Midrash Esther Chapter II: I: Spending His Spirit Part Two

Feb 28th, 2012 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
The Midrash continues: From where did this wicked man obtain his wealth?

Rabbi Tanchumah said: Nebuchadnezar, may he be crushed and exterminated, amassed all the money in the world, and he was very stingy with it. So when he felt his end approaching, he said to himself: why should I leave all this money to Evil-Merodach? So he ordered big ships of brass to be made, and filled them with money and dug trenches and hid them by the Euphrates and turned the waters of the Euphrates over them. On the day that Cyrus decreed that the Temple should be built, God revealed them to him, as it says, “thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him, that the gates may not be shut (Isaiah 45:1)” and further on it says, “and I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.”

Rabbi Tanchumah is pointing out the irony of Achashveirosh celebrating his party with vessels from the destroyed Beit Hamikdash together with the wealth he inherited from Cyrus, that the latter discovered in merit of his allowing the Jews to rebuild the Temple.

Rabbi Tanchumah has a different understanding of Achashveirosh, “Spending his spirit.” He believes that Achashveirosh is spending his spiritual spirit by using wealth collected because of a commitment to rebuild God’s House, by celebrating its destruction. He was placing all his wealth at risk; indicated by his party celebrating his possessions with the loss of his Queen, Vashti.

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