Megillat Esther

Palace intrigues, a decadent court, beautiful queens, and an advisor whose rise to prominence risks an entire nation. Who do you feel is the worst character of the Megilah? And how did Esther and Mordechai get their roles in this story?

Megilat Esther reads (at least in parts) as a chronicle of the Persian court, leaving us to wonder what it is doing in the Canon. During 4 sessions we will explore various aspects of Megilat Esther and try to expand our appreciation of this unlikely holy text. Studying the Megilah will also give us the opportunity to review some rabbinic texts, as well as other biblical texts that influenced the narrative of Esther, texts that the narrator assumed that we know and refer to.

Introduction to Megillat Esther

The narrative of the story of Esther creates an atmosphere of a satire.  Details are exaggerated, behavior is crass. The carefully crafted biblical story gives way to comic story telling.  The reader gets the sense that the text is intended for a carnival. The Megilla (scroll) of Esther is colorful and exciting, and hardly inspires […]

Meet Esther – Megillat Esther

Meet Esther and Mordochai Esther 2:1-20 Before we discuss Esther, we should spend a few minutes considering the reality into which she was thrust.  The realization that there is no queen, leads the king’s servants to propose a plan that should strike us as both as horrid and absurd.  They will “appoint officials” all over […]

Who Is Mordochai? Yichus, Yichus – Megillat Esther

Who is Mordochai? (Yichus, yichus…) Esther 2:5-6 Megillat Esther sends us on biblical treasure hunts.  The narrator assumes that the reader is familiar with earlier biblical texts that are referred to.  Discovering the stories hinted to in the Megillah text adds depth to our narrative.  Let’s try one example in our section: אסתר ב ה-ו […]

A Responsible King – Megillat Esther

Ahasuerus Let us spend some time on Ahasuerus.  We met him in the Vashti episode.  We read about his queen-finding contest.  Was he good?  Unlike the kings described in the book of Kings, the narrator does not rate Ahasuerus, but rather narrates events from his reign.  We, the readers, are left to render a verdict. […]

Name And Title – Megillat Esther

What is in a Name? (And a Title) A person’s name is of great significance, especially in Tanakh.  We are given names by our parents, names of hope, ideology, and commemoration.  The meaning of the name is known as Midrash Shem (Midrash of a name.)  In Tanakh we are familiar with Midrash Shem that is […]

A Biblical Treasure Hunt – Megillat Esther

Echoes of a Great and Bitter Cry Esther 4:1 Upon hearing the about Haman’s plan and the king’s order: אסתר פרק ד א (א) וּמָרְדֳּכַי יָדַע אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשָׂה וַיִּקְרַע מָרְדֳּכַי אֶת בְּגָדָיו וַיִּלְבַּשׁ שַׂק וָאֵפֶר וַיֵּצֵא בְּתוֹךְ הָעִיר וַיִּזְעַק זְעָקָה גְדֹלָה וּמָרָה: Esther 4:1 Now Mordecai knew all that had been done.  So […]

Haman And Mordochai: The Clash – Megillat Esther

Haman and Mordochai: Just a Personal Conflict? The conflict between Mordochai and Haman eventually escalated to a national disaster.  But how did it start?  While we will look at their confrontation, let us not forget that it was Ahasuerus, and his instructions to everyone to kneel and prostrate themselves as Haman came by, that brought […]

Women Of Power: Esther – Megillat Esther

Women Of Power: Esther Previously, we got to know something about Esther’s family.  She is hardly a bewildered farmer girl who ends up in the palace.  She comes from nobility.  Her cousin holds a position near the court.  Her ability to act aristocratically should not surprise us.  But is she up to planning and executing a […]

Women Of Power: Zeresh – Megillat Esther

Women of Power: Zeresh As far as biblical stories go, the story of Esther stands out in the prominent place women hold in it, as well as their sheer numbers.  Both Vashti and Esther, as The Queen, hold a significant spot in the story.  One cannot ignore a woman of the nobility:  Haman’s wife, Zeresh.  […]