Mordecai is one of the main personalities in the
Book of Esther
Book of Esther in the
Hebrew Bible. He was the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin. The
name is also written as Mordechai (Hebrew: מָרְדְּכַי,
Modern Mardəkī, Tiberian Māredeḵī, Persian:
مردخای Merdekha, IPA value: [moʁdoˈχaj]).
1 Biblical account
4 See also
6 External links
Mordecai resided in
Susa (Shushan or Shoushan), the metropolis of
Persia (now Iran). He adopted his orphaned cousin (
Hadassah (Esther), whom he brought up as if she were his own
daughter. When "young virgins" were sought, she was taken into the
presence of King
Ahasuerus and was made queen in the place of the
exiled queen Vashti.
Mordecai was referred to subsequently as one of
those who "sat in the king's gate" to indicate his position of
closeness to the king. While holding this office, he discovered a plot
of the king's chamberlains
Bigthan and Teresh
Bigthan and Teresh to assassinate the king.
Because of Mordecai's vigilance, the plot was foiled. His services to
the king in this matter were duly recorded in the king's royal diary.
Agagite had been raised to the highest position at court. In
spite of the king's decree that all should prostrate themselves before
Mordecai refused to do so. Though the Hebrew Scriptures attest
Jews bowing out of respect and submission (e.g. Gen.
33: 3; 1 Sam. 24:8), Haman was a descendant of the Amalekites, their
ancient enemies (
Esther 3:1; 1 Sam. 15:8). Haman, stung by
Mordecai's refusal, resolved to accomplish his death in a wholesale
murder of the Jewish exiles throughout the Persian empire. Learning of
Mordecai communicated with Queen
Esther regarding it,
and by her bold intervention the scheme was frustrated by distributing
arms to the
Susa and other Persian cities where they lived and
clashed with Haman's militia, until the king rescinded the edict to
murder the empire's Jews.
Mordecai was raised to a high rank, donned
in the royal gray cloak, and Haman was executed on gallows he had by
anticipation erected for Mordecai. In memory of the deliverance thus
wrought for them, the
Jews to this day celebrate the feast of
"Lots" because of the lots that were drawn by Haman to decide the date
on which the slaughter of the
Jews would take place.
The Biblical account ends: "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 goodliness for his people, and
speaking peace to all his seed." (
The name "Mordecai" is of uncertain origin but is considered identical
to the name Marduka or Marduku (Akkadian: 𒀫𒌓) attested as the
name of officials in the Persian court in thirty texts (the Persepolis
Administrative Archives) from the period of Xerxes I and his father
Darius, and may refer to up to four individuals, one of which might
have served as the prototype for the biblical Mordecai.
The name is commonly interpreted as a theophoric name referring to the
Marduk with the understanding that it means
"[servant/follower/devotee] of Marduk" in Aramaic. (The Book of Daniel
contains similar accounts of
Jews living in exile in Babylonia being
assigned names relating to Babylonian gods.) Some[who?] suggest that
Marduk was a war-god, the expression "[servant] of Marduk" may
simply denote a warrior – the popular translation of "warrior" is
commonly found in naming dictionaries. Others[who?] note that Marduk
was the creator in
Babylonian mythology whence the term might have
been understood by
Jews to mean simply "[servant] of God".[citation
Talmud (Menachot 64b and 65a) relates that his full name was
"Mordechai Bilshan" (which occurs in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7).
Hoschander interpreted this as the Babylonian "
(𒀭𒀫𒌓𒂗𒋗𒉡, dMarduk-Bel-šu-nu, meaning "
their lord") "Mordecai" being thus a hypocorism.
Another interpretation of the name is that it is of Persian origin
meaning "little boy". Other suggested meanings of "contrition" (Hebrew
root m-r-d), "bitter" (Hebrew root m-r) or "bruising" (Hebrew root
r-d-d) are listed in Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary of the late
19th century. There is also speculation that the name is derived from
Aramaic mar dochi; mar being a title address for a gentleman and
dochi, meaning "one who incurs merit" (cf. Hebrew zoche).
Talmud provides a Midrashic interpretation of the name Mordechai
Bilshan as mara dachia ("pure myrrh") alluding to Exodus 30:23 and
ba'al lashon ("master of languages") reminding us that as a member of
Great Assembly he was familiar with many foreign languages.
Esther and Mordechai
In the King James Version of the deuterocanonical Greek additions to
Esther, his name is spelled as Mardocheus.
Finis Dake interprets the Bible verses Esther
Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,
who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king
of Babylon, among those taken captive with
Jeconiah king of Judah") to
Mordecai himself was exiled by Nebuchadnezzar.
Biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan discusses this as an inaccuracy
regarding Mordecai's age. In the passage, either
Mordecai or his
great-grandfather Kish is identified as having been exiled from
Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar (in 597 BC). If this
refers to Mordecai, he would have had to live over a century to have
witnessed the events described in the
Book of Esther
Book of Esther (assuming the
Ahasuerus is indeed Xerxes I). However, the verse may be
read as referring not to Mordecai's exile to Babylon, but to his
great-grandfather Kish's exile—a reading which many
Esther as prophets. The
Mordecai prophesied in the second year of Darius.
Mordecai's genealogy in the second chapter of the
Book of Esther
Book of Esther is
given as a descendant of Kish of the Tribe of Benjamin. Kish was also
the name of the father of King Saul, and the
Talmud accords Mordecai
the status of a descendant of the first King of Israel.
Targum Sheni gives his genealogy in more detail, as follows:
"Mordecai, son of Ya'ir, son of Shim'i, son of Shmida, son of Baana,
son of Eila, son of Micah, son of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, son
of Saul, son of Kish, son of Aviel, son of Tzror, son of Bechorath,
son of Aphiah, son of Sh'charim, son of Uziah, son of Sheshak, son of
Michael, son of Elyael, son of Amihud, son of Shephatya, son of Psuel,
son of Pison, son of Malikh, son of Jerubaal, son of Yerucham, son of
Chananya, son of Zavdi, son of Elpo'al, son of Shimri, son of
Zecharya, son of Merimoth, son of Hushim, son of Sh'chora, son of
Gazah, son of 'Azza, son of Gera, son of Bela, son of Benjamin, son of
Jacob the firstborn, whose name is called Israel." 
Esther 2:5–6 of the Bible (New International Version):
Now there was in the citadel of
Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin,
Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who
has been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon, among those taken captive with
Jeconiah king of Judah.
^ Esther, Ch. 2, translation by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg.
^ Moore, Carey A. (1971) Esther. New York: Doubleday. pp. 36–37
^ Dake's Annotated Reference Bible
^ a b Coogan, Michael and Coogan,
David (2009) A Brief Introduction to
the Old Testament: The
Hebrew Bible in Its Context. New York: Oxford
University Press. p. 396. ISBN 0195332725.
^ White Crawford, Sidnie (2003) "Esther", in The New Interpreters
Study Bible New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, ed.
Walter J. Harrison and Donald Senior. Nashville: Abingdon Press. pp.
689–690. ISBN 0687278325.
^ Another possibility is Mordechai was carried into exile as he was an
infant, and The
Torah timeline is only 70 years till Cyrus the Great
and only about 10 more till the
Purim Epic. See Legacy of Sinai by Z.
Purim in the Persian Empire by Landry to understand the
Torah chronology, which is in dispute with the current conventional
one. New King James Version, translation of
^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (Ed.) (1982) International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia, Volume II, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 159 (entry:
Book of Esther)
^ Wiersbe, Warren W. (2004) Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament
David C Cook p. 712
^ Halley's Bible Handbook
^ See Megillah 15.
^ Esther's Echo to the Past – Purim
^ An Explanatory Commentary on
Esther with Four Appendices consisting
of The Second Targum Translated From the Aramaic With Notes, Mithra,
The Winged Bulls of Persepolis, And Zoroaster by Professor Paulus
Cassel, D.D., Berlin, Translated by Rev.
Aaron Bernstein, B.D.,
T&T Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh, 1888, pp 298-299,
retrieved Oct 25, 2017
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mordecai.
Esther and in Rabbinical literature
Modesty and Myrrh:
Mordecai in Kabbalah
Book of Esther
Esther (in rabbinic literature)
Haman (in rabbinic literature)
Bigthan and Teresh
Fast of Esther
Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Noah (in rabbinic literature)
Patriarchs / Matriarchs
in the Torah
Moses (in rabbinic literature)
Eldad and Medad
Mentioned in the
Zechariah ben Jehoiada
Isaiah (in rabbinic literature)
Daniel (in rabbinic literature)
Jonah (in rabbinic literature)
Job (in rabbinic literature)
Esther (in rabbinic literature)
Italics indicate persons whose status as prophets is not uni