The gemara Megillah 15b says that three malachim (angels) helped Esther as she came before the king:

ויהי כראות המלך את אסתר המלכה אמר רבי יוחנן ג' מלאכי השרת נזדמנו לה באותה שעה אחד שהגביה את צוארה ואחד שמשך חוט של חסד עליה ואחד שמתח את השרביט
"When the king saw Esther" - R' Yochanan said, three malachim [angels] came for her at that time [to help her appease the king]: One lifted up her neck [she had been fasting and must have been drooping], one drew a thread of kindness around her [same], and one stretched out the scepter to her.

The gemara then asks, "How much?", and gives various opinions:

וכמה אמר רבי ירמיה שתי אמות היה והעמידו על שתים עשרה ואמרי לה על שש עשרה ואמרי לה על עשרים וארבע במתניתא תנא על ששים וכן אתה מוצא באמתה של בת פרעה וכן אתה מוצא בשיני רשעים דכתיב (תהלים ג, ח) שיני רשעים שברת ואמר ריש לקיש אל תקרי שברת אלא שריבבת רבה בר עופרן אמר משום ר"א ששמע מרבו ורבו מרבו מאתים
How much? R' Yirmiah said, It was initially two amot, and ended up as twelve. Some say, 16. Some say, 24. A brayta teaches: 60, and so too you find with Pharaoh's daughter's arm [reaching to save little Moses], and so too you find with the teeth of the wicked... [see Rashi for the story of how the teeth of Og Melech Habashan grew into the rock on his head]. Rabbah bar Ofran said in the name of R' Eliezer, who heard from his teacher, and his teacher from his teacher, 200 [amot].

I think most people understand [see Sefaria above] that the last paragraph is talking about how far the scepter was stretched. However, the problem with that reading is obvious: The other examples in the gemara - the arm of Bas Pharaoh and the teeth of Og - are both talking about a part of a person's body, not an inanimate object like the scepter.
Is there a way to read the gemara that is consistent with the examples, and what is the evidence for that reading in the Megillah itself?

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1 Answer 1


Of course, the answer is clear: The gemara is really going on the רישא (literally!), the action of the first malach, who "lifted up her neck" - a part of her body. She had a very regal neck, two amot long, and the malach made her even more beautiful to the king; the gemara discusses how far her neck got lifted and stretched.
This is really an explicit verse, Esther 5:2,

וַיּ֨וֹשֶׁט הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּ֗ר אֶת־שַׁרְבִ֤יט הַזָּהָב֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּיָד֔וֹ וַתִּקְרַ֣ב אֶסְתֵּ֔ר
וַתִּגַּ֖ע בְּרֹ֥אשׁ הַשַּׁרְבִֽיט
"... she touched the scepter with her head."

  • Per the Purim Torah policy, please don't edit/bump PTIJ posts out of season
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 1 at 14:00
  • Thank you, got it.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 1 at 18:01

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