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Today's Daf Yomi

December 23, 2021 | י״ט בטבת תשפ״ב

  • This month's learning is dedicated by Debbie and Yossi Gevir to Rabbanit Michelle and the Hadran Zoom group for their kindness, support, and care during a medically challenging year.

Megillah 11

Today’s daf is sponsored by Terri Krivosha for a speedy and full recovery of her husband, Hayim ben Fage Rivah, Hayim Herring, from Covid. 

Different rabbis would start their drashot on the Megillah from various verses from the Prophets and the Writings and connected them to the story of Purim. After mentioning various “beginnings” of these drashot, the Gemara moves to the first verses of the Megillah and begins to expound on them. How can the name Achashverosh be expounded? Several different options are brought. The verse says “He is Achashverosh” “he is” is explained to mean he was completely bad from the first day until the last. Other verses where this wording is used to describe people are also explained as being complete – some in a positive way and some negatively. “From Hodi to Cush” – were these states on opposite ends of the world or right near each other? Why does it say “seven and twenty and one hundred states”? Three people ruled over the whole world – Achav, Achashverosh and Nevuchadnetzer. Verses are brought to prove this. Why isn’t Solomon mentioned in this list? What about Sancheriv, Darius and Coresh? Why did Acheshverosh make a party in the third year of his reign? He mistakenly thought that the seventy years of the exile had ended and the Jews had not been redeemed and therefore he thought they would never be redeemed. He thought he was smarter than Balshetzar who also miscalculated the seventy years, but he also miscalculated. What calculation did each of them make and why were they wrong?

 

כי עבדים אנחנו ובעבדותנו לא עזבנו אלהינו ויט עלינו חסד לפני מלכי פרס אימתי בזמן המן

“For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia” (Ezra 9:9). When did this occur? In the time of Haman.

רבי חנינא בר פפא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא הרכבת אנוש לראשנו באנו באש ובמים באש בימי נבוכדנצר הרשע ובמים בימי פרעה ותוציאנו לרויה בימי המן

Rabbi Ḥanina bar Pappa introduced this passage with an introduction from here: The verse states: “You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into abundance” (Psalms 66:12). “Through fire”; this was in the days of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who cast the righteous into the furnace. “And through water”; this was in the days of Pharaoh, who decreed that all newborn males be cast into the water. “But You brought us out into abundance”; this was in the days of Haman, where abundant feasts played a pivotal role in their peril and salvation.

רבי יוחנן פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא זכר חסדו ואמונתו לבית ישראל ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינו אימתי ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינו בימי מרדכי ואסתר

Rabbi Yoḥanan introduced this passage with an introduction from here: The verse states: “He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalms 98:3). When did all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God? In the days of Mordecai and Esther, for their peril and salvation became known through the letters sent throughout the empire.

ריש לקיש פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא ארי נוהם ודוב שוקק מושל רשע על עם דל ארי נוהם זה נבוכדנצר הרשע דכתיב ביה עלה אריה מסובכו דוב שוקק זה אחשורוש דכתיב ביה וארו חיוה אחרי תניינה דמיה לדוב ותני רב יוסף אלו פרסיים שאוכלין ושותין כדוב ומסורבלין בשר כדוב ומגדלין שער כדוב ואין להם מנוחה כדוב

Reish Lakish introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “As a roaring lion, and a ravenous bear, so is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (Proverbs 28:15). “A roaring lion”; this is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written about him: “The lion has come up from his thicket” (Jeremiah 4:7). “A hungry bear”; this is Ahasuerus, as it is written about him: “And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear” (Daniel 7:5). And Rav Yosef taught that these who are referred to as a bear in the verse are the Persians. They are compared to a bear, as they eat and drink in large quantities like a bear; and they are coated with flesh like a bear; and they grow their hair long like a bear; and they never rest like a bear, whose manner it is to move about from place to place.

מושל רשע זה המן על עם דל אלו ישראל שהם דלים מן המצות

“A wicked ruler”; this is Haman. “Over a poor people”; this is the Jewish people, who are referred to in this manner because they are poor in their observance of the mitzvot.

רבי אלעזר פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא בעצלתים ימך המקרה ובשפלות ידים ידלוף הבית בשביל עצלות שהיה להם לישראל שלא עסקו בתורה נעשה שונאו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מך ואין מך אלא עני שנאמר ואם מך הוא מערכך ואין מקרה אלא הקדוש ברוך הוא שנאמר המקרה במים עליותיו

Rabbi Elazar introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “Through laziness the rafters [hamekare] sink in [yimakh]; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks” (Ecclesiastes 10:18). Rabbi Elazar interprets the verse homiletically: Through the laziness of the Jewish people, who did not occupy themselves with Torah study, the enemy of the Holy One, Blessed be He, a euphemism for God Himself, became poor [makh], so that, as it were, He was unable to help them, as makh is nothing other than poor, as it is stated: “But if he be too poor [makh] for the valuation” (Leviticus 27:8). And the word mekare in the verse is referring to no one other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “Who lays the beams [hamekare] of His chambers in the waters” (Psalms 104:3).

רב נחמן בר יצחק פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא שיר המעלות לולי ה׳ שהיה לנו יאמר נא ישראל לולי ה׳ שהיה לנו בקום עלינו אדם אדם ולא מלך

Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “A song of ascents of David. If not for the Lord Who was with us, let Israel now say; if not for the Lord who was with us, when a man rose up against us” (Psalms 124:1–2). The verse speaks of “a man” who rose up against us and not a king. This occurred in the days of Haman, as he, and not King Ahasuerus, was the chief enemy of the Jewish people.

רבא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם ובמשול רשע יאנח עם ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם זה מרדכי ואסתר דכתיב והעיר שושן צהלה ושמחה ובמשול רשע יאנח עם זה המן דכתיב והעיר שושן נבוכה

Rava introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “When the righteous are on the increase, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2). “When the righteous are on the increase, the people rejoice”; this is Mordecai and Esther, as it is written: “And the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad” (Esther 8:15). “But when the wicked man rules, the people mourn”; this is Haman, as it is written: “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” (Esther 3:15).

רב מתנה אמר מהכא כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרובים אליו רב אשי אמר מהכא או הנסה אלהים וגו׳

Rav Mattana said his introduction from here: “For what nation is there so great, that has God so near to them” (Deuteronomy 4:7), as to witness the great miracles in the days of Mordecai and Esther? Rav Ashi said his introduction from here: The verse states: “Or has God ventured to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation?” (Deuteronomy 4:34), as in the times of Esther, God saved the Jewish people who were scattered throughout the Persian Empire.

ויהי בימי אחשורוש אמר רב ויי והי הדא דכתיב והתמכרתם שם לאויביך לעבדים ולשפחות וגו׳

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretation of the book of Esther. The verse states: “And it came to pass [vayhi] in the days of Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:1). Rav said: The word vayhi may be understood as if it said vai and hi, meaning woe and mourning. This is as it is written: “And there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondsmen and bondswomen, and no man shall buy you” (Deuteronomy 28:68). The repetitive nature of the verse, indicating that no one will be willing to buy you for servitude, but they will purchase you in order to murder you, indicates a doubly horrific situation, which is symbolized by the dual term vayhi, meaning woe and mourning.

ושמואל אמר לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלותם לא מאסתים בימי יוונים ולא געלתים בימי נבוכדנצר לכלותם בימי המן להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים כי אני ה׳ אלהיהם בימי גוג ומגוג

And Shmuel said his introduction from here: “And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God” (Leviticus 26:44). Shmuel explains: “I will not reject them”; this was in the days of the Greeks. “Nor will I abhor them”; this was in the days of Vespasian. “To destroy them utterly”; this was in the days of Haman. “To break My covenant with them”; this was in the days of the Persians. “For I am the Lord their God”; this is in the days of Gog and Magog.

במתניתא תנא לא מאסתים בימי כשדים שהעמדתי להם דניאל חנניה מישאל ועזריה ולא געלתים בימי יוונים שהעמדתי להם שמעון הצדיק וחשמונאי ובניו ומתתיה כהן גדול לכלותם בימי המן שהעמדתי להם מרדכי ואסתר להפר בריתי אתם בימי רומיים שהעמדתי להם של בית רבי וחכמי דורות כי אני ה׳ אלהיהם לעתיד לבוא שאין כל אומה ולשון יכולה לשלוט בהם

An alternative understanding was taught in a baraita: “I will not reject them”; this was in the days of the Chaldeans, when I appointed for them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to pray on their behalf. “Nor will I abhor them”; this was in the days of the Greeks, when I appointed Shimon HaTzaddik for them, and the Hasmonean and his sons, and Mattithiah the High Priest. “To destroy them utterly”; this was in the days of Haman, when I appointed for them the righteous leaders Mordecai and Esther. “To break My covenant with them”; this was in the days of the Romans, when I appointed for them the Sages of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and the Sages of other generations. “For I am the Lord their God”; this will be in the future, when no nation or people of a foreign tongue will be able to subjugate them further.

רבי לוי אמר מהכא ואם לא תורישו את יושבי הארץ

Rabbi Levi said his introduction from here: “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come to pass, that those whom you allow to remain of them shall be as thorns in your eyes” (Numbers 33:55). King Saul’s failure to completely annihilate Amalek allowed for the existence of his descendant Haman, who acted as a thorn in the eyes of Israel during the Purim episode.

רבי חייא אמר מהכא והיה כאשר דמיתי לעשות להם אעשה לכם

Rabbi Ḥiyya said his introduction from here, the continuation of the previously cited verse: “And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so I shall do unto you” (Numbers 33:56). Prior to the miracle of Purim, the Jewish people were subject to the punishment that the Torah designated for its enemies, because they did not fulfill God’s commandments.

אחשורוש אמר רב אחיו של ראש ובן גילו של ראש אחיו של ראש אחיו של נבוכדנצר הרשע שנקרא ראש שנאמר אנת הוא רישא די דהבא בן גילו של ראש הוא הרג הוא ביקש להרוג הוא החריב הוא ביקש להחריב שנאמר ובמלכות אחשורוש בתחלת מלכותו כתבו שטנה על יושבי יהודה וירושלם

The Gemara continues with its explanation of the book of Esther, beginning with a discussion of the name Ahasuerus. Rav said: The name should be viewed as a contraction: The brother of the head [aḥiv shel rosh] and of the same character as the head [ben gilo shel rosh]. Rav explains: The brother of the head, i.e., the brother of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who is called “head,” as it is stated: “You are the head of gold” (Daniel 2:38). Of the same character as the head, for he, Nebuchadnezzar, killed the Jews, and he, Ahasuerus, sought to kill them. He destroyed the Temple, and he sought to destroy the foundations for the Temple laid by Zerubbabel, as it is stated: “And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote to him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 4:6), and he ordered that the construction of the Temple cease.

ושמואל אמר שהושחרו פניהם של ישראל בימיו כשולי קדרה ורבי יוחנן אמר כל שזוכרו אמר אח לראשו ורבי חנינא אמר שהכל נעשו רשין בימיו שנאמר וישם המלך אחשורוש מס

And Shmuel said: The name Ahasuerus should be understood in the sense of black [shaḥor], as the face of the Jewish people was blackened in his days like the bottom of a pot. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said a different explanation: Everyone who recalled him said: “Woe upon his head” [aḥ lerosho]. And Rabbi Ḥanina said: The name alludes to the fact that everyone became poor [rash] in his days, as it is stated: “And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land” (Esther 10:1).

הוא אחשורוש הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא עשו הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא דתן ואבירם הן ברשען מתחילתן ועד סופן הוא המלך אחז הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו

The Gemara continues: “This is [hu] Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:1); the term hu, this is, comes to teach that he remained as he was in his wickedness from beginning to end. Similarly, wherever the words “this is” appear in this manner, the verse indicates that the individual under discussion remained the same from beginning to end, for example: “This is [hu] Esau” (Genesis 36:43); he remained in his wickedness from beginning to end. “This is [hu] Dathan and Abiram” (Numbers 26:9); they remained in their wickedness from beginning to end. “This is [hu] the king Ahaz” (II Chronicles 28:22); he remained in his wickedness from beginning to end.

אברם הוא אברהם הוא בצדקו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא אהרן ומשה הן בצדקן מתחילתן ועד סופן ודוד הוא הקטן הוא בקטנותו מתחילתו עד סופו כשם שבקטנותו הקטין עצמו אצל מי שגדול ממנו בתורה כך במלכותו הקטין עצמו אצל מי שגדול ממנו בחכמה

The Gemara continues: The word hu is also used to recognize sustained righteousness. “Abram, this is [hu] Abraham” (I Chronicles 1:27); this indicates that Abraham didn’t change, as he remained in his righteousness from beginning to end. Similarly, “This is [hu] Aaron and Moses” (Exodus 6:26); they remained in their righteousness from the beginning of their life to the end of their life. Similarly, with respect to David: “And David, this was [hu] the youngest” (I Samuel 17:14), indicates that he remained in his humility from beginning to end. Just as in his youth, when he was still an ordinary individual, he humbled himself before anyone who was greater than him in Torah, so too, in his kingship, he humbled himself before anyone who was greater than him in wisdom.

המולך אמר רב שמלך מעצמו אמרי לה לשבח ואמרי לה לגנאי אמרי לה לשבח דלא הוה איניש דחשיב למלכא כוותיה ואמרי לה לגנאי דלא הוה חזי למלכותא וממונא יתירא הוא דיהב וקם

The next term in the opening verse: “Who reigned” (Esther 1:1), is now interpreted. Rav said: This comes to teach that he reigned on his own, without having inherited the throne. Some say this to his credit, and some say it to his disgrace. The Gemara explains: Some say this to his credit, that there was no other man as fit as him to be king. And some say it to his disgrace, that he was not fit to be king, but he distributed large amounts of money, and in that way rose to the throne.

מהודו ועד כוש רב ושמואל חד אמר הודו בסוף העולם וכוש בסוף העולם וחד אמר הודו וכוש גבי הדדי הוו קיימי כשם שמלך על הודו וכוש כך מלך מסוף העולם ועד סופו

The opening verse continues that Ahasuerus reigned “from Hodu to Cush.” Rav and Shmuel disagreed about its meaning. One said: Hodu is a country at one end of the world, and Cush is a country at the other end of the world. And one said: Hodu and Cush are situated next to each other, and the verse means to say as follows: Just as Ahasuerus reigned with ease over the adjacent countries of Hodu and Cush, so too, he reigned with ease from one end of the world to the other.

כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר כי הוא רודה בכל עבר הנהר מתפסח ועד עזה רב ושמואל חד אמר תפסח בסוף העולם ועזה בסוף העולם וחד אמר תפסח ועזה בהדי הדדי הוו קיימי כשם שמלך על תפסח ועל עזה כך מלך על כל העולם כולו

On a similar note, you say with regard to Solomon: “For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the river, from Tiphsah even to Gaza” (I Kings 5:4), and also with regard to this Rav and Shmuel disagreed. One said: Tiphsah is at one end of the world, whereas Gaza is at the other end of the world. And one said: Tiphsah and Gaza are situated next to each other, and the verse means to say as follows: Just as Solomon reigned with ease over the adjacent Tiphsah and Gaza, so too, he reigned with ease over the entire world.

שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה אמר רב חסדא בתחילה מלך על שבע ולבסוף מלך על עשרים ולבסוף מלך על מאה אלא מעתה ושני חיי עמרם שבע ושלשים ומאת שנה מאי דרשת ביה שאני הכא דקרא יתירא הוא מכדי כתיב מהודו ועד כוש שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה למה לי שמע מינה לדרשה

The opening verse continues, stating that Ahasuerus reigned “over seven and twenty and a hundred provinces” (Esther 1:1). Rav Ḥisda said: This verse should be understood as follows: At first he reigned over seven provinces; and then he reigned over twenty more; and finally he reigned over another hundred. The Gemara asks: However, if that is so, with regard to the similarly worded verse: “And the years of the life of Amram were seven and thirty and a hundred years” (Exodus 6:20), what would you expound from it? The Gemara answers: It is different here, in the book of Esther, as this part of the verse is entirely superfluous. Since it is already written: “From Hodu to Cush,” why then do I need “Seven and twenty and a hundred provinces”? Rather, learn from here that these words come for this exposition, to teach that Ahasuerus did not begin to reign over all of them at the same time.

תנו רבנן שלשה מלכו בכיפה ואלו הן אחאב ואחשורוש ונבוכדנצר אחאב דכתיב חי ה׳ אלהיך אם יש גוי וממלכה אשר לא שלח אדוני שם לבקשך וגו׳ ואי לא דהוה מליך עלייהו היכי מצי משבע להו

§ Apropos the discussion of the kingdoms of Ahasuerus and Solomon, the Gemara cites a baraita in which the Sages taught: Three men ruled over the entire world, and they were Ahab, and Ahasuerus, and Nebuchadnezzar. The Gemara explains: Ahab, as it is written in the words of Obadiah, servant of Ahab, to Elijah: “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to seek you, and they said: He is not there; and he made the kingdom and nation swear, that they had not found you” (I Kings 18:10). And if he did not reign over them, how could he have made them swear? Apparently, then, he reigned over the entire world.

נבוכדנצר דכתיב והיה הגוי והממלכה אשר לא יתן את צוארו בעול מלך בבל אחשורוש הא דאמרן

Nebuchadnezzar also ruled over the whole world, as it is written: “And it shall come to pass, that the nation and the kingdom that not serve this same Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylonia, that nation will I visit, says the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand” (Jeremiah 27:8). Ahasuerus also ruled the world, as we have said above.

(סימן שסדך) ותו ליכא והא איכא שלמה לא סליק מלכותיה

After mentioning three kings who ruled over the world, the Gemara presents a mnemonic for the names of other kings that will be discussed below: Shin, Solomon, i.e., Shlomo; samekh, Sennacherib; dalet, Darius; kaf, Cyrus, i.e., Koresh. The Gemara asks: But is there no other king besides those previously mentioned who ruled over the entire world? But there is King Solomon who ruled over the world and should be added to the list. The Gemara answers: Solomon did not complete his kingship, as he left the throne during his lifetime, and therefore, his name doesn’t appear on the list.

הניחא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט אלא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט ומלך מאי איכא למימר שלמה מילתא אחריתי הוה ביה שמלך על העליונים ועל התחתונים שנאמר וישב שלמה על כסא ה׳

The Gemara asks: This works out well according to the one who said that Solomon was first a king and then a commoner, never returning to the throne. But according to the one who said that he was first a king and then a commoner, and then afterward he returned again to be a king, what can be said to explain why he is not mentioned in the list of kings who ruled over the entire world? The Gemara answers: There was something else about Solomon that makes it impossible to compare him to the others, for he ruled over the inhabitants of the heavenly worlds, i.e., demons and spirits, as well as the human inhabitants of the earthly worlds, as it is stated: “Then Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord as king” (I Chronicles 29:23), which indicates that his reign extended even to the heavenly worlds, with King Solomon sitting upon the throne of the Lord, and therefore he cannot be compared to the others, who merely ruled on earth.

והא הוה סנחריב דכתיב מי בכל אלהי הארצות האלה אשר הצילו את ארצם מידי הא איכא ירושלים דלא כבשה

The Gemara asks further: But there was Sennacherib, who ruled over the entire world, as it is written: “Who are they among all the gods of these countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (Isaiah 36:20). The Gemara answers: There is Jerusalem that he did not conquer, as indicated in the verse.

והא איכא דריוש דכתיב דריוש מלכא כתב לכל עממיא אומיא ולשניא די דיירין בכל ארעא שלמכון יסגא הא איכא שבע דלא מלך עלייהו דכתיב שפר קדם דריוש והקים על מלכותא לאחשדרפניא מאה ועשרין

The Gemara continues to ask: But there is Darius, as it is stated: “Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you” (Daniel 6:26). The Gemara answers: There are the seven provinces over which he did not rule, as it is written: “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps” (Daniel 6:2). It is apparent from here that Darius did not rule over the entire world, for his son Ahasuerus ruled over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, an additional seven.

והא איכא כורש דכתיב כה אמר כורש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה׳ התם אשתבוחי הוא דקא משתבח בנפשיה

The Gemara raises another question: But there is Cyrus, as it is written: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth” (Ezra 1:2). The Gemara answers: This is not proof that he ruled the world, for there he was merely boasting about himself, although in fact there was no truth to his words.

בימים ההם כשבת המלך וכתיב בתריה בשנת שלש למלכו אמר רבא מאי כשבת לאחר שנתיישבה דעתו אמר בלשצר חשב וטעה אנא חשיבנא ולא טעינא

§ The second verse in Esther states: “In those days when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom” (Esther 1:2), implying that the events to follow took place during the first year of his reign; and one verse afterward it is written: “In the third year of his reign” (Esther 1:3), indicating that it was the third year, not the first. Rava said: There is no contradiction. What is the meaning of “when he sat” [keshevet]? It is intended to indicate that he acted not immediately upon his rise to the throne, but rather after his mind was settled [shenityasheva], and he overcame his anxiety and worry with regard to the redemption of the Jewish people. He said to himself as follows: Belshazzar, the king of Babylonia, calculated and erred with regard to the Jewish people’s redemption. I too will calculate, but I will not err.

מאי היא דכתיב כי לפי מלאת לבבל שבעים שנה אפקוד אתכם וכתיב למלאות לחרבות ירושלם שבעים שנה חשוב ארבעין וחמש דנבוכדנצר ועשרים ותלת דאויל מרודך ותרתי דידיה הא שבעים אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו

The Gemara explains: What is this calculation? As it is written with regard to Jeremiah’s prophecy of a return to Eretz Yisrael: “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylonia I will remember you and perform My good word toward you, enabling you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10), and elsewhere it is written in a slightly different formulation: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, meditated in the books, over the number of the years, which the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). He, Belshazzar, calculated as follows: Forty-five years of Nebuchadnezzar, and twenty-three of Evil-merodach, and two of his own, for a total of seventy years that had passed without redemption. He was therefore certain that Jeremiah’s prophecy would no longer be fulfilled, and he therefore said: I will take out the vessels of the Holy Temple and use them.

ונבוכדנצר מנלן דארבעין וחמש שנין מלך דאמר מר גלו בשבע גלו בשמונה גלו בשמונה עשרה גלו בתשע עשרה

The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that Nebuchadnezzar reigned for forty-five years? As the Master said: They were exiled in the seventh year; they were exiled in the eighth year; they were exiled in the eighteenth year; and they were exiled in the nineteenth year.

גלו בשבע לכיבוש יהויקים גלות יהויכין שהיא שמונה לנבוכדנצר גלו בשמונה עשרה לכיבוש יהויקים גלות צדקיהו שהיא תשע עשרה לנבוכדנצר דאמר מר שנה ראשונה כיבש נינוה שניה כיבש יהויקים וכתיב ויהי בשלשים ושבע שנה לגלות יהויכין מלך יהודה בשנים עשר חדש בעשרים וחמשה לחדש נשא אויל מרודך מלך בבל [בשנת מלכותו] את ראש יהויכין מלך יהודה ויוצא אותו מבית הכלא

The Gemara explains: They were exiled in the seventh year after Nebuchadnezzar’s subjugation of Jehoiakim, in what was known as the exile of Jehoiachin, which was actually the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Then later they were exiled a second time in the eighteenth year after the subjugation of Jehoiakim, in what was known as the exile of Zedekiah, which was actually in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, as the Master said: In the first year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Nineveh; in his second year he conquered Jehoiakim. And it is written: “And it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin, king of Judea, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-merodach, king of Babylonia, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, king of Judea, and brought him out of prison” (Jeremiah 52:31).

תמני ותלתין ושבע הרי ארבעין וחמש דנבוכדנצר ועשרין ותלת דאויל מרודך גמרא ותרתי דידיה הא שבעין אמר השתא ודאי תו לא מיפרקי אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו

The Gemara calculates: Since Evil-merodach acted in the first year of his reign, immediately after coming to power, it turns out that Nebuchadnezzar ruled for eight years before he sent Jehoiachin into exile, and thirty-seven years during which Jehoiachin was in prison. This equals forty-five years of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. And the twenty-three years of Evil-merodach are known through tradition. And together with the two years of Belshazzar, this brings the count of the years of exile to seventy. At that point Belshazzar said to himself: Now for sure they will not be redeemed. Therefore, I will take out the vessels of the Holy Temple and use them.

היינו דקאמר ליה דניאל ועל מרי שמיא התרוממת ולמאניא די בייתיה היתיו קדמך וכתיב ביה בליליא קטיל בלשאצר מלכא [כשדאי] וכתיב ודריוש מדאה קבל מלכותא כבר שנין שתין ותרתין

This is that which Daniel said to him with regard to his impending punishment for using the Temple’s vessels: “But you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His House before you” (Daniel 5:23). And it is written further in the chapter: “In that night Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain” (Daniel 5:30). This was the description of Belshazzar’s mistaken calculation. And it states after the fall of Belshazzar: “And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old” (Daniel 6:1).

אמר איהו מיטעא טעי אנא חשיבנא ולא טעינא מי כתיב למלכות בבל לבבל כתיב מאי לבבל לגלות בבל כמה בצירן תמני חשיב ועייל חילופייהו חדא דבלשצר וחמש דדריוש וכורש ותרתי דידיה הא שבעין כיון דחזי דמלו שבעין ולא איפרוק אמר השתא ודאי תו לא מיפרקי אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו בא שטן וריקד ביניהן והרג את ושתי

Ahasuerus said: He, Belshazzar, erred. I too will calculate, but I will not err, thinking he understood the source of Belshazzar’s mistake. Is it written: “Seventy years for the kingdom of Babylonia”? It is written: “Seventy years for Babylonia.” What is meant by “for Babylonia”? These words are referring to the seventy years for the exile of Babylonia. How many years are still lacking from the seventy years? Eight years. He calculated, and inserted in their stead one year of Belshazzar, and five years of Darius and Cyrus, and two years of his own, bringing the total to seventy. Once he saw that seventy years had been completed, and the Jewish people were still not redeemed, he said: Now for sure they will not be redeemed. Therefore, I will take out the vessels of the Temple and use them. What happened to him? As a punishment for what he did, the Satan came and danced among them, and brought confusion to his celebration until he killed Vashti.

והא שפיר חשיב איהו נמי מיטעא טעי דאיבעי ליה למימני מחרבות ירושלים

The Gemara asks: But he calculated properly; why then did this happen? The Gemara answers: He too erred in his calculation, for he should have counted from the destruction of Jerusalem at the time of the exile of Zedekiah and not from the first exile of Jehoiachin.

סוף סוף כמה בצירן (חדיסר) איהו כמה מלך ארביסר בארביסר דידיה איבעי ליה למיבני בית המקדש אלמה כתיב באדין בטילת עבידת בית אלהא די בירושלם אמר רבא שנים מקוטעות הוו

The Gemara asks: Ultimately, how many years were lacking? Eleven, for the exile of Zedekiah took place eleven years after that of Jehoiachin. How many years did Ahasuerus reign as king? Fourteen. Indeed, in his fourteenth year, then, the Temple should have been built. If so, why is it written: “Then the work of the House of God, which is in Jerusalem, ceased; so it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia” (Ezra 4:24), which indicates that the Temple was not built during the entire reign of Ahasuerus? Rava said: The years reckoned were partial years. To complete the seventy years, it was necessary to wait until the second year of the rule of Darius II, when indeed the Temple was built.

  • This month's learning is dedicated by Debbie and Yossi Gevir to Rabbanit Michelle and the Hadran Zoom group for their kindness, support, and care during a medically challenging year.

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Megillah 11

כי עבדים אנחנו ובעבדותנו לא עזבנו אלהינו ויט עלינו חסד לפני מלכי פרס אימתי בזמן המן

“For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia” (Ezra 9:9). When did this occur? In the time of Haman.

רבי חנינא בר פפא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא הרכבת אנוש לראשנו באנו באש ובמים באש בימי נבוכדנצר הרשע ובמים בימי פרעה ותוציאנו לרויה בימי המן

Rabbi Ḥanina bar Pappa introduced this passage with an introduction from here: The verse states: “You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into abundance” (Psalms 66:12). “Through fire”; this was in the days of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who cast the righteous into the furnace. “And through water”; this was in the days of Pharaoh, who decreed that all newborn males be cast into the water. “But You brought us out into abundance”; this was in the days of Haman, where abundant feasts played a pivotal role in their peril and salvation.

רבי יוחנן פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא זכר חסדו ואמונתו לבית ישראל ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינו אימתי ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינו בימי מרדכי ואסתר

Rabbi Yoḥanan introduced this passage with an introduction from here: The verse states: “He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalms 98:3). When did all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God? In the days of Mordecai and Esther, for their peril and salvation became known through the letters sent throughout the empire.

ריש לקיש פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא ארי נוהם ודוב שוקק מושל רשע על עם דל ארי נוהם זה נבוכדנצר הרשע דכתיב ביה עלה אריה מסובכו דוב שוקק זה אחשורוש דכתיב ביה וארו חיוה אחרי תניינה דמיה לדוב ותני רב יוסף אלו פרסיים שאוכלין ושותין כדוב ומסורבלין בשר כדוב ומגדלין שער כדוב ואין להם מנוחה כדוב

Reish Lakish introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “As a roaring lion, and a ravenous bear, so is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (Proverbs 28:15). “A roaring lion”; this is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written about him: “The lion has come up from his thicket” (Jeremiah 4:7). “A hungry bear”; this is Ahasuerus, as it is written about him: “And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear” (Daniel 7:5). And Rav Yosef taught that these who are referred to as a bear in the verse are the Persians. They are compared to a bear, as they eat and drink in large quantities like a bear; and they are coated with flesh like a bear; and they grow their hair long like a bear; and they never rest like a bear, whose manner it is to move about from place to place.

מושל רשע זה המן על עם דל אלו ישראל שהם דלים מן המצות

“A wicked ruler”; this is Haman. “Over a poor people”; this is the Jewish people, who are referred to in this manner because they are poor in their observance of the mitzvot.

רבי אלעזר פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא בעצלתים ימך המקרה ובשפלות ידים ידלוף הבית בשביל עצלות שהיה להם לישראל שלא עסקו בתורה נעשה שונאו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מך ואין מך אלא עני שנאמר ואם מך הוא מערכך ואין מקרה אלא הקדוש ברוך הוא שנאמר המקרה במים עליותיו

Rabbi Elazar introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “Through laziness the rafters [hamekare] sink in [yimakh]; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks” (Ecclesiastes 10:18). Rabbi Elazar interprets the verse homiletically: Through the laziness of the Jewish people, who did not occupy themselves with Torah study, the enemy of the Holy One, Blessed be He, a euphemism for God Himself, became poor [makh], so that, as it were, He was unable to help them, as makh is nothing other than poor, as it is stated: “But if he be too poor [makh] for the valuation” (Leviticus 27:8). And the word mekare in the verse is referring to no one other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “Who lays the beams [hamekare] of His chambers in the waters” (Psalms 104:3).

רב נחמן בר יצחק פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא שיר המעלות לולי ה׳ שהיה לנו יאמר נא ישראל לולי ה׳ שהיה לנו בקום עלינו אדם אדם ולא מלך

Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “A song of ascents of David. If not for the Lord Who was with us, let Israel now say; if not for the Lord who was with us, when a man rose up against us” (Psalms 124:1–2). The verse speaks of “a man” who rose up against us and not a king. This occurred in the days of Haman, as he, and not King Ahasuerus, was the chief enemy of the Jewish people.

רבא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם ובמשול רשע יאנח עם ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם זה מרדכי ואסתר דכתיב והעיר שושן צהלה ושמחה ובמשול רשע יאנח עם זה המן דכתיב והעיר שושן נבוכה

Rava introduced this passage with an introduction from here: “When the righteous are on the increase, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2). “When the righteous are on the increase, the people rejoice”; this is Mordecai and Esther, as it is written: “And the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad” (Esther 8:15). “But when the wicked man rules, the people mourn”; this is Haman, as it is written: “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” (Esther 3:15).

רב מתנה אמר מהכא כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרובים אליו רב אשי אמר מהכא או הנסה אלהים וגו׳

Rav Mattana said his introduction from here: “For what nation is there so great, that has God so near to them” (Deuteronomy 4:7), as to witness the great miracles in the days of Mordecai and Esther? Rav Ashi said his introduction from here: The verse states: “Or has God ventured to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation?” (Deuteronomy 4:34), as in the times of Esther, God saved the Jewish people who were scattered throughout the Persian Empire.

ויהי בימי אחשורוש אמר רב ויי והי הדא דכתיב והתמכרתם שם לאויביך לעבדים ולשפחות וגו׳

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretation of the book of Esther. The verse states: “And it came to pass [vayhi] in the days of Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:1). Rav said: The word vayhi may be understood as if it said vai and hi, meaning woe and mourning. This is as it is written: “And there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondsmen and bondswomen, and no man shall buy you” (Deuteronomy 28:68). The repetitive nature of the verse, indicating that no one will be willing to buy you for servitude, but they will purchase you in order to murder you, indicates a doubly horrific situation, which is symbolized by the dual term vayhi, meaning woe and mourning.

ושמואל אמר לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלותם לא מאסתים בימי יוונים ולא געלתים בימי נבוכדנצר לכלותם בימי המן להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים כי אני ה׳ אלהיהם בימי גוג ומגוג

And Shmuel said his introduction from here: “And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God” (Leviticus 26:44). Shmuel explains: “I will not reject them”; this was in the days of the Greeks. “Nor will I abhor them”; this was in the days of Vespasian. “To destroy them utterly”; this was in the days of Haman. “To break My covenant with them”; this was in the days of the Persians. “For I am the Lord their God”; this is in the days of Gog and Magog.

במתניתא תנא לא מאסתים בימי כשדים שהעמדתי להם דניאל חנניה מישאל ועזריה ולא געלתים בימי יוונים שהעמדתי להם שמעון הצדיק וחשמונאי ובניו ומתתיה כהן גדול לכלותם בימי המן שהעמדתי להם מרדכי ואסתר להפר בריתי אתם בימי רומיים שהעמדתי להם של בית רבי וחכמי דורות כי אני ה׳ אלהיהם לעתיד לבוא שאין כל אומה ולשון יכולה לשלוט בהם

An alternative understanding was taught in a baraita: “I will not reject them”; this was in the days of the Chaldeans, when I appointed for them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to pray on their behalf. “Nor will I abhor them”; this was in the days of the Greeks, when I appointed Shimon HaTzaddik for them, and the Hasmonean and his sons, and Mattithiah the High Priest. “To destroy them utterly”; this was in the days of Haman, when I appointed for them the righteous leaders Mordecai and Esther. “To break My covenant with them”; this was in the days of the Romans, when I appointed for them the Sages of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and the Sages of other generations. “For I am the Lord their God”; this will be in the future, when no nation or people of a foreign tongue will be able to subjugate them further.

רבי לוי אמר מהכא ואם לא תורישו את יושבי הארץ

Rabbi Levi said his introduction from here: “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come to pass, that those whom you allow to remain of them shall be as thorns in your eyes” (Numbers 33:55). King Saul’s failure to completely annihilate Amalek allowed for the existence of his descendant Haman, who acted as a thorn in the eyes of Israel during the Purim episode.

רבי חייא אמר מהכא והיה כאשר דמיתי לעשות להם אעשה לכם

Rabbi Ḥiyya said his introduction from here, the continuation of the previously cited verse: “And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so I shall do unto you” (Numbers 33:56). Prior to the miracle of Purim, the Jewish people were subject to the punishment that the Torah designated for its enemies, because they did not fulfill God’s commandments.

אחשורוש אמר רב אחיו של ראש ובן גילו של ראש אחיו של ראש אחיו של נבוכדנצר הרשע שנקרא ראש שנאמר אנת הוא רישא די דהבא בן גילו של ראש הוא הרג הוא ביקש להרוג הוא החריב הוא ביקש להחריב שנאמר ובמלכות אחשורוש בתחלת מלכותו כתבו שטנה על יושבי יהודה וירושלם

The Gemara continues with its explanation of the book of Esther, beginning with a discussion of the name Ahasuerus. Rav said: The name should be viewed as a contraction: The brother of the head [aḥiv shel rosh] and of the same character as the head [ben gilo shel rosh]. Rav explains: The brother of the head, i.e., the brother of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who is called “head,” as it is stated: “You are the head of gold” (Daniel 2:38). Of the same character as the head, for he, Nebuchadnezzar, killed the Jews, and he, Ahasuerus, sought to kill them. He destroyed the Temple, and he sought to destroy the foundations for the Temple laid by Zerubbabel, as it is stated: “And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, they wrote to him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 4:6), and he ordered that the construction of the Temple cease.

ושמואל אמר שהושחרו פניהם של ישראל בימיו כשולי קדרה ורבי יוחנן אמר כל שזוכרו אמר אח לראשו ורבי חנינא אמר שהכל נעשו רשין בימיו שנאמר וישם המלך אחשורוש מס

And Shmuel said: The name Ahasuerus should be understood in the sense of black [shaḥor], as the face of the Jewish people was blackened in his days like the bottom of a pot. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said a different explanation: Everyone who recalled him said: “Woe upon his head” [aḥ lerosho]. And Rabbi Ḥanina said: The name alludes to the fact that everyone became poor [rash] in his days, as it is stated: “And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land” (Esther 10:1).

הוא אחשורוש הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא עשו הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא דתן ואבירם הן ברשען מתחילתן ועד סופן הוא המלך אחז הוא ברשעו מתחילתו ועד סופו

The Gemara continues: “This is [hu] Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:1); the term hu, this is, comes to teach that he remained as he was in his wickedness from beginning to end. Similarly, wherever the words “this is” appear in this manner, the verse indicates that the individual under discussion remained the same from beginning to end, for example: “This is [hu] Esau” (Genesis 36:43); he remained in his wickedness from beginning to end. “This is [hu] Dathan and Abiram” (Numbers 26:9); they remained in their wickedness from beginning to end. “This is [hu] the king Ahaz” (II Chronicles 28:22); he remained in his wickedness from beginning to end.

אברם הוא אברהם הוא בצדקו מתחילתו ועד סופו הוא אהרן ומשה הן בצדקן מתחילתן ועד סופן ודוד הוא הקטן הוא בקטנותו מתחילתו עד סופו כשם שבקטנותו הקטין עצמו אצל מי שגדול ממנו בתורה כך במלכותו הקטין עצמו אצל מי שגדול ממנו בחכמה

The Gemara continues: The word hu is also used to recognize sustained righteousness. “Abram, this is [hu] Abraham” (I Chronicles 1:27); this indicates that Abraham didn’t change, as he remained in his righteousness from beginning to end. Similarly, “This is [hu] Aaron and Moses” (Exodus 6:26); they remained in their righteousness from the beginning of their life to the end of their life. Similarly, with respect to David: “And David, this was [hu] the youngest” (I Samuel 17:14), indicates that he remained in his humility from beginning to end. Just as in his youth, when he was still an ordinary individual, he humbled himself before anyone who was greater than him in Torah, so too, in his kingship, he humbled himself before anyone who was greater than him in wisdom.

המולך אמר רב שמלך מעצמו אמרי לה לשבח ואמרי לה לגנאי אמרי לה לשבח דלא הוה איניש דחשיב למלכא כוותיה ואמרי לה לגנאי דלא הוה חזי למלכותא וממונא יתירא הוא דיהב וקם

The next term in the opening verse: “Who reigned” (Esther 1:1), is now interpreted. Rav said: This comes to teach that he reigned on his own, without having inherited the throne. Some say this to his credit, and some say it to his disgrace. The Gemara explains: Some say this to his credit, that there was no other man as fit as him to be king. And some say it to his disgrace, that he was not fit to be king, but he distributed large amounts of money, and in that way rose to the throne.

מהודו ועד כוש רב ושמואל חד אמר הודו בסוף העולם וכוש בסוף העולם וחד אמר הודו וכוש גבי הדדי הוו קיימי כשם שמלך על הודו וכוש כך מלך מסוף העולם ועד סופו

The opening verse continues that Ahasuerus reigned “from Hodu to Cush.” Rav and Shmuel disagreed about its meaning. One said: Hodu is a country at one end of the world, and Cush is a country at the other end of the world. And one said: Hodu and Cush are situated next to each other, and the verse means to say as follows: Just as Ahasuerus reigned with ease over the adjacent countries of Hodu and Cush, so too, he reigned with ease from one end of the world to the other.

כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר כי הוא רודה בכל עבר הנהר מתפסח ועד עזה רב ושמואל חד אמר תפסח בסוף העולם ועזה בסוף העולם וחד אמר תפסח ועזה בהדי הדדי הוו קיימי כשם שמלך על תפסח ועל עזה כך מלך על כל העולם כולו

On a similar note, you say with regard to Solomon: “For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the river, from Tiphsah even to Gaza” (I Kings 5:4), and also with regard to this Rav and Shmuel disagreed. One said: Tiphsah is at one end of the world, whereas Gaza is at the other end of the world. And one said: Tiphsah and Gaza are situated next to each other, and the verse means to say as follows: Just as Solomon reigned with ease over the adjacent Tiphsah and Gaza, so too, he reigned with ease over the entire world.

שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה אמר רב חסדא בתחילה מלך על שבע ולבסוף מלך על עשרים ולבסוף מלך על מאה אלא מעתה ושני חיי עמרם שבע ושלשים ומאת שנה מאי דרשת ביה שאני הכא דקרא יתירא הוא מכדי כתיב מהודו ועד כוש שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה למה לי שמע מינה לדרשה

The opening verse continues, stating that Ahasuerus reigned “over seven and twenty and a hundred provinces” (Esther 1:1). Rav Ḥisda said: This verse should be understood as follows: At first he reigned over seven provinces; and then he reigned over twenty more; and finally he reigned over another hundred. The Gemara asks: However, if that is so, with regard to the similarly worded verse: “And the years of the life of Amram were seven and thirty and a hundred years” (Exodus 6:20), what would you expound from it? The Gemara answers: It is different here, in the book of Esther, as this part of the verse is entirely superfluous. Since it is already written: “From Hodu to Cush,” why then do I need “Seven and twenty and a hundred provinces”? Rather, learn from here that these words come for this exposition, to teach that Ahasuerus did not begin to reign over all of them at the same time.

תנו רבנן שלשה מלכו בכיפה ואלו הן אחאב ואחשורוש ונבוכדנצר אחאב דכתיב חי ה׳ אלהיך אם יש גוי וממלכה אשר לא שלח אדוני שם לבקשך וגו׳ ואי לא דהוה מליך עלייהו היכי מצי משבע להו

§ Apropos the discussion of the kingdoms of Ahasuerus and Solomon, the Gemara cites a baraita in which the Sages taught: Three men ruled over the entire world, and they were Ahab, and Ahasuerus, and Nebuchadnezzar. The Gemara explains: Ahab, as it is written in the words of Obadiah, servant of Ahab, to Elijah: “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to seek you, and they said: He is not there; and he made the kingdom and nation swear, that they had not found you” (I Kings 18:10). And if he did not reign over them, how could he have made them swear? Apparently, then, he reigned over the entire world.

נבוכדנצר דכתיב והיה הגוי והממלכה אשר לא יתן את צוארו בעול מלך בבל אחשורוש הא דאמרן

Nebuchadnezzar also ruled over the whole world, as it is written: “And it shall come to pass, that the nation and the kingdom that not serve this same Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylonia, that nation will I visit, says the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand” (Jeremiah 27:8). Ahasuerus also ruled the world, as we have said above.

(סימן שסדך) ותו ליכא והא איכא שלמה לא סליק מלכותיה

After mentioning three kings who ruled over the world, the Gemara presents a mnemonic for the names of other kings that will be discussed below: Shin, Solomon, i.e., Shlomo; samekh, Sennacherib; dalet, Darius; kaf, Cyrus, i.e., Koresh. The Gemara asks: But is there no other king besides those previously mentioned who ruled over the entire world? But there is King Solomon who ruled over the world and should be added to the list. The Gemara answers: Solomon did not complete his kingship, as he left the throne during his lifetime, and therefore, his name doesn’t appear on the list.

הניחא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט אלא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט ומלך מאי איכא למימר שלמה מילתא אחריתי הוה ביה שמלך על העליונים ועל התחתונים שנאמר וישב שלמה על כסא ה׳

The Gemara asks: This works out well according to the one who said that Solomon was first a king and then a commoner, never returning to the throne. But according to the one who said that he was first a king and then a commoner, and then afterward he returned again to be a king, what can be said to explain why he is not mentioned in the list of kings who ruled over the entire world? The Gemara answers: There was something else about Solomon that makes it impossible to compare him to the others, for he ruled over the inhabitants of the heavenly worlds, i.e., demons and spirits, as well as the human inhabitants of the earthly worlds, as it is stated: “Then Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord as king” (I Chronicles 29:23), which indicates that his reign extended even to the heavenly worlds, with King Solomon sitting upon the throne of the Lord, and therefore he cannot be compared to the others, who merely ruled on earth.

והא הוה סנחריב דכתיב מי בכל אלהי הארצות האלה אשר הצילו את ארצם מידי הא איכא ירושלים דלא כבשה

The Gemara asks further: But there was Sennacherib, who ruled over the entire world, as it is written: “Who are they among all the gods of these countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (Isaiah 36:20). The Gemara answers: There is Jerusalem that he did not conquer, as indicated in the verse.

והא איכא דריוש דכתיב דריוש מלכא כתב לכל עממיא אומיא ולשניא די דיירין בכל ארעא שלמכון יסגא הא איכא שבע דלא מלך עלייהו דכתיב שפר קדם דריוש והקים על מלכותא לאחשדרפניא מאה ועשרין

The Gemara continues to ask: But there is Darius, as it is stated: “Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you” (Daniel 6:26). The Gemara answers: There are the seven provinces over which he did not rule, as it is written: “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps” (Daniel 6:2). It is apparent from here that Darius did not rule over the entire world, for his son Ahasuerus ruled over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, an additional seven.

והא איכא כורש דכתיב כה אמר כורש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה׳ התם אשתבוחי הוא דקא משתבח בנפשיה

The Gemara raises another question: But there is Cyrus, as it is written: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth” (Ezra 1:2). The Gemara answers: This is not proof that he ruled the world, for there he was merely boasting about himself, although in fact there was no truth to his words.

בימים ההם כשבת המלך וכתיב בתריה בשנת שלש למלכו אמר רבא מאי כשבת לאחר שנתיישבה דעתו אמר בלשצר חשב וטעה אנא חשיבנא ולא טעינא

§ The second verse in Esther states: “In those days when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom” (Esther 1:2), implying that the events to follow took place during the first year of his reign; and one verse afterward it is written: “In the third year of his reign” (Esther 1:3), indicating that it was the third year, not the first. Rava said: There is no contradiction. What is the meaning of “when he sat” [keshevet]? It is intended to indicate that he acted not immediately upon his rise to the throne, but rather after his mind was settled [shenityasheva], and he overcame his anxiety and worry with regard to the redemption of the Jewish people. He said to himself as follows: Belshazzar, the king of Babylonia, calculated and erred with regard to the Jewish people’s redemption. I too will calculate, but I will not err.

מאי היא דכתיב כי לפי מלאת לבבל שבעים שנה אפקוד אתכם וכתיב למלאות לחרבות ירושלם שבעים שנה חשוב ארבעין וחמש דנבוכדנצר ועשרים ותלת דאויל מרודך ותרתי דידיה הא שבעים אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו

The Gemara explains: What is this calculation? As it is written with regard to Jeremiah’s prophecy of a return to Eretz Yisrael: “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylonia I will remember you and perform My good word toward you, enabling you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10), and elsewhere it is written in a slightly different formulation: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, meditated in the books, over the number of the years, which the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). He, Belshazzar, calculated as follows: Forty-five years of Nebuchadnezzar, and twenty-three of Evil-merodach, and two of his own, for a total of seventy years that had passed without redemption. He was therefore certain that Jeremiah’s prophecy would no longer be fulfilled, and he therefore said: I will take out the vessels of the Holy Temple and use them.

ונבוכדנצר מנלן דארבעין וחמש שנין מלך דאמר מר גלו בשבע גלו בשמונה גלו בשמונה עשרה גלו בתשע עשרה

The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that Nebuchadnezzar reigned for forty-five years? As the Master said: They were exiled in the seventh year; they were exiled in the eighth year; they were exiled in the eighteenth year; and they were exiled in the nineteenth year.

גלו בשבע לכיבוש יהויקים גלות יהויכין שהיא שמונה לנבוכדנצר גלו בשמונה עשרה לכיבוש יהויקים גלות צדקיהו שהיא תשע עשרה לנבוכדנצר דאמר מר שנה ראשונה כיבש נינוה שניה כיבש יהויקים וכתיב ויהי בשלשים ושבע שנה לגלות יהויכין מלך יהודה בשנים עשר חדש בעשרים וחמשה לחדש נשא אויל מרודך מלך בבל [בשנת מלכותו] את ראש יהויכין מלך יהודה ויוצא אותו מבית הכלא

The Gemara explains: They were exiled in the seventh year after Nebuchadnezzar’s subjugation of Jehoiakim, in what was known as the exile of Jehoiachin, which was actually the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Then later they were exiled a second time in the eighteenth year after the subjugation of Jehoiakim, in what was known as the exile of Zedekiah, which was actually in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, as the Master said: In the first year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Nineveh; in his second year he conquered Jehoiakim. And it is written: “And it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin, king of Judea, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-merodach, king of Babylonia, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, king of Judea, and brought him out of prison” (Jeremiah 52:31).

תמני ותלתין ושבע הרי ארבעין וחמש דנבוכדנצר ועשרין ותלת דאויל מרודך גמרא ותרתי דידיה הא שבעין אמר השתא ודאי תו לא מיפרקי אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו

The Gemara calculates: Since Evil-merodach acted in the first year of his reign, immediately after coming to power, it turns out that Nebuchadnezzar ruled for eight years before he sent Jehoiachin into exile, and thirty-seven years during which Jehoiachin was in prison. This equals forty-five years of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. And the twenty-three years of Evil-merodach are known through tradition. And together with the two years of Belshazzar, this brings the count of the years of exile to seventy. At that point Belshazzar said to himself: Now for sure they will not be redeemed. Therefore, I will take out the vessels of the Holy Temple and use them.

היינו דקאמר ליה דניאל ועל מרי שמיא התרוממת ולמאניא די בייתיה היתיו קדמך וכתיב ביה בליליא קטיל בלשאצר מלכא [כשדאי] וכתיב ודריוש מדאה קבל מלכותא כבר שנין שתין ותרתין

This is that which Daniel said to him with regard to his impending punishment for using the Temple’s vessels: “But you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His House before you” (Daniel 5:23). And it is written further in the chapter: “In that night Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain” (Daniel 5:30). This was the description of Belshazzar’s mistaken calculation. And it states after the fall of Belshazzar: “And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old” (Daniel 6:1).

אמר איהו מיטעא טעי אנא חשיבנא ולא טעינא מי כתיב למלכות בבל לבבל כתיב מאי לבבל לגלות בבל כמה בצירן תמני חשיב ועייל חילופייהו חדא דבלשצר וחמש דדריוש וכורש ותרתי דידיה הא שבעין כיון דחזי דמלו שבעין ולא איפרוק אמר השתא ודאי תו לא מיפרקי אפיק מאני דבי מקדשא ואשתמש בהו בא שטן וריקד ביניהן והרג את ושתי

Ahasuerus said: He, Belshazzar, erred. I too will calculate, but I will not err, thinking he understood the source of Belshazzar’s mistake. Is it written: “Seventy years for the kingdom of Babylonia”? It is written: “Seventy years for Babylonia.” What is meant by “for Babylonia”? These words are referring to the seventy years for the exile of Babylonia. How many years are still lacking from the seventy years? Eight years. He calculated, and inserted in their stead one year of Belshazzar, and five years of Darius and Cyrus, and two years of his own, bringing the total to seventy. Once he saw that seventy years had been completed, and the Jewish people were still not redeemed, he said: Now for sure they will not be redeemed. Therefore, I will take out the vessels of the Temple and use them. What happened to him? As a punishment for what he did, the Satan came and danced among them, and brought confusion to his celebration until he killed Vashti.

והא שפיר חשיב איהו נמי מיטעא טעי דאיבעי ליה למימני מחרבות ירושלים

The Gemara asks: But he calculated properly; why then did this happen? The Gemara answers: He too erred in his calculation, for he should have counted from the destruction of Jerusalem at the time of the exile of Zedekiah and not from the first exile of Jehoiachin.

סוף סוף כמה בצירן (חדיסר) איהו כמה מלך ארביסר בארביסר דידיה איבעי ליה למיבני בית המקדש אלמה כתיב באדין בטילת עבידת בית אלהא די בירושלם אמר רבא שנים מקוטעות הוו

The Gemara asks: Ultimately, how many years were lacking? Eleven, for the exile of Zedekiah took place eleven years after that of Jehoiachin. How many years did Ahasuerus reign as king? Fourteen. Indeed, in his fourteenth year, then, the Temple should have been built. If so, why is it written: “Then the work of the House of God, which is in Jerusalem, ceased; so it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia” (Ezra 4:24), which indicates that the Temple was not built during the entire reign of Ahasuerus? Rava said: The years reckoned were partial years. To complete the seventy years, it was necessary to wait until the second year of the rule of Darius II, when indeed the Temple was built.

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