Mordechai's Refusal to Bow


Why Refuse?

The entire story of Purim transpired because of one crucial decision of Mordechai in Chapter 3:

(ב) וְכׇל עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ כֹּרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לְהָמָן כִּי כֵן צִוָּה לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ וּמׇרְדֳּכַי לֹא יִכְרַע וְלֹא יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה...
(ה) וַיַּרְא הָמָן כִּי אֵין מׇרְדֳּכַי כֹּרֵעַ וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ וַיִּמָּלֵא הָמָן חֵמָה.  (ו) וַיִּבֶז בְּעֵינָיו לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בְּמׇרְדֳּכַי לְבַדּוֹ כִּי הִגִּידוּ לוֹ אֶת עַם מׇרְדֳּכָי וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הָמָן לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶת כׇּל הַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בְּכׇל מַלְכוּת אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ עַם מׇרְדֳּכָי. 
(2)  And all of the king's servants who were in the king's gate, would kneel and bow down to Haman, for such was the king's command concerning him, but Mordechai would neither kneel nor bow down...
(5)  And Haman saw that Mordechai would not kneel or bow down to him, and Haman was filled with rage.  (6)  But he disdained to lay hands on Mordechai alone, since they told him of Mordechai's people, and Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, Mordechai's people, throughout the whole kingdom of Achashverosh.

Mordechai's defiance of the king's directive leads Haman to attempt to annihilate the Jewish nation.  Surprisingly, though, the Megillah explains neither Mordechai's motives1 nor the backdrop for Achashverosh's original order.  Why did Haman desire that the king's servants bow to him?2  What were the factors which caused Mordechai not to comply?3 

A Reckless Act?

As Mordechai's actions led to the near annihilation of his people, it begs the question of whether his action was justified or reflected poor judgment.  There appears to be no prohibition against bowing to people, as evidenced by the many Biblical characters (including Moshe) who do so.4  What, then, could have been so critical that would prompt Mordechai to endanger his entire nation?  As Ibn EzraEsther Version A 3:2-4Esther Version B 3:4About R. Avraham ibn Ezra writes:

והנה יש לשאול למה הכניס מרדכי עצמו בסכנה גם הכניס כל ישראל היה ראוי שידבר לאסתר ותסירנו משער המלך ולא יכעיס את המן אחר שראה שהשעה משחקת לו!

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