Esther 1:5, Question 3. Why does the Megillah use the unusual order of “from the great to the small?”

Several reasons are given for the Megillah’s stressing the participants’ being “from great to small.” After all, like celebrities entering an awards ceremony or the grand finale in a fireworks show, the people of greater stature are usually honored after those of lower stature according to propriety. Furthermore, in the story of Lot, the Sodomites are described as attacking his home “from the young to the old” (Bereishis 19:4). The Sfas Emes posits that the phraseology suggests that even minors were allowed at the party. According to the Malbim and Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi, the mixed-up order allows for comparison, which implies that Achashverosh was telling his more noble guests that they were now all equal with everyone else – making everyone mere slaves to him. Sometimes, as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, being equal means that everyone is less than they deserve.

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