mordecai Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
mordecai in Easton's Bible Dictionary
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.).
mordecai in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
MOR'DECAI (little man, or worshipper of Mars), a captive Jew of the family of Saul, resident at the court of Ahasuerus. An uncle of his died, leaving an orphan daughter named Hadassah, whom Mordecai adopted, and who afterward became the queen of Persia. Mordecai fell under the displeasure of Haman, one of the king's principal officers of state, and to be revenged on the despised Jew he laid a plan for the extermination of the whole body of Jews in the empire. His purpose was, however, defeated by the interposition of the queen, Haman lost his life and Mordecai was elevated to wealth and power.
mordecai in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
A Persian name according to Gesenius, "worshipper of Merodach". But a Babylonian idol's name would not have been given him under the Persian dynasty, which rejected idols. It is rather Matacai. Ctesias (Prideaux Connect. 1:231-233), who probably saw the Medo-Persian chronicles mentioned in Esther 10:2, names a Matacas, Xerxes' chief favorite, the most powerful of the eunuchs. Xerxes sent Matacas to spoil Apollo's temple at Delphi (Miletus?) a work congenial to a Jew, as the order was to the iconoclastic king. Mordecai had neither wife nor child, brought up his cousin Esther in his own house, and had access to the court of the women, all which circumstances accord with his being a eunuch as Matacas was, a class from whom the king had elevated many to the highest posts.
Xerxes delighted in extravagant acts; and Haman, who knew his weakness, naturally suggested the extraordinary honors exceeding all that a king ought, in respect for his own dignity, to grant to a subject, because he thought it was for himself they were intended. Mordecai was a Benjamite at Shushan who reared his uncle's daughter Esther: Esther 2:5-7. (See ESTHER.) The instrument under Providence in saving the Jews from extermination by Haman, as his not bowing to that Amaleldte was the occasion of Haman's murderous spite against the chosen race. Xerxes' prime minister, or vizier. Instituted the feast Purim. (See HAMAN.)
Probably wrote the book of Esther. Esther's favorable reception by Ahasuerus when she ventured at the risk of death, unasked, to approach him, and his reading in the Medo-Persian chronicles the record of Mordecai's unrewarded service in disclosing the conspiracy, on the very night before Haman came, and Haman's being constrained to load with kingly honors the man whom he had come to ask leave to hang, and then being hanged on the gallows he made for Mordecai, are most remarkable instances of the working of Providence, and of God's secret moral government of the world, in spite of all appearances to the contrary. (See AHASUERUS.)
Mordecai was great grandson of Kish the Benjamite taken captive in Jeconiah's captivity, 599 B.C. Four generations thence, or 120 years, bring Mordecai exactly down to 479, the sixth year of Xerxes, thus proving Ahasuerus' identity and Mordecai's own date. At Xerxes' death, or even before, Mordecai probably led to Jerusalem a body of Jews, as recorded in Ezra 2:2; Nehemiah 7:7. The rabbis designate him "the just." His tomb and Esther's are shown at Hamadan or Ecbatana (?). Others place his tomb at Susa. The palace at Shushan, begun by Darius Hystaspes, Loftus (Chaldaea, 28) discovered remains of; the bases of the great colonnade remain, and accord with the description in Esther 1.