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Megillas Esther

Part V: A New Queen, A Foiled Assassination, & Haman's Wrath

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

Esther was taken against her will to appear before Achashverosh. Although she was physically ill from her "captivity," and her beauty was therefore greatly diminished, Achashverosh still found her to be beautiful. Her found her so beautiful and loved her so much that he concluded he would find no one finer than Esther. He immediately placed the royal crown upon her head and crowned her queen. Achashverosh was greatly satisfied with Esther; he found someone who he felt fully replaced Vashti. This was true even though Esther remained silent and did not reveal her lineage. Achashverosh threw a party in honor of his new queen. He also wanted to give a gift to the nation which Esther came from, but he did not know which nation it was. He therefore gave a tax amnesty to all of the provinces of his empire, hoping that Esther's nation would be included in that grouping and therefore a recipient of the generosity of the king.

Achashverosh now sent the remaining young women home, to demonstrate to Esther that they were not needed anymore. Esther was being treated with the utmost respect. Yet, Mordechai was still worried about Esther. He kept a constant vigil by the gate to the palace compound to assure that all of her needs were being taken care of, and that she was safe. He continued to insist that she not reveal her lineage, a request which Esther heeded. Because Mordechai was always by the gate, he was constantly aware of the goings on by the palace. On one occasion, he overheard two of the king's officers plotting to assassinate Achashverosh. These officers spoke in a language that they assumed Mordechai would not understand. However, because Mordechai was a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, he knew seventy languages, including the one the officers spoke. He immediately informed Esther of the plot, who related the story in Mordechai's name to the king. Achashverosh had the two officers executed, and Mordechai's deed was recorded in the king's book of chronicles.

Once things had settled around the palace, Achashverosh promoted Haman to the highest ministerial position. In addition, the king ordered all of his servants who were in the palace gate area to bow to Haman when they saw him. This way, any time Haman needed an ego boost, he would walk by the gate and see a group of people bowing to him. Haman wanted to convey that the homage due to him was of an idolatrous nature. He therefore fastened an idol to his clothes so that all who bowed to him were simultaneously worshipping an idol. Everyone did bow to Haman, except for one person: Mordechai. Because Mordechai was always by the palace entrance, he constantly came in contact with Haman. The officers who were by the gate warned Mordechai that he had to bow to Haman, but Mordechai still refused. Initially, Haman did not notice Mordechai's refusal to bow. It was then reported to Haman that Mordechai was not bowing, and Haman wanted to make sure that Mordechai was not slighting his honor. Haman walked by Mordechai in a way that Mordechai could not miss seeing him, but Mordechai did not budge. Mordechai did not even try to avoid Haman. He remained where he was, and ignored Haman. Haman was furious at Mordechai. (This illustrates how honor-hungry Haman was. He could not tolerate even one mere person who did dot honor him as he wanted.) He wanted to get back at him. Haman found out that Mordechai was a Jew. Haman then decided that the sweetest revenge would be to not only destroy Mordechai, but his whole nation as well.

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