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The Megillah (Esther 1:1) begins: ויהי בימי אחשורוש... - It happened in the days of Ahasuerus...

Why doesn't it say instead, it happened in the days of Mordechai and Esther, or after the Destruction of the First Temple, or both?

Especially considering what King Solomon writes in Proverbs 1:7 - זכר צדיק לברכה ושם רשעים ירקב - The name of the righteous is invoked in blessing, but the fame of the wicked rots. As such, shouldn't we try to limit the number of times we mention the wicked Ahasuerus' name inside of our holy book?

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    The Targum is not saying what you're proposing; it's identifying him as the one in whose times the reconstruction of the Second Temple was halted (see Ezra 4:6ff). But "in the days after the Destruction of the First Temple" would anyway be far too vague, akin to saying "in the 20th century."
    – Meir
    Feb 25 at 18:11
  • @Meir your insight deserves an edit to this post, thanks!
    – Grapefruit
    Feb 25 at 18:20

2 Answers 2

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The book concludes that it is "words of peace and truth." While there is truth when you look deep within the book, it had to be written in a way that preserved the peace. This book was officially authorized by King Achashverosh. Thus, it had to be framed in a way that on face value made him the good guy.

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    +1. 2 questions on this. 1) What about the fact that by this point in time, he was genuinely a good guy and 2) Isn't the name "Achashverosh" a pejorative term ("headache") and not even related to his real name? If so, how did he "sign off"? I know these questions would be good as their own questions, but it would be nice to see them addressed in brief in order to ensure this answer makes sense from all angles
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 25 at 18:24
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    What source do we have to say it was officially authorized by King Achashverosh?
    – Grapefruit
    Feb 25 at 18:40
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    Chapter 9 says that Mordechai, as a government official, had this sent out using government resources.
    – Shalom
    Feb 25 at 18:52
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    @RabbiKaii In that very post that you linked it says that he wasn't such a "genuinely good guy." Not only (as stated there) did he halt the construction of the Beis Hamikdash, but even after all these events he never reauthorized it, and it was left to his son Daryavesh! Also note Megillah 11a, הוא אחשורוש - הוא ברשעו מתחלתו ועד סופו. As for "headache," is that necessarily the simple meaning of the name? On the face of it, it's a drash. (At most you might say that the Jews took the Persian name and altered it slightly for the double entendre, but not that it was so obviously an insult.)
    – Meir
    Feb 26 at 15:24
  • @Grapefruit Also note Ibn Ezra's commentary to Esther, where he says that the book is written without Hashem's name because it was also written in the royal chronicles, where they would have replaced His name with those of foreign deities.
    – Meir
    Feb 26 at 15:25
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I'd happily add that Megilat Esther tells the story of Jews in galut (גלות). In the גלות we lower our heads, trying to survive. In the גלות, we are not the big story, but rather trying to survive in a place not ours.

Starting the Megila with "ויהי בימי אחשוורוש" I think reminds, and adds to, the different reality in which the Megila takes place. Unlike today, where we have the זכות to live in Israel Land and be the big story, with the goal of להפיץ שם השם בעולם and do good and just.

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    Nice answer! There's nothing like Eretz Yisrael and her many many amazing residents!
    – Grapefruit
    Feb 29 at 22:35

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