אומר אסתר שמה ולמה נקרא שמה הדסה על שם הצדיקים שנקראו הדסים וכן הוא אומר (זכריה א, ח) והוא עומד בין ההדסים
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).
רבי יהודה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת שמה אסתר על שם שהיתה מסתרת דבריה שנאמר אין אסתר מגדת את עמה וגו'
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).
ר' נחמיה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת אסתר שהיו אומות העולם קורין אותה על שום אסתהר בן עזאי אומר אסתר לא ארוכה ולא קצרה היתה אלא בינונית כהדסה ר' יהושע בן קרחה אמר אסתר ירקרוקת היתה וחוט של חסד משוך עליה
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.
כי אין לה אב ואם ובמות אביה ואמה למה לי אמר רב אחא עיברתה מת אביה ילדתה מתה אמה
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.
ובמות אביה ואמה לקחה מרדכי לו לבת תנא משום ר"מ אל תקרי לבת אלא לבית וכן הוא אומר (שמואל ב יב, ג) ולרש אין כל כי אם כבשה אחת קטנה אשר קנה ויחיה ותגדל עמו ועם בניו יחדו מפתו תאכל ומכוסו תשתה ובחיקו תשכב ותהי לו כבת משום דבחיקו תשכב הוות ליה (לבת) אלא (לבית) הכי נמי לבית
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.
ואת שבע הנערות וגו' אמר רבא שהיתה מונה בהן ימי שבת וישנה ואת נערותיה וגו' אמר רב שהאכילה מאכל יהודי
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.
ושמואל אמר שהאכילה קדלי דחזירי
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.
ור' יוחנן אמר זרעונים וכן הוא אומר (דניאל א, טז) ויהי המלצר נושא את פת בגם ונותן להם זרעונים
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).
ששה חדשים בשמן המור מאי שמן המור ר' חייא בר אבא אמר סטכת רב הונא אמר שמן זית שלא הביא שליש תניא רבי יהודה אומר אנפקינון שמן זית שלא הביא שליש ולמה סכין אותו שמשיר את השיער ומעדן את הבשר
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.
בערב היא באה ובבקר היא שבה אמר רבי יוחנן מגנותו של אותו רשע למדנו שבחו שלא היה משמש מטתו ביום
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.
ותהי אסתר נשאת חן אר"א מלמד שלכל אחד ואחד נדמתה לו כאומתו ותלקח אסתר אל המלך אחשורוש אל בית מלכותו בחדש העשירי הוא חדש טבת ירח שנהנה גוף מן הגוף
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.
ויאהב המלך את אסתר מכל הנשים ותשא חן וחסד לפניו מכל הבתולות אמר רב ביקש לטעום טעם בתולה טעם טעם בעולה טעם
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.
ויעש המלך משתה גדול עבד משתיא ולא גליא ליה דלי כרגא ולא גליא ליה שדר פרדישני ולא גליא ליה
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.
ובהקבץ בתולות שנית וגו' אזיל שקל עצה ממרדכי אמר אין אשה מתקנאה אלא בירך חבירתה ואפי' הכי לא גליא ליה דכתיב אין אסתר מגדת מולדתה וגו'
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).
אמר רבי אלעזר מאי דכתיב
§ Rabbi Elazar said: What is the meaning of that which is written: