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The Works of Aggadic Midrash and the Esther Midrashim

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Chapter Summary

This chapter stresses the need for a completely new approach to the study of midrashic literature. Various Midrashim dealing with the same biblical book or theme supposedly have very much in common and deserve to be treated together. The biblical story of Mordechai, Esther, Haman and King Ahasuerus is the subject of an unusually prolific output of midrashic compositions. This influx is most likely due to the practice of holding public discourses dealing with the exposition of the Esther Scroll and the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people portrayed therein, as part of the celebration of the Purim holiday, especially if the 14th of Adar fell on the Sabbath. A characteristic feature of most of the midrashic expositions of the Book of Esther is the inclusion of what may be termed 'anti-Semitic' outbursts and diatribes against Jewish religion and custom.

Keywords: aggadic midrash; biblical story; Esther scroll; Haman; Jewish people; King Ahasuerus; Mordechai



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