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When Mordechai told Esther that two of the King's guards were plotting to kill him, she went right away to tell the king directly.

Yet when Mordechai later asked her to approach the king to save all the Jews, she resisted and said she couldn't approach him without having been summoned.

What happened?

I can think of a couple plausible explanations, but I don't know if any of them is correct:

  • Esther just happened to be summoned before the king in the first instance. (But if so, why didn't the Megillah tell us this, since in the later instance it tells us just how dangerous it is to go without being summoned - wouldn't this be yet another instance of hidden Divine assistance?)

  • Esther was admonished for approaching the king without having been summoned in the first instance. (This could explain her rather lengthy explanation later, not to mention her emphasis that, "everyone in the kingdom knows that you can't do this.")

  • A twist to the second scenario above: the first instance resulted in a change in the law (and/or a widely publicized announcement of the law).

  • It was simply due to the nature of the assignment: the first being to save the king, the second being to save herself and her people.

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Mightn't the first case have been accomplished with a note or a messenger? Or, perhaps she was being called to the king regularly at the time, but explicitly wasn't ("these thirty days") later on. –  Isaac Moses Feb 25 '13 at 20:09
    
@IsaacMoses, maybe. That could answer my question. But as for Peshat, there's nothing to indicate that. Hence, my question. –  Seth J Feb 25 '13 at 20:11
    
Rephrase: As for Peshat, there's nothing to indicate that or anything else that might explain the difference. Hence, my question. –  Seth J Feb 25 '13 at 20:37

3 Answers 3

The Persian kings had a well-established process—a secret police, even—for reporting threats against the crown. (Source: Rabbi Yehuda Landy’s Purim and the Persian Empire, quoting historical sources.) Esther may have used those channels rather than approaching the king directly.

This may explain why Mordechai was not rewarded immediately: although his name was entered into the record (since Esther told the king—or his agents—in Mordechai’s name), initial credit for the report would have been given to Esther.

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Interesting. Except it says she told it to the king in Mordechai's name. –  Seth J Feb 26 '13 at 17:08
    
according to megillatesther.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/… : "Midrash Lekach Tov’s assertion that Mordechai communicated his findings to Esther through a messenger, whereas Esther spoke to the king directly." –  Menachem Feb 19 at 23:40

Esther 4:11 explicitly gives the reason why Esther was nervous. "but I have not been summoned to come to the king these thirty days."

She felt the king was not warm to her at the time, and that made her nervous; seemingly that was not the case at the time of her first visit, either because she had then been summoned within the previous thirty days or because the king had not then been acting coolly toward her.

See Rashi to Esther 4:14, explaining Mordechai's response:

and who knows whether at a time like this: And who knows whether the king will desire you next year, which is the time of the massacre.

In other words, you're scared to visit the king now because you're not sure how he feels about you, how do you know the situation won't be the same when it comes time to save your life.

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See judaism.stackexchange.com/a/34072/603 , where it is indicated that at the time of the plot of Bigtan and Seresh, the king and queen were close. –  Menachem Feb 19 at 23:42

There are those who say that Haman made this rule, so the Jews wouldn't be able to intercede. Esther's initial report was before Haman's rise to power. See the Targum to Esther 4:11.

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Any idea who says so? –  msh210 Feb 14 at 7:39
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@msh210 linked to Targum that says it was a decree by Haman. Doesn't mention motives though. –  Baby Seal May 21 at 16:58

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