Achashveirosh was the Persian Emperor, whocontrolled the known world.
In celebration of the third anniversary of his ascension to the throne,Achashveirosh made a feast for all his officials and servants.
During the feast he displayed his riches. The Talmud states that he evenwore robes which had been looted from the Jews whenthey were conquered by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnetzar.
Afterwards he made a feast foreverybody who lived in Shushan thecapital (which included many Jews).
The Talmud tells us that the Jews received a decree of extermination from Hashem because theyenjoyed the feast.
Queen Vashti, who was a granddaughter of Nebuchadnetzar,followed her husband’s example and made a feast for the women in the royal
After seven days of feasting and wine, Achashveirosh ordered several of his chamberlains to bring Vashti to hisfeast wearing the royal crown (only!), so he could show off her beauty.
She refused.The Talmud tells us she didn’t refusebecause of modesty, but because she had a breakout of leprosy.
Memuchan (i.e. Haman) suggested thatshe has wronged everyone, and if she goes unpunished it will affect the way all wives treat their husbands. (Rashi: When word gets out, all women will consider this alicense to treat their husbands in the same way.)
He concluded: There should be aroyal edict that Vashti should never again appear before the king. And her royal estate should be given to someone better.
The Me’am Loez commentary tells us that Memuchan was telling Achashveirosh that after Vashti iskilled, his next wife will hear and most obedient.
This pleased the king.The Midrash tells us he gave the order,and they brought Vashti’s head to him on a platter!
Letters were sent throughout theprovinces stating that the man should rule over the household.
Later, after the king’s anger died down, allthe beautiful women of the kingdom were brought to Shushan the capitol, soAchashveirosh could choose a new queen.
There was a Jewishman in Shushan the capitol named Mordechai.He raised his uncle’s daughter, Esther, since she had no parents.(There is an opinion that she was Mordechai’s wife.)
The reasons for Mordechai’s instructions are unclear. Some suggestions:If he knew she was Jewish, Achashveiroshwould never choose Esther. (Rabbi Eleazar ofWorms)So that she could secretly observe her religion.(Me’am Loez) Me? No, I’m not Jewish.
When the time came to choose aqueen, Esther pleased the king more than any of the others. He made a giant feast in her honor.
He informed Esther, who informed the king. The two were hanged, and the incidence was recorded in the king’s book of chronicles.
Afterwards King Achashveiroshpromoted Haman to the highest seat in his kingdom.
Everyone bowed down before Haman, with the exception of Mordechai who refused.
Mordechai’s refusal was justified. Some reasons offered:Haman claimed divine powers. (Rashi)Haman affixed an image of an idol to hisclothes. All who bowed to him were alsobowing to the idol. (Midrash)
Haman made his proposal toAchashveirosh, telling him that there is a people scattered throughout his kingdom who do not obey his laws. So what do you propose we do? I think genocide would be appropriate.
Haman requested they beexterminated, and offered to personally pay the people who carry out the decree. HAMAN
The king gave Haman his signet ring,and full permission to do as he saw fit.
Letters were sent to every province throughout the kingdom that in elevenmonths, on the 13th of Adar, there was to be an execution of each and every Jew.
Rav Galico says that Haman sent the letters so quickly in order to prolong the suffering of the Jews,who now have eleven months to panic over the decree.
When Mordechai heard about the decree he tore his clothes. He woresackcloth and wentinto the public area to cry out loud.
Excuse me. Are you Mordechai?Mordechai came to the gate, and Esther was told he was there. She sent him clothing, which he would not accept.
Esther summoned Hasach, a servant who she trusted, to speak with Mordechai. Mordechai told Hashacheverything, and gave him a copy of the decree to show to Esther, and instructed her to approach the king and appeal to him on behalf of her people. KILL THE JEWS
She sent back the message that shehas not been summoned to the kingfor thirty days, and everyone is wellaware that there is death penalty to anyone who approaches the king without being summoned. Hold on! Can we just wait a bit?
She assumed she would be summoned in the next few days, and then she would plea the cause. (Malbim)Sign here, sir.
Some interpretations of what Mordechai meant:Perhaps the only reason she ever attained aroyal position was to be instrumental in savingthe Jews. (Ibn Ezra)Perhaps you will not be free from the decree,i.e. perhaps you will not still have your royalposition by next year. (Rashi)Perhaps being queen will not be enough toexempt you from Haman’s decree. (RavGalico)
Esther sent this message:The Jews of Shushan will fast for the next threedays and nights, and then I will approach the king. If I die, I die.
And Mordechai left to announce thefast, as per Esther’s command.
The king asked Esther what shewanted. Esther requested that the king and Haman attend a banquet she prepared for him.
The sages offered many reasons why she wanted Haman to be there, including:It was a trap, and this way Haman will nothave an opportunity to form a rebellion.She was trying to make the king jealous ofHaman.To make the Jews afraid that Esther wasworking with Haman, so they would repentand pray.
Man, I’m awesome! When Haman left, he was super-happy. According to the Midrash he felt truly superior, noting that the king promoted him and the queen honored him.
But then he noticedMordechai, who didn’t evenacknowledge him, and hebecame infuriated.
When Haman returned home he sent for his wife, Zeresh, and his friends,and told them of all of his wealth andglory. But he said it all meant nothing to him, so long as he sees that Jew Mordechai sitting at the king’s gate. Can you believe this!? He ignored ME!!
They suggested a 50-cubit gallows be made, and tomorrowhe should ask the kingfor permission to hang Mordechai from it.
Buildin’ them Haman did not gallows,yeah yeah!! go to sleep. He immediately called artisans to build the gallows. Haman and his family rejoiced the whole time. (Targum)
So he ordered that his book of chronicles be read to him, and he was reminded of howMordechai informed the kingdomof the plot to assassinate the king. Wow! Remember what Mordechai, that Jewish guy, did for you!?
Achashveirosh inquired as to what honor Mordechai had been given.He was told that there had been none.
Haman had been in the courtwaiting to request to hang Mordechai,and when the king let him enterAchashveirosh asked Hamanwhat should be done forsomeone the kingwishes to honor. How to honor a hero? Hmmm….
Thinking that the king was referringto him, Haman said that the honoree should wear a royal crown and robe, and should be paraded through thecity on a royal horse led
The king told Haman to hurry and do those things for Mordechai immediately! Right away boss! (Me’am Loez: The king was rushing so Haman could be finished in time for Esther’s banquet.)
The Talmud tells us that as Haman wasleading Mordechai, Haman’s daughtersaw them from a roof and thought thesituation was reversed,and thus erred andemptied a chamber poton to her father!When he looked upand she realized hermistake, she jumped fromthe roof, killing herself.
Haman rushed home to tell his wife and friends what happened.His wife, Zeresh, told him that for sure he will not be able to defeat Mordechai. While they spoke servants of the kingcame to take Haman to Esther’s banquet. Yeah yeah, I’m coming!
Please don’t let me die! At the banquet Achashveirosh againasked Esther what shewanted, promising her anything.She requested that the king spare her life on the 13th of Adar!
The king wished to knowwho was threatening her life, and she told him it was an enemy of the king, the wicked Haman! It’s him!!
The king left the room in rage, andthe terrified Haman remained behind, begging Esther for his life.(Vilna Gaon: Haman was claiming he didn’t know she was a Jew.)
When the king returned he saw Haman in front of Esther,and assumed he meant her harm. HAMAN!!! What are you doing NOW!?!?!
Haman’s face was immediately covered, and it was suggested that he be hanged on the gallows meant for Mordechai.He was executed and the king’s anger went away. (Rashi: Another reason for the king’s anger was his discoverythat Haman meant to execute a friend of the king.)
Esther asked the king if there were any way to counter the extermination decree, despite the fact that in Persianlaw a royal decree could not be revoked. KILL THE JEWS
In Sivan, two months later, letters were sent to all the Jewish communities throughout the provinces declaring that on the 13th of Adar (in eightmonths time) the Jews were permitted to organize and defend themselves, and kill any who threatened them.
The Jews rejoiced when they received these letters.
When this section of the Megila is read, it is said inone breath, like all the sons died together in one instant.
Shushan rested from war at a differen time, so theircelebration is at a different time. The sages, assuming Shushan wouldn’t be Jewish forever, and not wanting to create a holiday which would just disappear, wanted cities similar to Shushan to celebrate Purim at the same time as Shushan. Shushan was a walled city. However, at this stage in history Israel lay in ruin, with no walled cities. So, in order to create a lasting holiday, with great honor, it was decreed that all cities that were walled in the days of Yehoshua, which includes Yerushalayim, will celebrate Purim on the 15 of Adar. (Shushan Purim)
These days would be celebrated by all Jews forever as days when the Jews gained relief from their enemies. Some ways of celebrating would be: Joyous feasts (Seudat Purim) Sending gifts to friends (Mishloach Manot) Giving gifts to the poor (Matanot L’evyonim)
And the process comes to its climax. The pieces of the puzzle finally come together.