Ron Diller

Amalek is Haman; Haman is Hamas

We just finished celebrating Purim. Esther was defiant, and even though Mordechai was her uncle and later her husband. Esther’s parents were deceased, they both were heroines who put their lives at risk to save the Jews from extinction.

It was through Esther and Mordechai that the salvation of some 750,000 Jews scattered across 127 provinces in the Persian Empire was achieved. It’s worth noting that between the receipt of the decree acknowledging their imminent death and the arrival of the second letter annulling this decree, the Jews stood tall and eliminated close to 60,000 of their adversaries.”

King Achashverosh (“the King”) and Haman were both narcissistic, clinging to power and materialism – humility was not a word in their vocabulary. In the case of the King, his wife Queen Vashti, a daughter from a family of royalty, was expected, according to their customs, to remain humble and out of the limelight. However, the King, obsessed with his power, wanted to showcase her beauty to the partygoers who attended a festival lasting 180 days. It’s worth noting that many prominent Jews, both religious and secular, participated in this celebration – a departure from the principles of Judaism.

Because the Queen refused to obey the King’s order, she was taken to court, where she was found guilty and stripped of her title. Subsequently, the King resumed his search throughout the Persian Empire, akin to a tender, and it was during this process that he encountered Esther. This encounter marked a turning point overnight.

Haman felt threatened by the Jews, particularly Mordechai, and displayed blatant antisemitism. He was consumed by his desire for power as the second-in-command and insisted that civilians bow down to him, as they did to the King. However, despite Mordechai’s awareness of Haman’s animosity towards Jews, he refused to bow down, prompting Haman to order his execution by hanging on the gallows.”

Mordechai was the one who informed the King of a plot by two of his chamberlains who intended to kill him and take over the kingdom. Upon learning of this plot, the King showed his gratitude to Mordechai by adorning him in royal attire and parading him through the city of Shushan. This act greatly demoralized Haman.

Haman persuaded King Achashverosh to issue a decree to exterminate a certain group of people throughout the Persian Empire, without explicitly mentioning the Jews. Instead, he insinuated that this group posed a threat to the Empire. Thus, Haman deceived the king by withholding the truth.

Upon learning of Haman’s deadly plot, Mordechai embarked on a period of intense prayer, known as Teshuva, standing outside the King’s gates day and night. He wore white sack cloth garments, like the attire worn by Jews on Yom Kippur, seeking forgiveness from Hashem for the transgressions of the Jewish people. According to protocol, Mordechai could not approach the King unless granted a formal invitation and permission to approach him with the scepter.

Why white clothes?

White is often associated with purity and cleanliness in many cultures, including Jewish tradition that symbolizes the desire to cleanse oneself spiritually and to approach G-d with a pure heart. In addition, on Yom Kippur, Jews believe that everyone stands before G-d in judgment, regardless of their social status or wealth. Wearing simple white clothing helps to foster a sense of humility and equality among all individuals, reminding them of their shared humanity and their dependence on G-d’s mercy. Some view wearing white on Yom Kippur as a symbol of mourning and reflection that commemorates the Jewish people’s repentance for their sins, as well as the tragedies and suffering endured throughout history. White clothing can evoke a sense of solemnity and contemplation as individuals reflect on their actions and strive to make amends.

Once Esther learned of the situation, she too concealed her Jewish identity, using it as a weapon against Haman. When the King repeatedly asked her what she desired, she remained silent, secretly formulating her plan. Hosting a banquet, she invited Haman, unaware that the King was on the brink of discovering his treachery. Upon hearing Haman’s deceit and refusal to disclose the true target of his plot— the Jews— the King’s perception of him shifted drastically. From the pinnacle of power, Haman plummeted to his demise, illustrating the consequences of being consumed by materialism rather than wisdom and knowledge. His downfall occurred swiftly as he was hung on the gallows, along with his ten children, instead of Mordechai.

Now, let’s see how Hamas is intertwined with Haman’s situation. Both the Hamas charter and Haman call for the Jews to be annihilated. Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. The Amalekites were descendants of Amalek, who were noted for their hostility towards the Jews during the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their journey to Israel.

Hamas and Amalek exhibited similar traits, including a deep-seated hatred for Jews, a propensity for violence, and a departure from the spiritual teachings of Hashem. Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, harbored feelings of jealousy and animosity towards his brother Isaac. He indulged in hunting and worldly pleasures, contrasting sharply with Isaac’s prophetic calling, which contributed to their strained relationship.

In the Five Books of Moses, Genesis: 16:12, pointedly summarizes the character traits of Ishmael: “And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and over all his brothers shall he dwell.”

Nevertheless, Abraham stood by Ishmael. Ishmael is linked with the Arab populace, whereas Amalek is tied to a particular lineage stemming from Esau. Esau’s fury toward his brother Jacob was so intense that he assembled 400 soldiers with the intention of killing him. Additionally, in defiance of Isaac’s instruction for Jacob not to marry a Canaanite, Esau wed Mahalath, a Canaanite woman who was the daughter of his uncle Ishmael.

This is where the division between Jews and Arabs becomes apparent. It aligns with the narrative of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (also known as Israel) and the son of Isaac and Rebekah. Amalek is regarded as a descendant of Esau, also known as Edom. Esau is traditionally portrayed as the progenitor of the Edomites, and one of his grandsons is Amalek.

The common thread among Haman, Esau, Amalek, and Ishmael is their shared hatred towards Jews, coupled with a relentless pursuit of power and a propensity for brutality. Amalek met his demise in a conflict with the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua. Esau faced his end at the hands of a member of Jacob’s family. Haman, a prominent figure in the Persian Empire, was driven by power and materialism, harboring a deep-seated hatred for Jews. However, his plot backfired, leading to his own execution by hanging instead of Mordechai, whom he sought to destroy.

About the Author
Ron Diller lives in Israel with his family of four children.