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David Rosenthal

From Saul to Nuremberg

Rembrandt - Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther, circa 1635 and 1660s, National Museum of Art of Romania, Bucharest, Personal File, David Rosenthal, 2023.

The God of Israel gives his people a king, because Israel wanted to be like other nations and to have a king. This king is first known by the name Saul, which in Hebrew means desired or implored, because he corresponded to these adjectives. It is the prophet Samuel who was responsible for giving the Eternal’s designs and anointing Saul as king of the Israelites. However, Saul’s reign is not prolonged and rather, after a couple of decades, he will be replaced by David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, who went from being a shepherd to a warrior and in the end the most celebrated king of Israel, and beyond that, one of the most important figures in history, and from whom specifically the long-awaited Messiah of Israel will descend. Likewise, for Christianity, indeed; David is the ancestor of Jesus, the Nazarene.

Well, Saul, who understands that he will be replaced, and manages to understand that it will be by his servant David, who is also like a brother to his son Jonathan and also the husband of his daughter Michal.

But, there is an interesting fact, and it is the episode in which king Saul will no longer be the one chosen by God, and the same prophet Samuel, who had anointed him, lets him know it. When the prophecy was made through the prophet, he makes known to the king the requests of the supreme leader, and these are clear, the result of the war against the Amalekites or Amalekites, historical enemies of Israel, must be their total destruction, by divine design.

Deuteronomy 25:19 says: “Therefore, when the Lord your God gives you victory over all the enemy nations that surround the land he is giving you as an inheritance, you shall wipe out forever the memory of the descendants of Amalek. Do not forget it!”

Contrary to this, Saul spared Agag, king of the Amalekites. Even though Saul had already won several battles against Israel’s 7 enemy nations. This one against the Amalekites was decisive as a holy war, for the Amalekites were wicked and also aimed at the destruction of Yaaqov’s people, rescued by Moses from the Egyptians, and then reconquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Canaan, that is, Israel, the land promised by God to the first Hebrew, the patriarch Abraham.

Saul, because of his stubbornness, lost his kingdom. Although he did not put an end to Agag’s life, nor to the livestock, which also had to be destroyed, because the Amalekites were sorcerers and could turn into animals, the prophet of the Eternal fulfilled the divine order and put an end to what Saul did not.

However, Agag’s son managed to flee, pardoned by Saul, and centuries later, in the Achaemenid Persian empire, his descendant, Haman’s son Hammedatha, who became prime minister, arbitrarily and reprehensibly decreed that all the Jews in the kingdom, from north to south, and from east to west, should be exterminated. Despite this, Esther, considered the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, belonging to the tribe of Benjamin (like Saul), became queen when she was betrothed to King Xerxes I, also known as Ahasuerus or Ahashverosh in Hebrew tradition. The king never knew that Esther was a Jew, until she confessed it along with her cousin Mordecai, who had also raised her, for Esther had been orphaned. Thus, Esther interceded with the king, so that he would eliminate the decree that had as its purpose the disappearance of the Jews.

Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, whom he hated because he was a Jew and had not prostrated himself before him. Along with Haman, his ten sons were hanged: Parsandatha, Dalfon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adaliah, Aridatha, Parmasta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha.

Centuries later, a new Haman would arise, corresponding to the name of Adolf Hitler, who, like his predecessor, failed to wipe out the Jewish people.

It is not a coincidence, but a recurring fact, that at the Nuremberg trials ten prominent members of the political and military leadership of Nazi Germany were ordered to be executed by hanging: Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher.

About the Author
Political scientist, international analyst, researcher, journalist and columnist in various media in Latin America, Spain and Israel. Historical researcher and presenter of "Los pasos de Sefarad en el Nuevo Mundo", a radio programme on Radio Sefarad about the Sephardic heritage in America. He is also a lecturer on many subjects, such as history, literature, Judaism, historical figures, important women in history and mysticism.
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