When Haman hatches his plot to kill the Jews, and get Achashverosh to sign on, a message is sent out to all people, (Esther 3:12)

מְדִינָ֤ה וּמְדִינָה֙ כִּכְתָבָ֔הּ וְעַ֥ם וָעָ֖ם כִּלְשׁוֹנ֑וֹ

In the script and language of each province. No specific subgroup of people is listed so one might think that this includes the Jews. It would seem so because of the public-mourning reaction of the Jews in each province (4:3):

וּבְכָל־מְדִינָ֣ה וּמְדִינָ֗ה מְקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר דְּבַר־הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְדָתוֹ֙ מַגִּ֔יעַ אֵ֤בֶל גָּדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְצ֥וֹם וּבְכִ֖י וּמִסְפֵּ֑ד שַׂ֣ק וָאֵ֔פֶר יֻצַּ֖ע לָֽרַבִּֽים

But in 8:9, when a second round of proclamations is to be delivered, the text details that the edicts was written

מְדִינָ֤ה וּמְדִינָה֙ כִּכְתָבָ֔הּ וְעַ֥ם וָעָ֖ם כִּלְשֹׁנ֑וֹ וְאֶ֨ל־הַיְּהוּדִ֔ים כִּכְתָבָ֖ם וְכִלְשׁוֹנָֽם׃

according to the script and language of each province AND to the Jews in their script and language.

Why does it need to be added here that the Jews received the notice in their language? Did they not speak other languages? If so, how did they learn of their fate initially? If they did speak other languages, why write in Hebrew to them? And once the text says "each province as it writes and each nation as it speaks" doesn't that implicitly include the Jews? Why would they have to be listed separately?

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    No source but I guess this means that the Jews understood the local languages but got their own version anyway as a sign of their status.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


I would say that it sounds like the Jews had their own language they spoke in, so it made sense to send them their own letters the second time. The first time, however, when the order was to kill the Jews, the letters were not sent to the Jews because they were not given orders to do anything. The Jews still learned of their fate, because presumably enough of them were bilingual to understand the orders in the language of the surrounding gentiles.


I would venture to say that this is another sign, albeit a little more subtle one, of the delegitimizing they went through when Haman was in power: Their separate language is ignored. All part of the plan of ridding them off the face of the earth.

Once it was decided that they should not be annihilated, their culture and language are recognized and referred to.

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