[16a - 50 lines; 16b - 52 lines]

1)[line 1]שמשיSHIMSHI- son of Haman, scribe of the kings of Paras and Madai, who tried to stop the building of the second Beis ha'Mikdash. Our Gemara relates that he tried to erase the account of the assassination attempt on Achashveirosh's life that was thwarted by Mordechai

2)[line 4]"הכין לו""HEICHIN LO" - "[And the king said, 'Who is in the courtyard?' Haman had just arrived at the palace's outer courtyard, to tell the king to hang Mordechai on the gallows that] he had prepared for him." (Esther 6:4) (THE GALLOWS THAT HAMAN PREPARED)

(a)The word "Lo" ("for him") in the verse is seemingly unnecessary. The Gemara learns from it that although Haman thought that he had constructed the gallows to hang Mordechai, he really built it for himself.

(b)The suggestion to build the gallows came from his wife Zeresh, after Haman arrived home from the party with the king and queen. Feeling on top of the world, his elation was deflated when he passed Mordechai sitting at the palace gates, who refused even to stand up (let alone to prostrate himself) before Haman. He summoned Zeresh and all of his friends and poured out his heart to them. He complained to them how everything that he owned, all his children, his wealth, and even his honor were meaningless to him as long as the mere presence of Mordechai the Jew sitting at the palace gates continued to infuriate him each time he passed that spot. His wife and friends advised him to build a gallows and, in the morning, to ask the king's permission to hang Mordechai on it. In that way, he would be able to enjoy the party with a joyous heart.

(c)Although Zeresh advised Haman to approach the king for permission to hang Mordechai in the morning, this is not what he did. Rather, he brazenly showed up at the king's palace in the middle of the night with his request. As part of the Divine plan, that moment (unbeknownst to Haman) happened to be when Achashverosh could not sleep, and he had the royal chronicles read to him and discovered that he had never rewarded Mordechai for exposing the plot to assassinate the king. Achashverosh needed advice about how to reward Mordechai, and at that moment his trusted advisor, Haman, arrived.

(d)Haman believed that his trip to the palace was in order to arrange for Mordechai's hanging. Had he arrived an hour earlier or an hour later, that might have been the case. At that moment, although he did not know it, he was going to the royal palace for his advice on how to honor Mordechai and to receive royal orders to carry out that honor, and he was going to the royal palace to prepare his own demise, which would take place within just 24 hours.

3)[line 8]קמיצהKEMITZAH

(a)When a Korban Minchah (flour offering) is offered, a Kohen must separate a Kometz (handful), which is burned upon the Mizbe'ach.

(b)A Kometz is the amount that can be held by the middle three fingers when they are pressed upon the palm. The Kohen puts his hand in the dough or baked goods and removes one handful. The excess of dough or baked goods that sticks out is then wiped off by the thumb and the smallest finger until only the Kometz remains.

4)[line 9]וסוסיה מיחד בידיהSUSEI MEICHAD B'YADEI- [the reigns of] a horse held in his hand

5)[line 9]מירתתMIRTAS- he was frightened

6)[line 10]די לא תכוו בגחלתוDI LO SIKAVU B'GACHALTO- (lit. so that you do not get burned by his coal) so that you do not get killed by him, too

7)[line 16]עד דעיילנא לבי בניAD D'AYILNA L'VEI BANEI- until I go to the bathhouse

8)[line 17]ואשקול למזייאV'ESHKOL L'MAZAYA- and I get my hair cut

9)[line 18]ואסרתינהוV'ASARTINHU- (a) and she had them (the bathhouse attendants) locked up (RASHI); (b) and she had them (the bathhouses) locked (MAHARSHA)

10)[line 18]אומניUMNEI- barbers

11)[line 20]אינגד ואיתנחINGAD V'ISNACH- he sighed and he groaned

12)[line 21]בלאני וספרBALANI V'SAPAR- a bathhouse attendant and a barber

13)[line 21]כפר קרצוםKEFAR KARTZUM- the Girsa in Midrash Rabah (Esther 10:4) is KEFAR KARYANOS, also known as KEFAR KARNAYIM (Vayikra Rabah 17:4) - a small town in the land of Edom near the border of Eretz Yisrael

14)[line 27]נקיט ואזילNAKIT V'AZIL- holding [the reigns of the horse] and walking, [leading the horse]

15)[line 27]בשבילא דבי המןBI'SHEVILA D'VEI HAMAN- on the street where Haman's house was located

16)[line 28]עציצאATZITZA- the chamber pot

17)[line 33]"אם מזרע היהודים מרדכי""IM MI'ZERA HA'YEHUDIM MORDECHAI" - "[And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all of his friends all that had just transpired. His wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him,] 'If Mordechai is from the offspring of the Yehudim, [then now that you have begun to fall before him, you will not be able to defeat him, but rather you will fall before him.]'" (Esther 6:13) (THE PREDICTION OF HAMAN'S DOWNFALL)

(a)Haman heard this somber prediction not from his enemy, but from the mouths of his beloved wife Zeresh and his good friends. Indeed, within minutes, royal messengers came to rush him unceremoniously to join the king and queen, disheveled, unkempt, and emitting a foul smell.

(b)Commenting on the fact that the verse refers to the same people first as Haman's "friends" and as his "wise men," the Gemara explains that even a Nochri who says something wise bears the title "Chacham." The wisdom to which the Gemara refers is the statement that if Mordechai is a member of the tribe of Yehudah, Efrayim, Binyamin, or Menasheh, then Haman stands no chance of avoiding total defeat, as the verses cited by the Gemara indicate.

(c)The Torah Temimah explains that the wisdom of the wise statement lies in the words, "If Mordechai is from the offspring of the Yehudim." What did they mean by "if"? Everyone knew of Mordechai's nationhood! Rather, what they were unsure about was whether Mordechai descended from one of the four abovementioned tribes. Rashi (on Esther) infers from the letter "Mem" in "Im mi'Zera ha'Yehudim" that "if he is descended from a specific branch of the Yehudim, then you will not overcome him." (See also Maharsha.)

(d)The Gemara explains the double expression "Ki Nafol Tipol Lefanav" to mean that Yisrael is compared both to the dust and to the stars, which means that when they are up, they go to the top, and when they are down, they go to the bottom. This is relevant to Haman's stature because of the principle that the higher Yisrael rises, the lower its enemies fall (see Megilah 6a, and Rashi to Bereishis 25:23) (Torah Temimah).

(e)The Maharsha explains that when the Jewish people are down, they are compared to dust on which everybody tramples (although in the end it the dust outlasts those who trampled on it; Rabeinu Bachye). When they are up, they are like stars which nobody can touch.

18)[line 42]מחווהMECHAVAH- pointing

19)[line 42]וסטר ידהV'SATAR YADAH- and slapped her hand

20)[line 39]"ויאמר המלך אחשורוש ויאמר לאסתר המלכה""VA'YOMER HA'MELECH ACHASHVEROSH, VA'YOMER L'ESTHER HA'MALKAH" - "And king Achashverosh said, and he said to Esther the queen, ['Who is the one... whose heart has prompted him to do that?']" (Esther 7:5) (ACHASHVEROSH'S REQUEST TO ESTHER TO REVEAL TO HIM THE IDENTITY OF THE EVILDOER)

(a)The Gemara, commenting on the repetition of the phrase, "And he said," explains that initially the king - not knowing that Esther was of aristocratic descent - talked to her only via an interpreter. Now that he discovered that she was descended from the family of Shaul ha'Melech, he began to talk to her directly.

(b)One Midrash explains that Achashverosh was asking Esther to please name Haman as the evil one, even if it was not Haman. Although just a few hours earlier Haman had been the king's favorite, in the meantime the king had dreamed that Haman planned to murder him and usurp the throne, and he also suspected Haman of having an affair with his wife and of plotting with her to take over the throne. Moreover, Haman had vehemently protested Achashverosh's desire to reward Mordechai who, for having saved the king's life, had found favor in the eyes of the king. The king's hatred of Haman had already been fueled by this time, and within minutes that hatred would be intensified even more, as Haman is named as the villain who not only was threatening Esther and her people, but who was responsible for Vashti's death. He is revealed as the one who ordered trees in the king's tree-garden to be cut down. He is also discovered to have built a gallows on which he intended to hang the king's savior, Mordechai. Finally, the king, already seething with anger, will soon re-enter the palace from the tree-garden only to find Haman (who was pushed by an angel) lying on the couch on which Esther was reclining.

21)[line 44]דבוסתניBUSTANEI- pleasure garden

22)[line 41]"ותאמר אסתר איש צר ואויב המן הרע הזה""VA'TOMER ESTHER, 'ISH TZAR V'OYEV, HAMAN HA'RA HA'ZEH" - "And Esther said, the oppressor and enemy, this evil Haman, [and Haman was terrified before the king and queen]." (Esther 7:6) (ESTHER REVEALS THE EVILDOER TO THE KING)

(a)The Gemara explains that initially Esther pointed towards Achashverosh when she said, "the oppressor and enemy," but an angel quickly re-directed her hand towards Haman. According to the Etz Yosef, the Gemara extrapolates Esther's intention from the fact that the verse divides between "Ish Tza'ar v'Oyev" and "Haman ha'Ra ha'Zeh" (when it should have placed Haman either at the beginning or at the end).

(b)As the Gemara explained earlier, Achashverosh was as much a guilty party to the plan to kill the Jews as Haman, and Esther's observations were accurate. Yet, taking into consideration Esther's efforts to win the king's favor and to turn him against Haman, the question arises, what prompted her to have acted so totally against her own interests? Under the circumstances, for Esther to point a finger at Achachverosh at this juncture seems to have been an entirely senseless act, especially for such a brilliant strategist like Esther.

(c)The Etz Yosef therefore explains that all Esther meant to do was to accuse Haman of being an enemy of Achashverosh, as he cared not one bit about the king's losses. The problem was that, bearing in mind Achashverosh's hatred towards the Jews, the king might have interpreted that as an accusation against him. That is why the angel pushed her hand in the direction of Haman to avoid any misunderstandings. (See also Anaf Yosef and Rif in the Ein Yakov.)

23)[line 45]"ויאמר המלך הגם לכבש את המלכה עמי בבית""VA'YOMER HA'MELECH HA'GAM LICHBOSH ES HA'MALKAH IMI BA'BAYIS!?" - "[And the king arose in his fury from the wine-party to the room where the party was taking place. The king returned from his tree-garden, and Haman had stood up to request his life from Esther the queen because he saw evil was determined against him from the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the wine drinking, and Haman had fallen on to the couch on which Esther was;] and the king said, 'Will you even assault the queen whilst I am in the house!?'" (Esther 7:7-8). (HAMAN AROUSES THE FURY OF THE KING)

(a)Esther's second party begins with the stage set for Haman's demise. The king is jealous of his Haman's suspected relationship with Esther, and furious with him for having demonstrated his interest in the throne. Haman has already been dealt a bitter painful blow by having had to lead Mordechai around Shushan and announce, "So shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor...," in place of receiving permission to hang him, as he had hoped. However, he is totally unsuspecting of Esther's relationship with Mordechai or of her nationality, and he is caught completely off-guard when Esther points a finger at him in response to Achashverosh's question about who the man is who dares to seek to destroy his beloved queen and her entire nation.

(b)The Gemara explains that just as Achashverosh left the party fuming, so did he return fuming. What he saw in the garden made him angry, and what he saw in the palace made him even angrier. The Midrash relates that he arrived in his tree-garden just as some men (or angels in the form of men) were proceeding to fell some trees, and in answer to his inquiry as to what they were doing, they replied that Haman had instructed them to cut down the trees. Upon his return, he found Haman stretched out on the couch where an angel had pushed him, and on which Esther happened to be reclining.

(c)There is no indication that Haman actually issued instructions to cut down Achashverosh's trees. It is highly unlikely that he did. Perhaps the "trees" refer allegorically to Yisrael (who are considered Tzadikim). One verse compares man to a tree (Devarim 20:19), and another verse compares the Tzadik to a date-palm and to a cedar (Tehilim 92:13). Accordingly, the episode was a reference to Haman's decree to "cut down" every Jew in the kingdom.

(d)At that stage, by "coincidence" one of Haman's own advisors, Charvonah, happened to be present. Charvonah had helped Haman to construct the gallows which apparently was visible from the palace gardens. For whatever the reason he opted to switch sides, Charvonah now pointed to the gallows that Achashverosh's new enemy, the wicked Haman, had built with the intention of hanging Mordechai, whom had found great favor in the eyes of the king. Under the circumstances, the king's command to hang Haman on it is entirely understandable.

24)[line 46]ויי מביתא ויי מבראVAI MI'BEISA, VAI MI'BARA- [Achashveirosh said to Haman,] "Woe for the [action that you are doing in the] house; woe for the [actions that you ordered to have done] outside!"

25)[line 47]"ויאמר חרבונה""VA'YOMER CHARVONAH" - "And Charvonah, [one of the ministers before the king,] said, ['Also there is the gallows that Haman made for Mordechai who spoke good about the king, standing in Haman's house, fifty Amos tall.' And the king said, 'Hang him on it!']" (Esther 7:9) (CHARVONAH)

(a)The Gemara says that Charvonah was a Rasha. In fact, he was one of the plotters who helped build the gallows in the first place (as the commentators explain, he would not have known any details about the gallows, especially its height, if not for the fact that he had been involved in its planning). The Maharsha adds that he is the same man listed in the first chapter of Megilas Esther as one of the seven leading ministers of Persia (though his name there is spelled with an "Alef," whereas here it is spelled with a "Heh").

(b)It was only when he saw that everything was backfiring for Haman that he realized with whom it would be beneficial for him to side.

(c)The Gemara refers to him as a Rasha, yet the song "Shoshanas Yakov" concludes with the words, "And also Charvonah will be remembered for the good." Such is the power of Teshuvah that it turns a Rasha into someone who is remembered for the good, even though his initial motive may have been self-preservation. Perhaps a proof of Charvonah's sincerity is the fact that when he mentioned Mordechai, he referred to him as"'Mordechai, who spoke good about the king," a statement he probably would have avoided had his Teshuvah not been genuine.

26)[line 48]"וחמת המלך שככה""VA'CHAMAS HA'MELECH SHACHACHAH"- "[And they hanged Haman on the tree which he had prepared for Mordechai,] and the fury of the king subsided." (Esther 7:10)

27)[line 49]"לכלם נתן לאיש חלפות שמלת ולבנימן נתן... חמש חלפת""L'CHULAM NASAN LA'ISH CHALIFOS SEMALOS, UL'VINYAMIN NASAN... CHAMESH CHALIFOS"- "To each one of them he gave a suit, but to Binyamin he gave [three hundred silver pieces plus] five suits." (Bereishis 45:22)

16b----------------------------------------16b

28)[line 3]מילתMEILAS- fine wool

29)[line 8]"ויפל על צוארי בנימן""VA'YIPOL AL TZAVREI BINYAMIN" - "And he (Yosef) fell upon the neck of Binyamin [his brother and he wept, and Binyamin wept on his neck.]" (Bereishis 45:14) (CRYING FOR THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH)

(a)Rebbi Elazar explains that the verse is hinting to the two Batei Mikdash that were destined to be built in Binyamin's portion and would be destroyed, over which Yosef now was crying. Binyamin, on the other hand, wept over Mishkan Shiloh that was destined to stand in the portion of Yosef and would be destroyed. The Torah Temimah ascribes the analogy of the Beis ha'Mikdash to a "neck" to the verse in Shir ha'Shirim, "Your neck is like the tower of David." He justifies Rashi's deletion of the Gemara's question ("how many necks did Binyamin have?"), but for a different reason. Rashi deletes it because the word "Tzavrei" is used as much in the singular as it is in the plural. The Torah Temimah attributes the omission to the fact that the second half of the Derashah ("and Binyamin wept on his neck") is also written in the plural ("Tzavarav"), even though he wept only on account of one Mishkan.

(b)The Torah Temimah therefore ascribes the Derashah to the fact that having just told his brothers that he was no more upset with them than he was with Binyamin, why did he not fall around their necks too and weep? The answer is that the weeping was connected with the Batei Mikdash and the Mishkan.

(c)The Torah Temimah offers no source for the distinction between the one weeping of Binyamin and the two weepings of Yosef. The note in Rashi (on the Chumash), however, does. He bases it on the double expression used in connection with Yosef, "he fell... " and "he wept," in contrast to the single expression used for Binyamin, "and Binyamin wept."

(d)The Maharsha differentiates between "Tzavarav" (which has connotations of both singular and plural) and "Tzavrei" (which is always plural). In that case, he says, it is possible to retain the original text (leaving the Gemara's question intact), based on the fact that the Torah writes "Tzavrei" in the plural with regard to Binyamin, rather than "Tzavarav" or "Tzavaro" as it does regarding Yosef.

30)[line 12]משכן שילהMISHKAN SHILOH- the Tabernacle built in the portion of Efrayim after the 14 years of conquest and apportionment of Eretz Yisrael. The Mishkan stood there for 369 years (Seder Olam Rabah 11).

31)[line 15]"כי פי המדבר אליכם""KI FI HA'MEDABER ALEICHEM" - "[And behold your eyes see, and the eyes of Binyamin my brother,] that it is my mouth that is speaking to you." (Bereishis 45:12) (YOSEF'S PARDON OF HIS BROTHERS)

(a)The Gemara extrapolates from this verse that Yosef was no more upset with his brothers than he was with Binyamin, and what he said to them was what was in his heart (i.e. he meant exactly what he said).

(b)This typifies Yosef extraordinary personality. As he himself assured them in the course of his dialogue with them, not only did he not bear a grudge for the horrific crime that they had perpetrated against him, but he would provide all of their needs as long as they remained in Egypt. Moreover, he pointed out to them, he perceived all that had transpired as a Divine act that HaSh-m orchestrated for their own benefit, and thus there was no reason for him to even think of revenge.

32)[line 21]שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנוSHE'DA'AS ZEKENIM NOCHAH HEIMENU- that is agreeable and pleasing to the sentiments of the elderly

33)[line 24]תעלא בעידניה סגיד ליהTA'ALA B'IDNEI SAGID LEI- you must bow down [even] to the fox in his time [of dominance]

34)[line 25]מאי בצירותיה מאחווהMAI BETZIRUSEI ME'ACHAVAH?- what is it that puts him at a lower level than his brothers?

35)[line 26]"וישתחו ישראל על ראש המטה""VA'YISHTACHU YISRAEL AL ROSH HA'MITAH"- "[And he said, 'Swear to me,' and he swore to him.] And Yisrael prostrated himself at the head of the bed." (Bereishis 47:31)

36)[line 27]"וינחם אותם""VA'YENACHEM OSAM"- "['And now, do not be afraid; I will sustain you and your children.] And he comforted them [and he spoke to their hearts]." (Bereishis 50:21)

37)[line 29]"ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר""LA'YEHUDIM HAYESAH ORAH V'SIMCHAH V'SASON VI'YEKAR" - "The Jews had light, happiness, joy, and glory." (Esther 8:16).

(a)The Gemara equates "Orah" with Torah, "Simchah" with Yom Tov, "Sason" with Bris Milah, and "Yekar" with Tefilin. Haman chose to include these Mitzvos in the decree in order to cloud Yisrael in darkness (Torah), to negate all happiness (Yom Tov and Bris Milah), and to extinguish the glory of Yisrael (Tefilin). The Vilna Ga'on explains that Torah really included all of the others (the Gematriya of the first letters of the words Orah, Simchah, Sason, and Yekar add up to 611, the same Gematriya as Torah).

(b)When Mordechai vanquished Haman, who had forbid these Mitzvos from being observed, the result was "light, happiness, joy, and glory" (see Anaf Yosef).

38)[line 34]למימתחה בזקיפאL'MIMTECHAH BI'ZEKIFA- to stretch it out upright. (Some say that the reading of the word is stretched out, while others say that the shape of the letter is stretched out. -ROSH)

39)[line 34]כמורדיא דלברותK'MORDAYA D'LAVROS- like the pole of a barge

40)[line 36]אריח על גבי לבינה ולבינהARI'ACH AL GABEI LEVEINAH... - (lit. a half-brick on top of a brick) with the words written above the blank space of the next line which is twice as wide as the words above them and the blank spaces left above the words of the next line, as follows:

_   _______   _
_____     _____
_   _______   _
_____     _____
_   _______   _

41)[line 36]שאריח על גבי אריחARI'ACH AL GABEI ARI'ACH... - (lit. a half-brick on top of a half-brick) and with the words written above the words of the next line and the blank spaces, which are twice as long as the words, on top of the blank spaces of the next line (RASHI); (b) with the short words ("v'Es") on top of the short words and the long words (the names of Haman's sons) on top of the long words (RABEINU TAM, cited by the Ran). According to both opinions, it appears as follows:

_____     _____
_____     _____
_____     _____
_____     _____
_____     _____

42)[line 39]"ובבאה לפני המלך אמר עם הספר""UV'VO'AH LIFNEI HA'MELECH AMAR IM HA'SEFER"- "And when she came before the king, (s)he said with the scroll, [that his (Haman's) evil intentions which he planned against the Jews should rebound on his head and they hung him and his sons on the tree.]" (Esther 9:25)

43)[line 40]"דברי שלום ואמת""DIVREI SHALOM VE'EMES" - "[And he sent scrolls to all the Jews, to the hundred and twenty-seven provinces, the kingdom of Achashverosh,] words of peace and truth." (Esther 9:30) (MEGILAH LIKE TORAH)

(a)The Gemara derives from the word "ve'Emes" that Megilas Esther requires "Sirtut" (lines) like a Sefer Torah. It is unclear how the Gemara learns this Halachah from this word. The Torah Temimah cites the Yerushalmi which bases the comparison of Megilas Esther to Torah based on the word "ve'Emes" here and the word "Emes" in the verse, "Emes Keneh v'Al Timkor" (Mishlei 23:23), where "Emes" is a reference for Torah.

(b)Furthermore, the Yerushalmi learns from this comparison that Megilas Esther should not be seen as a story to be understood merely on a superficial level, but rather as a serious Sefer that is full of content to be expounded just like the Torah itself.

44)[line 41]שרטוטSHIRTUT- etching lines into the parchment as a guide for writing straight

45)[line 42]כאמיתה של תורהAMITAH SHEL TORAH- a Sefer Torah, which contains within it truth

46)[line 43]"ומאמר אסתר קים""U'MA'AMAR ESTHER KIYAM" - "[To fulfill these days of Purim in their days like it was established by Mordechai the Jew and Esther the queen, and like they accepted upon themselves and upon their descendents the words of the fasts and their cries.] And the words of Esther established [these matters of Purim and wrote them in the book.]" (Esther 9:31-32) (THE WORDS OF ESTHER)

The Maharsha explains that the Gemara is not making a statement, but asking a rhetorical question: "Is it only the words (her request of Achashverosh) that established Purim? Is it not also the combined effort of the Jewish people, all of whom fasted and prayed at that time (and which is hinted in the earlier verse) which resulted in Purim?"

47)[line 44]"כי מרדכי היהודי משנה למלך אחשורוש וגדול ליהודים ורצוי לרב אחיו""KI MORDECHAI HA'YEHUDI MISHNEH LA'MELECH ACHASHVEROSH V'GADOL LA'YEHUDIM V'RATZUY L'ROV ECHAV" - "Because Mordechai the Jew, viceroy to King Achashverosh, a leader of the Jews and accepted by most of his brethren [and speaking peace to all his offspring.]" (Esther 10:3) (MORDECHAI'S INVOLVEMENT IN COMMUNAL MATTERS)

(a)The Gemara derives from this verse that some members of the Sanhedrin kept away from him after he became involved in communal matters. The Gemara goes on to state that Torah-study is greater than saving lives. We see this from the fact that the verse demotes Mordechai from fourth place to fifth on the Sanhedrin, on account of it.

(b)This does not mean that Mordechai should have continued learning Torah and allowed Yisrael to be exterminated (Chas v'Shalom). Everybody knows that mortal danger (even of one person) overrides Torah learning, and certainly when it is to save all of Klal Yisrael. Chazal mean that just as one is obligated to stop learning in order to fulfill a Mitzvah that nobody else is able to fulfill (despite the fact that Talmud Torah per se is greater), one is obligated to stop learning in order to perform the lesser Mitzvah of saving a Jew's life (M. KORNFELD).

(c)Consequently, Mordechai may have done the right thing, yet his level as a Torah-scholar automatically dropped. That is why some of his colleagues separated from him, even though most of the Sanhedrin disagreed with them (since Mordechai had done nothing wrong).

48)[line 47]"אשר באו עם זרבבל ישוע נחמיה שריה רעליה מרדכי בלשן""ASHER BA'U IM ZERUBAVEL YESHUA NECHEMYAH, SERAYAH, RA'ALAYAH, MORDECHAI BILSHAN" - "They came with Zerubavel: Yeshua Nechemyah, Serayah, Ra'alayah, Mordechai, Bilshan, [Mispar, Bigvei, Rechum, and Ba'anah...." (Ezra 2:2) (MORDECHAI'S PLACEMENT ON THE SANHEDRIN)

(a)Between Zerubavel's first return (from Persia to Yerushalayim) in the days of Koresh I and his second return in the days of Daryavesh II (the son of Esther), Mordechai was demoted from fourth to fifth place on the Sanhedrin.

(b)The second verse occurred twenty-four years after the first, Rashi explains, giving the impression that all of those mentioned accompanied Zerubavel to Yerushalayim with the intention of building the second Beis ha'Mikdash. When they saw, however, that Koresh had ordered that the building be stopped, they all returned to Persia. When Daryavesh II permitted them to resume the building, they all went back with Zerubavel.

(c)The Maharsha, however, considers this unlikely. He maintains that both verses refer to Zerubavel's first trip to Yerushalayim, and the verse merely repeats it in Nechemyah (not because they travelled a second time, but only to teach that Mordechai had been demoted).

(d)Mordechai, however, must have returned to Shushan when the construction stopped, as the story of the Megilah (which took between the two verses) clearly indicates.

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