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Midrash Esther I: Achashveirosh: No Future

“Now it came to pass in the days about how Achasveirosh.” Rabbi Joshua son of Karcha said: he was called Achashveirosh because he made the face of Israel black like the sides of a pot.

Rabbi Berechiah said: because he made the head of Israel ache with fasting and affliction.

Rabbi Levi said: because he made them drink gall and wormwood.

Rabbi Judah said: because he sought to uproot Israel from the foundation of their future.

Rabbi Tachalifa the son of bar Chana said: because he was the brother of the head, the brother of Nebuchadnezar. How could he be his brother? Was not one a Chaldean and the other a Median? The fact is that one stopped the building of the Temple and the other destroyed the Temple; therefore Scripture puts them on the same level. (Esther Rabbah 1:1)

Rabbi Judah views Achashveirosh as a person who is committed to breaking our connection to the future. All his efforts were focused on severing Israel’s connection to the things which would give them a future as Israel and not his subjects. His decree against Israel, was intended to prove his point; his power over their destiny. He celebrated with the vessels of their destroyed Temple. He partied when he calculated that Jeremiah’s prophecy of a Seventy-Year exile had expired. No one in his kingdom could rely on the future. He raises Haman above all other powerful nobles so that they would be unsure of their future. He makes a second contest even after he selected Esther as his queen so that she would be unsure of her future.

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