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Megillah, Daf Yod Aleph, Part 4

 

Introduction

This section deals with the kings who seem to have ruled over the entire earth. Since that list includes Ahashverosh it is included here.

 

 

תנו רבנן: שלשה מלכו בכיפה, ואלו הן: אחאב, ואחשורוש, ונבוכדנצר. אחאבדכתיב +מלכים אי"ח+ חי האלהיך אם יש גוי וממלכה אשר לא שלח אדני שם לבקשך וגו‘, ואי לא דהוה מליך עלייהוהיכי מצי משבע להו?

 

Our Rabbis taught: There were three who ruled over the whole globe: Ahab, Ahashverosh and Nebuchadnezzar.  

Ahab, as it is written, "As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom which my Lord has not sent to seek you" (I Kings 18:10) etc. 

Now if he was not king over them, how could he make them take an oath?

 

There are three kings about whom it can be proven in Scripture that they ruled over the whole earth.

The first is Ahab. This is learned from a conversation that Ovadiah had with Elijah, where he told him that Ahab had made every nation swear that they had not seen Elijah. From here we can learn that Ahab had power over every nation.

 

נבוכדנצרדכתיב +ירמיהו כ"ז+ והיה הגוי והממלכהאשר לא יתן את צוארו בעל מלך בבל.

אחשורוש – הא דאמרן.

 

Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written: "And it shall come to pass that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and will not put their neck under the yoke of the King of Babylon" (Jeremiah 27:8).

Ahashverosh, as we have pointed out above.

 

God promises Jeremiah that all nations of the world will be subject to Nebuchadnezzar.

The verse from the previous section already demonstrated that Ahashverosh ruled over the whole world.

 

(סימן שסד"ך) ותו ליכא? והא איכא שלמה! – לא סליק מלכותיה. –

הניחא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט, אלא למאן דאמר מלך והדיוט ומלך, מאי איכא למימר? – שלמה מילתא אחריתי הוה ביה, שמלך על העליונים ועל התחתונים שנאמר +דברי הימים אכ"ט+ וישב שלמה על כסא ה‘. –

 

(Mnemonic: Sh"S"D"K")  But are there no more? Is there not Solomon?

He did not retain his kingdom [till his death]. This goes well for the one who holds that he was first a king and then an ordinary person.

But for the one who holds that he was first a king, then a subject, and then a king again, what can we say?

Solomon was in a different category, because he ruled over those in the upper world and those in the lower world, as it says, "And Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord" (I Chronicles 29:23).

 

The Talmud now raises a difficulty on the assertion that there were only three kings who ruled over the whole world. First it provides a mnemonic to remember the four kings about whom it will ask (Shlomo, Sanheriv, Darius and Koresh).

The first is Solomon—didn’t he rule over the entire world? The first answer is that he was removed from his kingship. This is related to a midrash found on Gittin 68b. However, there are other opinions there in Gittin that state that after he was removed from his kingship, he was later restored. So how come he is not counted among those kings who ruled the entire world?

The answer is that Solomon’s kingship was unique—he ruled even over parts of heaven, which Rashi interprets to mean the demons. The other kings ruled only over human beings.

 

והא הוה סנחריב, דכתיב +ישעיהו ל"ו+ מי בכל אלהי הארצות האלה אשר הצילו את ארצם מידי! – הא איכא ירושלים דלא כבשה. –

 

But was there not Sanheriv, as it is written, "Who are they among all the gods of these countries that have delivered their country out of my hand" (Isaiah 36:20).

There was Jerusalem which he did not subdue.

 

The next king who seemed to have ruled over the entire world was Sanheriv, the Assyrian king.

The answer is that Sanheriv failed to conquer Jerusalem.

 

והא איכא דריוש דכתיב + דניאל ו‘+ דריוש מלכא כתב לכל עממיא אמיא ולשניא די דירין בכל ארעא שלמכון ישגא!

הא איכא שבע דלא מלך עלייהו, דכתיב +דניאל ו‘+ שפר קדם דריוש והקים על מלכותא לאחשדרפניא מאה ועשרין.

 

But was there not Darius, as it is written, "Then king Darius wrote unto all the peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth, Peace be multiplied unto you" (Daniel 6:26).

There were the seven over which he did not rule, as it is written, "It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps" (Daniel 6:2).

 

Darius, the Persian king also seemed to have ruled over the entire world. However, he ruled over "only" 120 kingdoms. The whole world included 127, as we learn in the beginning of Esther.

 

והא איכא כורש, דכתיב +עזרא א‘+ כה אמר כרש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה‘! – התם אשתבוחי הוא דקא משתבח בנפשיה.

 

But there was Cyrus, of whom it is written, "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdom of the earth has the Lord given me" (Ezra 1:2)?  —

He was only boasting about himself.

 

From the book of Ezra it seems that Cyrus ruled over the whole earth. But the rabbis read that verse as merely a boast.