3 “What troubles you, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom, it shall be granted you.”
va-YO-mer LAH ha-ME-lekh mah LAKH es-TAYR ha-mal-KAH u-mah ba-ka-sha-TAYKH ad kha-TZEE ha-mal-KHUT v’-yi-na-TAYN LAKH
ג וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ מַה־לָּךְ אֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה וּמַה־בַּקָּשָׁתֵךְ עַד־חֲצִי הַמַּלְכוּת וְיִנָּתֵן לָךְ׃
5:3 Even to half the kingdom
When Ahasuerus offered Esther up to half of the kingdom, this was not merely an exaggerated show of generosity, but it referred to a specific geographic location. Rashi notes that the halfway mark of Ahasuerus’ empire was the site of the Beit Hamikdash. Ahasuerus tells Esther that he is willing to do anything to make her happy, short of allowing the rebuilding of the Temple. Although Cyrus, his predecessor, had allowed the Children of Israel to return to Israel and begin reconstruction of the Beit Hamikdash, Ahasuerus was adamantly against it. Ironically, according to Jewish tradition it was his son Darius, born to him by Esther, who allowed the construction of the Beit Hamikdash to be completed.