Allegories in Megillat Esther

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


HaShem vs. Achashverosh. 1

The Seven Chamberlains. 5

The Seven princes of Persia and Media. 5

Queen Vashti 5

Mordechai 6

Queen Esther 8

Hegai 13

Hatach. 13

Wise Men. 13

Haman’s Sons. 14

Memuchan. 15

Haman. 15

Purim and Chanukah. 16

Places. 16

Timing. 16

Cast of Characters. 19

The Seven Chamberlains. 19

The Ten Sons of Haman. 19

Connections. 19

Yosef and Esther 24

Conclusion. 25

 

In this study I would like to look at the cast of characters in Megillat Esther, as they appear in remez, in allegory. This poignant story has a distinct pathos that can only be appreciated when we can see the characters in their allegorical role in history. I believe that this is the way that Chazal, our Sages, intended us to look at the Megillah of Esther. The Talmud asks questions that use the word “allusion”, several times in regards to the characters of the Megillah. Here are some examples of this Talmudic allegory:

 

Chullin 139b Where is Haman indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Is it [hamin] from the tree?[1] Where is Esther indicated in the Torah? — [In the verse,] And I will surely hide [asthir] my face.[2] Where is Mordecai indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Flowing myrrh,[3] which the Targum renders as mira dakia.[4]

 

HaShem vs. Achashverosh

 

Megillat Esther opens with a focus on Achashverosh, the king:

 

Esther 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days of Achashverosh, (this [is] Achashverosh which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)

 

“Now it came to pass”, is the Hebrew word: vayehi. Our Sages tell us that whenever we see this phrase, it means that trouble is coming. Megillat Esther opens with an allusion to a troubled time.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther Prologue 11 R. Tanhuma, R. Berekiah and R. Hiyya Rabbah in the name of R. Eleazer explained: This rule of exegesis has been transmitted to us from the Captivity, that wherever Scripture uses the expression wayyehi (and it came to pass), it presages trouble. R. Samuel b. Nahman, however, in the name of R. Jonathan stated: This rule of exegesis has been transmitted to us from the Captivity, that wherever Scripture uses the expression: And it came to pass in the days of, it presages trouble.

 

(As an aside: The term “midrash“ is derived from the Hebrew word “Drash”, which means “to delve into”.)

 

Chazal teach that the days of Achashverosh were/are the days of tribulation:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther II:2 MANY DAYS (I, 4). They were days of tribulation…

 

This time of tribulation alludes to the days of tribulation in the end of days:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:30-31 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, [even] in the latter days, if thou turn to HaShem thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For HaShem thy God [is] a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he swore unto them.

 

The feast that king Achashverosh gave, alludes to the feast in the time to come:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther II:5 AND WHEN THESE DAYS WERE FULFILLED. The word UBIMLOTH (AND WHEN... WERE FULFILLED) is written plene. THE KING MADE A FEAST UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WERE PRESENT. SEVEN DAYS. Rab and Samuel joined issue here One said: It means seven besides the hundred and eighty, whereas Samuel said: It means seven included in the hundred and eighty. R. Simon said: Shushan the castle on that occasion was like a great feasting-place where food and drink were in abundance. R. Hanina b. Papa said: The notables of the time had been there but they fled. R. Hanina b. Atel said: Jews participated in that feast. Said that wicked man [Achashverosh] to them: ‘ Can your God do more for you than this?’ They answered: ‘ “Eye hath not seen, O God, beside Thee, what He shall do for him that waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:3). If he provides for us nothing better than this feast [in the time to come], we could say to him, “We have already enjoyed the like of this at the table of Achashverosh.”‘

 

King Achashverosh allowed every man his desire when it came to wine:

 

Esther 1:8 And the drinking [was] according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.

 

This alludes to HaShem who gives every man the free will to choose:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther II:14 THAT THEY SHOULD DO ACCORDING TO EVERY MAN’S PLEASURE. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘I cannot satisfy all My creatures, and do you seek to do according to every man’s pleasure? It often happens that two men seek the hand of the same woman. Can she marry both of them? It must be either one or the other. So two ships will lie in a harbor, one waiting for a north wind, the other for a south. Can the same wind carry them both together? It must be either one or the other. Tomorrow two men will appear before you in a suit, a Jewish man and a man who is an adversary and an enemy. Can you satisfy both of them? You will have to exalt the one and hang the other.’ R. Huna said in the name of R. Benjamin b. Levi: In this world when the north wind blows the south wind does not blow, and when the south wind blows the north wind does not blow. But in the Messianic future, at the gathering of the exiles, God has said, ‘I will bring a strong clearing wind into the world in which both winds are combined’; and so it says, I will say to the north: Give up, and to the south: Keep not back, bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the end of the earth (Isaiah 43:6). Who is it that fulfills the desires of them that fear Him? It is the Holy One, blessed by He, of whom it is written, He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him; He will also hear their cry, and will save them (Ps. CXLV, 19),

 

King Achashverosh attempt to succeed in using the Temple implements where Belshatzar had failed. This Persian dream of succeeding where others failed will recur at the great trial at the end of days, as described by our Sages:

 

Avodah Zarah 2b R. Hanina b. Papa — some say R. Simlai — expounded [the foregoing verse] thus: In times to come, the Holy One, blessed be He, will take a scroll of the Law in His embrace and proclaim: ‘Let him who has occupied himself herewith, come and take his reward.’ Thereupon all the nations will crowd together in confusion, as it is said: All the nations are gathered together, etc. The Holy One, blessed be He, will then say to them: ‘Come not before Me in confusion, but let each nation come in with its scribes;’ as it is said, and let the peoples be gathered together,’ and the word le’om [used here] means a kingdom, as it is written, and one kingdom [u-leom] shall be stronger than the other kingdom. (But can there be confusion in the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He? — [No;] it is only that they be not confused, and so hear what He says to them.) Thereupon the Kingdom of Edom will enter first before Him. (Why first? Because they are the most important. Whence do we know they are so important? — Because it is written: And he shall devour the whole earth and shall tread it down and break it in pieces; and R. Johanan says that this refers to Rome, whose power is known to the whole world. And whence do we know that the most important comes forward first? — Because R. Hisda said: When a king and a community appear before the [Heavenly] tribunal, the king enters first, as it is said: That He maintain the cause of His servant [King Solomon] and [then] the cause of His people Israel. And why is it so? — You may say, because it is not the way of the world that a king shall wait without; or you may say [in order that the king shall plead] before the anger [of the Judge] is roused.) The Holy One, blessed be He, will then say to them: ‘Wherewith have you occupied yourselves?’ They will reply: ‘O Lord of the Universe, we have established many market-places, we have erected many baths, we have accumulated much gold and silver, and all this we did only for the sake of Israel, that they might [have leisure] for occupying themselves with the study of the Torah.’ The Holy One, blessed be He, will say in reply: ‘You foolish ones among peoples, all that which you have done, you have only done to satisfy your own desires. You have established marketplaces to place courtesans therein; baths, to revel in them; [as to the distribution of] silver and gold, that is mine, as it is written: Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold, saith the Lord of Hosts; are there any among you who have been declaring this?’ And ‘this’ is nought else than the Torah, as it is said: And this is the Law which Moses set before the children of Israel. They will then depart crushed in spirit. On the departure of the Kingdom of Rome, Persia will step forth. (Why Persia next? — Because they are next in importance. And how do we know this? — Because it is written: And behold another beast, a second like to a bear; and R. Joseph learned that this refers to the Persians, who eat and drink greedily like the bear, are fleshly like the bear, have shaggy hair like the bear, and are restless like the bear.) The Holy One, blessed be He, will ask of them: ‘Wherewith have ye occupied yourselves?’; and they will reply ‘Sovereign of the Universe, we have built many bridges, we have captured many cities, we have waged many wars, and all this for the sake of Israel, that they might engage in the study of the Torah. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to them: ‘You foolish ones among peoples, you have built bridges in order to extract toll, you have subdued cities, so as to impose forced labour; as to waging war, I am the Lord of battles, as it is said: The Lord is a man of war; are there any amongst you who have been declaring this?’ and ‘this’ means nought else than the Torah, as it is said: And this is the Law which Moses set before the Children of Israel . They, too’ will then depart crushed in spirit. (But why should the Persians, having seen that the Romans achieved nought, step forward at all? — They will say to themselves: ‘The Romans have destroyed the Temple, whereas we have built it.’) And so will every nation fare in turn. (But why should the other nations come forth, seeing that those who preceded them had achieved nought? They will say to themselves: The others have oppressed Israel, but we have not. And why are these [two] nations singled out as important, and not the others? — Because their reign will last till the coming of the Messiah.)

 

Analyzing the power of Achashverosh, a self-made monarch who succeeded Koresh (Cyrus) as the second of the three Persian rulers (Koresh and Darius the Persian are the other two) of a mighty kingdom, is indispensable to understanding the Megillah. It was his absolute control over the entire inhabited world that made the threat of Haman’s genocide so menacing.

 

Achashverosh plays two different roles in the Megillah of Esther, according to Chazal, our Sages. In the first role, as King Achashverosh, he is an evil, anti-Semitic, ruler who portrays a false god.

 

In the second role, as “The King”, on the mystical level, alludes to HaShem, the King of the World. The Midrash reads the name Achashverosh as an acronym for acharit veraishit shelo, alluding to the One Whom “the end and beginning are His.”

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther III:15 THEREFORE WAS THE KING VERY WROTH, AND HIS ANGER BURNED IN HIM. R. Johanan said: At that moment God said to the angel in charge of wrath: ‘ Go down and blow up a spark in his belly and fan his ashes and throw sulphur into his oven.’ R. Johanan said: All the years from the time when Vashti was killed till Esther became queen, the wrath of Achashverosh was not assuaged. They cited in objection to this: When the wrath of king Achashverosh was assuaged (Est. X). He replied: It is not written be-shok, but ‘ke-shok’; it was assuaged and yet not assuaged. When was his wrath really assuaged? When Haman was hung, as it says, “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath assuaged” (ibid. VII, 10)- [this means also] the wrath of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther IV:10 AND WHEN THE KING’S DECREE... SHALL BE PUBLISHED, etc. (I, 20). R. Levi and R. Isaac each gave an explanation of this. R. Levi said: It means: We shall one day hear a great pronouncement from this one [Esther] who was to become queen, namely, There was great mourning among the Jews (Esther 4:3). R. Isaac, whoever, said: We shall one day hear a great pronouncement from this one who was to become queen, namely, The Jews had gladness and joy (Esther 8:17). R. Judah b. R. Simon interpreted: AND THE KING’S DECREE... SHALL BE PUBLISHED [lit. HEARD]: the decree of the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who said in His wisdom and in His understanding, I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heaven (Shemot 17:14). GREAT THOUGH IT BE. Rab and Samuel gave different interpretations. One said: This kingdom is great for this offence; the other said: This offence is great for this kingdom. ALL THE WIVES WILL GIVE TO THEIR HUSBANDS HONOUR, etc.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther X:1 ON THAT NIGHT COULD NOT THE KING SLEEP [lit. THE SLEEP OF THE KING WAS SHAKEN] (VI, X): the heavens, the throne of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, were shaken when He saw Israel in such distress.’ Is God then subject to sleep? Is it not said, Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep (Tehillim.71:4)? It can happen, however, when Israel are in distress and the other nations are at ease; therefore it says, Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord? (Tehillim 44:24). King Achashverosh’s sleep was also disturbed, because he saw in a dream Haman seizing a sword to kill him, and he awoke in terror from his sleep and told his scribes to bring the book of the chronicles to see what events had occurred, and they opened the book and found how Mordecai had informed against Bigthan and Teresh. So when they said to the king, BEHOLD, HAMAN STANDETH IN THE COURT (VI, 5), the king said: ‘What I saw in my dream is true; this fellow has only come at this time of day to kill me.’

 

HaShem and Achashverosh both had books where they recorded the deeds of the righteous:

 

Esther 6:1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

 

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

 

The Seven Chamberlains

(Seven Angels of Confusion)

 

Mehuman - Confusion

Biztha - Destruction of the House

Harbona - Annihilation

Bigtha - Pressers of the Winepress

Abagtha - Pressers of the Winepress

Zethar Observer of Immorality

Carcas – Knocker

 

The Midrash suggests that these seven chamberlains allude to angels:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther III:12 HE COMMANDED MEHUMAN, BIZZETHA, etc. R. Johanan said: At that moment God summoned the angel in charge of wrath and said to him: ‘ BIZZETHA- despoil his house (buz bethe); HARBONA-lay waste his house (ahrib bethe); BIGTHA and ABAGTHA- spoil and plunder.’ R. Simeon b. R. Jannai said: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘I will make sport of them: I will bring the women who are behind the pressers in the wine-vats.’ ZETHAR: R. Jacob b. Ahina translated this in the presence o f R. Isaac: It means, See the lewdness (zenuth re’eh) of that wicked man. AND CARCAS: It is written circasa. R. Samuel h. Nahman said: This is a Greek word, as we say, circasun. THE SEVEN CHAMBERLAINS THAT MINISTERED IN THE PRESENCE OF AHASUERUS THE KING: because the Government does not appoint less than seven chamberlains before the king.

 

Some say that Harbona is really the prophet Elijah in disguise.

 

The Seven princes of Persia and Media

 

Carshena

Shethar

Admatha

Tarshish

Meres

Marsena

Memuchan - Another name Haman.

 

Queen Vashti

 

Queen Vashti was chosen to be the first queen of Achashverosh. She is a Babylonian princess, the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar. She is the epitome of royalty and the epitome of the Goyim, the Gentiles.

 

Queen Vashti plans a most interesting role as a picture of the Bnei Israel, going against the wishes of HaShem. It is the picture of the Bnei Israel assimilated and becoming Gentiles. Since she is a Babylonian Gentile, she is the epitome of the Gentiles and of their estrangement from “The King”. In a sense, queen Vashti represents all peoples before the Bnei Israel were chosen.

 

Queen Vashti also plays the role of the anti-Mashiach (the anti-Mashiach in Christian thinking). A queen who fails to do the wishes of the King of kings, who fails to perform the mitzvot, is a queen that has to die. It is this role that a new queen, a new people, a new Mashiach be chosen. Consider the following passage:

 

Esther 1:10-12 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Achashverosh the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she [was] fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by [his] chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

 

Note “The King”, AKA HaShem, has called her into his presence. We know from Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, that Israel is described as a very beautiful maiden[5]. She refuses to come. For her sin of disobeying “The King”, she receives the death penalty. The Bnei Israel had been permitted to return to Israel and to rebuild the Temple for many years. Instead of ending their exile and returning to HaShem, they prefer to ignore HaShem and attend the party of Achashverosh instead. They have become assimilated. They have become Gentiles.

 

When Queen Vashti, AKA the Gentiles and a disobedient Bnei Israel, refuses to come, the nobles note that this will lead to the other woman also disobeying. These women would represent the other nations of the world who would see the example of the Bnei Israel and follow them. As Israel is compared to the wife of HaShem, so the other wives would be linked to their gods as wives. Since they did not heed HaShem, then they would not heed HaShem:

 

Esther 1:16-18 And Memuchan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that [are] in all the provinces of the king Achashverosh. For [this] deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Achashverosh commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. [Likewise] shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus [shall there arise] too much contempt and wrath.

 

Mordechai

 

Mordechai. To understand Mordechai we need to have some understanding of Binyamin’s role in the destruction of Amalek.

 

It is well known that the Mashiach ben David will soon rule and reign. What is not so well known is that we must have a king from the tribe of Binyamin, before the King Mashiach, from the tribe of Yehuda begins to rule. We see this pattern in the early days of the Jewish monarchy when Saul son of Kish was chosen by HaShem to precede King David[6]. The festival of Purim is a time to study and consider the destruction of the Amalekites.

 

Why are the Amalekites given to destruction by the sons of Binyamin? The Sages teach us that in the incident where Yaaqov encountered Esau as he returned from Lavan, Yaaqov and his whole family bowed down to Esau. However, Benjamin did NOT bow down because he was not yet born.

 

It is tradition that the children of Esav are only defeated by the children of Rachel”[7].

 

In the same manner, Mordechai, a descendent of Kish, the Benjamite never bowed down to Haman the descendant of Amalek and of Esau.

 

Esther 3:2 And all the king’s servants, that [were] in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did [him] reverence.

 

The primary task of the Benjamite king is to destroy Amalek. Saul did not succeed in this task.

 

1 Shmuel 15:7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

 

 

Megillat Esther tells us in detail, the destruction of Haman, and his ten sons who were Amalekites. We are told explicitly that Mordechai was a descendant of Binyamin and a descendant of Kish, just as King Saul was a descendant of Kish.

 

Esther 2:5 [Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name [was] Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

 

This insight will also help us with an enigmatic passage with its own allusion[8]:

 

Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether hold thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews? from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?

 

Why would Esther’s “silence” and non-intervention on behalf of the Jewish people cause her father’s house to perish?

 

King Shaul was instructed to destroy the entire people of Amalek. Out of compassion for their leader Agag, he spared his life. The next morning the prophet Shmuel killed Agag and admonished Shaul for not following instructions. The preceding night however, Agag married a maid who later gave birth to the ancestor of Haman.

 

Mordechai reminded Esther that she was a descendant of King Shaul and that her rise to glory was by Divine Providence. By bringing about the downfall of Haman she would remove the blemish on King Shaul, which was caused by his oversight. Should the salvation of the Jewish people come about through other means, her father’s house would perish due to King Saul’s un-forgiven iniquity.

 

(As an aside, Mordechai the Benjamite is also called a man of Yehuda. Perhaps this is a suggestion that these two are brought together in a single man. This may also help us to see Mordechai in the role of Mashiach ben David. In this role, we see him leading the battles of HaShem, building up the “lively stones” of the living Temple, and acting as the Rosh Bet Din, the Chief Judge.)

 

The kingship of Mordechai is alluded to when he gets a haircut, wears the king’s clothes, and is paraded through the streets on the king’s horse. His kingship is finalized in:

 

Esther 8:15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.

 

The Midrash also takes up this theme:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther X:12 AND MORDECAI WENT FORTH FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE KING IN ROYAL APPAREL, etc. (VIII, 15). R. Phinehas says: Mordecai was king of the Jews. A king wears purple, and Mordecai wore purple; a king has a crown encircling his head, and Mordecai was arrayed WITH A GREAT CROWN OF GOLD; the fear of the king is over all the land, and so the fear of Mordecai was upon them, as it says, Because the fear of Mordecai was fallen upon them (Est. IX, 3); a king’s coinage is current throughout the land, and Mordecai’s coinage was current. What was the coinage of Mordecai? It had Mordecai on one side and Esther on the other. Why all this? Because he was a good man and a man of peace and he sought peace, as it says, For Mordecai the Jew was... seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his seed (ibid. X 3). Of him Scripture says, Mark the man of integrity and behold the upright; for there is a future for the man of peace (Ps. XXXVII, 37).

 

As King Saul tried to avoid being King by hiding in the baggage, so Mordechai neither asked for, nor wanted, to be treated as a King.

 

Mordechai’s refusal to bow was an allusion and a tikkun:

 

Esther 3:2 And all the king’s servants, that [were] in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did [him] reverence.

 

The Midrash relates that when Mordechai would not kneel, Haman said to Mordechai: “Are you better than your ancestors, who bowed to my ancestor Esau?” (Bereshit 33:3) To which Mordechai replied, “My ancestor, Benjamin, was not yet born at the time, and did not bow.”

 

According to Rabbi Isaac Luria, Mordechai was a reincarnation of Jacob, and Haman of Esau. Mordechai’s refusal to bow rectified Jacob’s bowing to Esau.

 

* * *

 

There is another opinion that suggests that Mordechai represents Torah and is comparable to Moshe Rabeinu. The name “Mordechai” comes from “Marduk”, the god of creation in many mythologies throughout the Near East. The meaning of his name also demonstrates a connection to Mashiach, The Living Torah, who created everything.

 

Others suggest that Mordechai represents the Jewish people. This may be understood. I think, only in connection with the understanding that Mordechai and Esther were married and therefore soul mates, two sides of the same coin.

 

Queen Esther

 

The pattern in Megillat Esther also suggests that Queen Esther is a picture of the Children of Israel and of Mashiach ben Yosef. More particularly, Esther also plays the role of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest on Yom HaKippurim! We have dealt extensively with the connection between the Children of Israel and Mashiach ben Yosef. This connection between the Bnei Israel and Mashiach also explains the feminine gender connection. The body formed by the Bnei Israel is headed by Mashiach and is always referred to in the feminine gender. Consider the following pasuk as one small indicator of Israel’s gender:

 

Yehezekel (Ezekiel) 16:2-9 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, And say, Thus saith the Lord HaShem unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity [is] of the land of Canaan; thy father [was] an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And [as for] thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple [thee]; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee [when thou wast] in thy blood, Live. I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: [thy] breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou [wast] naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I swore unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord HaShem, and thou became mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.

 

We see that the trouble of the Jewish people stem from a very real sin:

 

Esther 3:8 And Haman said unto king Achashverosh, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws [are] diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it [is] not for the king’s profit to suffer them.

 

Haman describes the Jewish people, as people who do not keep “The Kings” laws. That is, they were not keeping the laws of HaShem. We know that if the Bnei Israel do not keep HaShem’s mitzvot, then there is no reason to “suffer them”, as we saw at Mt. Sinai with the golden calf.

 

When Esther went into Achashverosh, at the behest of Mordechai, she was transgressing an explicit command of the Torah. It is forbidden for a Jewish woman to voluntarily submit to fornication with a Gentile. Further, since Chazal teach that Esther was married to Mordechai, she would be transgressing the command, which forbids adultery. These transgressions are so severe, according to Chazal, that we should allow ourselves to be killed rather than transgress them:

 

Sanhedrin 74a R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nithza in Lydda that in every [other] law of the Torah, if a man is commanded: ‘Transgress and suffer not death’ he may transgress and not suffer death, excepting idolatry, incest, [which includes adultery] and murder.

 

Esther is not saved by a miracle or a plague. Esther is left alone. She realizes what she must do for her people, and her response is telling: She instructs Mordechai to gather the nation to pray and fast for her. Her identity will thereby become known in the Jewish community, but by this point this is no longer an issue: If she is to become a willing participant in sin with the whole Jewish community (when they attended Achashverosh’s feast), it no longer matters if the people know who she is. Forfeiting her “passive victim” status wipes out her hope for a share in the Olam HaBa (the World to Come) regardless of the public or private nature of her transgressions. In fact, her plan cannot succeed if it is carried out secretly: for the plan to be successful, the entire Jewish community must join together. Esther and the entire Jewish community are one with regard to this problem of sin.

 

Esther = The Children of Israel.

 

There is an interesting approach to this problem in the Ohr Gedalyahu by Rav Gedaliah Shor. Rav Shor describes the mystical nature of the phenomenon that purposeful sins can be turned into merits through repentance done with love (as opposed to fear). He explains how the ‘evil cause’ transforms into a ‘positive cause’. This is perhaps the nature of the reversal of fortunes, which so permeates our Purim story. The most striking ‘reversal’ is when Haman rushes to the palace for permission to execute Mordechai, but is tricked into deciding a proper reward for him.

 

Rav Shor seems to be suggesting that Esther is the quintessential Baal Teshuva, repentant sinner[9]. In essence, Esther committed a sin for the sake of Heaven. In committing this transgression, for the sake of Heaven, she followed in the footsteps of Tamar and Lots daughters. The Talmud provides this insight:

 

Nazir 23b ‘Ulla said: Both Tamar and Zimri committed adultery. Tamar committed adultery and gave birth to kings and prophets. Zimri committed adultery and on his account many tens of thousands of Israel perished. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: A transgression performed with good intention is better than a precept performed with evil intention.

 

When viewed from this perspective, Esther is a most excellent picture of Mashiach ben Yosef. Mashiach ben Yosef, called Yeshua, took on the sins of the world:

 

I Yochanan (John) 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

 

II Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

Taking on the sins of the world would have made Yeshua the worst of sinners. His ability to be accepted by HaShem, after taking on this sin, would be one of the most spectacular reversals the world has ever seen. Yeshua succeeded in converting all of those sins into mitzvot! Yeshua did all for the sake of Heaven!

 

Now, let’s look at the most awesome role that Esther played, that of Kohen Gadol, The High Priest, on Yom HaKippurim!

 

The following section comes from a shiur given by Rabbi Ari Kahn.

 

Esther’s real name, Haddasa, is related to a pleasant smell, a redemptive smell not unlike the ketoret. In explaining the use of the Four Species in the rituals of Succoth, The Midrash[10] tells us that each has different characteristics, representing the totality of the Jewish People. The Haddas has a beautiful smell but lacks taste, representing Jews who perform good deeds but lack Torah knowledge. In other words, the defeat of Haman was brought about through Mordechai and Esther, who together symbolize the sense of smell, the oasis of purity in a tainted world. Mordechai and Esther represent the exalted avodah of the ketoret performed by the Kohen Gadol in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.

 

When Mordechai exhorts Esther to take action, Esther must enter the king’s inner chamber. Her plan is fraught with danger: If she does not find favor in his eyes, she runs the risk of immediate execution. She prepares herself spiritually through fasting and prayer, but her plan of action is not exactly innocent. She is well aware that the best way of finding favor with the libidinous Achashverosh is through seduction. Now, the sweet young Jewish girl Haddasa, dressed as Queen Esther, would have yet another role to play: Up to this point, she was quite ambiguous in her role. She was taken to the palace, but took no active part in the competition for the throne. She did not make any effort to ingratiate herself to Achashverosh, asking for nothing to make her herself more alluring. Now, Esther was now forced to play a new role, of courtesan.

 

The Talmud discusses the ramifications of this change of role upon her personal status: Up to this point she was halachically considered a victim of rape. She was a passive, even unwilling participant in the events which had swept her into Achashverosh’s harem. Strangely, her passivity was interpreted by Achashverosh as aristocratic: Her standoffish attitude reminded Achashverosh of his former wife, the regal Vashti, and it was this aloof and in submissive demeanor that helped her “win” the contest for Vashti’s vacant throne. The moment that Esther takes action, entering the king’s chamber willingly, enticing, and inviting, intent on winning the king’s favor by any means, her personal status is forever changed. She clearly knew what she would have to do to find favor with Achashverosh, and she laments her fate for she knows she is lost:

 

Esther 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my girls will fast likewise; and so will I go to the king, though it is against the law; for as I am lost, I am lost.

 

Megila 15a R. Abba said: It will not be “according to the custom of every other day”. Until now [I have associated with Achashverosh] under compulsion, but now I will do so of my own will. “For if I am lost, I am lost.” As I am lost to my father’s house so I shall be lost to thee.

 

Esther will initiate a tryst that will change her forever. Her behavior poses extremely difficult moral and legal dilemmas,[11] but this is what she feels she must do; this, she understands, is what Mordechai has commanded her to do. And so she prepares by rallying the support of the nation, by fasting and praying; then, she puts on her costume and enters the inner chamber of The King.

 

Esther 5:1 And it came to pass on the third day, Esther put[12] on royal dress, and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s palace; and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal palace, opposite the gate of the house.

 

It is specifically on these words that the Zohar makes the comparison between Yom Kippurim and Purim: Lest you think that Esther is entering the inner chamber to conduct herself in a sordid manner, the Zohar says that Esther’s putting on the royal garb is just like the Kohen Gadol dressing in the priestly garments. She enters the inner chamber like the Kohen Gadol. In the story of Purim, when everything is “upside down”, a beautiful Jewish girl in far-away Persia enters into the inner chamber to save her people and she becomes the Kohen Gadol: This is Yom Kippurim, when (the Kohen Gadol) is clothed in beautiful clothing, clothing of atonement: The four white garments from the right side, the four garments of gold from the left side. At that time she (Esther) beautified herself with clothing of forgiveness. That is what is meant by the verse, “And Esther put on royal clothing”. And with these garments she entered into the inner sanctum. That is the meaning of the verse “She stood in the inner chamber of the King”. “She found favor in His eyes”, this is the mystery...immediately God heard, God forgave... Purim is named for Yom Kippurim... [13]

 

Esther enters the inner sanctum, not motivated by lust, not for money or power. She enters motivated solely by love for her people and her desire to save them; she enters as the Kohen Gadol. Esther is Haddasa, a pleasant smell, a redemptive smell like the ketoret.[14] Esther’s deeds were indeed beautiful, performed with purity[15] and total self-sacrifice: she knew that willingly entering the chamber of Achashverosh and seducing him would bear a heavy cost, in this world (for she would be unable to return to Mordechai[16]) and in the next (for she would be guilty of one of the three sins for which one should give up their life[17]). As in the case of Aharon, the First Kohen Gadol, Esther was prepared to sacrifice her soul for the Jewish People.[18] Just as Aharon’s sin in the episode of the Golden Calf was performed to save the Jewish people from destruction, so Esther transgressed in the chambers of Achashverosh in order to save the Jewish People from annihilation. And in both cases, HaShem accepted their sacrifice, understood their total devotion, spared the Jewish people because of their personal sacrifice, and elevated them both a new status: Aharon became Kohen Gadol, and Esther joined the pantheon of Jewish heroism; according to the Zohar, for at least one day Esther functioned as Kohen Gadol, just like Aharon.

 

Esther’s behavior once she gained access to the inner sanctum was very carefully planned: First, she befriended Haman. She bribed him with her friendship. And when his guard was down, she gave him and Achashverosh wine, made from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.[19] Just as on Yom Kippurim a gift is given to Azazel, just as Yaaqov gave a gift to Esav, Esther bestowed gifts of her own: Her physical beauty and the mesmerizing scent of pure incense captured her unsuspecting enemies and brought salvation to the Jewish People. Later, when the Jewish People studied the events that led to their rescue, they understood the transformation of sin into salvation:[20] Rav Tzadok of Lublin points out that the lesson could not have been missed by the Jews of Shushan who had participated in the sinful feast of Haman and Achashverosh: The very same vehicles with which they had sinned, used for pure motives by Esther/Haddasa, brought about their own salvation. Sin can be turned on its head; evil can be co-opted, turned into good. chelbona can be turned into ketoret. Both Aharon and Esther possessed the ability to make this change.

 

Purim[21] and Yom Kippurim are the two sides of this coin. In truth, Purim and Yom Kippurim are one!

 

End Rabbi Ari Kahn’s comments.

 

Mashiach ben Yosef = The Children of Israel

 

(As an aside: The Talmud teaches that Teshuva motivated by love of HaShem is so profound that it can transform a sin into a mitzva. Perhaps a “sin performed for the sake of Heaven” is another expression of the same idea. We, too, have the ability to convert sins into mitzvot. Teshuva, repentance, is the mechanism that we use to accomplish this feat. After all, if a sin causes us to repent, that sin was a most marvelous thing. Because of that sin, we obtain forgiveness and oneness with HaShem.)

 

(Obviously this concept of justified sin is dangerous territory. All sorts of people justify their sins without going so far as to convince themselves that in actuality they are performing a mitzvah. According to Chazal, the conditions needed to qualify as “a sin performed for the sake of Heaven” are twofold:

 

1. The intention must be to save the entire Jewish people.

 

2. No personal gain or enjoyment should be involved. Esther’s actions fulfilled both conditions. Other commentaries add a third condition: a Rabbi, Beit Din, or Prophet must have given the order to perform that particular sin, as in the case of Esther and Mordechai.)

 

The event which leads to the selection of Esther as queen, is a party thrown by Achashverosh, which was attended by Jews. In attending the earthly king’s party, the Jews were throwing off the yoke of Torah and demonstrating their great need for the Mashiach who would lead them back to the ways of Torah.

 

Tehillim 22 opens with the famous phrase:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?

 

The Gemara puts this pasuk in Queen Esther’s mouth:

 

Megillah 15b And stood in the inner court of the king’s house. R. Levi said: When she reached the chamber of the idols, the Divine Presence left her. She said, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me. Dost thou perchance punish the inadvertent offence like the presumptuous one, or one done under compulsion like one done willingly? Or is it because I called him ‘dog’, as it says. Deliver my soul from the sword, mine only one from the power of the dog? She straightway retracted and called him lion, as it says. Save me from the lion’s mouth.

 

The Nazarean Codicil puts this pasuk in Mashiach ben Yosef’s mouth:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 27:46 And about the ninth hour Yeshua cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 

Esther is thus seen in allegory as Mashiach ben Yosef.

 

Esther was the daughter of AviChayil. AviChayil is a Hebrew word that has a meaning of: “My Father is strong”. This is most appropriate as a remez, or a hint, to HaShem, the Mashiach ben Yosef’s Heavenly Father:

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.

 

Another pasuk from Megillat Esther that has strong Messianic overtones is:

 

Esther 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther donned royalty, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

 

As His Majesty King Yeshua rose on the third day, so Queen Esther rise on the third day. As His Majesty presented Himself to HaShem The King in the Holy of Holies in the heavens, so queen Esther presented herself to the king in the inner court. As HaShem sits on His throne, so the king sat on his.

 

Hegai

 

Hegai, the keeper of the women, was a picture of Eliyahu HaNavi, Elijah the Prophet. It was his job to prepare the way for Esther in her role as Mashiach ben Yosef.

 

Hatach

 

Hatach is also called Daniel:

 

Megillah 15a And Esther called Hatach. Rab said: Hatach is the same as Daniel. Why was he called Hatach? Because he was degraded [hataku-hu] from his position. Samuel said, Because all affairs of state were decided [nehtakim] by his voice.

 

Baba Bathra 4a From whence do we learn that Daniel was punished? Shall I say from the verse, And Esther called to Hatach, who, as Rab has told us, was the same as Daniel? This is a sufficient answer if we accept the view of those who say that he was called Hatach because he was cut down [hatach] from his greatness. But on the view of those who say that he was called Hatach because all matters of state were decided [hatach] according to his counsel, what answer can we give? — That he was thrown Into the den of lions.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VIII:4 THEN CALLED ESTHER FOR HATHACH (ibid5). Our teachers there say that Hathach is the same as Daniel, and because he was cut down (katkuhu) from his greatness they called him Hathach. Our teachers here say that he was so called because he made decisions (hatach) on affairs of state. TO KNOW WHAT THIS WAS, AND WHY IT WAS. She told him: ‘Go and say to Mordecai that never in their history have Israel been in such a crisis as this. Have Israel perhaps denied [Him of whom they said], This is my God, and I will glorify Him (Ex. XV, 2), or have they perhaps denied the tablets of which it is written, On the one side and on the other [lit. “on this and on this “] were they written (ibid. XII, 15)? ‘

 

Wise Men

 

The Wise Men are our Hakhamim, our Rabbis:

 

Ether 1:13-14 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so [was] the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment: And the next unto him [was] Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, [and] Memuchan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, [and] which sat the first in the kingdom;)

 

The Gemara confirms this allegory:

 

Megillah 12b And the king said to the wise men. Who are the wise men? — The Rabbis. Who knew the times: that is, who knew how to intercalate years and fix new moons. He said to them: Try her for me. They said [to themselves]: What shall we do? If we tell him to put her to death, to-morrow he will become sober again and he will require her from us. Shall we tell him to let her go? She will lose all her respect for royalty. So they said to him: From the day when the Temple was destroyed and we were exiled from our land, counsel has been taken from us and we do not know how to judge capital cases. Go to Ammon and Moab who have remained in their places like wine that has settled on its lees. They spoke to him thus with good reason, since it is written, Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed. Straightway [he did so, as we read], and the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish [etc.]. R. Levi said: Every name in this verse contains a reference to the sacrifices. Thus, Carshena: the ministering angels said to the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, did they ever offer before thee lambs of the first year [karim bene shanah] as Israel offered before Thee? Shethar: did they ever offer before Thee two pigeons [shte torim]? Admatha: did they ever build before Thee an altar of earth [adamah]? Tarshish: did they ever minister before Thee in the priestly garments, of which it is written [that they contained] a beryl [tarshish], an onyx, and a jasper? Meres: did they ever stir [mersu] the blood [of the sacrifice] before Thee? Marsena: did they ever stir [mersu] the meal-offerings before Thee? Memuchan: did they ever prepare [hekinu] a table before Thee?

 

Bigthan and Teresh:

 

Megillah 13b In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh were wroth. R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, [once] caused a master to be wroth with his servants in order to fulfill the desire of a righteous man, namely Joseph, as it says, And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, etc.; and servants with their master in order to perform a miracle for a righteous man, namely, Mordecai, as it is written, ‘And the thing was known to Mordecai etc. ‘ R. Johanan said: Bigthan 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. Said the other to him, But are not my post and your post different? He replied: I will keep guard at my post and at yours. So it is written, And when inquisition was made, he was found, that is to say, they were not [both] found at their posts.

 

Haman’s Sons

 

The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews:

 

Parshandatha,

Dalphon,

Aspatha,

Poratha,

Adalia,

Aridatha,

Parmashta,

Arisai,

Aridai,

Vajezatha.

 

Megillah 16b And Parshandatha . . . the ten sons of Haman. R. Adda from Joppa said: The ten sons of Haman and the word ‘ten’ [which follows] should be said in one breath. What is the reason? Because their souls all departed together. R. Johanan said: The waw of waizatha must be lengthened like a boat-pole of the river Libruth. What is the reason? Because they were all strung on one pole. R. Shila, a man of Kefar Temarta, drew a lesson from this saying, All the songs [in Scripture] are written in the form of a half brick over a whole brick, and a whole brick over a half brick, with the exception of this one and the list of the kings of Canaan which are written in the form of a half brick over a half brick and a whole brick over a whole brick. What is the reason? So that they should never rise again from their downfall.

 

Memuchan

 

Megillah 12b And Memuchan said. A Tanna taught: Memuchan is the same as Haman, And why was he called Memuchan? Because he was destined [mukan] for punishment. R. Kahana said: From here we see that an ordinary man always pushes himself in front.

 

Haman

 

Haman, alias Memuchan, is seen in the role as an accuser. He pictures HaSatan[22], AKA the “Yetzer Hara”, the evil inclination. When properly controlled he is used to proclaim the truth of Mordechai’s greatness. When out of control, Haman was the greatest master of Lashon hara, derogatory but true speech, which the world has ever seen.

 

When the Jewish people need to be brought to their senses, Haman is jolly on the spot to take on that role. We see this in his lineage as an “Agagite”. Agag[23] was the king of the Amalekites in the days of King Saul. The misplaced mercy of King Saul brought forth Haman. His desire to be king coupled with his lack of royal blood suggests that he is also a usurper.

 

Haman was killed on a stake (gallows) made from the wood of the thorn bush. This suggests another interesting allegory. Haman died as a substitute for Mordechai (The Benjamite king), as the gallows was built for Mordechai. He dies so that many Jews would not have to die:

 

Yochanan (John) 11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

 

Haman dies as the last Amalekite. As such, his death results in the elimination of sin.

 

Esther’s son, Darius the Persian, was fathered by “The King”. He is of royal blood and the flesh and blood of Esther the one who pictures Mashiach ben Yosef. Darius the Persian is a picture of Mashiach ben David.

 

Darius the Persian performed the major tasks that the Mashiach ben David is to perform:

 

1. He ended the Jewish exile in Babylon and did everything in his power to re-gather the Jews in Eretz Israel.

 

2. He was directly responsible for the rebuilding of the Temple.

 

3. He arranged and paid for Torah teachers to begin the task of Torah teaching in post-exilic Israel.

 

This pattern suggests that the Mashiach ben David will be delayed until we have a Benjamite king to destroy all of the Amalekites.

 

“The deeds of the fathers are a sign for the children”

 

The children of Rachel (Yosef and Binyamin), who was outwardly beautiful, represent our contact with the outside, i.e. the non-Jewish world. Yosef was indeed a king, but a king over Egypt, a Gentile nation. Yehoshua, another descendant of Yosef (who the Rambam alludes to as a king), had the task of eradicating the seven nations from the land of Israel. Saul, a descendant of Benjamin, had the job of smiting Amalek. Mordechai and Esther, other descendant of Binyamin, had power, in the obviously gentile court of Achashverosh. All had to do with “exterior matters”.[24]

 

On the other hand, the children of Leah who was not attractive on the outside, managed to rule inside, over Jews. They ruled, and will always rule over, and inside, our nation. The first ones to establish the Beit HaMikdash, a clearly inner matter in our nation’s life, were David (in idea) and Solomon (in actions). Both were descendants of Yehuda, a son of Leah. And the ones who served in that Beit HaMikdash were the Kohanim of the tribe of Levy, son of Leah. These “external” kings ruled during times of Galut. Once the Geulah comes, and we don’t have to deal with “outside matters” anymore, the only king will be the Mashiach ben David.

 

This inner and outer aspect can be clearly seen in those who were the redeemers of Israel. The redemption from Egypt was through Aharon and Moshe. The saving of the Jewish people from annihilation in the days of Achashverosh was through Esther and Mordechai and the ultimate redemption, after which there will no longer be any exile, will come through Eliyahu and Mashiach.

 

Purim and Chanukah

 

Purim corresponds to Rachel and

Chanukah corresponds to Leah[25].

 

The entire episode of Purim is filled with hidden and clandestine manifestations of Divine Providence, reflecting the hidden and modest nature of Rachel. This is what the pasuk in Megillat Esther alludes to, with the words, “And the king loved Esther more than all the other women”, “The Almighty (King) loves the way of being served with “hester” (Esther), modesty and privacy”.

 

Chanukah’s focus is on publicizing the miracle that occurred, as we are instructed by Chazal to kindle the Menorah outside, reflecting the outward approach of Leah. Chanukah is also a holiday of “thanksgiving”, indicative of another of Leah’s qualities, her initiative in naming her fourth son, Yehuda (hodaah, i.e. thanks), as an expression of her gratitude to HaShem for this additional son. The two approaches of Leah / Yehuda and Rachel / Yosef are so fundamentally entrenched in the Jewish dynamic, that the Messianic age can only be brought about with the advent of both “Mashiach ben David”, a scion of Yehuda / Leah and “Mashiach ben Yosef”, a scion of Rachel / Yosef.

 

Places

 

Elam was the firstborn of Shem ben Noach. Shushan, the capital city of Elam, was the seat of government of Achashverosh.

 

The palace contains many allusions to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) / Beit HaMikdash (Temple). Keep in mind that the author of the Megillah of Esther expects every reader to be familiar with Tanakh and will pick up any word-associations made here. Among the materials described here are several which are prominent in the Mishkan: Tekhelet (royal blue), Argaman (purple), Kessef (silver) and Shesh (marble). Indeed, the Midrash posits that the vessels that, Achashverosh used at this party, were the vessels of the Mikdash, this interpretation was probably motivated by the many Mikdash-associations in the description of the party. The inner and the outer sanctums of King Achashverosh have their counterpart in the Holy place and the Holy of Holies.

 

Timing

 

Esther 6:1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

 

Galut (the state of exile and spiritual displacement in which we find ourselves following the destruction of the Holy Temple) is referred to as “night”, a time of spiritual darkness. It is also a time when the world is in a state of “asleep“.

 

Thus, galut can be described as a time when HaShem is “asleep.” “As the soul fills the body,” say our sages, “so HaShem fills the world,” and galut is a time when the flow of divine energy into our world seems diminished and distorted. HaShem seems remote and disaffected; the righteous suffer while the wicked prosper. The deeper purpose of galut cannot be discerned through the veil of the divine slumber.

 

This is the state of affairs that prevails in the first five chapters of the Megillah. But on “that night” the sleep of the King of the universe was disturbed. The soul of the soul began to waken, and then HaShem’s providence over his nation began to manifest itself.

 

(The Chassidic Masters)

 

“On that night, the king’s sleep was disturbed” (Esther 6:1). The Midrash comments that this refers to HaShem’s sleep:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther X:1 ON THAT NIGHT COULD NOT THE KING SLEEP [lit. THE SLEEP OF THE KING WAS SHAKEN] (VI, X): the heavens, the throne of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, were shaken when He saw Israel in such distress.’ Is God then subject to sleep? Is it not said, Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep (Ps. CXXI, 4)? It can happen, however, when Israel are in distress and the other nations are at ease; therefore it says, Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord? (ibid. XLIV, 24). King Achashverosh’s sleep was also disturbed, because he saw in a dream Haman seizing a sword to kill him, and he awoke in terror from his sleep and told his scribes to bring the book of the chronicles to see what events had occurred, and they opened the book and found how Mordecai had informed against Bigthan and Teresh. So when they said to the king, BEHOLD, HAMAN STANDETH IN THE COURT (VI, 5), the king said: ‘What I saw in my dream is true; this fellow has only come at this time of day to kill me.’

 

Realizing the danger that faced them, the Jews did Teshuva and they turned to HaShem in fervent prayer and fasting. They aroused themselves from their slumber, and in return HaShem aroused Himself from His slumber, so to speak:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 78:65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, [and] like a mighty man that shouts by reason of wine.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VII:12 AND HAMAN SAID UNTO KING AHASUERUS: THERE IS (YESHNO) A CERTAIN [lit. ONE’] PEOPLE (III, 8). He of whom it is said, The Lord is one (Deut. VI, 4) is asleep (yashen) to His people. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘There is no sleep for Me, as it says, Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep (Ps. CXXI, 4), and you say that sleep does affect Me! As you live, I will awake from [the semblance of] sleep against you and destroy you from the world’; and so it is written, Then the Lord awaked as one asleep... and He smote His adversaries

 

When the Bnei Israel repented with a complete Teshuva and they took upon themselves to fulfill the Torah as if they were accepting it for the first time, Then HaShem renewed His love as at first.

 

Purim is the last of the miracles to occur during the night of Galut.

 

* * *

 

The king’s party (Vashti’s farewell bash) took place in the third year of his reign. Three years after king Achashverosh put an end to rebuilding the Temple.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther I:15 IN THE THIRD YEAR OF HIS REIGN, HE MADE A FEAST (I, 3). R. Judah and R. Nehemiah gave different explanations. R. Judah said: It means, in the third year of the making of the throne. When he finished making the throne, HE MADE A FEAST UNTO ALL HIS PRINCES AND HIS SERVANTS. R. Nehemiah said: In the third year after he stopped the building of the Temple. When three years had passed after he stopped the building of the Temple, HE MADE A FEAST UNTO ALL HIS

 

Esther was finally chosen in the seventh year of Achashverosh’s reign. In other words, the selection of a queen took four years. Seven years after Queen Esther is elevated to the position as queen, Haman promulgates his terrible decree.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther I:15 PRINCES AND HIS SERVANTS. R. Samuel b. Imi said: There were four good points in Achashverosh. He allowed three years to elapse before he assumed the crown or ascended the throne, he waited four years before he found a suitable wife, and he did nothing without taking counsel. R. Phinehas said: Moreover, if anyone did him a good turn, he recorded it in writing; and so it says, And it was found written that Mordecai had told, etc. (Est. VI, 2).

 

Haman had the letters (allowing the anti-Semites to kill the Jews) sent out on Nissan 13 in the twelfth year of the king’s reign. In other words, Esther has been queen for a bit more than four years by this time, and her identity was still a total secret.

 

Two years after the Purim victory, Darius the Persian, son of Queen Esther and Achashverosh, gives the decree that allows the Bnei Israel to return to Eretz Israel and begin the difficult task of rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash.

 

This suggests that the battle depicted in Megillat Esther is a picture of the battle of Gog and Magog, the battle of Har Magido (Armageddon). This battle takes place after seven millenniums have passed. This also suggests that there is time after the end of the seventh millennium.

 

70 DAYS / 70 YEARS[26]

 

Another seemingly unimportant detail, in the Megillah, concerning WHEN the two decrees were sent might also allude to this prophetic backdrop.

 

Recall that the original decree calling for the destruction of the Jews was sent out on the 13th day of Nisan (3:12). Several days later Haman was hanged and Esther pleaded from the king to repeal this decree (8:3‑6). Achashverosh agreed, HOWEVER, the actual letters were not sent out until the 23rd of Sivan, some TWO MONTHS later (8:9)! What took so long?

 

By carefully comparing these two dates, we again find an amazing reminder of Yirmeyahu’s prophecy of the SEVENTY years. Between the 13th of Nisan until the 23rd of Sivan, 70 DAYS elapsed (17+30+23). During these seventy days, all of the Jews throughout the Persian empire were under the tremendous peril of impending destruction, thinking that their doom was inevitable. Could this be an ironic reminder to the Jewish people that they had not heeded Yirmeyahu’s prophecy of what he expected from Bnei Yisrael once the seventy years had expired (see 29:10-14!)?

 

A similar concept of suffering for a sin, a day for a year (and vice versa), is found twice in Tanakh in related circumstances. After the sin of the “spies”, the forty days are replaced by the punishment of forty years of wandering. Here, too, the nation opted not to fulfill their divine destiny, preferring a return to Egypt to the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Yechezkel, too, is required to suffer ‘a day for each year.’ [For 390 days followed by an additional forty days, he must lie on his side and repent for the sins of Israel and Yehuda that led to the destruction of Yerushalayim. (Yechezkel 4:1‑14!)]

 

A similar claim is made by the Midrash which suggests that Achashverosh threw his 180 day party in celebration of the fact that Yirmeyahu’s seventy years were over and the Bet HaMikdash was NOT rebuilt. In pshat, this explanation is unreasonable. Why should the most powerful king of civilization worry about the prophecies of Yirmeyahu, while the Jews themselves do not listen to him? However, on the level of Drash, this explanation is enlightening. Chazal, in the spirit of the Megillah, put into Achashverosh’s mind what should have been in the mind of Am Yisrael, i.e. the fulfillment of Yirmeyahu’s prophecy of seventy years and the desire to return.

 

The events of the Megillah also appear to have catalyzed a major aliyah movement. According to Chazal, Ezra’s aliyah from Bavel took place only a few years afterward, during the seventh year of his reign of Darius (whom Chazal identify with Artachshastah see Ezra 7:1-9).

         

Thus, according to Seder Olam’s opinion, the events of the Megillah INDEED had a major effect on the rebuilding of the Temple and “shivat tzion” - the return to Zion.

 

* * *

 

(Note that the phrase to be called out while leading this honoree: Kakhah ye’Aseh la’Ish Asher... shows up in one other place in Tanakh. This is the beginning of the formula of Halitza - the refusal of Levirate marriage, which accompanies the woman’s disdainful spit. [Devarim 25:9] Draw your own conclusions about the satiric effect accomplished by the Baal HaMegillah).

 

Cast of Characters

(In order of their appearance)

 

CHARACTER

ROLE

Achashverosh as “The King”

HaShem

Achashverosh as “King Achashverosh”

False or anti-god.

The Seven Chamberlains

(Seven Angels of Confusion)

Mehuman

Confusion

Biztha

Destruction of the House

Harbona

Annihilation

Bigtha

Pressers of the Winepress

Abagtha

Pressers of the Winepress

Zethar

Observer of Immorality

Carcas

Knocker

The Seven princes of Persia and Media

Carshena

 

Shethar

 

Admatha

 

Tarshish

 

Meres

 

Marsena

 

Memuchan

Another name for Haman.

 

Queen Vashti

Anti-Mashiach, an arrogant and disobedient Israel.

Mordechai

The Benjamite King who precedes the Davidic King.

Queen Esther (Hadassah)

Mashiach ben Yosef, The Redeemer. (Venus, the morning-star)

Hegai – Keeper of the women.

Eliyahu the Prophet

Shaashgaz

The King’s chamberlain.

The keeper of the concubines.

 

Bigthan – The King’s chamberlain and door keeper

 

Teresh – The King’s chamberlain and door keeper

 

Haman

Amalekite, descendant of Esau, these people represent evil in the world. As the Accuser, HaSatan, he represents the evil inclination in all of us.

Hatach - The king’s chamberlain

The Prophet Daniel.

Zeresh

Haman’s wife.

The Ten Sons of Haman

Parshandatha

 

Dalphon

 

Aspatha

 

Poratha

 

Adalia

 

Aridatha

 

Parmashta

 

Arisai

 

Aridai

 

Vajezatha

 

 

 

Darius the Persian

Mashiach ben David

 

Connections

 

There are many close comparisons between Mashiach ben Yosef and Esther, as the following chart details:



 

ESTHER

MASHIACH

Forced to live a life of secrecy, unable to reveal who she really was.

Forced to live a life of secrecy (Mashiach ben Yosef), unable to reveal who He really was (Mashiach ben David).

Esther 2:15 And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.

Luqas (Luke) 2:52 And Yeshua increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LVI:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel (Esther 5:1)-i.e. she put on the royal apparel of her ancestor. For whose sake? The Rabbis say: For the sake of the third day, when Revelation took place.

Matityahu (Matthew) 16:21 From that time forth began Yeshua to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Esther petitioned for the redemption of the Jewish people on Passover, the anniversary of the redemption from Egypt.

Mashiach ben Yosef began His petition for redemption on Passover, the anniversary of the events in Esther’s day, and the anniversary of the days of redemption from Egypt.

Queen Esther enters Achashverosh’s palace gingerly to petition for the Jewish people.

Mashiach, The High Priest, gingerly and reverently enters into the Kodesh HaKadashim, the Holy of Holies, to atone for the Jewish people.

Achashverosh’s house had an outer court and an inner court, just like HaShem’s house:

 

Esther 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

HaShem’s house (The Temple) had an outer court (Holy Place) and an inner court (Holy of Holies):

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:2 And HaShem said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy [place] within the veil before the mercy seat, which [is] upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 10:19-21 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Yeshua, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And [having] an high priest over the house of God;

In the Talmud, Esther is compared to the Ayelet Hashachar, the first ray of light in the morning (Yoma 29a). The psalm of Ayelet Hashachar, Psalm 22, is dedicated to her:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 22:2-4 “My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me despite my cries? Oh my G-d I cry in the daytime but you do not respond, and in the night I have no rest. But you are Holy, enthroned by the praises of Israel”

 

The Midrash expands on this idea:

 

“My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me?” My Lord at the [splitting of] the sea, my Lord at Sinai, why have you forsaken me? Why has the order of the world changed concerning me? The order of the mothers? With regard to our mother Sarah, she was held captive by Pharaoh one night and he and his whole household were struck with a plague... but I have been placed in the bosom of this wicked man all these years, for me you do no miracles. “My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me?” (Midrash Tehillim Buber, 22:16)

 

Chazal, in Megillah 15b, tell us that when Queen Esther was to confront King Achashverosh, she cried, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” To this day, the designated Psalm of Purim (according to the Vilna Gaon) is the one in which this outcry appears; and, as our Sages explain, the Psalm refers to the darkest hour of the night.

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 27:46 And about the ninth hour Yeshua cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 

Marqos (Mark) 15:34 And at the ninth hour Yeshua cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 

 

Esther gathered together all the Jews:

 

… which is not according to the custom. R. Abba said: [She said], It will not be according to the custom of every other day. Till now [I have associated with Achashverosh] under compulsion, but now I will do so of my own will. And if I perish, I perish. As I am lost to my father’s house so I shall be lost to thee. (Megillah 15a)

 

Mashiach gathered all the Jews:

 

Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Mashiach, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:

Esther hesitates to fulfill Mordechai’s request to go in to Achashverosh as the existence of the entire Jewish people hangs in the balance. She must go in to Achashverosh.

Mashiach hesitates as the existence of the entire Jewish people hangs in the balance. He must go to the cross.

 

Marqos (Mark) 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Imagine the heroism of Esther: she would prepare for the systematic rape perpetrated on her body by going to mikveh. Her body was taken but her soul was intact and pure. Now she makes the decision that she must blemish that soul for the sake of HaShem and her people.

Imagine the heroism of Mashiach: He would prepare for the systematic destruction of his body by going to the garden. His body was destroyed but his soul was intact and pure. Now He makes the decision that He must blemish that soul for the sake of HaShem and his people.

Esther entered the inner chamber of The King with her finest clothing.

Mashiach ben Yosef is shown in the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber, with very fine clothing as well:

 

Revelation 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

Esther, in exile, has her wine feast for two days.

Mashiach has His four cup wine feast according to the Sadducees and dies on the Passover of the Pharisees. Thus He too has kept the feast for two days.

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 26:27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

Chazal tell us that third day of Esther’s fast was the 15th of Nisan, the night of the Passover Seder (Rashi 5:1). Because of the desperate situation, the seder could be forfeited. Still, Esther kept as much as she could and served matza at the banquets. Additionally, the banquets are called a wine feast (5:6, 7:2, 7:7), alluding to the four cups of wine that were drunk at the seder.

Luqas (Luke) 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

 

His Majesty celebrated the Sadducean Passover but He forfeited the Pharisaic Passover seder because He died just before the seder began.

Just as Esther had spent the whole evening telling the national story (the Haggadah), Achashverosh reviews the story of his kingdom as well. When Achashverosh reviews his “royal book” and, for the first time, becomes aware that Mordechai had saved the King’s life (6:2), he determines to reward Mordechai.

Mashiach also told the story of the Haggadah whilst adding His own pathos.

While pleading with Esther, Haman accidentally falls on “the couch upon which Esther was” (7:8). This is an allusion to the custom to lean during the seder rather than sit.

Mashiach reclined at His last Passover:

 

Luqas (Luke) 22:14-15 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

Of Vashti it is said:

 

Midrash Rabbah - Esther IV:11 AND THE WORD PLEASED THE KING AND THE PRINCES (I, 21). He gave the order and they brought in her head on a platter.

Of Yochanan the Baptist it is said:

 

Marqos (Mark) 6:25-28 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; [yet] for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes, which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VI:12. ESTHER HAD NOT YET MADE KNOWN HER KINDRED (II. 20). This teaches that she put a ban of silence on herself like her ancestress Rachel who also put a ban of silence on herself. All the greatest of her descendants forced themselves to be silent. Rachel put a ban of silence on herself when she saw her wedding presents in the hand of her sister and said nothing. Benjamin her son also forced himself to keep silence. The proof is that his stone in the high priest’s breastplate was jasper, indicating that he knew of the sale of Joseph but said nothing. Yoshpe (jasper)--as if to say, yesh peh (there is a mouth), and yet he was silent. Saul her descendant--Concerning the matter of the kingdom... he told him not (I Sam. X, 16). ESTHER HAD NOT YET MADE KNOWN HER KINDRED NOR HER PEOPLE.

Matityahu (Matthew) 26:63 But Yeshua held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Mashiach, the Son of God.

 

 

Haman (an Amalekite descendant of Esau) cast lots for the covenant people (the body is called a “garment” for the soul):

 

Esther 3:7 In the first month, that [is], the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Achashverosh, they cast Pur, that [is], the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, [to] the twelfth [month], that [is], the month Adar.

The Romans (Esau’s descendants) cast lots for the covenant garment (talit):

 

Yochanan (John) 19:24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

Rav Tzaddok of Lublin stresses that a person must be willing to “love G-d with all their heart and all their soul”, even if it means giving up one’s soul. This is true love of G-d. How ironic! Had Esther given her life rather than spend even one night in the palace, she would have been a martyr deserving an exalted share in the World to Come; now, having given up her body, she faces the possibility of her soul being wiped out.

Mashiach was with The Father in an exalted position. However, He “loved HaShem with all His heart and all His soul”. Therefore He left his idyllic life and went to a place of torment to bear the sins of the world.

After consensual contact with Achashverosh, Esther will no longer have any possibility to remain Mordechai’s wife. The Chassidic writer Rav Tzaddok of Lublin (Takanat Hashavin page 17) sees another aspect of Esther’s hesitation: If Esther seduces the King, she will forfeit her share in the World to Come! Her response to Mordechai’s directions, “As I am lost, I am lost (4:16)”, refers to her halachic situation: Just as she may lose her life in this world, she risks losing her share in the next one.

As Mashiach took on the sins of the world, He too, risked His share in The World to Come:

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 9:28 So Mashiach was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

 

II Corinthians 5:20-21 Now then we are ambassadors for Mashiach, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Mashiach’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 

 


Which descendants of Binyamin “will divide the spoils in the evening” according to Bereshit 49:27? (The evening hints to the Galut, the exile.)

 

Mordechai and Esther.

 

* * *

 

We find. In Shabbat 88a, that the first time in history that the Torah was actually fulfilled (almost 1,000 years after it was given on Mount Sinai) by the Jewish people was…. At that first Purim. Therefore Purim is higher than Shavuot (The holiday of the giving of the Torah).

 

Yosef and Esther[27]

 

YOSEF

ESTHER

 

 

Yosef was called “Tzofnat Paneah” - lit. “Uncovering the Hidden”

Megillat Esther can be explained as “revealing (megillat-gilu) the hidden (esther-nistar)”

 

 

Bereshit 41:34-37 “Let the king appoint officers (yafked ha-melech pikidim)” - Yosef becomes viceroy

Esther 2:3-4 “Let the king appoint officers (v’yafked ha-melech pikidim)” - Esther becomes queen.

 

(The Baal HaMegillah is showing us how Achashverosh and his servants viewed these young girls - just like wheat to be collected and brought to the palace.)

 

 

Bereshit 39:7 states that Yosef was “yefeh to’ar v’yefeh mar’eh.”

Esther 2:7 states that Esther was “yefat to’ar v’yefat mar’eh” (beautiful in stature and appearance)

 

 

Bereshit 37:3-4 states “And Yisrael loved Yosef more than all of his brothers ... and Yosef found favor in his eyes.”

Esther 2:17 states “And the king loved Esther more than all of the other women and she found favor in his eyes more than the other virgins.”

 

 

Megillah 13b states: “HaShem made a master get angry at his servants (Pharaoh at the butler and baker) so as to perform a miracle for a righteous individual (freeing Yosef from jail),

 

In both places, the word used for anger is the unique root ‘katzaf.’

Megillah 13b states: “HaShem made servants get angry at their master (Bigthan and Teresh at Achashverosh) so as to perform a miracle for a righteous individual (Mordechai).”

 

In both places, the word used for anger is the unique root ‘katzaf.’

 

 

The good done by Yosef interpreting the dreams is put on the back burner for the time being. We are told “And the butler did not remember (lo ZACHAR) Yosef and he forgot him,”

The good done by Mordechai uncovering the plot is put on the back burner for the time being. By Mordechai we are told that “They (his deeds) were written in the book of chronicles (sefer ha-ZICHRONOT - see 6:1) before the king.”

 

 

Midrash Tanhuma points out the phrase “yom va-yom” - day by day, is used to describe the constant pleadings of Potiphar’s wife to Yosef to lie with her in Bereshit 39:10.

Midrash Tanhuma points out the phrase “yom va-yom” - day by day, is used to describe the daily scene whereby the officers of Achashverosh attempted to convince Mordechai to bow to Haman in Esther 3:4.

 

 

va-yasar et tabato” - and he removed his ring, referring to Pharaoh’s granting power to Yosef in Bereshit 41:42.

va-yasar et tabato” - and he removed his ring, referring to Achashverosh’s granting power to Haman in Esther 3:10.

 

 

There are scenes in the Bereshit 37:29 that reflect the anguish of Yaakov throughout the story of Yosef’s sale and absence.

Esther 4:1 states “vayikra Mordechai et bigadav” - and Mordechai rent his garments.

 

 

Double expression:

 

Yaakov’s speech when Yehuda convinces him that Binyamin must be brought down to Egypt so that the family will not starve -”v’ka’asher shacholti, shacholti” - and if I will be left childless, I will be left childless. Bereshit 43:14

Double expression:

 

Mordechai prevails upon Esther to go before the king and petition on behalf of the Jews, Esther reluctantly agrees, stating “v’ka’asher avaditi, avaditi” - and if I will be lost, I will be lost. Esther 4:16.

 

 

Pharaoh parades Yosef through the streets of Egypt upon appointing him viceroy - “vayarkeiv oto b’mirkevet ha-mishneh...vayikra lifanav avreich...Bereshit 41:43

Mordechai is led through the streets of Shushan by a humiliated Haman. The Megillah states “vayarkiveihu birchov ha-ir...vayikra lifanav kacha ye’aseh la-ish...Esther 6:11

 

 

Yosef rises to power in Egypt.

Esther rises to power in Babylon.

 

 

Yosef is a son of Rachel.

Mordechai is a “son” of Rachel.

 

 

Yosef comes to power before the famine.

Esther comes to power before the evil decree.

 

 

Yehuda pleads for Binyamin.

Esther pleads for her people.

 

 

Yosef reveals himself to his brothers.

Esther reveals herself to king Achashverosh.

 

 

Pharaoh’s sleep is disturbed by a dream.

Achashverosh’s sleep is disturbed; which the Midrash attributes to a dream that Haman is going to kill him.

 

 

Dreams are the catalyst.

Parties are the catalyst.

 

 

HaShem’s “hand” is obvious.

HaShem’s hand is concealed.

 

 

Yosef was taken from his family and sold into slavery.

Esther was taken from her family and became the king’s slave.

 

 

There is no other figure to be found anywhere in Tanakh who mentions G-d as many times as Yosef does (19 times)

The name of G-d is not mentioned anywhere in Megillat Esther.

 

 

Yosef talks to his family through an intermediary (Menashe - a translator).

Esther speaks to her family, Mordechai, through an intermediary (Hatach).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yehoshua

Mordechai

 

 

Descendant of Rachel:

 

Shemot 17:9 And Moshe said to Yehoshua... go out and fight against Amalek

Descendant of Rachel.

 

 

Yehoshua was the first to fight against Amalek, and Haman was a descendant of Amalek.

Shushan Purim celebrated in cities that were walled in the days of Yehoshua.

 

 

Yehoshua uses a silent prayer – then raised hands of Moshe.

Mordechai uses a silent prayer – fasting.

 

Conclusion

 

Koresh (Cyrus) had given the Jewish people the freedom to return to Eretz Israel and to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash. Some forty thousand of the six million Jews heeded this call and returned. The rest stayed in Babylon. They preferred to be like Queen Vashti and dealt contemptuously with The King of Kings and His “house”. This pictures not only the events in Babylon in the days of queen Esther, but it also pertains to the end of days. In the end of days, HaShem will bring us to our senses with a decree of destruction delivered by our Amalekite enemies. These enemies will attempt to completely annihilate the Bnei Israel. When we repent for our Queen Vashti type disobedience to the King of Kings, then HaShem will raise us to the level of Queen Esther in order for us to complete the tikkun. Then and only then, can the Mashiach ben David come to our aid. We must first have out Benjamite king to bring us to battle against Amalek.

 

The Megillat of Esther provides a small glimpse into the ultimate redemption. The cast of characters reflects the story of redemption that has had various pieces exposed to the Bnei Israel throughout History. A careful examination of the details reveals many of the details of the ultimate redemption. Shlomo HaMelech said it best:

 

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:9 The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun.

 

The battle is yet in front of us, but our success is assured:

 

Yeshayahu 55:13 In place of the thorn-bush a cypress will rise, and in place of the nettle, a myrtle...”

 

Megillah 10b “In place of the thorn-bush” - in place of Haman “a cypress will rise” - this refers to Mordechai. “In place of the nettle” - in place of Vashti “a myrtle” - this is Esther the righteous one, who is called Hadassah. “And it shall be for HaShem for a name” - this refers to the reading of the Megillah’.

 

 

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 


 

 



[1] Bereshit 3:11 Heb. inv. The first word can be read as Haman, and the second can refer to the tree or gallows upon which Haman was hanged; cf. Esther 7:10.

[2] Devarim 31:18. Heb. rh,xt. The second word is very like the name Esther, r,xt both in spelling and in sound. The verse in general foretells the many evils and troubles that shall befall Israel when they forsake the ways of HaShem, and this was the case at the time of Esther, cf. Meg. 12a.

[3] Shemot 30:23. Heb. rurs rn.

[4] The Aramaic translation of Onkelos renders the Hebrew by thfs trhn, which words both in spelling and in sound resemble hfsrn, Mordecai.

[5] cf. Shir HaShirim 1:5, 1:10, 1:15

[6] My teacher, Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai and Rabbi Ari Kahn provided many of the insights and words for this study.

[7] Mekhilta de-Rashbi, 71

[8] This allusion was provided by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky in “Vidibarta Bam” on Megillat Esther.

[9] Compare this with Megillat Ruth who is also the quintessential convert.

[10] Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 30:12 - Another exposition: “The fruit of the hadar tree” symbolizes Israel; just as the etrog has taste as well as fragrance, so Israel have among them men who possess learning and good deeds. “Branches of palm trees”, too, applies to Israel; as the palm-tree has taste but not fragrance, so Israel have among them such as possess learning but not good deeds. “And boughs of thick trees” (ib.) likewise applies to Israel; just as the myrtle has fragrance but no taste, so Israel have among them such as possess good deeds but not learning. “And willows of the brook” also applies to Israel; just as the willow has no taste and no fragrance, so Israel have among them people who possess neither learning nor good deeds. What then does the Holy One, blessed be He, do to them? To destroy them is impossible. But, says the Holy One, blessed be He, let them all be tied together in one band and they will atone one for another. If you have done so [says God], then at that instant I am exalted. Hence it is written, It is He that buildeth His upper chambers in the heaven (Amos IX, 6). When is He exalted? What time they are made into one band; as it says, When He1 hath founded His band2 upon the earth (ib.). Accordingly Moses exhorts Israel: “And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit,” etc.

[11] The permissibility of a married woman to use her sexuality to save lives has been debated in halachic sources. See Responsa Shvut Yaakov Volume 2, section 117, Responsa Noda Beyehuda Tanina Yoreh De'ah 161, Responsa Binyan Zion 154.

[12] The first time the word vatilbash is used in the Torah is when Rivkah dresses Yaakov in Esav’s garments – as he prepares to enter with the two goats to feed his father. There, the word is pronounced vatalbesh.

[13] The Tikunei Zohar continues, and makes more comparisons between Yom Kippur and elements of the Purim story. The commentary of the Sulam understands this entire passage in reference to the exile of the Shekhina.

[14] See Rav Zadok Hakohen of Lublin, Liqutei Amarim, section 16

[15] The Talmud and Midrash report that Esther prepared for her liaison by immersing her body in a mikveh. See Migilah 13b. Midrash Tihillim Buber 22:16. It is interesting to note that the Kohen Gadol prepared himself to enter the Temple and perform the service by immersing himself. See Yoma 30a.

[16] Rabbinic sources maintain the Esther and Mordechai were not only cousins – they were in fact married. This assertion complicates her legal status. See Talmud Megilah 13a
A Tanna taught in the name of R. Meir: Read not "for a daughter?[le-bat], but for a house [le-bayit] (I.e., a wife.). …so here, it means a wife.

[17] Her actions may fall under the rubric of a "Sin for the sake of Heaven". See Talmud Bavli Nazir 23b. Alternatively, the Noda B'Yehuda, op. cit., suggests that, to save all of Israel, and with the blessings of Mordechai's court and with Divine Inspiration –Esther was permitted to act as she did.

[18] See Rav Zadok Hakohen, Takanat HaShavin section 5.

[19] For the identification of the Tree of knowledge with grapes see Zohar Bereshit 73a.

[20] Pri Zadik Vaylech-Shabbat Shuva section 21.

[21] Rav Yehonatan Eybshitz (Ya'arot Dvash, vol. 1, Drush 8) says that Purim is even greater than Yom Kippur, for Yom Kippur only heals the rift between man and God (Mishna Yoma 8:9). Purim, with gifts sent from one to another and gifts to the poor, heals the rift between man and his fellow.

[22] Haman came from Amalek. Amalek embodies the Ko’ach ha’Tum’ah of Esav, represented by his Malach, the Satan (RASHI Sukah 29a DH Elokeha).

[23] Chazal associate Agag with Gog.

[24] Based upon a talk by Rav Moshe Weinberger shlita

[25] “HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel” zt”l, the late Mashgiach of the Lakewood Yeshiva, suggested this.

 

[26] Menachem Leibtag

[27] Gabriel Cohen, “Iyunim B’Hamesh Megillot-Megilat Esther” (1981), suggested most of these comparisons and provided the insight for the rest.