It’s almost funny: Here we are in the negative 300s and Shushan is once again the greatest city in the world. The economy is thriving as evidenced by our ability to throw numerous parties — one lasting 180 days! — and hold national beauty contests. Upward mobility is such that even paupers are wearing the king’s crown and royal clothes and riding his horse in the streets.
Don’t take my word for it. The Megillah itself declared, “The city of Shushan shouted and rejoiced!”
Even so, the scholarly elites are so bitter about coming out on the losing end of Achashverosh’s ascendance that they want to relitigate the Babylonian exile instead of waiting for the Temple to be rebuilt in just a few short years. At that point the Jews can elect to remain in the thriving province of Shushan or return to Zion if their lives in this city of wealth and happiness are too miserable to bear.
The king’s ill will against the Jewish people is nothing but fake news. Members of the royal family are Jewish, as is Achashverosh’s second in command. And who can argue that it was the king who saved the Jews when they faced certain death? Such chutzpah to criticize our king when we’ve never had a better friend in the kingdom.
It’s true, the king tangentially played a key role in a plot to kill us all, but that was a result of his getting bad counsel from one of the more extreme voices in his administration. The moment he realized the betrayal of the adviser in question he threw him out of his palace and literally hung him out to dry for all to see.
You can’t blame him for not knowing who to trust. The deep state inside the government has been plotting to derail Achashverosh’s reign from the very beginning — two officers in his own police force were revealed to have conspired against him! Thank goodness for the good people of Shushan who uncovered the plot and exposed these very bad hombres for what they are. Or were.
Sure, he’s not what the elites would consider politically correct, as he is known to shoot from the hip and tell it like it is from time to time when he’d be better off keeping his thoughts to himself — we all remember his “The silver is given to you, and the people to do to them as it pleases you” gaffe — but what has PC ever gotten us other than a fallen Temple and a ravaged Promised Land?
The king’s personal life is complicated, but how many monarchs have been angels? King David had a dalliance with a woman he spied bathing on a rooftop and Solomon, the son born from that union, had hundreds of wives and concubines. Solomon even used one of his marriages to negotiate a deal to purchase horses from Egypt, which was at best unethical and at worse illegal.
Achashverosh is better than all of them put together, probably the best ancient king in history. And no one knows more about ancient kings than he does.
Chag Purim Sameach!
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Abe Hahn’s byline is unlikely to appear in the pages of NJJN again.