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The Hidden Story of Queen Esther
Video 3 of 6
In a certain way, Esther is in an even worse position now than she was before; because before she sorts of have one thing going for her. What she has going for her is sort of the suspicion that the King might have of this kind of love triangle between her and Haman and the King. Remember that Esther has sort of cleverly invited the King together with Haman to banquets after banquet; and in the middle of those banquets, remember how the King couldn’t sleep at nights? You sort of wonder why it was he couldn’t sleep? Perhaps, it was he’s wondering why is it the Queen keep on inviting Haman to these banquets? The Queen is sort of cultivating this view of Haman as a possible threat; a cultivation which comes to the fore when she finger Haman and says “it’s you. You were the one who destroys our people!” And the King, who had already been sort of predisposed perhaps, towards seeing Haman as a possible threat, as someone who wants his Queen; now sees that he’s someone who does wants his Queen - want’s his Queen dead - but same idea. This man is a threat! A threat to my Queen! And he kills Haman.
But now, Esther doesn’t have the love triangle anymore; she doesn’t have that sort of ace-in-the-hole to play off of Haman. Haman is dead and the only thing she has is she has her people, and the people are still threatened, and the King no friend of the people, and now, Esther has to go before the King; and what is she going to do? She just has to begged and plead for the King to do what he didn’t do before, which is to erase the decree on the book to destroy Esther’s people. And here she goes before the King one last time.
Now if you listen carefully, you will hear that the author of the Megillah is echoing, is placing within Esther’s words an echo of words that we have from Hamas. See if we can find it. So here is what Esther says to the King vatomar im al hamelech tov v’im-matzati chen lefanav v’chasher hadavar lifnei hamelech v’tovah ani b’einav- “if I found favour in your eyes, then please“ yikatev lehashiv et-hasefarim machashevet haman ben hamdata hagagi - “please repel Haman’s decree’ asher katav leabed et-hayehudim asher bechol medinot hamelech. That’s verse 5. “Please repel Haman's decree.” And now, she is going to get to the part where she seems to be quoting from words appear before.
ki eichecha uchal v’raiti - “How can I possibly bear to see” baraah asher yimtza et ami - “the evil that will befall my people?” Now, if you look at those words carefully ki eichecha uchal v’raiti baraah asher yimtza et ami - “ the evil that will befall my people”. If you play them over in your mind , you may recognise those words from somewhere in Bereshit, where do we have those words before? Those exact same words with the exception of one syllable; the syllable that’s different is right over here okay, it’s a rhyming syllable; ami gets replaced with avi, my father.
So, in Genesis, these same words eich ereh bara asher yimtza et avi, “how can I possibly bear to see the evil that will befall my father?” Esther says “ How can I possibly endure the evil that will befall my people?” Almost the exact same words in Genesis eich ereh bara asher yimtza et avi - who said that? So the answer is right over here.
The quote actually comes from the quote from the story of Joseph and his brothers. Here at the very end of the story of Joseph and his brothers, at the moment when Judah pleads for Benjamins life. Benjamin is being framed with the silver cup that belongs to Joseph; none of the brothers know that it’s Joseph, Joseph is masked, he appears to be high Egyptian official. Joseph has framed Benjamin, then they left the city and Joseph's hitchman men have caught up with them and Judah doesn’t know that Benjamin is carrying the silver goblet of the King. And he plead and he says “whoever have the goblet will die. Nobody stole the goblet.” The goblet is then found in Benjamin’s sack and Judah approaches the Master Joseph, not knowing it’ his brother and makes this long impassioned plea and it ends with this.
He says “look, I pledge myself as an orev - as a guarantor for this child Benjamin’s life. My father did not want to send him. My father’s soul is bound up with the soul of Benjamin and therefore atah - and now yeshev-na ovedecha tachat hanaar - let me be the slave instead of Benjamin v’hanaar yaal im echav - let the child go back with his brothers to his father ki eich e’eleh el-avi v’hanaar einenu iti - because how can I go back to my father without the child - without Benjamin pen ereh bara asher yimtza et-avi - lest I see the evil that will befall my father.” And these words pen ereh bara - an exact echo over here of eich ereh bara asher yimtza et ami . And again, as I mentioned to you ami gets changed into the rhyming word avi, right. Eich over here in poetic form eichecha. So, it’s very clear that Esther seems to be quoting from Genesis. We do seem to be playing with this game ‘where have we heard these words before?’ And the question is why? Why are we quoting here from the story of Joseph and his brothers?
Now, in fact, the mystery here deepens a little bit. Because remember, this is Esther’s second request of the King and we’ve seen that the second request seems to contain words which bring us back to Genesis in the story of Joseph and his brothers. If we now look back at the first request of Esther, the words that we saw before , we’re actually going to also see words that bring us back to the story of Joseph and his brothers. Let’s go back for a second to the text of Esther’s first request to the King; the one where she talks about being sold. Oh being sold! Think about Joseph and his brothers. Does being sold remind you of anything? Well yes. Actually it does kind of remind you of something. Nimkarnu ani - what happened in the story of Joseph involved being sold? Of course, what happened? Joseph was sold. Sold as what? Remember v’ilu laavadim v’lishfachot nimkarnu - “if we’ve only been sold as slaves” . Well actually, that’s exactly what happens to Joseph, wasn’t it? Joseph was sold as a slave by the brothers in that story. And if you actually go back to the story of Joseph being sold as a slave, you’ll find a fascinating thing.
Remember this word over here, right over here; this word that we thought was so strange, why Esther insist on talking about the Jews they’ve been sold, they’ve been sold to be killed, they've been sold to slaves. Why is she talking about that word? Well it turns out if you look at that word very closely, it turns out that that word has a very interesting echo. The word is, let’s just spell it out over here nun, mem, chaf, resh, nun, vav. Now, remember one very important thing.
In Hebrew, Hebrew is a language of consonants, there are no vowels; the vowels are implied. If you look at any text written in the actual Torah or in the prophet’s writing or anything like that, you will find that there are no vowels, it’s just consonants. The vowels are implied. If you remove the vowelisation from nimkarnu, we can sort of play Hebrew anagrams - what other word can you make from nimkarnu , keeping all the letters in place with this being the first, second, third, fourth , fifth, sixth letter. Where else do we have nun, mem, chaf, resh, nun, vav?
It turns out that in the entire Tanach, besides these two occurrences; one and two in Esther, there is only one other time that these six letters appear in that order. And where do they appear? In the story of the sale of Joseph. They appear right over here; different vowelisation, exact same consonants. Who says it? Interestingly, it’s actually Judah.
Remember when we were talking about Esther’s second request, how Esther was quoting from something that Judah had said. It turns out in here first request for the King, she is also quoting from something Judah has said. Look at what Judah has said vayomer Yehudah el-echav - Judah said to his brothers mah betzah - “what do we gain” ki naharog et achinu - “if we kill our brother?” Remember Joseph was in the pit, they’ve been contemplating perhaps killing him - “what do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood?” Lechu v’nimkerenu - “let’s just sell him”, there is that word, “ to these passing Ishmaelites.” v’yadenu al-tehi-vo - “that way our hand won’t be upon him, after all he is our brother. Let’s just sell him as a slave.”
Esther, is quoting from Judah, the only other time this formulation of nun, mem, chaf, resh, nun, vav appears is right over here in Esther. Why is she doing it? It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence.
In both he first attempt and second attempt, she is quoting from this man, from something Judah says in the story of Judah’s connection to Joseph and his brothers. The great question is why? Once we understand why we’ll understand the answer to “where have we heard these words before?” And I think we will also have an answer to why she is talking about selling. Come join me in our next video and we’ll try to put this all together.
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