Darius the Second (the son of Queen Ester and Achashveirosh) was at first glance Jewish, as he was the son of a Jew. On the other hand,the Gemara Rosh Hashana implies that he wasn't Jewish.

What was his status with regards to his Judaism?

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    For those who don't know...Darius=Daryavesh. Jan 6, 2012 at 19:50
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    +1. Can you cite his being Ester's son?
    – msh210
    Jan 6, 2012 at 19:59
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    There were at least 3 different "King Darius of Persia"s. Can you be more specific please?
    – Double AA
    Jan 6, 2012 at 20:11
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    @HachamGabriel It seems to be more. I don't know of anywhere else where he is referenced as a Jew. The only issues that the Gemara found with him was that he wanted to build the Beis Hamikdash in a destroyable fashion (so if the Jews would rebel, he could destroy it again). It would be a strange thing to do if he considered himself Jewish. Jan 6, 2012 at 22:14
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    Moreover, AFAIK, while there is a discussion as to how Queen Ester kept Torah in Achashveiroshe's palace, no one discusses anything about Daryaveish keeping Torah. Not only that, but he doesn't seem to be criticized over any other Aveira. Jan 6, 2012 at 22:16

4 Answers 4


There is an opinion (Rit Algazi, in his commentary to Ramban's Hilchos Bechoros 8:65) that the rule about the son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father being Jewish comes with a caveat: it depends on how he was raised. If (as was often the case in earlier times) a non-Jew impregnated a Jewish woman (whether consensually or not) and afterwards wasn't involved in his upbringing, so that the mother raised him as a Jew among Jews - then indeed that's what he is. On the other hand, if the father has custody of the child and raises him as in a non-Jewish environment, then retroactively he's considered to not have been born a Jew.

(It must be stressed that this is a solitary opinion. For practical halachah, CYLOR.)

Based on this, Beis Yitzchak (Even Haezer 1:29:8) suggests that Darius may indeed not have been considered halachically Jewish, since he was raised as Achashverosh's heir.

Another possibility is that he might be considered an apostate Jew, who for certain purposes is treated as a gentile. This argument is advanced by R. Yaakov Chagiz, in his responsa Halachos Ketanos, part 2, no. 240. (Daf Al Daf to Yevamos 23a cites this source, although they seem to understand him as referring more broadly to any child of a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man.)


From: http://www.mail-archive.com/daf-discuss@shemayisrael.co.il/msg01649.html (or http://shemayisrael.co.il/pipermail/daf-discuss_shemayisrael.co.il/2008-March/001616.html)

"The Ben Yehodaya cites the Zohar and the Arizal, that in fact Esther herself did not have relations with Achashverosh, but instead there was a "Shidah" - a demon - who appeared instead of Esther whenever Achashverosh wanted to have relations with her."

So according to this opinion Darius was not actually her son, and therefor was obviously not Jewish.

(Presumably a Shidah is a Succubus.)

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    I think this raises more questions than it answers. How could demonspawn be the vessel for building the beit Hamikdash?
    – avi
    Jan 8, 2012 at 18:44
  • @avi I don't think Judaism has this concept of "demonspawn" being automatically evil. I'm not even sure Judaism has a concept of demonspawn at all. The closest I can think of is Nephilim, and their children were ordinary (but large) humans.
    – Ariel
    Jan 9, 2012 at 0:44
  • @avi In any case, even if he was not her biological child she presumably raised him (at least for a time). So maybe she influenced him when he was young, and that stayed with him.
    – Ariel
    Jan 9, 2012 at 0:45
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    This is what happens when you take two non-literal statements and try to treat them as historical fact :)
    – avi
    Jan 9, 2012 at 6:59
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    Did Esther appear pregnant for 9 months when there was really a secret hiding pregnant demon tied up in her hall closet?
    – Double AA
    Sep 30, 2014 at 15:28

Rabbi Hershel Schachter often discusses Darius with regards to the current question of religious Zionism. A "Jewish king"'s years are counted differently than a "non-Jewish" king. Darius was born to a Jewish mother but was king of Persia. Hence, in his younger years when he was more sympathetic to Jewish causes, that was enough for his chronology to work as a "Jewish king." Later in life he "soured" and thus while still legally Jewish as an individual, no longer had the conventions of a "Jewish king."

(Rabbi Schachter continues: if a Jewish-born king of Persia sympathetic to Jewish causes is enough to be called a "Jewish king", then certainly a state that identifies as Jewish -- complex as its relationship with religion may be -- qualifies as "Jewish government." Rabbi Schachter reads the mitzva of "establish yourself a king" as "establish yourself a Jewish government.")

  • How does R' Schachter understand the mitzvah of "placing a King upon yourself?" Would that include a democratic government? Jun 16, 2015 at 22:45
  • @Emetv'Shalom yes, he's explicitly said it means "establish a Jewish government over the land of Israel." (His proof is a rabbinic opinion that the war against Amalek, which first requires a "king", could have been fulfilled by the prophet Samuel who instead functioned as a "judge.") He feels that today's State qualifies.
    – Shalom
    Jun 17, 2015 at 1:19
  • Which opinion says that? It is a huge chiddush to say that the word "melech" in the Torah would not be literal. The Torah should have used a different term like "manhig" or something else if "melech" isn't literal. Jun 17, 2015 at 4:10

Your real question here is weather or not the Midrash which says that Darius was the son of Queen Ester and Achavarosh is a true midrash, or if it's just there to teach us a lesson.

Darius was not Jewish, since he was Persian. There is no indication, outside of the medrash that he would have been Jewish.

This leads to two possible answers.

Either, The Midrash is not literal, or in the times of Darius, Jewishness was not passed on by the mother, but rather by the father.

Edit: It seems that the last line of my answer was not clear enough. I was not arguing that Jewishness is passed on by the father, I'm saying that if the Midrash is taken litterally, and Esther was his mother, but Darius was not Jewish, then that would mean that Judaism is only passed on by the father.. which is not the case.

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    Third possiblity, though he was halachically Jewish, he was not raised as such, and did not consider himself Jewish (possibly even not known it). This is still not a problem with the Gmara, since he had no "Jewishness" about him.
    – AviD
    Jan 7, 2012 at 19:48
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    How could Queen Esther not tell her son that he was Jewish? How could he grow up not knowing that his mother saved the Jewish people by hiding her Jewishness?
    – avi
    Jan 7, 2012 at 21:29
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    Where is the indication that Jewishness was passed on by the father?
    – WAF
    Jan 8, 2012 at 0:07
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    @WAF if you read tanach plainly, it's strongly implied. Lots of situations where non-Jewish women are brought into the tribe with no mentioning of conversion. However that never happens with men. However, since that's not really halacha, I just take the non literal approach with this midrash. Also, Ezra forced all the men to divorce their non-Jewish wives before moving back to Israel.
    – avi
    Jan 8, 2012 at 6:54
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    Really? Queen Esther hid her Jewishness for years. Alluva sudden she's gonna go shouting to everyone? For all we know, by the time she revealed to Achashveirosh, her son could have already been grown. And he would have grown up in a culture and household where Jews are despised. That's not the type of world-shattering revelation that was so common back in the day...
    – AviD
    Jan 9, 2012 at 10:00

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