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Why are we specifically told that Mordechai was an Ish Yehudi as it says in the pasuk (Ester 2:5):

אִישׁ יְהוּדִי, הָיָה בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה; וּשְׁמוֹ מָרְדֳּכַי

Would we assume he wasn't a Jew if we weren't told this? If we would know he was a Jew without the Pasuk specifically mentioning it, what is the reason for mentioning it?

As always, please cite your sources.

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Why do you assume Ish Yehudi means Jew? (I assume you mean the modern sort of concept of "Jew".) –  Double AA Jan 9 at 3:53
I'm not sure what else it can mean. The translations I have say Jew. –  Bochur613 Jan 9 at 3:59
I mean, the word means something like "Judah-ite". What translations are you using? Are they translating or interpreting? –  Double AA Jan 9 at 4:01
Mechon-Mamre is what I'm using –  Bochur613 Jan 9 at 4:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The pasuk to which you refer describes Mard'chai as being both a Y'hudi and a Y'mini. The former term is the one that, in modern parlance, is translated as "Jew".

In this case Y'hudi is a demonym related to the kingdom of Y'huda, whose residents, when exiled, took on this title. Y'mini, on the other hand, is a patriname associated with the tribe of Binyamin.

Source: Rash"i's comments on 2:5

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Perfect! Thanks –  Bochur613 Jan 10 at 0:47
It describes Mordochai as Yehudi, but seemingly Kish as Yemini. –  Double AA Jan 10 at 5:30
@DoubleAA The Gemora seems to understand both descriptions as applying to Mordechai - קרי ליה יהודי אלמא מיהודה קאתי וקרי ליה ימיני אלמא מבנימין קאתי. –  Michoel Jan 10 at 6:36
@Michoel I'm well aware of that Midrash. I thought we were talking about what the Pesukim say. –  Double AA Jan 10 at 13:21

Perhaps we would not know that Mordechai was a Jew. After all, his name is not a traditional Jewish name - in fact, it comes from the Babylonian god "Marduk."

My own speculation is that the term "Jew \ Yehudi" refers to his ethnic affiliation from the point of view of the Persians, whereas "Benjaminite \ Yemini" is from the "Jewish\Israelite" point of view. Thus the verse introduces his dual-identity of both a Persian and a Jew, a theme we see throughout the book.

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