What is the difference between the phrases אל מדינה ומדינה ככתבה, to each country according to its writing, and אל עם ועם כלשונו, to each nation according to its tongue, found in Esther 1:22 regarding the decree to kill rebellious wives? Both phrases seem to indicate that it was sent in each country's language.

  • Maybe it is just repeated for style.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 0:09
  • @mevaqesh Maybe. Megillah 2a seems to imply that the Anshei Kneses HaGedolah were VERY precise in the wording they chose, though, to the point that we can darshen it as if we were darshening pesukim. If there's someone who says it's just for style, please let me know.
    – DonielF
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 0:15
  • Not really. There is no evidence that those derashot are anything other than derash. No evidence that they reflect original intent. Note Ibn Ezra in the beginning of his second commentary to Esther who writes that we cannot know the meaning of names whose reason isn't stated; particularly of the foreign names in the Megillah. His point his clearly that the related derashot are just that; derash
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 0:20
  • If there's someone who says it's just for style, please let me know. See here.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 0:21

2 Answers 2


R. Yosef Kara to this posuk (Nusach Alef) says that this decree was sent in the ("official") language of each country and then the designated translators in those countries would translate the content to the other languages of peoples living between them.

ומדבר כלשון עמו - המוליך את הכתב יודע לקרות את הכתב ולדבר ולתרגם את הכתב כלשון העם


Each state's script, and each people's language.

An empire could easily have multiple governing units that don't necessarily correspond to ethnic boundaries; it could also have multiple alphabets which are used for multiple languages. Consider for instance Nigeria, which contains many different peoples with many different languages, but the entire state almost exclusively uses the Latin alphabet in written form.

  • I'm not sure I follow.
    – DonielF
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 0:16
  • @DonielF different languages can use the same alphabet! E.g. French, Spanish, Portuguese (with minor variations). So the proclamation went out in many different alphabets and many different languages.
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 1:10
  • 1
    What's the point of having both?
    – DonielF
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 1:14

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