Megillat Esther leaves numerous questions in my mind, that are unexplained in the Megillah. A lot of it is filled in in the Talmud and various Midrashim. But, one has to sift through numerous pages and sources to piece the parts together.

Has anyone compiled an online source or book that explains some of the background behind the story? Some of the things I'm looking for are:

  • History of the Persian Empire before and after Megillat Esther. How did Achashverush and Vashti come to power? WHen did Jews arrive? What was their main occupation? How did they live?
  • History / ecplanations of the royal "customs". The Megillah, esp. at the beginning says, frequently, "this was the custom" - when / why were these established?
  • Background / bio of the key people mentioned in the Megillah. We see a few "smaller" characters such as Hatach, Memuchan, etc. who say or decided things, but little is said about them.

As mentioned, I know I can sift through the Talmud, etc. But, I'd rather see most of these items in one place.

  • Are you looking for something based solely on rabbinic sources, or something based on historical sources? The two are likely to differ.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:30
  • @mevaqesh I'm looking at this mainly historically. Midrash frequently adds stories and "metaphors", which is not completely my focus, here. At any rate, I think that the answer, below, will do the job for me.
    – DanF
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Yehuda Landy wrote a book like you are describing. It's called Purim and the Persian Empire. Rabbi Landy does an amazing job explaining who, what, where…

cover of Purim and the Persian Empire

  • I was about to recommend this book until I saw your answer. :)
    – ezra
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:43
  • @ezra Offhand, this looks like it will do the job. If you have read this book, can you summarize why you recommend it and if, in your opinion, anything may be lacking.
    – DanF
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:46
  • I read it a while ago,I personally know Rabbi Landy and he is a tol notch ralmid chacham and archaeologist,regarding his book I am not sure it covers everythi g you mention,but he definitely gors through who was Achasveirosh,and other personalites,but its been a while since I picked it up,I rem it beinga very good read
    – sam
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:52

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