Ideas on Megillat Ester


0. why allow ester to marry king?
1. why not bow?
2. why ester 2 meals ?
3. why taxes mentioned at end of megillah?


0. because Mordechay was loyal to king
1. Mordechay knew Haman was interested in usurping
2. Ester was nervous to make request
3. show king took more active role in ruling

There are several unexplained occurances in Megilat Ester. In verse 2:8 it is not clear that Ester went unwillingly. Did Mordechay try to hide her? It seems in fact that her going to Shushan to be the queen, married to a Gentile was perfectly acceptable. Moreover, at no point later on does Mordechay ever suggest she should object to being queen. He even prevents her from revealing that she is Jewish, a fact which if revealed might influence the king not to marry her. Why did Mordechay go along?

Why also did Mordechay refuse to bow to Haman? Chaza"l propose that Haman had an idol on his chest which would make bowing to him forbidden. Chaza"l's need to explain this refusal to bow, serves to further emphasize the lack of any textual explanation. Haman was the kings deputy. If Mordechay was a loyal subject to the king which his accepting the decree of Ester being sent to Shushan would suggest, then why not bow to Haman. Moreover, his not bowing almost caused great harm to his people. It is not an affront to G-d to bow to a mortal. Yaakove Avinu bowed to Esau, and today one may bow to the King of spain. What made Mordechay rebel?

On the subject of Mordechy being loyal to the king, Let us remember the story of Bigtan and Teresh (2:21 -23), two of the kings ministers who tried to depose him. Morechay was the loyal subject of the king who reported this to the king and saved him. So Mordechay was loyal to the King. Moreover, why was Mordechay sitting at the gates always? The judges of the city sit at its gates. Mordechay was likely an important well-connected judge, perhaps a minister himself. This explains how he got access the the information on the plot. Chazal actually blame him for becoming too close to the rule toward the end of the megillah. If we accept that Mordechay was loyal to the king, we can also see why he wanted ester to marry the King. A Gentile king who rules well is considered a blessing to the world. MOrdechay thought that if Ester would marry him it would help influence him to be a better king. We know that a later king of Paras and Maday eventually allowed the Second Temple to be built.

Now to the question of why Mordecahy would not bow. I propose that Mordeachy knew that Haman wanted to usurp the crown. We know that in the story of Mordecahy being dressed in the kings cloths on the kings horse, it is Haman who suggested the idea thinking it would be done to him. These are two symbols of being king. It seems that Haman , if he did not want to be king at least want to be viewed as king. How did Haman come to power? The megillah is unclear on this fact, but if we look at how he eventually reached his highest power, getting the kings signet ring, and cart blanche to mnake any law , we could surmise how he got power earlier.

In the ancient world, kings would contract out taxing rights to save themselves legisticle problems. a certain noble would offer the king money for the right to tax a certain area. Then it was up to him to do the difficult work of collecting what he could. We see that Haman later offeres the king Money for the right to tax and actually kill and take the wealth of the Jews. So too in the earlier part of the megillah , this is how haman cam eto power

Haman got to power by offering the king handsome contracts for right to tax different areas. He then taxed them at a higher rate and kept the difference. In this way he became wealthier and got more contracts. He so planned to takeover the whole kingdom. Mordechay was aware of his plan, but the king was unaware. Mordecahy wanted to make the king realize the danger he was in but could not tell the king outright since the king had come to rely on and trust Haman so greatly. Mordechay's not bowing to Haman was not because he was not loyal, but because he was loyal to the king. He wanted to demonstrate that Haman was not loyal to the king and therefore not worthy of being bowed to. This of course made Mordecahy a great threat to Haman. He might convince the king that Haman was not really loyal. So Haman vowed to destroy Mordechay.

We can also ask some questions about Ester behavior. Why did she need to make two parties; wouldn't one be enough? And why make a party at all; couldn't she just ask the king her request in the throne room? We are told in the megillah that she was afraid to visit the king without being first called by him, since according to palace rules , she could be killed for this. But when she actually does visit the king without being called the king is not in the least bit angry or even surprised. It seems as if the king thought it was normal and acceptable for her to come and go as she pleases. So why was Ester so frightened? It seems she did not realize her standing in the kings eyes. She was not just another of his concubines, she was his favorite beloved queen. She did not have to follow the rules set out for the concubines. But she did not realize her own position.

She was nervous and unsure about her closeness to the king. Thus when she met him in the throne room she got cold feet and could not utter her request, so she made up a different request, 'come to the party I am making'. But the king saw through her cover-up and so at the party asked her 'what is your real request.' He even tries to re-assure her, telling her he will grant her anything, 'up to half my kingdom.' Flustered and nervous, thinking she will be turned down she again asks him to come to a party. Only on this third occasion can she bring herself to actually ask her request. And of course the king grants her request. Ester has made a small but potentially dangerous error. She did not recognize her true status. She did not know who she is, the queen of Paras and Maday.

The king was not acting according to his status either. He should have been ruling himself, instead he lazilly allowed Haman to rule the country. Thus at the end of the megillah we are told that the king places taxes on all the regions of his empire. He does not use contracting ministers, he himself takes charge. Mordechay tried to show the king that he not Haman should be ruling. That a feable ruler will bring destruction to himself and others.

We know that the king represents The King, G-d. and Ester, the Jewish people. Thus, the message of the megillah is that we must recognize that we are G-d's loved and chosen ones, his queen. G-d has a special love for us and will do everything for us. And we must recognize also that G-d is king, and no other shall rule us, and we must be stubborn in this as Mordechay was stubborn, not accepting another ruler. Then G-d will rule over the world himself, and not let the world be run by ministers. Then no evil will befall the world and we will live in peace and love, Amen