The Gemara now begins its exegesis on the book of Esther.
“And it was in the days of Achashverosh” Esth. 1 Rabbi Levi (and there are those who say it was Rabbi Yonatan) said: The matter we are about to cite is a tradition in our hands, from the Men of the Great Assembly. In every place where it says “And it was” at the beginning of a narrative it is nothing but the language of trouble.
We will now adduce all such passages as proof.
• “And it was in the days when the judges judged” Ruth 1 was famine.
• “And it was when humankind began to become numerous” Gen 6 — “And God saw the increase in the wickness of mankind.”
• “And it was, when they journeyed to the east” Gen 11 — “And they said, let us build a city for ourselves” This was the tower of Bavel.
• “And it was in the days of Amarfel” Gen 14 — “they made war.”
• “And it was when Joshua was in Jericho” Josh. 6 — “and the angel’s sword was drawn in his hand.”
• “And God was with Joshua” Josh. 6 — “and the Children of Israel sinned.”
• “And there was a man from the Ramatim” I Sam. 1 — “for he loved Hannah, but God had closed up her womb.”
• “And it was, when Samuel was old” I Sam. 8 — “And his sons did not walk in his path.”
• “And there was unto David, in all his undertakings, success.” I Sam. 18 — “And Saul eyed David.”
• “And it was when the King David dwelt in his house” II Sam. 7 – David was told “But you will not build the Temple.”
Now we will examine counterexamples.
But it is written: “And it was on the eighth day” of the dedication of the mishkan; Lev. 9. And it was taught in a baraita: That very day there was rejoicing before the Holy One, Who is Blessed, just as the day when the heavens and the earth were created.
For it is written here, “And it was on the eighth day”, and it is written there Gen 1 “And it was evening and it was morning, one day.”
Hey, Nadav and Avihu died on the day of the mishkan’s dedication. So it was also a time of misfortune.
But it is written: “And it was in the 480th year” I Kings 6.
“And it was when Jacob saw Rachel” Gen 29.
And hey, it is written: “And it was evening, and it was morning, one day!” Gen. 1 And there is “the second day”, and there is “the third day”, and they are good!
Rav Ashi said: All the times scripture states “And it was…” — there are some like this which designate trouble and there are some like that which do not indicate trouble. But when scripture says “And it was in the days of…” — this is nothing but the language of trouble. There are five instances of “And it was in the days of…”:
• “And it was in the days of Achashverosh…”
• “And it was in the days when the judges judged…”
• “And it was in the days of Amrafel…”
• “And it was in the days of Achaz…” Is. 7
Excerpted from Megillah 10 at Dafcast.net. Copyright © 2008 Dafcast.net; all rights reserved.