בשלמא אינהו מיפרשי אלא אבהתייהו מנלן
The Gemara asks in reference to the eight prophets descended from Rahab: Granted, with regard to them, it is explicit, i.e., the four sons recorded in the list were certainly prophets, as the Bible states this explicitly: Jeremiah was a prophet, his student Baruch was one of the sons of the prophets, his cousin Hanamel came to him at the word of God (see Jeremiah, chapter 32), and Seraiah was his student. But as for their fathers, Hilkiah, Neriah, Shallum, and Mahseiah, from where do we derive that they were prophets?
כדעולא דאמר עולא כל מקום ששמו ושם אביו בנביאות בידוע שהוא נביא בן נביא שמו ולא שם אביו בידוע שהוא נביא ולא בן נביא שמו ושם עירו מפורש בידוע שהוא מאותה העיר שמו ולא שם עירו בידוע שהוא מירושלים
The Gemara answers: As taught by Ulla, as Ulla said: Wherever one’s name and his father’s name are mentioned with regard to prophecy, it is known that he was a prophet the son of a prophet, and therefore his father’s name is also mentioned. And wherever his name is mentioned but not his father’s name, it is known that he was a prophet but not the son of a prophet. Similarly, wherever his name and the name of his city are specified, it is known that he was from that particular city, and wherever his name is mentioned but not the name of his city, it is known that he was from Jerusalem.
במתניתא תנא כל שמעשיו ומעשה אבותיו סתומין ופרט לך הכתוב באחד מהן לשבח כגון (צפניה א, א) דבר ה' אשר היה אל צפניה בן כושי בן גדליה בידוע שהוא צדיק בן צדיק וכל שפרט לך הכתוב באחד מהן לגנאי כגון (ירמיהו מא, א) ויהי בחדש השביעי בא ישמעאל בן נתניה בן אלישמע בידוע שהוא רשע בן רשע
It was taught in a baraita: With regard to anyone whose actions and the actions of his ancestors are obscured and not explained, and the verse mentioned one of them favorably, for example, the way in which Zephaniah the prophet is introduced: “The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah” (Zephaniah 1:1), it is known that not only was he a righteous man, he was also the son of a righteous man. And conversely, whenever the verse mentioned one of them unfavorably, for example, in the verse that introduces Ishmael as the one who killed Gedaliah, which states: “And it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama” (Jeremiah 41:1), it is known that not only was he a wicked man, he was also the son of a wicked man.
אמר רב נחמן מלאכי זה מרדכי ולמה נקרא שמו מלאכי שהיה משנה למלך מיתיבי ברוך בן נריה ושריה בן מעשיה ודניאל ומרדכי בלשן וחגי זכריה ומלאכי כולן נתנבאו בשנת שתים לדריוש תיובתא
Rav Naḥman said: Malachi the prophet is in fact Mordecai, and why was he called Malachi? To indicate that he was second to the king [melekh], as Mordecai was appointed such, as is recorded at the end of the Megilla. The Gemara raises an objection from the following baraita: Baruch, the son of Neriah; Seraiah, the son of Mahseiah; Daniel; Mordecai; Bilshan; Haggai; Zechariah; and Malachi; all prophesied in the second year of the reign of Darius. The fact that the baraita mentions Mordecai and Malachi separately indicates that they were two different people. The Gemara concludes: This is indeed a conclusive refutation.
תניא אמר רבי יהושע בן קרחה מלאכי זה עזרא וחכ"א מלאכי שמו אמר רב נחמן מסתברא כמאן דאמר מלאכי זה עזרא דכתיב בנביאות מלאכי (מלאכי ב, יא) בגדה יהודה ותועבה נעשתה בישראל ובירושלם כי חלל יהודה קדש ה' אשר אהב ובעל בת אל נכר
It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said: Malachi is in fact Ezra. And the Rabbis say otherwise: Malachi was his real name, and it was not merely another name for Ezra or another prophet. Rav Naḥman said: It stands to reason that indeed, they are one and the same person, like the opinion of the one who said that Malachi is Ezra, since there is a similarity between them, as it is stated in Malachi’s prophecy: “Judah has dealt treacherously, and a disgusting thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctity of the Lord which he loved, and has married the daughter of a strange god” (Malachi 2:11).
ומאן אפריש נשים נכריות עזרא דכתיב (עזרא י, ב) ויען שכניה בן יחיאל מבני עילם ויאמר לעזרא אנחנו מעלנו באלהינו ונושב נשים נכריות
And who was the one that removed the foreign women who were married to Jews? It was Ezra, as it is written: “And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra: We have broken faith with our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land” (Ezra 10:2). It therefore appears that Malachi was one of Ezra’s names, as the Bible describes them both as confronting an intermarriage epidemic.
תנו רבנן ארבע נשים יפיפיות היו בעולם שרה (ואביגיל רחב) ואסתר ולמאן דאמר אסתר ירקרוקת היתה מפיק אסתר ומעייל ושתי
To complete the discussion about the prophetesses, the Gemara cites a baraita in which the Sages taught: There were four women of extraordinary beauty in the world: Sarah, and Abigail, Rahab, and Esther. And according to the one who said that Esther was greenish in color, lacking natural beauty, only that a cord of divine grace was strung around her, remove Esther from the list and insert Vashti in her place, for she was indeed beautiful.
תנו רבנן רחב בשמה זינתה יעל בקולה אביגיל בזכירתה מיכל בת שאול בראייתה אמר רבי יצחק כל האומר רחב רחב מיד ניקרי א"ל רב נחמן אנא אמינא רחב רחב ולא איכפת לי אמר ליה כי קאמינא ביודעה ובמכירה
The Sages taught in a baraita: Rahab aroused impure thoughts by her name, i.e., the mere mention of her name would inspire lust for her; Yael, by her voice; Abigail, by remembering her; Michal, the daughter of Saul, by her appearance. Similarly, Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Anyone who says Rahab, Rahab, immediately experiences a seminal emission due to the arousal of desire caused by Rahab’s great beauty. Rav Naḥman said to him: I say: Rahab, Rahab, and it does not affect me. Rabbi Yitzchak said to Rav Naḥman: When I said this, I was specifically referring to one who knows her personally and recognizes her beauty. Only for one who has met Rahab in person is the mere mention of her name capable of arousing lust.
ומרדכי ידע את כל אשר נעשה מאי אמר רב אמר גבה המן מאחשורוש ושמואל אמר גבר מלכא עילאה ממלכא תתאה
§ The Gemara returns to its explanation of the verses of the book of Esther. The verse states: “When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry” (Esther 4:1). The Gemara asks: What did Mordecai say when he cried out? Rav said: He said that Haman has risen above Ahasuerus, for he saw that Haman had become even stronger than Ahasuerus himself, and that he controlled all affairs of the empire. And Shmuel said: The upper King has prevailed over the lower king, saying this euphemistically and insinuating just the opposite. In other words, it would appear that Ahasuerus, the lower king, has prevailed over the higher King, God in Heaven, Who desires good for the Jewish people.
ותתחלחל המלכה מאי ותתחלחל אמר רב שפירסה נדה ור' ירמיה אמר שהוצרכה לנקביה
The verse states: “Then the queen was exceedingly distressed” [vatitḥalḥal] (Esther 4:4). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of vatitḥalḥal? Rav said: This means that she began to menstruate out of fear, as the cavities, ḥalalim, of her body opened. And Rabbi Yirmeya said: Her bowels were loosened, also understanding the verse as referring to her bodily cavities.
ותקרא אסתר להתך אמר רב התך זה דניאל ולמה נקרא שמו התך שחתכוהו מגדולתו ושמואל אמר שכל דברי מלכות נחתכין על פיו
The verse states: “Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her” (Esther 4:5). Rav said: Hathach is in fact the prophet Daniel. And why was he called Hathach? Because he was cut down [ḥatakh] from his greatness during Ahasuerus’s reign, as he was demoted from his high position. Previously he had served as a senior minister, and now he had become Esther’s steward. And Shmuel expounded the name Hathach as derived from ḥatakh in the opposite sense, as he said: Daniel was called Hathach because all the affairs of the kingdom were decided [neḥtakhin] by his word.
לדעת מה זה ועל מה זה אמר רבי יצחק שלחה לו שמא עברו ישראל על חמשה חומשי תורה דכתיב בהן (שמות לב, טו) מזה ומזה הם כתובים
The verse continues to relate that Esther sent Hathach to Mordecai after hearing about the decree: “To know what this [zeh] was, and why it [zeh] was” (Esther 4:5). Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Esther sent a message to Mordecai, saying: Perhaps the Jews have transgressed the five books of the Torah, as it is written with regard to the two tablets: “On this [zeh] side and on the other [zeh] side were they written” (Exodus 32:15).
ויגידו למרדכי את דברי אסתר ואילו איהו לא אזל לגביה מכאן שאין משיבין על הקלקלה
The verse states: “And they told Esther’s words to Mordecai” (Esther 4:12), but he, Hathach himself, did not go to tell him directly. The Gemara explains: From here we see that one does not bring back a sad report. If one has nothing positive to say, it is best for him to remain silent. This explains why Hathach himself did not report the information to Mordecai, and Esther’s words had to be delivered by other messengers.
לך כנוס את כל היהודים וגו' עד אשר לא כדת אמר רבי אבא שלא כדת היה שבכל יום ויום עד עכשיו באונס ועכשיו ברצון וכאשר אבדתי אבדתי כשם שאבדתי מבית אבא כך אובד ממך
Esther sent a message to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night and day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in to the king, not according to the custom” (Esther 4:16). Rabbi Abba said: It will not be according to my usual custom, for every day until now when I submitted myself to Ahasuerus it was under compulsion, but now I will be submitting myself to him of my own free will. And Esther further said: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). What she meant was: Just as I was lost to my father’s house ever since I was brought here, so too, shall I be lost to you, for after voluntarily having relations with Ahasuerus, I shall be forever forbidden to you.
ויעבור מרדכי אמר רב שהעביר יום ראשון של פסח בתענית ושמואל אמר דעבר ערקומא דמיא
There is a dispute with regard to the meaning of the verse: “So Mordecai passed [vaya’avor]” (Esther 4:17). Rav said: This means that he passed the first day of Passover as a fast day, understanding the word vaya’avor in the sense of sin [aveira], as by doing so he transgressed the obligation to rejoice on the Festival. And Shmuel said: It means that he crossed over [avar] a stream in order to bring the message to all.
ויהי ביום השלישי ותלבש אסתר מלכות בגדי מלכות מיבעי ליה אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא מלמד שלבשתה רוח הקדש כתיב הכא ותלבש וכתיב התם (דברי הימים א יב, יט) ורוח לבשה את עמשי
The verse states: “And it came to pass on the third day, that Esther clothed herself in royalty” (Esther 5:1). The Gemara asks: It should have said: Esther clothed herself in royal garments. Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: This teaches that she clothed herself with a divine spirit of inspiration, as it is written here: “And she clothed herself,” and it is written elsewhere: “And the spirit clothed Amasai” (I Chronicles 12:19). Just as there the reference is to the spirit of divine inspiration, so too here, the term royalty is referring to the spirit of divine inspiration.
ואמר רבי אלעזר אמר ר' חנינא לעולם אל תהי ברכת הדיוט קלה בעיניך שהרי שני גדולי הדור ברכום שני הדיוטות ונתקיימה בהן ואלו הן דוד ודניאל דוד דברכיה ארונה דכתיב (שמואל ב כד, כג) ויאמר ארונה אל המלך וגו' דניאל דברכיה דריוש דכתיב (דניאל ו, יז) אלהך די אנת פלח ליה בתדירא הוא ישיזבינך
Apropos a statement that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said, the Gemara records other such statements: And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: One should never regard the blessing of an ordinary person [hedyot] as light in your eyes, as two of the great men of their generations received blessings from ordinary people and those blessings were fulfilled in them. And they were David and Daniel. David, for Araunah blessed him, as it is written: “And Araunah said to the king, May the Lord your God accept you” (II Samuel 24:23), and it was fulfilled. Daniel, for Darius blessed him, as it is written: “Your God Whom you serve continually, He will rescue you” (Daniel 6:17), and this too was fulfilled when Daniel was saved from the lions’ den.
ואמר רבי אלעזר אמר ר' חנינא אל תהי קללת הדיוט קלה בעיניך שהרי אבימלך קלל את שרה (בראשית כ, טז) הנה הוא לך כסות עינים ונתקיים בזרעה (בראשית כז, א) ויהי כי זקן יצחק ותכהין עיניו
And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: One should not regard the curse of an ordinary person as light in your eyes, for Abimelech cursed Sarah, saying: “Behold, it is to you a covering of the eyes to all that are with you” (Genesis 20:16), and indeed this was fulfilled in her descendant, as it is stated: “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see” (Genesis 27:1). Abimelech’s curse of covered eyes was fulfilled through her son Isaac’s blindness.
ואמר רבי אלעזר אמר ר' חנינא בא וראה שלא כמדת הקב"ה מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם אדם שופת קדרה ואח"כ נותן לתוכה מים אבל הקב"ה נותן מים ואחר כך שופת הקדרה לקיים מה שנאמר (ירמיהו י, יג) לקול תתו המון מים בשמים
And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is unlike the attribute of a man of flesh and blood; for it is the attribute of flesh and blood that a man places the pot on the fire and then puts in the water. However, the Holy One, Blessed be He, first puts in the water and then places the pot on the fire, to fulfill that which is stated: “At the sound of His giving a multitude of waters in the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:13), which he explains as follows: First God set the multitudes of water in place, and afterward He created the heavens to hold the water.
ואמר ר"א אמר רבי חנינא כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם שנאמר ותאמר אסתר למלך בשם מרדכי
And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Whoever reports a saying in the name of he who said it brings redemption to the world. As it is stated with respect to the incident of Bigthan and Teresh: “And Esther reported it to the king in the name of Mordecai” (Esther 2:22), and this eventually brought redemption, as Mordecai was later rewarded for saving the king’s life, paving the way for the miraculous salvation.
ואמר ר"א אמר רבי חנינא צדיק אבד לדורו אבד משל לאדם שאבדה לו מרגלית כל מקום שהיא מרגלית שמה לא אבדה אלא לבעלה
And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: When a righteous man passes from this earth and is lost, he is lost only for the rest of his generation, who is now deprived of him, not for the righteous individual himself. This is similar to a man who has lost a pearl. The pearl does not care if it is lost, as wherever it is found, it is still a pearl; it is lost only to its owner.
וכל זה איננו שוה לי אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא בשעה שראה המן את מרדכי יושב בשער המלך אמר כל זה אינו שוה לי כדרב חסדא דאמר רב חסדא זה בא בפרוזבולי וזה בא
Haman said: “Yet all this avails me nothing” (Esther 5:13). Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: When Haman saw Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate he said: Yet all this avails me nothing. This may be understood as was suggested by Rav Ḥisda, for Rav Ḥisda said: This one, Mordecai, came as one with the heritage of a rich man [perozebuli], whereas that one, Haman, came