Esther's father is mentioned twice in the Megilla (2:15 and 9:29). He is spoken of as "Avichayil." This Avichayil would have to be brothers with Ya'ir, Mordechai's father, if we see Mordechai as a paternal cousin. I guess he could have married in if Mordechai has a sister so that would make him a brother in law.

But what is known about him? What is his personal identity? If he is brother to Ya'ir then his father is Shim'i and he gets traced back with Mordechai. If he is a brother in law then the text isn't detailing his ancestors but Esther's through her mother (and cousin Mordechai).

והיותו גדול בעמו ואבי כל חיל המדו׳ טובו׳

but these are qualities that would become apparent well after he was named so this might be more of a label than a given name. The mention of him at exactly this point is discussed by the Malbim who says that here is appropriate because the section is discussing her positive traits and she got those specific traits from her father's side

מצד תולדותה מאביה הצדיק

So this takes for granted a knowledge of Avichayil as a person of exemplary personal characteristics but there is no source for that that I can find. The Malbim does not try to make this connection in 9:29.

There seem to be many more generations who are named in the Medrash but other than a couple of name explanations (which also seem to reflect behavior as an adult, not a name given to an infant) there is no explanation for Avichayil.

The Alshich on 9:29 writes that Avichayil was a tzaddik and that's why the salvation miracle came through Esther but I don't know of any source for this claim about him (is this just a reverse label based on the end result, that she did merit the salvation and his name is listed here, therefore post hoc muct be propter hoc). The Nachal Eshkol there mentions the incredible z'chut of Avichayil and references the gemara but I don't know which gemara and a quick search did not found the name Avichayil in Shas Bavli (though maybe it was spelled differently so anyone who can recheck, that would be great).

The Ohr Chadash on 2:15 tries to explain why, specifically Avichayil is mentioned in those two instances, and explains that "שהיה איש חשוב ובעל שם" asserting importance with no proof except that he was named.

Is there any actual text which connects him to a known Avichayil or which gives any information to help understand more detail about

  • According to Yosef Ibn Yachya he was Mordechai's uncle like you assert and thus the brother of Yair - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:28
  • Refer to the Rema in Mechir Yayin who takes on an alternate view that he was not a person per se - sefaria.org/… - "בהגיע תור אסתר בת אביחיל וגו' קראה בת אביחיל כמו שקראה שלמה עליו השלום אשת חיל עטרת בעלה ויותר נראה כי אבי-חיל הוא הקדוש ברוך הוא"
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:31
  • @Dov So according to the Rema, we know even less about him. More than we can't be sure of his name, now we have to question if the textual reference is to any specific person at all.
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:35
  • If we go down the route that he was a person and it wasn't a label like the Rema seems to assert, it would seem that Esther came from royal stock (although, whether that was through her mother or father I don't know) -refer to the end of this piece in Pesikta D'Rav Kahana 5 - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:36
  • it would seems so - quite the elusive character I'll keep looking :-)
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


The answer is that this is an application of a general rule of interpretation, taught in Maseches Megillah:

בְּמַתְנִיתָא תָּנָא: כׇּל שֶׁמַּעֲשָׂיו וּמַעֲשֵׂה אֲבוֹתָיו סְתוּמִין, וּפָרַט לְךָ הַכָּתוּב בְּאֶחָד מֵהֶן לְשֶׁבַח, כְּגוֹן: ״דְּבַר ה׳ אֲשֶׁר הָיָה אֶל צְפַנְיָה בֶּן כּוּשִׁי בֶן גְּדַלְיָה״ — בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא צַדִּיק בֶּן צַדִּיק. וְכֹל שֶׁפָּרַט לְךָ הַכָּתוּב בְּאֶחָד מֵהֶן לִגְנַאי, כְּגוֹן: ״וַיְהִי בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בָּא יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן נְתַנְיָה בֶּן אֱלִישָׁמָע״ — בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא רָשָׁע בֶּן רָשָׁע.
It was taught in a baraita: With regard to anyone whose actions and the actions of his ancestors are obscured and not explained, and the verse mentioned one of them favorably, for example, the way in which Zephaniah the prophet is introduced: “The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah” (Zephaniah 1:1), it is known that not only was he a righteous man, he was also the son of a righteous man. And conversely, whenever the verse mentioned one of them unfavorably, for example, in the verse that introduces Ishmael as the one who killed Gedaliah, which states: “And it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama” (Jeremiah 41:1), it is known that not only was he a wicked man, he was also the son of a wicked man.

So since we don't know anything about Avichayil, and we know his daughter was righteous, he must be righteous too. This makes sense, because if his being her father was not relevant to the story, why would it be mentioned? It makes more sense that his character influenced Esther to be righteous herself.

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