My brother sent me a link to video of a Rabbi visiting the graves of Mordechai and Esther (see the article here). I sent him this by email, and thought I’d share:
I’m curious. Do you really believe that these are the actual burial sites of these people? Setting aside most of the ones that are mentioned, I want to focus on Mordechai and Esther.
First of all, there’s a competing tradition that the tomb of Mordechai and Esther is in Israel, near Tzfat. Someone has to be wrong.
Second, our own tanach (Ezra 2:2 and Nechemia 7:7) indicates that Mordechai returned to Israel with Zerubavel. But even if we assume that Mordechai remained in Shushan for his entire life, and is not the Mordecahi mentioned in Ezra/Nechemia (or he is, and he returned), the possibility that Mordechai and Esther are buried together in a place that’s well known seems like a very far stretch to me.
Esther is a Queen of Persia. Would the royalty of Persia have allowed the queen to be buried anywhere other than in a royal mauseleum, next to (or associated with) the King? And even if so, would she be allowed to be buried next to another man? And why would she be buried with her cousin, in the manner of a husband and wife? (Don’t get me started on the medrash that says they were married. It causes more problems in the story than it solves, and has no textual support.)
I think it’s nice that there’s a shrine to Mordechai and Esther in Persia, sure. But I can’t really believe that this is the actual spot where they’re buried.
I actually am curious what people think about this. My blasphemy meter is pinging pretty low on this, but it’s always hard to self-judge on those things.
So, what says my blog audience (if there’s any left to speak of)? Let’s start an interesting and illuminating discussion in the comments.