Mordecai Prime Minister & Susa

Like they say, “Hell has no fury like a woman’s scorn.”

Adar is the sixth month of the civil year and the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar.
It is a winter month of 29 days. In leap years, it is preceded by a 30-day intercalary month named Adar Aleph (Aleph being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), Adar Rishon (First Adar) or Adar I and it is then itself called Adar Bet (Bet being the second letter of the Hebrew Alphabet), Adar Sheni (Second Adar) or Adar II.

Occasionally instead of Adar I and Adar II, “Adar” and “Ve’Adar” are used (Ve means ‘and’ thus: And Adar).

Adar I and II occur during February–March on the Gregorian calendar.

Based on a line in the Mishnah declaring that Purim must be celebrated in Adar II in a leap year (Megillah 1:4), Adar I is considered the “extra” month. As a result, someone born in Adar during a non leap year would celebrate his birthday in Adar II during a leap year.

However, someone born during either Adar in a leap year will celebrate his birthday during Adar in a non-leap year, except that someone born on 30 Adar I will celebrate his birthday on 1 Nisan in a non-leap year because Adar in a non-leap year has only 29 days.

“Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)

The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people.

And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.

For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.

Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.

And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.

And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha,

And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha,

And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha,

The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.

On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king.

And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.

Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.

And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.

For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.

But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,

On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.

Kever Esther & Mordechai

In Northern Israel, near Mt. Meron, is a location marked as the holy tomb of Mordechai and Esther.
This is not the only location noted as the Kever of Mordechai and Esther, another is in current day Iran but historical Persia, the location of the Purim story.

The above picture is the one in Israel.

Down a hill is an entrance to a small cave and the remains of a kever with the entrance blocked.

Is this the holy resting place of Mordechai and Esther of the Megillah?

Perhaps, perhaps.

Commentor mochinrechavim added, “Mordechai returned with Ezra to Eretz Yisroel, so this location makes sense as I can’t imagine Mordechai returning to live in Persia.

Esther however was a queen and I cannot imagine it would have been possible to leave to be buried until the redemption like Yosef.

The Jews during Purim were saved, but not redeemed.”

And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,

Tomb of Esther and Mordechai
The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is located in Hamadan, Iran.

Widely believed to house the remains of the biblical Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, it is the most important pilgrimage site for Jews in the country.

In 1891, the tomb was described as consisting of an outer and inner chamber surmounted by a dome about 50 feet (15 m) high.

The dome had been covered with blue tiles, but most of them had fallen away.

A few tombs of worthy Jewish individuals were located within the outer chamber.

According to Stuart Brown, the site is more probably the sepulcher of Shushandukht, the Jewish consort of the Sasanian king Yazdegerd I (399–420 A.D.).

Is this truly the tome of Mordechai? Or maybe…

To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,

As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them;

Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;

But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,

The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;

And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.

Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim by Arent de Gelder (1645-1727).
After the evil Haman’s plans for the extermination of all Jews in Persia is frustrated by Esther and Mordecai, King Ahasuerus grants the Jews permission to wreak vengeance.

In grand old Testament style, the Jews slaughter tens of thousands of perceived enemies and then whoop it up.

After Haman is hanged, Mordecai replaces him as the king’s most important servant.

Esther is the king’s wife – both Esther and Mordecai are Jews.

Together they write a letter to the Jews in all 127 provinces of Persia, reminding them to annually commemorate this victory on the 14th and 15th day of the month of Adar.

That letter became known as the first letter of Purim.

The second was sent not much later, confirming the first.

The name of this feast, Purim, is from the Persian word for lot: pur and refers to how Haman cast lot to decide on the date of execution, as can be read in Esther 3.

And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,

To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.

And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book” (Est 9:1-32).

“And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.

And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?

For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed” (Est 10:1-3).

1 Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman.  It is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (Adar II in leap years). 

Susa

Ruins of Susa
Susa (also called Shushan, Greek Susiane), was one of the city-states of ancient Elam which later became the winter capital of the Persian Achaemenian kings (c. 675 – 330 B.C.).

There is evidence that Susa has been continuously inhabited from 4,200 B.C. placing it among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

In addition, there are traces at Susa of a village inhabited around 7,000 B.C. and painted pottery dating from ca. 5,000 B.C. at the site.

The Susa historical site is located in the Susiana Plain that is irrigated by the Karkheh Kur (Choaspes), Ab-i Dez and Karun rivers, The Karkheh and Karun rivers form the western and eastern (together with the Zagros mountains) boundaries of the plain.

Today, the site is surrounded by the modern-day Shush, a town in the south-west Iranian province of Khuzestan.

The archaeological site includes the ruins of the Achaemenian palace complex of Darius I, the Great, and is located on a 15 meter high artificial raised 100-hectare terrace.

Susa was inhabited from the 4th millennium B.C. to the 13th century a.d.  Early on the city became a religious center, with temples to Inshushinalc (“lord of Susa”) and other deities.

During the 3rd millennium B.C. Susa,  along with another city called Anshan, was a center of Elamite civilization. It eventually came to have a large and prosperous population.

Through the 2nd and early 1st millenniums B.C. the city was either an independent Elamite capital or controlled by foreign powers, such as the Babylonians and Assyrians.

It also became an important commercial hub, with contacts in India, Egypt, Arabia and Greece.

Ruins of King Darius’ palace complex at Susa
Susa became part of the Persian empire under Cyrus II, the Great in 538 or 539 B.C.

During the balance of Achaemenian period (to 330 B.C.), Susa functioned as one of the rotating capitals (a winter capital) of the Achaemenian Kings.

Darius I, the Great, built an extensive palace complex ca. 510 B.C., and Herodotus mentions Susa as being the capital of Darius’ empire (Herodotus does not make any mention Persepolis being a Persian capital).

The palace complex – whose building continued under Darius’ son Xerxes – was destroyed by a fire during the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.) and then restored fifty years later by his grandson, Artaxerxes II (404-358 B.C.).

Alexander of Macedonia captured Susa in December 330 B.C. and plundered the city, seizing some 40,000 talents of gold and silver from the treasury.

Susa came to the height of its power during the 13th and 12th centuries b.c.  Oneof its kings, Shutruk-Nahunte, conquered Babylon and brought fabulous spoils to Susa, including the Code of Hammurabi (which was discovered at the Susa acropolis in 1900).

In 646 B.C. the city was destroyed by the Assyrians under Assurbanipal.  Susa was rebuilt shortly afterward but again was conquered by Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C.

Darius (522-486 B.C.) made Susa the winter palace for the Persian Empire, and in this capacity its prestige and prosperity greatly increased.

The city grew to 625 acres. It remains correspond to what we see described in Esther.  During the reign of Darius a canal separated the unfortified, lower city on the eastern bank (i.e., “Susa”, 9:13-15) from the fortified, upper city on the western bank (i.e., “the citadel of Susa” in 1:5; cf. Dan 8:2).

An artisans’ village was located east of the citadel. Citadel remains include a monu­mental gate (cf. Est 2:19,21) with trilingual inscriptions (cf. 1:22) and a large palace with two divisions: a three-acre audience hall and a ten-acre resi­dential area with four successive inner courts (cf. 4:11;5:1-2;6:4).

The palace of Darius burned during the reign of Artaxerxes I but was restored under Artax­erxes II, who built a provisional palace in the lower city.

Alexander the Great took Susa without a fight, and the city continued to flourish as a center of trade and textile production, with a large population of Jews, until it was finally abandoned during the 13th century A.D.

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