After Haman's genocidal edict was sent out to all the people of the Persian kingdom why was there not a mass exodus of Jews to parts of the world not under the dominion of Achashveirosh and his law?

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    The megilla gives the impression that a large part of the world was under Persian control at that point and it may not have been practical for everyone to leave. Bear in mind that travel time was far greater in those days, and we don't know what kind of political, legal and bureaucratic restrictions there would have been. They may not have known where they could get to safely as well. Some may have also not believed that it would really happen, or thought they would be no better off elsewhere. It may be worth reading up on why many Jews didn't flee the Nazis as likely a lot of commonality. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


The first decrees went out on Nissan 13 3404, and they were a forewarning to a destruction one year in advance.

The people's first response was to fast, as well as mourn, weep, wear sackcloth, ashes and lament (Ya'arot Devash), and this took place starting the next day, Nissan 14.

It lasted 3 days and from it Hashem accepted their teshuva (Megilla 12a). Immediately after this was complete, Haman was executed. Within a few months, the decree was officially reversed (Sivan 23) and a counter-decree was sent.

Therefore it is conceivable that nobody ran away because the whole thing was over very quickly. It wasn't "completely over" until Adar 13 3405, but the danger was effectively over and it was merely a concern that some people might go against the new orders and kill anyway. I doubt that was the kind of mortal danger that would compel people to run away, as the original decree might have been.

Also note that there is plenty in the sources that the Jews fully accepted that this decree was from heaven and not a mortal "happening". They would have realised that running away would have done no good in the face of a decree from heaven. Instead they focussed on teshuva, as mentioned.

  • @RabbiKaii just because the decree was from heaven, doesn't mean that there is no point in running away! I'm sure that Hashem doesn't just want us to stand there and get killed if we have a chance to escape! Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 20:08
  • That's a very modern way of thinking @MosesSupposes. Our illustrious ancestors were much more in tune with the notion that only sin brings about suffering.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 12:36
  • That wasn't my point - we don't know if the decree from heaven is that we are supposed to be killed or be dislodged from our home and be forced to flee or have a terrifying experience or something else. Yes, of course we should do teshuva etc, but we also have an obligation to save ourselves through practical means! Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 18:37
  • @MosesSupposes this was at the time of the prophets. The "hishtadlus" that people did back then would always be to do with their relationship with Hashem. Jonah thought he could escape his mission by following Hashem's rules and go outside EY, which would exempt him. When he got caught on the boat, he didn't make any hishtadlus "row harder!", but rather said what can I do, throw me in the water. Many stories like this in Tanach and aggadata. It's very modern to make a big point about "practical hishtadlus". Where that fits in is discussed in Shaar Habitachon very well.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 19:51
  • Yonah is not a good example - he was going against Hashem's instruction! I don't agree it is a modern thing. Counterexamples off the top of my head: Yaakov split his camp 3 ways before meeting Esav. Moshe fled Mitzrayim. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 21:47

In Mechilta D'Rashbi, it says:

אין לך כל אומה ומלכות שנשתעבדה בהן בישראל ולא שלטה מסוף העולם ועד סופו מפני כבודן של ישראל... במלכות מדי הוא אומר... ושם המלך אחשוורוש מס על הארץ ואיי הים

There is no nation or kingdom which enslaved Israel which didn't control the entire world, for the dignity of Israel... By the kingdom of Media it says... "And king Achashverosh placed a tax on the land and on the islands"

(A similar sentiment can be found in the gemara of megilla)

So we see that Achashverosh ruled the entire world. Of course, according to history, this isn't accurate. However, it's possible the meaning is that Achashverosh ruled over the known, or at least civilized, world. Either way, the meaning is pretty clear: the Jews had nowhere to go.

  • Since we agree that historically Achashverosh didn't rule the entire world wouldn't that necessitate reading the claim of the mechilta as a guzma/hyperbole? Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 15:34
  • @rikitikitembo yes, like I said it could mean that Achashverosh ruled over the known, or civilized, world. Which would both make sense with the pshat and fit history, AFAICT
    – Lo ani
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 21:35

It's an interesting question.

The story of purim takes place 57 years after the destruction of the first beis hamikdash. Jerusalem was decimated and destroyed, even the effort to rebuild the beis hamikdash was halted, by haman and his sons, and signed off by King achashverosh, which seemingly shows that Achashverosh had influence even in jerusalem.

Practically, Achashverosh had dominion over majority of the known world, it doesn't seem like there was an actual place for the jews to flee to - which also shows the magnitude of the decree.

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