This theory got reinforced tonight during my Purim celebration. I learned of a midrash explaining that the robes that Mordechai wore were those of the Kohen Gadol - High Priest, from the Temple.
|The Triumph of Mordecai Pieter Lastman, 1624|
The theme of the clothes of the Kohen Gadol, detailed in this week's parsha [Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)], serves as an ironic subtext to the story of Purim. As the Megilah begins, we are told of the ostentatious celebrations King Ahashverosh orchestrates, to which he wears the finest splendor.The notion that the trumpets were also from the Temple would be wholly (and holy) consistent.
When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, one hundred and eighty days. (Esther 1:4)The Talmud notes a linguistic relationship between the clothing of the king and the clothing of the Kohen Gadol:
"When he showed the riches of his glorious [tif'eret] kingdom": R. Yose b. Hanina said: 'This shows that he arrayed himself in the priestly robes. It is written here [Esther 1:4], 'the riches of his glorious [tif'eret] kingdom', and it is written elsewhere [in connection with the priestly garments, Shmot 28], 'for splendor and for glory, [tif'eret]. (Talmud Bavli Megilah 12a)This linguistic similarity is more than coincidental. The Talmud unlocks for us a rich and significant sub-text by highlighting the use of these very specific descriptions. The great celebrations in Shushan were far from benign...
Ahashverosh donned the clothing of the Kohen Gadol and celebrated the fact that his Jewish subjects would remain dispersed and disunited. The construction of the new Temple had come to a halt; Jerusalem would remain barren, and the Jews would remain in exile...
In this context, other seemingly minor elements of the Book of Esther are cast in a new light: When Ahashverosh looks for a fitting reward for a loyal supporter, Haman's response resonates with new overtones: the honoree should be dressed in clothing worn by the king - not "the kings clothing", but the clothing that the king has worn. We now understand that this is no arbitrary suit of clothes: it is the clothing of the Kohen Gadol that Haman wants. But at that point Haman is humiliated and forced to give these royal clothes to Mordechai.