The m'gila says clearly that Ester was "bas dodo", which seems to mean she was the daughter of Mord'chay's uncle, i.e., his first cousin. The targum renders this as "b'ras achvoy". Does that mean "his niece"? If not, then where does the common claim that Ester was Mord'chay's niece come from? Alternatively, if so, then is there a commentary on the m'gila that says explicitly that she was his cousin?


2 Answers 2


R' Ari Zivotofsky has a nice article on this subject, explaining the possible reasons for this misconception: https://www2.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha/eng/purim/ziv.html

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    אחבוי is a contraction of אח אבוהי , meaning "the brother of his father." ("Brother" would be אחוי or אחוהי.) I now see that this was noted in the comments to Josh Waxman's post on the topic: parsha.blogspot.com/2006/11/…
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 20:01
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    Perhaps you should consider summarizing the relevant portions here.
    – HodofHod
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 3:18
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    Basically: Mordechai was Esther's cousin. At some point, because he was much older and raised her, someone started saying "Uncle Mordechai", and somehow it stuck. (To make it worse, the verse says "Esther the daughter of Avichayil, [the] uncle [of] Mordechai"; someone may have erroneously heard the soundbite "uncle Mordechai", though the full sentence can't parse that way.) Rabbi Zivotovsky's article even catches a very great Torah scholar (who certainly knew better) once slipping up and saying "Uncle Mordechai."
    – Shalom
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 23:15
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    Thanks, @Shalom! The article also mentions that two early non-Jewish translations rendered the verse incorrectly, which introduced this erroneous idea into Catholic tradition, from whence it may have spread.
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 0:04
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    Ibn Ezra on the [Megilla 8:1](sefaria.org/Esther.8.1?lang=bi&with=Ibn%20Ezra&lang2=en ) and Metzudos Dovid on [Ezra {yes, Ezra} 2:2](sefaria.org/… ) both refer to Mordechai as Esther’s uncle. It seems to me that neither of Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky's answers will fit these facts. How come the Ibn Ezra and the Metzudos Dovid refer to Mordechai as Esther’s uncle? Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 15:57

See the commentary of the Ibn Ezra on Esther 8:1 (page 30 in the linked document) where he says that Mordechai was Esther's uncle.

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    yerushalayim, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing up this source! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. I hope you'll look around the site and find other material to your liking, perhaps including our 85 other megillat-esther questions. Also, check out Purim - Mi Yodeya?!
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:16
  • Here is an alternate version of Ibn Ezra's commentary in standard format (i.e. pesuqim on top, peirush on bottom).
    – Lee
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:37
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    Here is Esther 8:1 with Peirush HaRaMBa"M, which states that "Esther told the king, 'Your advisor, Mordekhai, is my uncle, my father's brother. And he raised me [...]." (my translation) Could this perhaps mean that Esther lied to King Ahhashwerosh saying that Mordekhai was her uncle when, in fact, he was her cousin and husband?
    – Lee
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:44

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