Why did Mordechai report the assassins before they could kill King Achashverosh? What did he have to gain?

Had the king been killed, Esther might have been free to go home. She definitely wouldn't have had to have relations with Achashverosh anymore and as Queen she might have influenced the new Crown to look kindly to the Jews?


4 Answers 4


Rabbi Yonason Eibushutz answered humorously that disposing of two evil doers ( Bigsan and Teresh) is better than one ( Ahashverosh)

The midrash (footnote 73) and Sefarim Chitzonum writes that Bigsan and Teresh were in cohoots with Haman. If Ahasverish was killed Haman would have taken his place. In that case it is clear that Ahasverosh is better than Haman.

Even absent the midrash such a political calculation seems reasonable.

  • +1 - source for R' Yonasan Eibshutz? Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 3:33
  • @YeZ it's a story I read as a child and don't recall the source.. May have been the Jewish Press lol. And Rav Yonason was a child when he offered his amusing answer.
    – Yoni
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 3:51

Pirkei Avos says: "Hevei mispallel b'shloma shel malchus" - Pray for the peace of the government.

Even though there is no concept of lo ta'amod for Mordechai to adhere to, the assassination of the King would lead to severe sociopolitical upheaval. As subjects to the kingdom, it is our obligation to maintain, or at the very least pray for, the general order. Here Mordechai was given a direct opportunity to act. Considering that "do not murder" is just as incumbent on non Jews as much as Jews, Mordecai's actions in preventing murder were sensible and responsible.

  • He had more of a commitment to stop Esther from commiting adultery then saving a non jew's death.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 14:57
  • 1
    You seem to be assuming that lifnei iver applies to the sins of gentiles. I believe it is a machlockes if this is the case for all 7 mitvos bnei noach, or only idolatry.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 15:31
  • @mevaqesh not sure what you mean. Esther was a Jewess and was not allowed to consort with the King.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 15:48
  • @Yehuda I meant that the answerer was assuming that Mordechai had an obligation to prevent B&S from killing achashverosh as they were prohibited from murder.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 15:52
  • @Yehuda There's an awful lot to talk about that specific point that is far beyond the scope of the question, especially since that's reaching into midrashic interpretive territory (albeit one with Talmudic sources). At the present time I will note that the gemara is clear that Esther was still permitted to Mordechai, and only later when she came to Achashverosh voluntarily did she become assur to him. The whole of Megillas Esther seems rife with the concept of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." See also: Moshe and Tzippora Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 16:30

Two Possible Answers:

The Megillah states that Mordechai would stay by the gate to hear what was done to Esther. Possibly Mordechai was looking out for Esther's safety. It was common practice at the time for the king's wives to be killed after the assassination of the king.

Another answer is based on the Medrash that Esther asked that Mordechai be appointed to the palace. If the king was poisoned soon afterwards, it would be blamed on Mordechai and the Jews. (This doesn't list a source, but is sourced in general in the words of Chazal and commentators.)

  • 1
    "It was common practice at the time..." Can you source this?
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 23:11
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I can't find the source right now. I believe I read it in a secular History book. If you want allusions from Chazal, there are many: Killing all of Nevuchadnezar's family except Vashti is the one that comes to mind.
    – LN6595
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 23:19
  • Rav Chaim Kanievsky brings this answer in his sefer
    – sam
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 4:18

The Chassam Sofer* says that accepting the fact that a king has been appointed by Hashem and has some of Hashem's glory is included in the fact that we must fear and honor a king as a point of fearing and honoring Hashem.

There are indecent people who only fear the king in front of him, like someone who fears a robber, but in secret they mock him. This is not true of decent people, believers the children of believers who know not to question the king or his officers, and one who does ruins their own life.

We see Hashem commanded Moshe to honor Pharoh. And Eliyahu ran before Achav (Zevachim 102a).

And Esther was punished for calling Achashveirosh a dog, Megila 15b.

He goes on to say that when Bava Ben Buta did not to curse a king privately because the bird will carry his voice (Bava Basra 4a), he meant even though the human king does not know what was said, the bird of the sky who is the satan, the heavenly informant, will take the words up to the King of Kings and He will become angry.

*See Drashos Chassam Soffer chelek 3 page 37 column one. See also Shu't Chassam Soffer chelek 6 siman 86 d.h. ועוד אפרש.

See also his drashos chelek 1 page 149 column 4 s.v. איתא where he explains the gemara in Shabbos 33b that Rashbi was hounded by the government after belittling the ruling power, was actually his heavenly punishment for those ungrateful words. He should have learnt from Moshe's dealings with Pharaoh and Eliyahu's dealing with the evil Achav and respected his king. He certainly should not have been ungrateful to the king under whose safety he lived. And, says the Chassam Sofer, even if Rashbi was of the opinion that one may slander a king in private, we find in that sugya Rabi Yehuda arguing with him, and when there is an argument between the two, the ruling is with Rabi Yehuda.

This is all my basic paraphrasing of the Chassam Soffer. Although he does not specifically address your point, I think it is clear from all this that acceptance of the mortal king under who's dominion you live is a spiritual endeavor and there is a responsibility to protect him. Even if one would argue that a king who is harmful to the Jews does not get this treatment, which goes against the Moshe-Pharoh and Eliyahu-Achav proofs, remember asset this point Achashveirosh was still good to the Jews. The singular incident of taking Esther, who he did not know was Jewish, would not qualify him as being bad for the Jews. Not that it would matter even if he was.

  • +1. Very good answer. I would point out though regarding your last point that it says somethere (dont know where) that Achashaveroish was a bigger Anti Semite then Haman.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 7:08
  • @Yehuda that's true, the gemara in Megila says that. I was focusing on his being actively harmful, not just harboring anti Semitic feelings. At the time of the attempted assassination he hadn't done anything to the Jews yet. Truth is he had interrupted the building of the beis hamikdosh and used the kelim from there, but not to the Jews. But this is all a side point, Chassam Sofer wants us to respect Pharoh and Achav! And Achashveirosh.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 10:41
  • Daniel puts it well when he addresses both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazar. With the former he had some helpful advice but with Belshazar there was nothing but a bad decree to deliver.
    – CashCow
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 14:46

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