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According to the Midrash, the king mentioned in the Megilat Esther is G-d.

So how is it that the king was looking for a wife? How did he kill his first wife? How did he raise the wicked Haman to greatness? How did he act wickedly and want to kill the Jews for the sake of money? How did he go back on his decisions? How did he forget the favor that Mordechai did for him and remembered after a while?

Apparently, Ahashverosh is defined as an evil and cruel king who acted foolishly and it is opposite character to the ruler of the world, meaning G-d. How can they be connected?

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    Wow these are a lot of questions. It might get closed for lacking focus.
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 18 at 10:10
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    Does this answer your question? Pirush On Megilas Esther regarding the word "Melech"
    – Lo ani
    Commented Mar 18 at 13:13
  • The answer is that all of these are also metaphors for spiritual matters. See the peirush of the Vilna Gaon for more.
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 18 at 17:51
  • @N.T. link or more details please.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Mar 18 at 20:52
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    Indeed, I think, @Avi please correct me if I'm wrong, that the second paragraph aren't separate questions, rather they describe Achashverosh. The OP is asking how these events could fit into the picture of "the king mentioned in Megilat Esther refers to G-d".
    – Shmuel
    Commented Mar 18 at 21:23

2 Answers 2

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It is like the plain meaning when reading with the cantillation marks to the opening of Megillat Esther:

וַיְהִ֖י בִּימֵ֣י אֲחַשְׁוֵר֑וֹשׁ ה֣וּא אֲחַשְׁוֵר֗וֹשׁ הַמֹּלֵךְ֙

That the cantillation mark of Etnachtah under the first mention of Ahasuerus indicates a break and pause in the narrative and the cantillation mark Shofar-holach under the word הוא indicates that whatever the meaning is, whatever is indicated by the word הוא, actually pertains to the word which follows it, which is the second (unecessary repetition of and) appearance of the name Ahasuerus.

There is a general principle of grammar in Tanach that words and letters are never superfluous. That seemingly unnecessary repetitions appear in order to bring new meaning. It happened in the days of Ahasuerus; He is Ahasuerus, The King (The Ruler).

That ה֣וּא is referring to G-d above the level of all names, as in:

הקדוש ברוך הוא (The Holy One, blessed be He) or like the response upon hearing one of G-d's names in a blessing ברוך הוא וברוך שמו (Blessed be He and blessed is His name) and also like the phrase יהוה הוא האלהים (The L-rd is He, the (one called) G-d) which is said at the close of Yom Kippur.

This actually follows the paradigm concerning names that is established in Bereshit 2:19, that names are only a vessel (כלי), a tool with which to connect to the actual thing associated with it (מהות). See the comments of Rashi and Ramban for more details.

In this context, it also addresses the surprising fact that G-d's names do not appear anywhere in the entire Megillat Esther. Unlike the rest of the Tanach, there is no explicit mention of G-d even once!

But in that context, it begs the question, what is being emphasized by saying that this transcendent level of G-d that is even beyond his explicit names, relates to Ahasuerus אחשורוש? Who or what is indicated by this name אחשורוש in Megillat Esther and what are we being taught?

In Hebrew, another general concept is that words are built upon 2, 3 and 4 letter roots generally. When encountering a word with more than 4 letters, it indicates a compound word. The name being applied to this ruler, אחשורוש, contains 7 letters. One of the more obvious word compounds from this is: אח״ש ורו״ש.

This suggests another common grammatical tool used in Hebrew, that of Notarikon. That אח״ש ורו״ש stands for: אגב חרפה שבושה-רצוא ושוב.

That the beginning of Creation introduced a paradigm of Ratzoo v'Shuv, Running from (or toward) and Returning to (or from). And an incidental consequence (בדרך אגב), (perhaps even unintentional consequence see Rashi to Bereshit 6:6) of the institution of this paradigm of Ratzoo v'Shuv within Creation is the existence of the negative qualities associated with disgrace and shame (חרפה שבושה) which include all the negative and contradictory qualities that you enumerate for Ahasuerus and that don't seem to apply to G-d.

And this is emphasized even more by referring to The Ruler (the King), with the indicative form of the letter Heh הַמֹּלֵךְ֙. It refers to The Ruler, the King of the Universe, that in Megillat Esther, He (the King of the Universe) is referred to in a concealed and hidden way (as in הסתר פניו), without his explicit, known names.

And in truth, G-d is the source of everything, both the good and what appears to us as the opposite of good like is said in the Yotzer prayer following Barchu on Shabbat morning.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם. יוצֵר אור וּבורֵא חשֶׁךְ. עשה שָׁלום וּבורֵא אֶת הַכּל:

Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, (who) forms light and creates darkness, makes peace (which also has a connotation of completeness or Ganze Weltanschauung) and creates everything (literally: the whole).

There are not two Kings. So all the seemingly contradictory or inapplicable details that you list in your question are to be recognized as also coming from the Owner of Everything קונה הכל, the Holy One, blessed be He (הקדוש ברוך הוא). That the term הוא, when including the kollel for the word itself is gematria אחד One, like we say in the first sentence of the Shema:

שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד

All these seemingly different names of G-d, only refer to One.

And this principle is also demonstrated through the expression from Purim that one should consume sufficient wine on Purim so that "Cursed is Haman" and "Blessed is Mordechai" become indistinguishable, as if they are one and the same.

That wine יין is gematria 70, the same as סוד, Sod, the Secret aspect of the Torah. One should consume, meaning learn the Secret level of Torah sufficiently so that "cursed is Haman" and "Blessed is Mordechai" become indistinguishable.

Like is pointed out in the commentary Be'er Heitev to Mishnah Berurah 695:2, ארור המן (Cursed is Haman) is gematria 502. So too, ברוך מרדכי (Blessed is Mordechai) is also gematria 502. They are indistinguishable at the level of Gematria (one of the grammatical tools used on the level of Sod) because they come from the same source, the one G-d.

A broader discussion of this subject can be found in tractate Megillah starting at 11a.

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    It is definitely not the plain meaning. This is a very poor answer.
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 18 at 17:50
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    @N.T. I'm assuming that you are familiar with the commentaries that emphasize the total absence of G-d's names in Megillat Esther? And how it is also also emphasized at the same time that the Megillah is how G-d miraculously watches over and protects the Jewish people at all times, even during exile? Commented Mar 18 at 17:55
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    @N.T. It answers the main question of, "What is the connection between King Achashveirosh and the King of the world, meaning G-d? It answers with a direct quote of the first 6 words of Megillat Esther and explains how they are to be read and understood with the cantilation marks. That is the "plain meaning". The balance of the question is about what appears to be negative traits and asks how we are to relate to that? The answer addresses each point from the OP and provides the traditional, Orthodox Jewish teaching about it. It also directs the OP to the section of the Oral Torah for details. Commented Mar 18 at 18:29
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You have to understand two basic facts about that statement of the Chazal:

  1. This rule only applies to the word “Hammelech” by itself. If you see the phrase is “Hammelech Ahashverosh”, it literally means “King Ahasuerus”.

  2. This rule is not the basic meaning. It shows a second layer of what happened, but it’s not necessary for a correct understanding of what happened. If you look into it carefully, try to find answers, and can’t resolve it, you don’t have to agree with it for the Megillah to be understood.

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