the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin. It has been alleged that he was carried into captivity with Jeconiah, and hence that he must have been at least one hundred and twenty-nine years old in the twelfth year of Ahasuerus (Xerxes). But the words of Esther do not necessarily lead to this conclusion. It was probably Kish of whom it is said (ver. 6) that he "had been carried away with the captivity."
He resided at Susa, the metropolis of Persia. He adopted his cousin Hadassah (Esther), an orphan child, whom he tenderly brought up as his own daughter. When she was brought into the king's harem and made queen in the room of the deposed queen Vashti, he was promoted to some office in the court of Ahasuerus, and was one of those who "sat in the king's gate" ( Esther 2:21 ). While holding this office, he discovered a plot of the eunuchs to put the king to death, which, by his vigilance, was defeated. His services to the king in this matter were duly recorded in the royal chronicles.
Haman (q.v.) the Agagite had been raised to the highest position at court. Mordecai refused to bow down before him; and Haman, being stung to the quick by the conduct of Mordecai, resolved to accomplish his death in a wholesale destruction of the Jewish exiles throughout the Persian empire ( Esther 3:8-15 ). Tidings of this cruel scheme soon reached the ears of Mordecai, who communicated with Queen Esther regarding it, and by her wise and bold intervention the scheme was frustrated. The Jews were delivered from destruction, Mordecai was raised to a high rank, and Haman was executed on the gallows he had by anticipation erected for Mordecai ( (6:2-7:10). ). In memory of the signal deliverance thus wrought for them, the Jews to this day celebrate the feast ( 9:26-32 ) of Purim (q.v.).
contrition; bitter; bruising
mor'-de-ki, mor-de-ka'-i (mordekhay; Mardochaios):
An Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, whose fate it has been to occupy a distinguished place in the annals of his people. His great-grandfather, Kish, had been carried to Babylon along with Jeconiah, king of Judah (Esther 2:5-6). For nearly 60 years before the scenes narrated in Esther, in which Mordecai was greatly concerned, took place, the way to Palestine had been open to the Israelites; but neither his father, Jair, nor afterward himself chose to return to the ancient heritage. This seems to have been the case also with the rest of his house, as it was with the vast majority of the Israelite people; for his uncle died in Persia leaving his motherless daughter, Hadassah, to the care of Mordecai. Employed in the royal palace at Susa, he attracted, through the timely discovery of a plot to assassinate the king, the favorable notice of Xerxes, and in a short time became the grand vizier of the Persian empire. He has been believed by many to have been the author of the Book of Esther; and in the earliest known notice of the Feast of Purim, outside of the book just mentioned, that festival is closely associated with his name. It is called "the day of Mordecai" (2 Macc 15:36). The apocryphal additions to Esther expatiate upon his greatness, and are eloquent of the deep impression which his personality and power had made upon the Jewish people. Lord Arthur Hervey has suggested the identification of Mordecai with Matacas, or Natacas, the powerful favorite and minister of Xerxes who is spoken of by Ctesias, the Greek historian. Few have done more to earn a nation's lasting gratitude than Mordecai, to whom, under God, the Jewish people owe their preservation.
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