Also, we have a baraita: But there was yet another year for Bavel, because partial years of a king’s reign are counted as full years in their chronologies, so the 45th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign was the same as the first year of Eveel M’rodach’s reign, leaving one more year in the seventy. And the ascension of Darius was its completion.
Rava said: Even Daniel erred in this computation. For it is written in Dan. 9: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood what was in the books.” Given that it says, “I understood”, we can deduce that before he understood, he erred.
In any case: there’s a contradiction between each verse and the other. It is written in Jer. “Once Bavel has completed seventy years,” and it is written in Dan. “from the ruins of Jerusalem.” When does the seventy-year period commence? With the rise of Nebuchadnezzar in Bavel, or with the destruction of Jerusalem?
Rava said: the verse in Jeremiah really refers only to God’s recalling the Jews in their exile, i.e., the proclamation of Cyrus, as it is written in Ezra 1: “Thus says Cyrus, King of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the Earth have been given to me by Hashem, the God of the heavens, and He has commanded me to build for Him a House in Jerusalem.” But the complete redemption, the completion of the Second Temple, would not be for another eighteen years.
Rav Nachman bar Rav Chisda explained: Why is it written in Is. 45, “Thus says God to His anointed one, to Cyrus, whom I have stengthened in his right hand?” Was Cyrus an “annointed one”? I.e., was he made king by the same anointing process as Jewish kings? Rather, The Holy One who is Blessed said to the Anointed One = the Messiah “I have a complaint to you about Cyrus.” Thus “to Cyrus” in the verse is not apposite to “His anointed one”, but the verse should be read as “Thus says God to His anointed one regarding Cyrus….” And what, according to this reading, is God’s complaint? “I said he would build My House and ingather My exiled ones,” but he Cyrus said in Ezra 1, “Those of you from all His people…. let him go up.” That is, Cyrus did not personally take part.
The Megillah continues in verse 3, “The army of Persia and Medea, the nobles.” And it is written in chapter 10, “To the kings of Medea and Persia.” Why is the noun different, and why are the nations listed in reverse order?
Rava said, “They had a power-sharing treaty, one with the other: If kings are from our side, viceroys will be from yours, and if kings are from your side, viceroys will be from ours.”
Verse 4: “When he put on display the wealth of the honor of his kingdom.”
Rav Yosi bar Chanina said: This teaches that he wore the priestly garments; as it is written here “the preciousness of the splendor of his greatness”, and it is written there in Ex. 28 “for honor and for splendor.”
Verse 5: “And at the conclusion of these days the king made for all the people in Shushan a week-long feast.” Why were the locals invited only after the visiting dignitaries? Rav and Shmuel disagreed about the reason — one said he was a sly king, and one said he was a foolish king. The one who said he was a sly king says so because he was clever to invite those who came from a distance first, for the locals could be satisfied at any time. The one who said he was a foolish king says so because he should have invited the locals first, because if the visitors rebelled against him, the locals would have stood with him.
Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai’s students asked: On account of what sins were the “enemies of Israel” (the standard euphemism for the Jews when they have behaved in a way that the Talmud is censuring) in that generation sentenced to be destroyed? He said to them, you tell me. They said to him: On account that they benefited from the feast of that wicked one. That is, since they too had abandoned hope for the restoration of Israel to Jerusalem.
Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai replied: If so, those in Shushan should have been killed for attending the feast, thouse in the rest of the entire world should not have been killed. They said to him: OK, you tell us.
He said to them: Because they prostrated themselves to an image. Rashi explains that this is in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, when, according to Daniel 3, only Chananiah, Mishael and Azariah refrained from bowing to the statue.
They said to him: And so, should there be favorable treatment in the matter? On account of what were the Jews pardoned? He said to them: They only did it for appearance to satisfy Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers, but they did not actually have intent to worship the image. So, too, the Holy One who is Blessed did unto them only in appearance, as thus it is written in Lam. 3: For he does not afflict from His heart.
Verse 5 continues “… in the courtyard of the garden of the palace of the king.” Rav and Shmuel disputed the meaning of this verse. One said: those who merited being allowed to enter the courtyard, to the courtyard; those who merited the garden, to the garden; those who merited the palace, to the palace. And the other one said: he Achashverosh had them sit in the courtyard, and it was not sufficient for them; in the garden, and it was not sufficient for them; until he brought them in to the palace, and it was sufficient for them. In the Mishnah it is taught: He had them sit in the courtyard, and opened for them two openings: one to the garden and one to the palace.
Verse 6 states, “There were hangings of chur, karpas, and t’cheilet.”
What is “chur”? Rav said: embroidered tapestries with hole (char) upon hole. And Shmuel said: white wool, which he spread out for them. The Aramaic word for white is chivar.
“Karpas”? Rabbi Yosei bar Chanina said: Cushions (karim) of fine wool (pasim)
The verse continues: “On rods of silver and pillars of marble, cushions of gold and silver.” It was taught: Rabbi Yehudah says: those who merited silver sat on the silver, those who merited gold to the gold. Rabbi Nechemiah said to him: If so, you would have jealousy at the feast; rather, they the couches were of silver and their legs were of gold.
The verse continues: “and dar and socharet.”
What is “dar”? Rav said: row dar upon row of gemstones. And Shmuel said: There is a good stone in the sea cities, and darah is its name. Achashverosh set it in the middle of the feast, and it cast light for them like noontime. Playing on the sometime equivalence of ח and ה, Shmuel turns סחר into סהר, the Aramaic word for great light.
The House of Rabbi Yishmael taught: that Achashverosh decreed freedom deror to all masters of merchandise sechorah — in other words, a tax holiday. Note the allusion to Leviticus 25: “Proclaim liberty to all the….”
Verse 7: “And the drinks were in vessels of gold and vessels from a redundancy (shonim) of vessels.” It should have said “from a variety (meshunim) of vessels.” In explanation, Rava said: A bat kol the daughter of a voice came out and said to them: The first ones Belshatzar and his court were destroyed (kalu) on account of vessels (kelim) i.e., because they feasted using the vessels from the Beit ha-Miqdash, and you repeat (shonim) with them.
The verse continues: “… and great (rav) royal wine.” Rav said: The word rav, instead of the word harbeh, is used to teach that each one and the next one was served wine greater than himself in years rather than teaching merely that a great quantity was served.
Verse 8: “And the drinking was by law.” What does “by law” mean? Rabbi Chanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir: By the law of the Torah. Just as the law of the Torah is that food must exceed drink, so too at the feast of that wicked one food was more plentiful than drink.
The verse continues: “without forcing.” Rabbi Elazar said, this teaches that each one and the next one was served from the wine of his province. Since he would be used to his local wine, he would know his own limits.
The verse continues: “To do according to the desire of this man and that man.” Rava said: To do according to the desire of Mordechai and Haman. Mordechai, as it is written: “A Jewish man.” Haman, as it is written: “A man, a disruptor and an enemy”
Verse 9: “Also, Vashti the queen made a drinking-feast for the women in the royal palace.” It should say in the women’s palace. Rava said: Both of them Achashverosh and Vashti had sinful actions planned. It’s like people say, “He with pumpkins and his wife 12b with gourds.” That is, a man and his wife have similar tastes.
Verse 10: “On the seventh day, as the king’s heart was merry with wine….” Until then, was his heart not merry with drink? Rava said: The seventh day of the feast was Shabbat, when the people of Israel eat and drink. They began with divrei Torah and words of praise of God. But the nations of the world, when they eat and drink, begin with nothing but words of idleness. And thus, at that feast of that wicked one, there were those who said, “Medean women are the beautiful ones,” and there were those who said, “Persian women are the beautiful ones,” and Achashverosh said to them, “The vessel that I make use of is neither: not Medean and not Persian, but rather Chaldean. Would you like to see her?” They said to him: “Yes, but only if she is naked.”
For according to the measure which which a man measures is he himself measured. This teaches that Vashti the wicked would take the daughters of Israel, and strip them naked, and make them do melacha on Shabbat. Thus it is written in Esth. 2: “After these things, when the wrath of the king Achashverosh waned, he recalled Vashti and what she had done and that which had been decreed upon her.” Comparable to that which she had done, thus was decreed upon her.
Verse 12: “And Queen Vashti refused.” Let’s see: she was immodest, as the master Rava said above: Both of them Achashverosh and Vashti had sinful actions planned. What was the reason that she did not come? Rabbi Yosi bar Haninah said: this teaches that she broke forth with tzara’at (leprosy). In a Baraita it was taught: Gavriel came and made a tail on her.