I'm a bit confused here, so maybe the title is not worded well.

  1. Achashverosh let Mordechay write the letters to his own wording:

    "ואתם כתבו על־היהודים כטוב בעיניכם בשם המלך"

    And you may further write with regard to the Jews as you see fit.

  2. Mordechay [and Ester] wrote the following:

    "אשר נתן המלך ליהודים אשר בכל־עיר־ועיר להקהל ולעמד על־נפשם להשמיד ולהרג ולאבד את־כל־חיל עם ומדינה הצרים אתם טף ונשים ושללם לבוז"

    ...they may destroy, massacre, and exterminate its armed force together with women and children, and plunder their possessions

And that phrase seems contradictory to me: killing women and children is only allowed in the War of the 7 Nations (inc. Amolek) but then their possessions are forbidden (see Shmuel A-15).

So did Mordechai declare an obligatory war on Amolekites (that would include women and children) but why allow their possessions, and if not Milchemet Chovah - why kill women and kids?

  • Amalek isn't one of the seven nations, and their possessions are forbidden whether the women and children are killed or not.
    – DonielF
    Mar 22, 2019 at 15:14
  • @DonielF Hence the question - why did M permit the possessions?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 23, 2019 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Politically, Mordechai's letters had to echo Haman's letters as closely as possible. Otherwise, Haman's letters would have seemed stronger, and the bureaucracy would have supported the enemies of the Jews rather than the Jews. He had to write those words whether or not they would actually be carried out.

(I've seen several people make this point. The only name I remember is R' Dovid Fohrman but I'm sure he's far from the first.)

The Megillah explicitly says that they didn't take the spoils. Also, at least in Shushan there's no evidence that they killed any women or children - it only says חמש מאות איש and שלש מאות איש. Outside of Shushan it doesn't say the word איש so it's possible that some women and children were included, but with no other information the most likely estimate is that less than 1/800 of the people killed were women or children.

  • THank you. My question was a little different, maybe I didn't phrase it clearly. Was it a declaration of the extermination of the Amolekites (then the problem with their possessions) or not (so why kill children? The question is about Mordechai's decree - what exactly was it.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 22, 2019 at 12:35
  • @AlBerko That's what I'm answering. Mordechai's decree was a political statement, nothing more nothing less. It was not a heter to do anything the Jews wouldn't have done anyway. You think they would have just lined up to be killed? הבא להרגך השכם והרגו.
    – Heshy
    Mar 22, 2019 at 12:37

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