1. After these things, the king made Haman son of Hemdasa the Aggagite great, and he elevated him and gave him a seat above the officers with him.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) uses this incident and this phraseology, as the case proof for the idea that H-Shem always creates the refuah before the machlah – the cure before the disease (as mentioned before). In other words, H-Shem first placed Esther and Mordechai in position to save the Jewish people, and only then is Haman elevated.
Ibn Ezra cites a later verse (Esther 3:7) that this is occurring in the twelfth year of Achashverosh’s reign. Esther was married to Achashverosh in the seventh year of his reign (ibid. 2:17). This means that five years had passed. Esther waited all of this time, married to an evil man, to figure out her role in this situation.
23. And the thing was sought and found, and both of them were hanged on a tree. And [it] was written in the book of chronicles before the king.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says that Bigsan and Seresh had times they were supposed to be on duty, and they were found switching their obligations. Not only was the guard who was supposed to be on duty not there, but it was even more suspicious that somebody else was taking his place. In addition, they had no credible alibi.
Pesikta Rabbasi states that Bigsan and Seresh understood that their plot was discovered, and one of the two was attempting to remove the evidence by ridding themselves of the (snake) poison. He was caught with the poison in his possession, and the existence of the poison explains what physical object was “found.”
The Malbim concurs that actual poison was found, even though it was well-hidden.
The Yalkut Shimoni writes that H-Shem was the One who performed a “search,” and “found” Bigsan and Seresh’s conspiracy as an ideal ruse to begin the redemption of the Jewish people.
22. And the thing was known to Mordechai, and he related it to Esther the Queen, and Esther told it to the king in Mordechai’s name.
The Ma’amar Mordechai says that Bigsan and Seresh tried to get Mordechai involved in Haman’s rebellion mentioned in the last post. After all, as a Jew, Mordechai was a member of a down-trodden people, the perfect candidate to desire a change in rule.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) teaches that Bigsan and Seresh were from a place called Turis. They were plotting the assassination by getting poison (perhaps a poison snake), but they did not know that Mordechai was on the Sanhedrin, so knew all of the 70 root languages (see Mishnah, Shekalim 5:1). Thus, Mordechai heard and understood their plan.
The Chiddushei HaRim once had a meeting in Warsaw with the famous philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefoire, where they discussed this verse. Sir Montefoire said our verse is proof that Jewish children should be taught foreign languages, so they can save the Jews from the plots of our enemies. The Chiddushei HaRim retorted that the very opposite is true – if every Jew would have learned foreign languages, Bigsan and Seresh would know this, and would be more secretive around Jews. It is the rarity of Mordechai’s ability that allowed for it to be effective.
One of the proofs the Talmud (Megillah 7a) uses that Megillas Esther was written prophetically in ruach hakodesh (see Introduction) is that the conspiracy “was known” to Mordechai, implying that he found out prophetically. Rav Pam says this opinion need not necessarily contradict the opinion that he overheard the plot. He writes that Jews respect privacy, and do not listen in on conversations. To illustrate this point, Rav Pam tells a story about a rabbi who was arrested in Poland on trumped up charges of espionage. In court, his two guards were speaking amongst themselves in Polish, assuming he knew nothing of their language. This rabbi backed away from them. Seeing this, the prosecuting attorney yelled at him for showing disrespect. The rabbi responded, “I do not mean disrespect. I am trying not to eavesdrop on your conversation.” The judge, after hearing this exchange, immediately freed the Jewish prisoner saying, “Such a one would not be a spy.” Rav Pam says Mordechai did the same thing. When he heard Bigsan and Seresh speaking in Tursish, he left the area so as not to hear them. Then, he received ruach hakodesh, Divine prophecy regarding their plot.
In Torah Nation, Rav Avigdor Miller writes that Mordechai was Divinely rewarded with this discovery in reward for his vigilance in daily risking his life to check on Esther (as mentioned in previous posts).
There are numerous reasons given for Bigsan and Seresh’s anger. The Yalkut Shimoni (1053) says that Bigsan and Seresh previously had important positions, and were upset with Mordechai for seemingly usurping them. The Malbim sees this in the actual words of the verse. After all, the verse relates Mordechai’s “sitting at the king’s gate” to Bigsan and Seresh’s anger to point out that their anger was directly caused by his position.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says they were upset with the king and queen because they were tired at nights having to protect their door as they spent time together, much like Pharoah became upset with the baker and butler for small reasons (Bireishis 40:1).
Rav Elisha Gallico says they were upset that Mordechai was sitting at the king’s gate, deciding cases based on Jewish law. Bigsan and Seresh therefore saw it as a patriotic duty to kill the king (who was, by the way, not Persian) for his seeming betrayal of Persian law in promoting a Jew to this position.
The Me’am Loez writes that the two of them were relatives of Vashti, and waited this long period of time to avenge her death. Another opinion he brings is that they were upset that Achashverosh rejected Haman’s daughter during the search for a new queen, and Haman convinced them to join in a rebellion against the king. The Me’am Loez also quotes Yossipon that this was just one part of a much larger rebellion, and that these two wanted to kill Achashverosh to bring the king’s head to the Greeks, enemies of the Persians, and thereby ingratiate themselves to them.
The Malbim points out that, regardless of the reason, their motivation was petty. This parallels the story of Yosef mentioned in the above Talmud. The Malbim continues that, just as H-Shem can inspire a king (Pharoah) to be angry with his servants for no reason, so, too, can H-Shem inspire a servant (Bigsan and Seresh) to hate a king for no reason. Rav Dovid Feinstein asks why these two stories are being paralleled by the Talmud. He answers that the verse says “shnei” (“both”), equating the feelings of Bigsan and Seresh. In the natural order of things, this is impossible because no two people can have the same exact emotion from the same exact motivation in the same exact degree. This is yet one more indication that these events were led Divinely.
21. In those days – and Mordechai was sitting at the king’s gate – Bigsan and Seresh became angry with the king, two eunuchs of the king guarding his doorstep, and they sought/ requested to send out the hand to the king Achashverosh.
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein writes that the phrase “in those days” is meant to emphasize that H-Shem set up the saving of the Jews long before the threat to Jewish existence. As we have said before, H-Shem always prepares the cure before the advent of the ailment (Talmud, Megillah 13b).
The Vilna Gaon points out that “ma’amar” (“instruction”) is a word connoting a gentle form of speaking. Esther, being queen, still followed Mordechai’s instructions like a daughter following the gentle reproach of a parent even after leaving his authority. Rashi adds that Mordechai sat at the king’s gate (see next verse), gently reminding Esther that she was Jewish and thus had responsibilities to H-Shem.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says that Esther showed her niddah questions to Mordechai, as it may be necessary at times to seek rabbinic advice in this area according to the halachah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 193:1). In fact, the Yerushalmi states that Esther asked Mordechai other questions in regard to rabbinic law. In other words, she was asking specifically issues of rabbinic law.
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein says that Esther was following Mordechai’s advice because she knew she was a part of H-Shem’s plan, but did not know how, and did not want to get in the way of this Divine plan.
Rabbi Tzvi HaCohen Kaplan writes that Esther’s prophecy mentioned earlier (mentioned previously) was a direct result of her fidelity to Mordechai, trusting the Torah of the Rabbis in these difficult times.
Another opinion in the Talmud there is that Esther had relations with Achashverosh, went to the mikvah, and then had relations with Mordechai. Although she was taken by force, and so allowed to Mordechai, Esther seemingly should have waited the requisite three months (Yevamos 35a) before having relations with her husband, unless it was actually a sheid (as mentioned in previous posts) having relations with the king. Perhaps going to the mikvah was Esther’s way to feel more pure, even if she wasn’t so in actual fact.
The Malbim contends that Esther, besides possessing health and beauty, also had great character because of her distinguished father. We know that he was a great man because it says in the Talmud (hinted at in Megillah 10b) that all prophets must have good genealogy.
Another reason for her father to be mentioned here comes from the Maharal. He quotes the verse in the Torah (Bireishis 2:24) that says a man who finds his intended should cling to her. Maharal continues that a woman, too, clings to her husband after marriage. Therefore, Esther was connected to Mordechai up until this point, and will now have to cling to her new “husband,” Achashverosh.
The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says that Esther’s ancestors Rachel, Benyamin, and Shaul were all able to keep secrets. This characteristic was passed down through Avichayil to Esther. Rav Chaim Kanievsky says this verse emphasizes this genetic link to secrecy. This is why Esther’s father was not mentioned earlier when her secrecy was first mentioned (2:10 above), because there, she was commanded to be secretive by Mordechai, and this verse is attesting to her innate ability to do so for this long period of time.