Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Irony of Haman's Fall

There is a deep irony in the fall of Haman - his very effort to destroy the Jews became his own undoing. I will attempt to demonstrate that his downfall can be traced to one thing: his haughtiness. This vice was at the root of his quest to destroy the Jews. Yet the moment he was moved to seek not only the death of Mordechai but also the destruction of all the Jews the seeds were planted for his own ruin.

I will demonstrate this thesis by reviewing certain elements of the Megilla's plot. I will begin with Haman’s rise to power.

I. Haughtiness Leads to Rage

And Haman saw that Mordechai would not kneel and bow before him – and Haman became filled with rage. But it was contemptible in his eyes to send his hand against Mordechai alone, for they had told him Mordechai’s nation. (3:5-6)

If not for Haman’s extreme haughtiness the intransigence of Moredechai would not have so greatly disturbed him. Perhaps he would have taken some action against Mordechai for violating the law and causing trouble but he certainly would not have become filled with rage and sought the destruction of all the Jews. His haughtiness brought him to rage which caused him to make the fatal choice which lead to his downfall. If he had only sought vengeance against Mordechai he would have remained in his elevated position – but, “all who become angry – if he is wise, his wisdom will leave him.” It should have occurred to Haman that trying to destroy the entire Jewish people might risk his prominence in Ahasuerus’s court.

II. Haughtiness Leads to False Security

After hearing the King’s fateful decree Mordechai demands that Esther intercede on behalf of the Jewish people. She petitions the king to attend a drinking banquet with Haman. Haman’s arrogance lulls him into a feeling of security.

And Haman went out on that day happy and with good heart… (5:9)

Esther’s invitation should have troubled Haman. Why would Esther invite Haman to a banquet where he and the king are the only guests? What would Ahasuerus think of this situation? Would this not look bad and perhaps make Ahasuerus jealous? Instead Haman is happy. But because of his arrogance Haman did not remain happy for long.

(To be continued...)

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