MORDECAI (môr'dē-kī, Heb. mordekhay, from Marduk, chief god of Babylon)
MORDECAI mŏr də kī (מָרְדֳּכַ֥י, related to Marduk?). The name of two men of postexilic Israel. 1. One who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and Jeshua after the captivity (
2. The son of Jair and a Benjaminite who was deported from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. He later lived in Shushan (Susa) during the rule of the Persians (
He was the protector of Esther, his cousin, who was the daughter of his uncle Abihail. She was like a daughter to him (
Esther was chosen by Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) to be his queen. Ahasuerus was the king of Persia from 486-465 b.c. At the time of the choosing of the queen, Mordecai warned her not to reveal that she was a Jewess (
Esther obeyed Mordecai as a child would obey her father and was subject to his will (
In those days after she became queen, Mordecai overheard a plot against the king by two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh (
Mordecai would not bow in those days to the king’s favorite prince, named Haman. Like Daniel and the three Heb. children of the
Haman became angered and sought to destroy all Jews because of Mordecai’s faithfulness to his God (
Bravely, Mordecai ordered Esther to go to the king for the sake of her people. He did this in spite of the great risk to her should she earn the king’s displeasure (
The hate between Mordecai and Haman increased. Finally, at the suggestion of his wife Zeresh, Haman planned to have Mordecai hanged on a gallows he would make (
Providentially again, God stirred the mind of the king to have the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Persia read to him on a sleepless night. He hoped the dull reading of the Chronicles would put him to sleep. Instead, it startled him as the Chronicler read aloud the record of Mordecai’s uncovering the plot against his life some years before. That night the king determined to reward Mordecai.
Ironically, Haman was ordered by the king to honor Mordecai before all the people (
The authority and glory that once had belonged to Haman now was given to Mordecai (
Mordecai, now wearing the royal robes of blue and white, led the Jews in celebration of this great deliverance. The Feast of Purim was established on this day. The name Purim came from the term Pur, which means “a lot.” Since lots were to be cast against the Jews, this great deliverance day became known as Purim (
From that day Mordecai became a man to reckon with in the kingdom of Ahasuerus. He was not only great among the Jews, but found favor with the king. He always sought the good of his own people (
In secular history there is no mention of the name Mordecai in the annals of King Xerxes. A possible reference to a Marduk, a finance officer in the Pers. court of Xerxes’ day is suggested from a cuneiform document. No solid secular evidence is yet available.
Margolis and Marx, History of The Jewish People (1958), 127; Oesterley and Robinson, An Introduction to the Books of the(1958), 131ff.; E. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (1958), 229; C. Pfeiffer, Exile and Return (1962), 119-123.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
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 (