I understand that (one of) the reason(s) that Mordechai did not bow before Haman was that Haman wore an idol around his neck and therefore bowing to him would (appear to?) be bowing before an idol. The source for this idea is in the gemarah megillah.

However in Esther 5:9 Mordechai does not even stand up or so much as move before Haman. From what I understand there should be no prohibition of standing before Haman. So my question is, at least according to the opinion that the lack of bowing was because of the idol, why did Mordechai refuse to stand or even move before Haman?

  • 1
    To strengthen the question, I would add that a direct consequence of this behaviour led Haman to decide to kill the Jews.
    – bondonk
    Mar 4, 2019 at 18:20
  • He didn’t stand nor moved to bow down and prostate himself before Haman.... it can’t mean something else as Mordechai went horseriding later and in order to do so he would needed to stand up and move his legs.
    – Levi
    Mar 7, 2019 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


The Malbim says that it wasn't about idolatry, but about a lack of fear for Haman -- Mordechai didn't rise out of fear for any consequence which is why this verse simply indicates that Haman was filled with anger, not anger at the Jews

אין לו שום יראה ופחד במה שיודע כי בנפשו הוא

The Ralbag says that Mordechai wasn't showing any respect at all

ר״ל שלא קם ממקומו לכבדו ולא התנועע כלל

So Mordechai didn't stand because he felt no reason to stand.

  • He could have been tapping his foot too, if you know what I mean. "Haman, how much will you give me for me to not show everyone what's written on the underside of my shoe."
    – ezra
    Jun 25, 2017 at 15:46
  • I think I heard somewhere that Haman is a descendant of Amalek and that could've been the reason for the animosity.
    – AAM111
    Jul 24, 2017 at 17:35
  • I saw this studie serie where another reason was giving for nit bowing to Haman, I personally think a answer of why he wouldn’t stand for Haman may be found in the answer: alephbeta.org/playlist/mordechais-hidden-story p.s. Another good reason for not bowing or standing could be that Mordechai wanted to show he would not subordinate or yield to the ideas of Haman, which were based on wrong motivations (see the link).
    – Levi
    Mar 7, 2019 at 6:31

TheTargum sheni says ... This frozen posture mordechai repeats on way to hang haman ,while haman was begging for some mercy in method of his killing.Mordechai again did not move and ignored him.Thus causing yet another meltdown for haman as he is being hung

This seems to be a effort on mordechais part to show “ Zero Degrees of Empathy “

or as some say

This frozen stance shows that .....as far as mordechai is concerned haman is as good as dead so haman can’t emit any mercy at all

PS at this point in megilla story... there is no way mordechai can FEAR haman nor is there room for any kind of respect for haman

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