Haman, Enemy of the Jews

300px-Esther_Denouncing_HamanHaman was a noble in the Mead and Persian empire.  The King, Xerxes, honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.  Accordingly with this honor people at the kings gate bowed down to him, but a Jew named Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.  Eventually, this was brought to Haman’s attention. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.  Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai.  Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.  Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate.  Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.  If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”  So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jewsyoung and old, women and childrenon a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.  A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

Shortly thereafter, the king saw Queen Esther in the hall before his throne and asked, “What is it, Queen Esther?  What is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”  “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”  “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”  So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared.  As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition?  It will be given you.”  Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them.  Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits.  But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.  Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.  Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.  “And that’s not all,” Haman added.  “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave.  And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.  But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”  His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it.  Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.”  This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.  It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.  “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.  “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.  The king said, “Who is in the court?”  Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.  His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.” “Bring him in,” the king ordered.  When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”  Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king,  “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.  Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes.  Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”  “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman.  “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate.  Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”  

So Haman got the robe and the horse.  He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”  Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.  But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.  His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against himyou will surely come to ruin!”  While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition?  It will be given you.  What is your request?  Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”  Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my lifethis is my petition.  And spare my peoplethis is my request.  For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated.  If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”  King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he?  Where is hethe man who has dared to do such a thing?”  Esther said, “An adversary and enemy!  This vile Haman!”  Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.  The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden.  But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.  Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.  The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”  As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.  Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house.  He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”  The king said, “Impale him on it!” So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai.  Then the king’s fury subsided.

That was the end of Haman.  King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up.  Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ringfor no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”  This edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.  

When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen.  And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration.  In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating.  And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.  Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies.  They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.  This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.   

Moreover, it was recorded that these days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city.  And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jewsnor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

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