1. He Was the Leader of the Jews During Purim

Together with his cousin, Queen Esther, Mordecai (Mordechai) was the hero of the dramatic, Divinely-orchestrated events that led up to the declaration of the Jewish holiday of Purim in the fourth century BCE.

Read: 15 Purim Facts Every Jew Should Know

2. He Was a Descendant of King Saul

The Book of Esther, which he co-authored, describes him as “the son of Yair, son of Shimi, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin.”1 Shimi and Kish are both names of people closely linked to King Saul, who was also of the tribe of Benjamin. The sages therefore take it for granted that Mordecai was a direct descendant of Saul, and the ancient Aramaic Targumim actually list the exact chain of genealogy.2

Read: 12 Facts About Benjamin

3. He Was Taken to Persia With Jeconiah

Born and raised in the Holy Land, he was among the 10,000 elites of Jerusalem taken prisoner by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with Jeconiah, King of Judea.3

Read: Who Was Nebuchadnezzar?

4. He Adopted (and Married) His Cousin

Mordecai’s uncle Avichayil died young, as did Avichayil’s wife, leaving behind a young orphan named Hadassah. Mordecai took her in and raised her.4 According to the sages, Mordecai and Hadassah eventually married.5

Read: 15 Facts About Queen Esther

5. He Was a Prophet

The Talmud tells us that there were 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses of the Jewish people. Rashi names all 48, and even though Scripture contains no overt references to G‑d speaking to Mordecai, he is on the list.6

Read: 21 Jewish Prophets

6. He Advised His Cousin

When Hadassah, using the (Persian7 ) name Esther, was taken to the palace of King Ahasuerus, Mordecai cautioned her not to reveal her Jewish identity or her royal roots, and made sure to spend time around the palace where he hoped to keep tabs on her wellbeing.8

Read: How Could Esther Marry a Non-Jew?

7. His Hebrew Name Was Petachya

Like Esther, who used the Hebrew name Hadassah, Mordecai was known in Hebrew as Petachya “G‑d opens,” thus named because he “opened” people’s words to understand their intent.9

Read: Are Mordecai and Esther Named for Pagan Gods?

8. He Was a Polyglot

Scripture refers to him as Mordecai Bilshan.10 The word Bilshan is related to the Hebrew word lashon, “tongue,” and he was given this title because he was fluent in many languages.11 In fact, as a leading member of the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court) he was required to know all 70 languages. This came to good use when he overheard two of the king’s guards plotting a coup in their native language Tarshish.12 Mordecai reported them, and the king’s life was saved.13

It took some time, but the king ultimately rewarded him by ordering that he be dressed in the king’s clothes and paraded through the city streets atop the king’s horse, led by Haman, who was to declare: “Thus shall be done to the man the king wishes to honor!”14

Read: Where Did the 70 Languages Come From?

9. He Taught Young Children

Mordecai was a great Torah scholar, but he invested his time and energy into teaching young schoolchildren, whom he (correctly) recognized as the key to Jewish continuity.15

Read: An Educational Lesson From Mordecai

10. He Was the First to be Referred to as a “Jew”

Even though he was from the tribe of Benjamin, he is referred to as a Yehudi,16 or Jew, which associates him with the tribe of Judah. According to the Talmud, this is because Judah is derived from the Hebrew root word that means “acknowledgment” or “submission.” He earned this moniker for bravely refusing to bow to an idol, recognizing only G‑d as worthy of adulation.17

Read: The Holiday When We Became Jewish

11. He Refused to Bow to Haman

The king decreed that everyone bow to Haman, his newly-elevated prime minister. But Mordecai refused. This made Haman so angry that he petitioned the king to wipe out all the Jews18 and planned to have Mordecai strung up on a 50-cubit-tall tree.19

Read: Why Didn’t Mordecai Bow to Haman?

12. He Told Esther to Speak to the King

As soon as Mordecai heard about the decree, cried and prayed in the streets, wearing sackcloth and ashes. He also directed Esther to speak to the king on behalf of her people. This required bravery on her part, but Mordecai insisted that it must be the reason G‑d had put her in the position of queen in the first place.20

Read: Why Did Mordecai Insist She Approach the King?

13. He Became the King’s Prime Minister

After Esther exposed Haman for the genocidal tyrant that he was, the king gave her Haman’s palace and appointed Mordecai prime minister in his place.21 Yet even as he worked diligently for his people, he is described as “accepted by most of his brethren,”22 indicating that he was not universally admired.

Read: Why Did Mordecai’s Peers Disapprove of Him?

14 His Tomb Is in Iran

Nearly 2,500 years after the events of Purim, Iranian Jews (and Muslims) still proudly and reverently point to the tombs of Mordecai and Esther in Hamedan, 360 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of Tehran.

Read: 10 Facts About Persian Jews