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    How were Mordechai & Esther related? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. My child came home from school and said her teacher told her that Esther was Mordechai’s cousin, but I always thought that she was his niece. Which is correct?

    Esther & Mordechai, by Aert de Gelder, 1675

    A. In spite of popular arguments to the contrary, Mordechai and Esther were not uncle and niece but cousins. Esther 2:7 calls Esther bat dodo – “the daughter of his uncle”. The uncle’s name was Avichayil and according to the Targum Sheni, Mordechai’s and Esther’s fathers were brothers.

    The uncle-niece theory probably derives from Christian and not Jewish sources: the Latin Vulgate says she was the daughter of Mordechai’s brother. However, the Catholic Encyclopedia is ambivalent, calling Mordechai her “uncle (or cousin)”.

    The Jewish story tells that Mordechai, who was older than Esther, brought her up (and later married her).

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