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As we come to the close of Shabbas Mishpatim, I will ask a question that I am sure has troubled many.

The verse (23:31) tells us:

ושתי את גבולך מים סוף ועד ים פלשתים וממדבר עד הנהר

Vashti: Your boundaries [extend] from Yam Suf until Yam Pelishtim, and from the desert until the river.

How is it possible that Vashti, the wife of Achashverosh, had these boundaries, while elsewhere (Ester 1:1) we are told that Achashverosh ruled from Hodu until Kush? (Rashi there says that Achashverosh was not from royal descent; he had gotten the kingdom from marrying Vashti, so Vashti should have the amount ruled by Achashverosh.)


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maybe Vashti was just a little more zaftig than we'd otherwise think. –  Charles Koppelman Feb 12 '13 at 16:04
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closed as too localized by msh210 Feb 28 '13 at 18:38

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2 Answers

When one has a contradiction in verses, the rule is to find the third verse which answers the situation.

Isaiah 10:13 says (in part):

ואסיר כל גבולת עמים (ועתידתיהם/ועתודתיהם) שושתי
And I will remove all of the borders of the nations [text is unclear] of Vashti

We see that God removed the initial borders of Vashti's queendom and allowed her to rule from Hodu to Kush, which the Talmud tells us (Megillah 11a) was from one end of the world to the other.

However, the Talmud there also cites an opinion that Hodu and Kush were next to each other. According to this understanding, we have to take the gematria of Kush (326) and subtract it from Hodu's user number (883) to get 557 which is the gematria of אכל השאר "on all the rest" which hints that despite the fact that Vashti only ruled within the limited borders expressed in the question, her influence spread much further, especially considering that she was known for ruling under the influence.

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Ah, Kush, a good friend of mine. We used to be inseparable. –  HodofHod Feb 10 '13 at 4:05
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@HodofHod Only according to one opinion in the Talmud. Since Elu vElu applies, you also used to be really far apart from each other. –  Double AA Feb 10 '13 at 4:06
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@DoubleAA that's the solution - they used to be inseperable –  Shmuel Brin Feb 10 '13 at 4:09
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When one has a problem with the verses, the first place to look is in Rashi's commentary. Here, he explains:

ושתי. לשון הָשְׁתָּה (והתי"ו) [ותהיו] מודגשׂת

Vashti. This language [refers to] now; but [later], they [i.e. the countries over which she rules] will be expanded [literally: emphasized].

So at this time, she ruled only from Yam Suf to Yam Pelishtim and from the desert to the river, but later her kingdom was to be expanded to the area between Hodu and Kush.

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