Ask a school age child to describe Achashverosh,
and you will get an image of a short, roly-poly, fun
loving guy who liked to drink - the Pillsbury doughboy.
That isn't quite an accurate description. In fact, it
couldn't be more off-base.
He was an ego-driven lout who kicked, clubbed, and
clawed his way into power. In the first posuk of
the Megillah, Rashi explains that Achashverosh
was consistent - consistently wicked from the
first verse until the very end. His ambition was
nothing short of world dominion, and when the Meggilah
opens he had recently achieved his dream - Emperor of
The Megillah describes that, "He ruled
over one hundred and twenty seven nations." The
common assumption is that he was in the height of his
glory. However, Chazal tell us that shortly before this,
he had ruled over an additional one hundred and nineteen
nations. At this point in time, he was a powerful ruler,
but almost half of his kingdom had been taken from him.
He should have been in mourning
The Nesivos (Megilas Sisarim) explains
that Achashverosh should have been in mourning.
He had just suffered a striking loss. He had been the
ruler of the earth, and now his power and glory were
stolen from him. Yet he was joyful and made a party
because he understood the ways of HASHEM, and he had a
sign from the heaven.
Throughout our long exile, HASHEM has kept the Jewish
people scattered across the globe so that if an evil
king would come to power and attempt to kill us, a
portion of the nation would be in other parts of the
world. Never are all the Jews under one ruler.
Yet that rule was
broken. When Achashverosh reigned over the entire
world, every Jew alive had been under his sovereignty.
Now that he ruled over only half of the world, still
every Jew was under his dominion. Whether he would keep
or lose a province seemed to have been based on whether
Jews were living there. It was almost as if a laser beam
were carving out his monarchy. If there were Jews in a
region, it remained under his control. If not, it was
taken from him. When the rebellion was finished, every
Jew was still under his control. Achashverosh
took this as a sign that HASHEM was delivering His
people into his hands, and therefore he was joyful and
made a party.
Keep the money
This helps us understand a difficult concept in the
When Haman approaches Achasverosh with the idea
of killing the Jews, he offers him 10,000 talents of
silver - a fantastic sum. Achasverosh agrees to the
plan, but refuses the money. "Keep the money, and do
with the nation as you like". Why in the world
wouldn't Achasverosh accept this huge bribe?
The Gemerah in Megillah answers this by
saying that Haman and Achasverosh are comparable to two
neighbors with adjoining fields. In one field, there is
a large mound of dirt, that doesn't allow the owner to
plow his field. In the neighboring field, there is a
huge ditch, that doesn't allow its owner to plow his
field - Both fields lay dormant. One day, the man with
the ditch approaches the man with the mound and says, "I
will gladly pay you to allow me to take the mound of
dirt out of your field to fill my ditch." "Pay me?" says
the man with the mound. "Take it for free."
The Gemara says, "That was the exchange between
Haman and Achasverosh". This wasn't the
first time that Haman had appealed to the king to kill
the Jews. He had been there before. In fact, over and
over again, day after day, week after week, Haman had
been begging, imploring, entreating the king to allow
him to kill the Jews. Achasverosh reaction was
quite simple - I hate Jews as much as you do, I would be
only too glad to get rid of them - But, "I saw what
happened to those who came before me. They attacked the
Jews and G-d paid them back. Nebuchadnezzar
oppressed the Jews and he died a painful death,
Belshazzar enslaved the Jews, and he died a gruesome
death. I am no fool", he said, and flatly refused.
They are sleeping
This continued until Haman said that one line that
changed the king's mind. "Yeshno am Eched"-
simply read there is one nation. Says the Gemara what
Haman was actually saying was "Yishanu Min Hamitzvohs"
- they are sleeping from the Mitzvahs - They aren't who
they used to be. "You are afraid to attack them because
G-d protects them. That may be true, but only when they
are loyal to G-d - they aren't loyal to G-d's ways - you
can attack them now and win."
Once Achasverosh heard this, he was a changed
man. "In that case you have my blessings. You don't have
to pay me, much like the man with the mound of dirt in
his field, I wish for their destruction more than you
This is a short
synopsis taken from: Megillas Esther: The story
behind the story , a verse by verse analysis of the
Megillah, with Explanations drawn from: Rashi, The Gra,
Nisivos, Gemorah Megilah (Rashi and Maharsha) Targum,
I hope you find it meaningful,