What’s in a Date? (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Case 2: Haman the Agagite 

Haman was a very wealthy Prime Minister in the ancient kingdom of Persia.  He is said to have been of Amalekite descent; in fact, from Amalekite royal descent, for which he was called an Agagite, Agag being the title of the kings of Amalek, just as Pharaoh was the title of the kings of Egypt. The Amalekites were avowed ancestral enemies of the Jews (1 Samuel 15:1-3, 20).

This political personage, designated often as “wicked Haman,” “adversary,” and “the enemy of all the Jews” (Esther 7:6; 9:24; 3:10; 8:1; 7:6), was a man of ‘wicked devices’ (Esther 9:25).  Haman was not just a wealthy and wicked politician, he was also very bloody and diabolical.  Maybe that was how he got very powerful in the land.  Maybe that was how he won himself a place very close to the throne, with frequent access into the palace, even at night when decent men stayed with their wives (Esther 6:1-5).

Haman did not mind killing entire populations across nations and over vast geographical spaces just to spite a single man.  He could fling 10,000 talents (large sacks) of silver just to make a political point (Esther 3:9).  In relation to Judges 17:10, that rather ‘casual’ amount (10,000 talents of silver) was about the basic annual salary of three million men, or a man’s basic salary for three million years.  Money was not this man’s problem, so far as his ambition was concerned.  Haman had the trust of his king, but a trust and proximity to the throne that he heedlessly abused to his doom.  Haman was too lofty and too arrogant to take advice or cautions from anybody, not even from associates as close as his wife and his friends (Esther 6:13).

Haman hatched a plot to kill all Jews in the Kingdom of Persia and confiscate their assets all over the country.  Maybe that was how he had accumulated his vast wealth – by blood and plunder.  To pick an auspicious date on the calendar for that genocide and the massive spoils thereof, he called for diviners who cast lots for every month of the year, then for every day of that month.  In other words, for Haman, dates were not mere numbers on the calendar.  Appointments could not be determined merely by the space in a diary or the convenience of a schedule.  Social and administrative ‘experience’ was never sufficient in guiding one to pick certain dates in the life of a nation.  Haman had to resort to metaphysical means.

By the process that Haman adopted to arrive at his dates, we can say that spirits had been involved.  Any spirit that would be part of such a bloody plot against God’s people could not have been the Spirit of God.  Spirits also read the calendar.

What dates did the spirits offer the “wicked Haman” for his “wicked device”? It will surprise you: the Passover.   The bloody spirit that worked with Herod had worked with Haman.

  1. A Date with Haman

The divination to pick Haman’s date was done in the first month, the month Nisan (corresponding to March/April on our Gregorian calendar).   The letters officially authorising the massacre of the Jews were written and signed on the 13th day of the same month.  Government instruments were fully deployed to execute that private malicious project.  According to the sorcerers who had divined for Haman, the operation to wipe out all Jews and confiscate their properties and businesses was best fitted for the 13th day of the 12th month, the month Ada, corresponding to about April of the following year (Esther 3:7-15).  What does that mean?

The month Nisan (which used to be called “Abib” in the days of Moses, before the exile into Babylon – Exodus 13:4), was the first month of the year, the month of the Passover, the month of a new beginning, the month of flowers (Exodus 12:2).  According to Exodus 12:6 and Numbers 23:5-6, the date of the Passover, which was also called “the LORD’S Passover,” was “the fourteenth day of the first month.” 

Note that the Hebrew day started from the evening (or sunset) of the previous day.  As we find during the Creation, in several verses of Genesis chapter 1, “the evening and the morning,” not morning to evening, made a day.  For us, for example, March 5th started from after midnight of March 4th. For the Jews, however, March 5th would have started from about 6pm of March 4th.  For them, therefore, by the evening of our day, they have already entered a new day.  Hence, for the Jews, the 14th day of Nisan, the Passover day, would actually have started from the evening of the 13th day of that month.   Strangely, that was the date that Haman and his foul spirits picked to announce the gruesome total annihilation that God’s people were to expect in a year’s time.

Haman’s news ironically projected not the vicarious blood of a lamb but the blood of the Jews.  Imagine a Passover suddenly greeting you with such distressing news! Times have changed, you would have said.  All preparations for celebration would suddenly have been aborted by that news of gloom.  No Passover that year.  No annual covenants of preservation to be renewed with Jehovah.

The Jewish lunar month started with the new moon.  The 13th and 14th days were midmonth, the time of the full moon.  As far as Haman and his devils were concerned, it was not going to be the brightness of a full moon for the Jews that Passover, but an eclipse of gloom and doom.  Could the devils have picked that date by accident?

12 Then the king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to all that Haman commanded — to the king’s satraps, to the governors who were over each province, to the officials of all people, to every province according to its script, and to every people in their language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written, and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions.  14 A copy of the document was to be issued as law in every province, being published for all people, that they should be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out, hastened by the king’s command; and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan the citadel. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed (Esther 3:12-15, New King James Version)

The notice of slaughter was published on the 13th day of the first month, on Passover eve.  The execution of the Haman’s agenda was slated for the 13th day of the 12th month.  In other words, a full year’s notice of gloom.  What a way to start a year!  What a way to go through a year, with the harrowing knowledge that you will be violently killed on a given date at the end of that year!  How do you look at the calendar with that in mind?  With what motivation do you face the remainder of your ‘5-year development plan’?

If all Jews should be dead by the 12th month of the year, then there would be no more Jews in the land to celebrate the next Passover in that kingdom one month after.  If their month started with the new moon, if 13th/14th was the full moon, that last full moon of the year was going to see the corpses of the people of God strewn all over the land, with none to celebrate the Passover of God at the next full moon.  It was not merely an agenda against a people; it was an agenda against their God.

Could Haman and his diviners and have chosen such dates by chance?  Could there have been a supervising dark intelligence?  Is this a parable for our times – in national and global politics?

From The Preacher’s diary,
March 5, 2023. 

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