Haman's End by Patrick Henry Reardon

Haman's End

Our earliest interpretation of the Book of Esther is the pre-Christian version found in the Septuagint. This version contains not only a Greek translation of the original book, but also extensive textual interpolations that provide, in fact, a theological exposition of the story.

One of these interpolations is the “second decree” of King Ahasuerus, the decree sought by Mordecai in order to “neutralize” the king’s earlier decree authorizing the annihilation of the Jews (Esther 8:9–13). Unlike the original Hebrew account, the Greek version provides a text of the decree itself (which in due course became 16:1–24 in St. Jerome’s unhappy adjustment of the Latin text of Esther in the Vulgate).

An important object sought in this “second decree,” let me suggest, is to provide a philosophical reflection on the problem of political power. King Ahasuerus (called Artaxerxes in this Greek version), in order to condemn the recent activity of the wicked Haman, commences on a more general note.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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