notes on biblical words

February 25, 2013 at 10:36pm


Why did King Xerxes use the passive voice?

 וְיִנָּתֵן (wĕyinnātēn, “It will be given to you”)

Esther 5.3: “And the king said to her, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.’” (ESV)

Instead of saying “I shall give it to you,” Xerxes says “It shall be given to you.” The statement is indirect, spoken in the passive voice. Why the passive instead of the active? One might surmise that the author wants us to think of Xerxes as a bit of a chicken: Xerxes won’t actually do the giving—it’ll be one of his (many) advisers who will give away his kingdom. This seems to be well within Xerxes’ character, as he is repeatedly inclined to rely on his advisers rather than on his own ability to conduct the affairs of his kingdom.


  1. aaronchurchill posted this