Leech or Lizard?

 

 When you think of Thanksgiving you of think family, food and football. Let me suggest a fourth focus: creature features.

 

The Book of Proverbs, found in the wisdom literature of the Bible, offers insight into the human condition. From my youth on I have asked God for wisdom, knowledge and a good understanding. I have not always used the wisdom, knowledge and understanding given me. Much of my younger life can attest to Proverb’s description of fools and folly.

Proverbs contrasts fools and folly with those who gain wisdom and avoid imprudence. Proverbs gives us examples of what one should not be like and what one should be like. Leeches and lizards are among the examples. Let’s start with leeches.

The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry. Prov. 3:15 

How would you characterize a leech? The picture that first comes to mind is that of a bloodsucker that extracts what it wants and then goes on to the next source to extract again. Personified as above, do you see them as never satisfied? As never contented? As always craving more?  Are they greedy and covetous? Are they insatiable in their appetite? Do they see themselves as deserving and therefore warranted in entering your space and presenting their unending demands? What about another space intruder, the lizard?

a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. Prov. 30:28

Lizards, the proverb says, can be easily controlled but they show up in highly respectable places, places like lavish Caribbean hotels. Lizards like to come indoors for a meal. They are attracted by an insect infestation. Due to their small size, tiny gaps or cracks around doors and windows can be enough for geckos to let themselves in. Some owners may allow a few innocuous lizards to come and take care of the greater insect problem. And, insects are not as ‘cute’ as Geckos. The GEICO commercials invite us to let them into our lives to solve insurance problems.

The creeping and crawling Lizards can be held in check but they show up anyway in king’s palaces looking for insects hiding in dark places and likely feasting on the crumbs dropped from the royal table.

The Gospels provide with us with human examples of these creature’s features:

A recent review of a first century survey (Luke 17) found that nine out ten lepers do not give thanks. Apparently, nine lepers saw Jesus, latched on to his presence and demanded ‘Give! Give! And one leper, the out of place Samaritan, saw Jesus, creeped up slowly and waited for the crumbs to fall from the Master’s table. When Jesus healed all ten of the lepers, the nine leeches went on their way feeling they got what they deserved. But the once dried, scaling, atrophic, depigmented-skinned lizard returned and gave thanks for being allowed into the royal court and receiving a new skin on life.

As we learned, one can live their life as a leech: show up, latch on, cry ‘Give! Give!’, take and feel deserving and ungrateful. Or, one can live life as the lowly out of place lizard who shows up in our King’s palace looking for the means to go on.  The latter provides us with a prime example of grace – that easily controlled lowly lizards like us are even allowed a notice and a few bread crumbs that fall from the King’s table. Thanks be to God.

 

Marginalizing Truth…

 

…to Fit Around One’s Agenda

Below, a recent Tweet by the same Jesuit priest referred to in my previous post. James Martin, as he often does, redefines the Gospel so as to frame the #LGBT as “intersectional” (I’m using a popular SJW word) with those who may be on the fringe of society – in other words, those deemed as being over-looked and under-loved. The LGBT’s one-of-a-kind “trials”, he posits, must be considered independently and also, curiously, in relation to others who have suffered some…thing.

Martin is seeking to brand himself as the patron saint of gays. He may well succeed with his populist mission in the venue of the Catholic church. Know that he will be held accountable for his use of the Gospel as a means to an end.

Here are my replies to his Tweet:

And…

1/Jesus’ encounter w/Zacchaeus (whose name means “pure”; a chief tax-collector) reveals the POWER OF GOD to redeem a man’s life…

2/3-Zacchaeus completely repents: he finds that the Kingdom of God is worth more to him than riches & power. Read the full account: (Luke 19:1-10)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19:1-10&version=NIV

3/3-Jesus’ encounter w/Paul on the Damascus road is another example of the life changing POWER OF GOD affecting those who have power over others

 Added 10-8-2017:

As I have said, the LGBT are self-marginalizing: (Caution vulgar and repulsive language)

As recorded in the four Gospels and also in the Book of Acts, Jesus and his Apostles encounter those in power and those under the influence of power. Jesus and his Apostles redefine power in every instance.  In so doing they proclaim the Lordship of Jesus the Christ and introduce them to the Kingdom of God on earth. More about this in a subsequent post.

Haman and Hate (and Hamas by Proxy?) meet the Hangman, Conclusion

Part One: A Feast for the Eyes

Part Two: Persia Meets Reality and Esther

Part Three: Haman and A Star is Worn

 

Mordecai sitting at the King's Gate-all ears and eyes

Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate-all ears and eyes

 

 

Haman is booked

Haman is booked

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Four, Conclusion: Who Remains Silent in Times Like These?

 “The entire story of Israel, on one level at least, is the story of how Israel’s God is taking on the arrogant tyrants of the world, overthrowing their power, and rescuing his people from under its cruel weight.” N.T. Wright, “How God Became King”

 As we have learned so far, Persian King Xerxes and his right hand man Haman have issued decrees, edicts and proclamations. At the urging of Haman a death warrant for the Jews was sent throughout Xerxes’ vast kingdom.

 The edict, that genocide of the Jews was to occur on a certain day, is shouted from the citadel in the capital city of Susa. The targeted Jew’s days are numbered: on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar the Jews are to be annihilated, their property plundered.

 This horrifying declaration is soon answered by the Jewish population. The people mourn and fast. They put on sackcloth and ashes as signs of their distress. Xerxes and Haman, on the other hand, party on.

 But then banqueting tables are turned and the Jew’s great sadness is turned to rejoicing. Moving quickly though the events we’ll see how.

 Before we go on you should know this Resurrection Day that…The days of evil are numbered and the Day of Final Deliverance from Death is at hand. The empty tomb is the proclamation of our deliverance from both evil and death, on a certain future day. The Purim celebration would become a foretaste of deliverance. Resurrection day is the foretaste of the Day of Deliverance.

 From Chapter One of The Book of Esther: King Xerxes, in response to Queen Vashti’s no-show at the royal bacchanalia deposes Queen Vasti and sends out a decree to everyone in his kingdom, a decree proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household.

From Chapter Two: Esther is fast-tracked by the head eunuch to become Xerxes new queen. The king then gives a great banquet, “Esther’s Banquet” to show off his queen to all his nobles and officials. Xerxes proclaims a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with liberality. Mordecai’s salvation of Xerxes from an assignation attempt is recorded in the king’s record books.

 From Chapter Three: Xerxes honors Haman, making him his right-hand man. Haman is paraded about and is honored by all except a particular Jew-Mordecai. Haman’s ego is crushed. His anger turns to hate. Haman chooses to become anti-Semitic. Haman complains to Xerxes about a “certain people”.

 Xerxes to Haman regarding the Jews, “do with the people as you please.” A genocidal Death Warrant is issued after the king’s authority via his signet ring is handed over to Haman. A copy of the text of the edict is 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.  …couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued.”

Chapter 4: Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, hears about the edit. It is shouted from the citadel in the capital city of Susa. Mordecai is stunned. With sackcloth and ashes Mordecai let’s the world know, and more importantly, let’s God ‘know’ that he is mourning the loss of his family and his people the Jews. (Notice how Mordecai’s protest (like Job’s) is personal and self-effacing and not riotous, vulgar, angry and destructive like today’s demonstrations?)

Important to our understanding of The Book of Esther wherein there is no mention of God is the fact that God had promised Abraham in a covenant (see Genesis 15) that “a) Abraham’s seed would become as numerous as the stars of heaven, b) his family would be exiles in a foreign land and eventually be brought out, and c) his family would inherit the land of Canaan.” (N.T. Wright, “Justification”.)

Mordecai’s great distress is based, I believe, on his understanding of God’s promises to Abraham and his understanding of God righteousness–God keeping his promises-and the declared challenge to God’s faithfulness by an earthly tyrant. Sackcloth and ashes are man’s quiet submission to God: man is dust and will return to dust and that salvation alone comes from God. Let’s see what happens next.

Esther quickly learned about Mordecai’s distress. She sends him new clothes to put on, to comfort him. She did not know about the edict.

Mordecai responds to the eunuch sent by Esther. He hands him the edict to give to Esther. Mordecai tells the eunuch that Esther must approach the king and get him to rescind this edict. Esther receives the news with great dread. She replies to Mordecai that people who just show up at court uninvited are put to death. And, “…thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”(emphasis mine)

 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

So Mordecai went and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. The Jews in every corner of the kingdom fasted for three days.

Submission takes the high road.

Maybe you have noticed by now that submission plays a big role in this and other Biblical narratives. Putting on sackcloth and ashes and fasting are forms of submission. Replying, “If I perish, I perish” is another. Recall Mary’s submission to the angel regarding her being impregnated by the Holy Spirit? “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, May it be to me as you have said.” And, we must recall our Lord’s submission to the Father’s divine purpose: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 The act of submission to a sovereign God even when God’s presence and His direct intervention are not evident is described for us in a ‘genealogy of faith found in Hebrews chapter 11. There we read of the “By faith…” accounts of individuals who submitted themselves to God. That submission is faith in the righteousness of God. It is saying God keeps His promises and that He does so no matter what men do to affect them, even up annihilation of those promises personified in God’s people the Jews.

 Submission to a scepter

After three days of fasting Esther puts on her royal robes and presents herself to the King. She appears in the hallway within direct view of the king. She anxiously awaits his invitation. Xerxes scepter is offered to her. Esther touches the tip of scepter showing respect and submission to his authority.

Civil disobedience and submission

Civil disobedience and submission

 Now imagine for a moment being Queen Esther. Xerxes, the King of his household had, had by proxy decree allowed for the annihilation of her people the Jews without giving it second thought. Queen Esther no doubt felt that her life hung in the balance, one side of the scale weighted against her. But then the finger God was upholding her.

 The king asked Esther “What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

Esther’s response is not direct. She invites Xerxes and Haman to a banquet that same day. The banquet happens, the wine is poured and again the king asks Esther what her petition is. And again, Esther, faltering in courage, suggests another banquet the next day and “Then I will answer the king’s question.” On to banquet number two and a swelling ego.

 With banquet number one under his belt and banquet number two written into his day planner Haman is pretty impressed with himself. He brags to his wife and friends that it was only the King and himself who were invitees to the Queens banquets. Haman boasts of his great connections and vast wealth. Yet, there was something sticking in his craw-that Mordecai who is mourning everyday at the gate in sack cloth and ashes.

 Haman’s wife, knowing that Mordecai was the decreed king of his household offered a solution to Haman’s hangdog demeanor.

“Have a gallows built, seventy-five feet high, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go with the king to the dinner and be happy.” In other words, “Don’t Worry. Be Happy!” Haman liked the idea and had the gallows built. Problem solved.

 Sleepless in Susa

That same night the king couldn’t sleep. This was due to too much wine at the banquet or perhaps God’s purpose was the pea under the mattress. Whatever the reason the king ordered his favorite book to be brought in-the king’s chronicles. These books were records all of the king’s doings, perfect for nights like these.

The king ordered his favorite book to brought in-the king’s chronicles. These books were records all of the king’s doings, perfect for nights like these.

 Lo and behold, what was long ago forgotten was still in black and white on the parchment- Mordecai had saved the king by exposing an assassination plot. The king then asked his attendants what had been done for Mordecai. Such an act of respect for the king’s life should be honored. His attendants answered, “nada” (I don’t know Persian for “nothing.”) The king wanted to settle up with Mordecai immediately so he asked his servants, “Who is in the court?”

 Lo and behold, Haman, the proud, is, at that very moment, standing in the outer court hoping to get permission from the king to have Mordecai hanged. Haman, too, wanted to settle up quickly as possible.

 Haman enters the king’s presence and immediately the king asks Haman “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”

 Haman, already full of Haman, thinks the king is, of course, talking about whom else but Haman. Haman, with great flare, then details a litany of delights that the king should lavish on such a man.

 The king commands Haman, “Go at once.” “Get the robe and 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.” Oh, the irony.

 Haman did as the king commanded. He paraded Mordecai through the city streets proclaiming as he went, “This is what is to be done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Carpe the irony:  Haman is leading Mordecai through Susa

Carpe the irony: Haman is leading Mordecai through Susa

 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate (nothing had changed; a curious ride through the city on horseback does not a decree rescind). Haman returned to his wife and friends and gave them the low down.

 Zeresh, Haman’s wife, taking the reins away from Haman decides, like many others had in recorded history, that it is time to stop messing with the Jewish people. In her mind the Jews’ God defends them. He is real. Enough already, Haman, your pride is plaguing us. Be done with this man and his people.

 While she is talking Haman is whisked away to banquet Number Two

 No Fear (well maybe some)

 King Xerxes and Haman, knees knocking I’m guessing, dine with Queen Esther a second time. And, a second time the king asks Esther, “What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

 “Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation.”

 Well, king Xerxes is greatly troubled by such a statement. He wonders out loud who would do such a thing “Who is he?” ”Where is the man who would dare do such a thing?”

 “Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” 

Esther points out the evil.

Esther points out the evil.

In a rage, knowing that he had been used by Haman, Xerxes got up from the dinner and went into the palace garden. In the mean time, Haman knowing that his life is over throws himself at Esther’s feet and begs for his life. The king returns and finds Haman now clawing at Esther. His rage grows.

As it is written, one of the eunuchs attending the king, Harbona, pointed in the direction of Haman’s house. He told the king that Haman had erected a seventy-five foot high gallows on which to hang Mordecai, “the same Mordecai who helped my lord.”

 The king didn’t ponder this at all. “Hang Haman on that same gallows”. Then his fury subsided. Problem solved. Seventy-five feet: my how the mighty have fallen! 

Evil begs for mercy and finds none.

Evil begs for mercy and finds none.

The tables are turned

 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman. Esther told the King of her uncle and how he adopted her after her parents had died. The king took off his signet ring and put it on Mordecai’s finger. Mordecai was appointed the head of Haman’s vast estate by Esther. But, a decree was still out there and could not be rescinded. Something had to be done before the day of annihilation.

 Déjà vu all over again but this time Sovereignty steps in.

 Esther once again approached the king weeping and pleading for the life of her people. She asked for a counter decree to be issued. King Xerxes answered both Esther and Mordecai, “Write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you.”

 So, all the same secretaries who were summoned once before to write out the Jew’s death warrant were summoned again. Mordecai’s counter decree would allow the Jews to defend themselves from all enemies and to take their plunder. The edict was dispatched via multiple couriers to the 127 provinces of king Xerxes.

 “The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king’s command. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.” The response is celebration in each Jewish community.

 “In every province and in every city, where ever the edict of the king went, 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.”(emphasis mine)

 Hate has its day in the People’s Court

Haman’s day of holocaust, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month of Adar, finally arrived. But the Jews had prepared to defend themselves. Mordecai’s edict gave them the power to stand against their enemies and take their plunder. And so the attempt at genocide began throughout the kingdom.

 It is written about the Jews, “No one could stand against them, because the people of all other nationalities were afraid of them. And all nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews because fear of Mordecai had seized them….The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them…But they did not lay hands on the plunder.”

 In summary, the last two Chapters of The Book of Esther detail the extent of the Jews self-defense against hatred. Various numbers of deaths occur in different places within the 127 provinces. In one verse (16 of Chapter 9) it is written that seventy-five thousand enemies of the Jews were killed. That is seventy-five times one thousand deaths or one thousand deaths for each foot of height of the “Haman Gallows”

 Speaking of justice by extrapolation, Haman’s ten sons, the ten acorns that don’t fall far from the tree are hanged on their father’s gallows. The Jews understood that evil is passed down from generation to generation. The sins of the father, in this case anti-Semitism, would continue to manifest its ugly hatred if not nipped in the neck. 

Haman meets the end of his rope.

Haman meets the end of his rope.

After all of the fighting had stopped and the Jews enemies vanquished, Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in every province of King Xerxes. He declared these days of Adar to become an annual celebration, “as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned to joy.” These days would become known as The Feast of Purim, “For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.”

 The balance of The Book of Esther tells us that all of the prior events were recorded for posterity in the king’s books. Mordecai was held in high esteem by all who knew his name.

 

 Something to think about this Resurrection Day

You may cast your lot with those who hate the Jews but the outcome will be the same as those enemies of the Jews in the Kingdom of the Media and Persia. This historically proven pronouncement includes Hamas, the anti-Semitic Boycott-Divest & Sanction (BDS) groups, Iran-The Islamic Republic, ISIS, anti-Semitic Europeans and all those who hate the Jews. So all such, you are forewarned. And, nuclear bombs are no threat to the God who created the vast universe, the infinitesimal atom, a particle’s chirality and also allowed man to find quantum mechanics among the mysteries of life. God knows the number hairs on your head. Did you think that he doesn’t notice the hatred raging in your head?

If you cast your faith on God’s sovereignty you will find that God is faithful to his covenant promises. Make a stand with God and you find God standing with you (read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel). Esther’s life is an exemplary illustration of submission to God’s sovereignty.

 Esther, in an act of civil disobedience came before King Xerxes and spoke truth to power. It took Esther a couple of banquets to ramp up the courage but Esther made a stand for herself and for the people of God.

Esther is also an example of one life given as a ransom for many (see the Gospel of mark, chapter 10, vs. 45 regarding these words spoken about Jeshua, Jesus).

 It has been said that the degree of anti-Semitism in a society is an indicator of its health. Look at Europe to see where the U.S. is heading.

 Finally, Orthodox Christian theologian Charles Malik who was also a Lebanese diplomat, political theorist, philosopher and president (1958) of the U.N.’s General Assembly wrote a book titled “Christ and Crisis” (1962).

 Malik’s definition of crisis: “the crisis is simply the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord and is judging.”

 Malik warned that “The greatest weakness of Western strategy is its relative neglect of the intellectual and spiritual dimension.”(emphasis mine)

 When facing a crisis at any level, in any context we must confront it with courage and the cross.

 In 1962 Malik wrote,

“There are three unpardonable sins today, to be flippant or superficial in the analysis of the world situation, to live and act as though halfhearted measures would avail; and to lack the moral courage to rise to the historic occasion.”

 Esther understood “crisis” and acted with sober courage to avert a holocaust that was decreed with hatred within the shadow of a gallows. (See also the life of Dietrich Bonheoffer.) 

Who Remains Silent in Times Like These? 

***

For current information regarding the increasing anti-Semitism in our world bookmark this website: LegalInsurrection

 Here is a sample post: Vienna, “Free, Free Palestine” chant becomes “Kill, Kill the Jews”

 

 

Haman and Hate (and Hamas by Proxy?) meet the Hangman, Part Three

Part One: A Feast for the Eyes 

Part Two: Persia Meets Reality and Esther

 

Part Three: Haman and A Star is Worn

 

We begin this post with an understanding of Mordecai’s world view:

 “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.  Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; …” Deuteronomy 6: 13-14

 As we have learned previously an assassination plot against King Xerxes had been foiled because of Mordecai’s ‘spying’ at the king’s gate. The information he gathered was relayed to his adopted daughter Queen Esther. She alerted the King, the story was checked out and the would-be assassins were sent to the gallows. Mordecai and Queen Esther had saved the Persian King’s life. But then a curious thing happens. We are not told why.

 “After these events, 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. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.”

Haman on Parade

Haman on Parade

 The king’s officials took note of Mordecai’s lack of protocol and respect. They asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command? Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he told them he was a Jew.”

 Let’s rewind and reflect for a moment. Remember, the king’s officials also wondered about Queen Vashti’s refusal to the King’s request to appear before him at the end of the banquet days. The king, as could be imagined at the climax of his “keep-my-cup-full” wine fest, had way too much to drink. Queen Vashti was well aware of this and made a wise choice to stay put.

 Subsequently, though, because of her choice, the queen was deposed from her throne, banished from the king’s presence via a decree sent out to the whole of Xerxes’ kingdom. The decree was worded so as to place all women in the kingdom into subservience to their husbands. Men were to be officially made the masters of their households and women were officially to be put in their ‘proper’ place.

 Since nothing happens in isolation, what, more importantly, also transpired? Hegemonic patriarchy took over.

 The king’s officials, evil men, conspired together and wrote the self-serving decree.  This perverted patriarchy would go on to exclude women on the basis that women had a voice and a will of their own and therefore could make choices. To counter their fear of women and to shore up their insecurities the intended impact of the officials’ decree was to make women unequal with men. They placed a lesser value on women giving them no voice and no choice. A woman’s will was not to be her own anymore.

 This was all done ‘officially’ to promote ‘order’ in each household throughout Xerxes’ kingdom. The official exclusion of a woman’s natural rights removed women’s choice. Exclusion by decree also created a hierarchal marriage based on gender. Later, Islam and its guard dog Sharia law would codify the same exclusion and misogyny of women.

 As an aside, it should be noted that the Islamic ‘revelation’ of the false prophet Muhammad (born c. 570 A.D.) was a synthesis of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and other pagan religions. This ‘revelation’ inculcated the same hegemonic patriarchy and misogyny of women.

 The very same evil of Xerxes’ day became the basis for the prophet’s written ‘revelation’-the Quran. And it is the modern day interpretation of the Quran by one if its religious scholars, Qutb, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, that prompted the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2013 to announce to the world the “Islamic Awakening”-an invitation to join the Islamic world order revolution or else.

 What can be said about the roots of this destructive world order that declares a deadly fatwa and religious crusades (jihads) to eradicate the West and all infidels? What can be said when at the edge of a sword you must either embrace Islam and Sharia law or face exclusion of your head from your body?

 Per Miroslav Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, in his book, “Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation”:

 “What then is exclusion? In a preliminary and rather schematic way one can point to interrelated aspects of exclusion, the one that transgresses against “binding” and the other that transgresses against “separating.” First, exclusion can entail cutting the bonds that connect, taking oneself out of the pattern of interdependence and placing oneself in a position of sovereign independence. The other then emerges either as an enemy that must be pushed away from the self and driven out of its space or as a nonentity-a superfluous being-that can be disregarded and abandoned. Second, exclusion can entail erasure of separation, not recognizing the other as someone who in his or her otherness belongs to the pattern of interdependence. The other then emerges as an inferior being who must either be assimilated by being made like the self or be subjugated to the self. Exclusion takes place when the violence of expulsion, assimilation, or subjugation and the indifference of abandonment replace the dynamics of taking in and keeping as the mutuality of giving and receiving.” (Empahsis mine)

 By now, from the story of Esther, you know the basic riff: insecure hegemonic masculinity, subjugation, exclusion, lots of drinking and Xerxes’ knee jerk reaction to kick things off. The Book of Esther contains two unmistakable examples of exclusion. It reveals both aspects of exclusion in Volf’s “bare bones sketch of exclusion.”

 Now let’s return to the story.

 

Haman became enraged when he heard about Mordecai’s defiance. Haman, in fact, was so apoplectic that he not only “scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole Kingdom of Xerxes.” An eradication of all Jews would be sufficient to serve Haman’s huge hegemonic ego. Holocaust became his answer. Exclusion of the Jews to the nth degree was his judgment.

 It was about four years after Esther became Queen that Haman, a superstitious man, cast lots (pur) to see when would be the best time to carry out his evil plan. The lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar. This being the case, Haman would have time to plan his holocaust. But the delay would also give the Jews time to react. Haman went to work.

 “Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed in all the provinces of your kingdom whose custom are different from those of all other people and who 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 put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out the business.”

 Haman, the enemy of the Jews was then given the king’s signet ring, told to keep the blood money and then told to do with the people as he pleased. Xerxes washed his hands of the matter, as would Pontius Pilate of the crucifixion of Jesus. 

A signet, a star, a slaughter

A signet, a star, a slaughter

 Royal secretaries were summoned. Royal decrees were written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Dispatches were sent out to all of the governors and prefects of the kingdom. The royal order: kill and annihilate all the Jews-young and old, women and children on a single day-the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. And, don’t forget to plunder their goods. This is the law. ‘Problem’ solved.

 “Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.”

 Bewilderment is only a sliver of what the Jews were feeling while the Cult of Personality band played on. Imagine being hated to death by a Supreme Leader.

Mordecai mourning

Mordecai mourning

 Part Four: Who Can Remain Silent in Times Like These?

 

Haman and Hate (and Hamas by Proxy?) meet the Hangman, Part Two

Part One: A Feast for the Eyes

Part Two:  Persia Meets Reality and Esther

 As you will recall from Part One, King Xerxes put on a six month display of his kingdom’s wealth (c. 482 B.C.) Most likely he wanted to show off his ability to conquer and to accumulate the wealth of the conquered as a means to impress his generals and his court advisors. Xerxes was whetting the troop’s appetite for the next conquest.

Persian Empire circa 500 BC

Persian Empire circa 500 BC

 To carry on the family’s acquisition ‘business’ the Persian monarch Xerxes planned to invade Greece. This after King Darius’ had died while he was preparing for his second invasion of Greece. Xerxes, like Darius, wanted to punish and subdue the Greeks for previous loses in battle and for Greek resistance to the Persian throne.

 You might recall the Battle of Thermopylae (lit. “hot gates”) the Persians fought against Greek city-state alliances led by King Leonidas of Sparta (as depicted in the movie “300”). A conquest of Greece would increase Xerxes’ kingdom, his wealth, his harem and his fame. Xerxes was already known as “King of Persia and Media”, “Great King”, “King of Kings and King of Nations” (i.e. of the world). He wanted another conquest, another notch in his titles.

 There was a ‘reason’ for the exalted titles: about 2500 years ago, modern Iran (Biblically referred to as Elam and Media and Persia), and portions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan were once part of the extensive Persian Empire.

 Speaking about the ancient Persians in his recent book “World Order” Henry Kissinger noted, “The fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus described the self-confidence of the people that had absorbed the finest customs of all foreign nations-Median dress, Egyptian armor-and now regarded itself as the center of human achievement.”

 Now, one could wonder, also, with regard to attacking Greece if Xerxes had heard of the Greek Dionysian festivals dating from 487 B.C. These rural and city festivals honored the Greek god Dionysus and involved a lot of alcohol. Xerxes, it could be said, based upon past conquests, was into monarchial enforced multiculturalism.

 The same self-absorbed hard-nosed demeanor is seen in modern Iran’s obstinate conquer-the-world-for Islam rulers ‘two-faced diplomacy’. That ‘diplomacy’ includes their diplomats saying “let’s talk about us” and the most recent words, ‘Death to America” spoken by the Supreme Leadership Authority of Iran. In fact, the title given to Iran’s (Persia’s) theocratic head honcho is “Supreme Leader”.

 The religious lineage of Persia, foundational to its later acceptance of the false premises of Islam, includes, like many ancient empires, the worship of numerous pagan gods. Ahura Mazda (Mazdaism) was considered by Persia as the Creator and the supreme god. Lesser deities Spenta and Mainyu were included. Herodotus, the historian, considered the Persian religions as being simplistic- a worship of many gods and of nature itself-wind, fire, water, earth and sky.

 Back to the Future: by way of the Lord’s prophet Ezekiel, in chapters 38 and 39 of his recorded words we learn of a future confederacy of nations linked to Persia (Iran)-the Last Assyrian, Gog and Magog (Russia), Gomer and Togarmah (Turkey), Ethiopia and Libya-that align to do battle, to plunder and spoil Israel and the ten tribes living there. Also recorded for our faith in God’s salvation is the fact that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ, intervenes and does not let the enemy of His people come into Jerusalem.

 Back to the Past: For the invasion of Greece Xerxes would need everyone on board with the plan. His ‘greatness’ and his designs for a Persian world order were at stake.

 During the six months of lavish exhibition Xerxes spoke with his military men plotting with them the invasion of Greece. Then, as recorded in The Book of Esther Chapter One verse 5, Xerxes, at the end of those six months, declared a seven day drinking feast. It was time to ‘juice’ up the troops. I could easily imagine that Xerxes was aware that wine played an important role in the Greek Dionysian culture. So why not give the troops a taste of what could be had-a harvest of grapes from someone else’s garden?

 “By the King’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wines stewards to serve each man what he wished.” Chapter 1, vs. 8

 Jeopardy answer: “liquid courage”. Jeopardy Question: “What happens when men drink the king’s wine and sing the king’s songs?”

 Same song, second verse: Queen Vashti, it is recorded, “also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.” Wine, women and song-a “Ladies Only” sign hung on the door. This was a smart move considering that hordes of inebriated men were in the wings of the palace.

 Well, after seven days of ‘perfected’ drinking the King decided to show off his most prized possession to the rabble. Xerxes sent an envoy of seven eunuchs to fetch his queen. As mentioned in Part One, Queen Vashti said “No.”. So, after some bad counsel Xerxes, as king of his household, banished the Queen and… invaded Greece in 480 B.C.

 Well, again, the Greeks defeated Xerxes’ men after several battles. (At the climax of the battles Xerxes cried out, “A queen, a queen, my kingdom for a queen!” Not really but I like Richard III.)

 Defeated in battle and the prior decree of the Queen’s banishment left Xerxes feeling, let’s say, like one of his eunuchs. The bad decisions were taking their toll on his manhood. Maybe a new queen would help him regain his machismo.

 Reenter Mordecai and Esther. (Before we go on you should know that Esther, in Persian, means “star”. Hadassah her Hebrew name meant “myrtle”.) 

Esther in Harem Painting by Edwin Long, 1878

Esther in Harem
Painting by Edwin Long, 1878

 In the Book of Esther Chapter Two we read:

 “And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. Now the king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday…”

Mordecai sitting at the King's Gate-all ears and eyes

Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate-all ears and eyes

 Mordecai, the one who had adopted Esther, the orphaned daughter of his uncle Abihail, kept a close eye and ear on Esther. Mordecai would daily sit by the king’s gate where all the important news and gossip could be heard. He listened and this is what he heard:

 “During the time Mordecai was sitting at the gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. .. Mordecai … told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.”

 Now here’s something rather strange. A disconnect begins.

 “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman…” Huh, and huh?

 Haman, an Agagite-who may possibly be related to the Amalekites and if so, a descendent of Esau, an enemy of the descendents of Isaac-demands to be honored as divine in keeping with other Persian prefects.

 Mordecai, a Jew, will not worship anyone but the One True God, ergo….

 Part Three: Haman and A Star is Worn