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“In the fortress Shushan lived a Jew by the name of Mordecai, son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. [Kish] had been exiled from Jerusalem in the group that was carried into exile along with King Jeconiah of Judah, which had been driven into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.— He was foster father to Hadassah—that is, Esther—his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was shapely and beautiful; and when her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter.”     Esther 2/5-7 Tanakh JPS 1985.

 

“But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone; having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to do away with all the Jews, Mordecai’s people, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.”     Esther 3/6 Tanakh JPS 1985.

 

A fugitive brought the news to Abram the Hebrew, who was dwelling at the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Abram’s allies.     Genesis Chapter 14/13 Tanakh JPS 1985.

 

God (“Elohim” in Hebrew) has a special purpose in history and has chosen the Hebrews and the Hebrews alone to fulfill this purpose. In order to fulfill this purpose, God has entered into a covenantal relationship with the Hebrews and promises to protect them as a lord protects his servants. As servants, then, the principle duty that Abraham and his descendants owe to god is obedience.     Jewishvirtuallibrary: Who Where the Hebrews (edited).

 

Commentary:

The book of Esther is the only biblical book that does not mention G-d by name. It records no miracles and no direct intervention of G-d at all. In Esther’s story, the Lord redeems His people through the faith and courage of one strategically placed woman and her cousin. All the while, things are happening behind the scenes to bring about the final result.

This is the first time in the Tanakh the term “Jew” is used and it occurs during the second exile of the people Israel from the lands promised to Abraham. All of the Jewish people have been deported to Assyria which becomes part of the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great, the liberator of the twelve tribes of Israel to return to Jerusalem and build the second Temple.

Mordecai the Jew is of the tribe of Benjamin and his people are the Jews. The name seems to be a derivative form of the word “Judah” but the tribe of Judah and the lands allotted to Judah have nothing to do with the word “Jew”. It is a special word just as “Hebrew” is a special word. Words from G-d for G-d.

The kingdom of Ahasuerus is the Persian empire and includes all of Babylonia which is within Assyria where all of the tribes of Israel had been deported to at one time or another, the last being Judah and Benjamin. (Jerusalem is in the lands allotted to the tribe of Benjamin).

Haman plotting to do away with all Jews throughout the Kingdom of Persia was a plot against all of the people of Israel in those lands. All of the tribes including the priestly tribe of Levi which is thirteen tribes though only twelve were allotted lands of Abraham.

There is no reason to believe that Haman was plotting to do away with only the people of the tribe of Benjamin. The children of Israel are the Jewish people. The Jews are not just people of the tribe of Benjamin.

The word “Hebrew” is like the word “Jew” in the Tanakh. Both are simply introduced into G-d’s stories written by His prophets.

No one is called Hebrew until a fugitive brought the news to Abram “the Hebrew”. Mordecai, son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite is simply described as “a Jew”.

These names identify G-d’s chosen people throughout the world. Just as religious ritual, faith and manner of dress identify them.

G-d knew every single interpretation of every verse in every book of the Tanakh by all the people of the world before it was ever written. It is the script for His creation and His viewing pleasure and His interaction with mankind and the Jewish people.

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