Sermon No: 21958-Esther 9 - The Agag connection

SERMON TOPIC: Esther 9 - The Agag connection

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 15 October 2017


Sermon synopsis: While Haman had wanted revenge on the Jews, he also wanted to profit from it. The first law that Haman got passed allowed for looting of the Jews’ property (Est 3:13), similar to the looting of Jewish property by the Nazis.

The attitude of the Jews is contrasted here. The second edict allowed them to “to plunder the property of their enemies” (Est 8:11), yet they did not. But why not? Why did they not take what was rightfully theirs legally?

We saw last time that although Haman - the enemy of the Jews - has been executed, there is still a major problem. His decree of death - which will cause all the Jews to be exterminated - is still in effect. And the king couldn’t just repeal the law because Persian decrees were irrevocable.

Esther had again appealed to the king and he instructed Mordecai to pass another law whereby the Jews had the right to defend themselves.


One eternal law is followed by another. The first law was the king’s law decreeing death upon the Jewish race.

Likewise we are all under a law of death and “The soul who sins will die” (Ezek 18:4). It has been decreed upon the entire human race and like the Persian laws, it cannot be revoked.

The second law was the king’s law decreeing life upon the Jewish race. It was able to counteract the effect of the first law.

Likewise God has set a second eternal law in place. It is the law of life through the Spirit. Just as the second decree brought the Jews deliverance from the first, so this decree enables all who believe to find grace, forgiveness and life!


The Book of Esther


The Agag connection

9:1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out.

9:1b On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.

About 9 months have passed since chapter 8. This is the day that Haman had chosen by casting the lot to destroy the Jews, and all those who hated the Jews were still hoping to do just that.

But the opposite happened. Far from being eradicated and destroyed, the Jews were now able to defend themselves against their attackers and they gained the upper hand.


9:2-4 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

While the enemies of the Jews could attack any Jew they wanted, the Jews could only act in self-defence.

But no one was able to stand against them because they were afraid. God is obviously at work behind the scenes again instilling fear in the hearts of their enemies.


9:5-6 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.

The enemies of the Jews had been waiting eagerly for this day to arrive. Like Hitler they had a “final solution” to resolve “the Jewish problem”. It was a day when it was legal to kill Jews and take their property.

This all happened in Persia. 2500 years later not much has changed. Modern Persia (Iran) is noted for often calling for the total annihilation of the State of Israel.

Hezbollah established in 1985 with the backing of Iran, led Lebanese efforts to attack and drive Israelis from Lebanon. (Times of Israel 2017)


Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s time in office was characterized by contentious speeches including calls to “eliminate the Zionist regime”. He took part in a protest called “The World Without Zionism” and has derided Israel on numerous occasions. He urged regional powers to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and halt oil sales. (https:// wiki/ Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel)

Israel maintains that Iran has continued to fund Hamas to allow it to rebuild its tunnel network and rocket armoury, both of which it has used against Israel in three conflicts since 2008. (Newsweek - 31 May 2017)


Today, the vast majority of Persian Jews live in Israel and the US. According to the latest Iranian census, the remaining Jewish population of Iran was 8,756 in 2012. (https:// wiki/ Persian_Jews)

Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently said: “Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles that are ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes”. (Huffington Post 2017)

Clearly we are dealing with far more than racial hatred. Unseen spiritual principalities behind the scene fuel and instigate this blind hatred, because Satan knows that if he can destroy the Jews – he can invalidate the promises of God. But as in the time of Esther God can and will vindicate and protect his covenant people.


9:16 … the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them

This brings to mind the events of 1967 where the fledgling nation of Israel again faced overwhelming odds against the combined military might of the Arab nations intent on destroying her. The following war which would become known as the Six Day War, was fought on multiple fronts by Israel, and the world was astounded by the swift nature of the outcome in the face of what seemed like certain doom.


Life magazine reported what happened:

Astounding is the only word for it. In 60 hours the war that exploded upon the Middle East became a fact of history. Tiny Israel stood in the role of victor over the surrounding Arab nations that vowed to exterminate her. Middle Eastern alliances, balances of power, even political boundaries, were of a new shape, as though mutated by a Biblical cataclysm. Seldom in military history has victory been so efficient or so visible decisive in so short a span of time. So swiftly did Israel mount her assault that her adversaries were deprived of the means of winning almost before the world awakened to the fact that a war was in progress. 1

1 Life, June 16, 1976, pp. 33, 38a


Back to the events in Esther:

9:15-16 The Jews … put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder.


3 times the text says that while the Jews defeated their opponents they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Again this shows that self-defence was the motive, not any attempt to become rich or to benefit personally from their deliverance.

While Haman had wanted revenge on the Jews, he also wanted to profit from it. The first law that Haman got passed allowed for looting of the Jews’ property (Est 3:13), similar to the looting of Jewish property by the Nazis.

The attitude of the Jews is contrasted here. The second edict allowed them to “to plunder the property of their enemies” (Est 8:11), yet they did not. But why not? Why did they not take what was rightfully theirs legally?


Remember Haman was an Agagite. Some believe that it may be because the Jews were trying to right the wrong committed by King Saul hundreds of years earlier. Saul had been commanded by God to eradicate Agag and the Amalekites, but not to take any plunder. He did the exact opposite by sparing some of the Amalekites and taking plunder (1 Sam 15).


It might be that the Jews were making restitution for Saul’s actions by refraining from taking any plunder. Interestingly Mordecai (and hence Esther) were from the tribe of Benjamin.

… a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish… ( Est 2:5)

This is the same tribe Saul was from. But in addition they were likewise descended from a man named Kish. Saul’s father was also called Kish (1 Sam 14:51). While our modern term “son” indicates a very specific relationship, in the Bible it often just means descendant. Thus some believe this might even refer to Saul’s father.

Thus Mordecai and Haman were “heirs” to the old war between Saul and Agag.


We noted in an earlier study that Agag was the king of the Amalekites - the sworn enemies of Israel. When Israel was weak and leaving Egypt as recently liberated slaves, the Amalekites attacked them from the rear and tried to destroy them. They targeted those who were lagging behind the main body of people i.e. the weak and vulnerable.


As such Moses had instructed the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites.

Deut 25:17-19 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they


had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

Saul was instructed by God through Samuel to execute this directive from Moses.

1 Sam 15:1-3 Samuel said to Saul, “…This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them…’”


Unlike us, God knows the future. God knew what the results would be if Israel did not completely eradicate the Amalekites. If Israel did not carry out God’s orders, the Amalekites would come back to trouble the Israelites in the future. Saul claimed to have killed everyone but the Amalekite king Agag (1 Sam 15:20). Obviously, Saul was lying or mistaken— just a couple of decades later, there were enough Amalekites to take David and his men’s families captive (1 Sam 30:1-2). 


 After David and his men attacked the Amalekites and rescued their families, 400 Amalekites escaped. If Saul had fulfilled what God had commanded him, this never would have occurred. Several hundred years later, a descendant of Agag, Haman, tried to have the entire Jewish people exterminated… So, Saul’s incomplete obedience almost resulted in Israel’s destruction. God knew this would occur, so He ordered the extermination of the Amalekites ahead of time. 1

1 https:// Canaanites-extermination.html


When Saul was disobedient with regards to destroying all the Amalekites, along with their king Agag, it was Samuel who executed this enemy king.

Agag initially thought that he would be spared until he heard the pronouncement by Samuel:


As your sword bereaved women, so will your mother be bereaved among women.

Centuries later, in many aspects the Nazis were the ‘spiritual’ descendants of the Amalekites, preying upon Jews in a desperate and weak state.

During the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann played a key role in the deportation of Jews to death camps. Towards the end of the war, he said that he would “leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had five million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction.” (William L. Shirer (1960), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Footnote, p. 978)


Adolf Eichmann

Like Agag, Eichmann too thought he had evaded justice when he fled to Argentina after the war.

But he was later captured by Mossad agents, taken to Israel and convicted as a war criminal.

When sentenced to death by hanging, his wife sent a plea for clemency by telegram to Israeli president Itzhak Ben-Zvi. In his reply he quoted Samuel’s words to Agag, “As your sword bereaved women, so will your mother be bereaved among women.” (1 Sam 15:33)


Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem

9:17-19 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

9:20-22 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

With the enactment of the “decree of life” and the subsequent overwhelming victory over their foes, there was great celebration!

The sentence of death that hung over their heads had been substituted by joy.

The fasting that accompanied the earlier “decree of death” had been replaced by feasting.

They celebrated by giving presents to another and to the poor. This should be a precedent for the way Christians celebrate as well – always remembering the poor.


But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:13-14)

9:23-28 (NASB) Thus the Jews undertook what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to disturb them and destroy them. But when it came to the king’s attention, he commanded by letter that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 


 Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, the Jews established and made a custom for themselves and for their descendants and for all those who allied themselves with them, so that they would not fail to celebrate these two days according to their regulation and according to their appointed time annually. So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants.


9:29-31 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes—words of goodwill and assurance— to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.


9:32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

Some 2500 years later, the Jews still celebrate this feast of Purim every year. They remember God’s intervention and deliverance from the hands of an enemy who wanted to exterminate the Jewish race.

What can we learn from this? We should never forget what God has done for us.

This celebration by the Jews to commemorate their deliverance is typical of the joy we should have because of our deliverance from sin and the universal law of death through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

We can also look back in our lives and recall how God turned the tables on our enemy. He also took away the sentence of death that hung over our heads. Our salvation is something worth rejoicing about.

1 Pet 1:8-9 … even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


As the Jews were instructed to remember their deliverance from Haman’s law of death, so we are instructed to remember our deliverance from the universal law of sin and death.

1 Cor 11:25-26 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”


Now let’s backtrack to a portion we skipped over earlier.

Est 9:7-10 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

Here we note that Haman had ten sons. Prophetically Haman is a type of the coming Antichrist who will again turn on the Jews and seek to destroy them.

Interestingly the Antichrist will align himself with 10 kings in the end times.

But why bother to list the names of Haman’s sons?


When Haman falls, his sons were defeated as well. Likewise the 10 kings will meet their doom as well when the beast (Antichrist) is defeated at the return of Jesus.

Rev 17:12-14 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.… They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them


9:11-14 (NASB) On that day the number of those who were killed at the citadel in Susa was reported to the king.

The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman at the citadel in Susa. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall even be granted you. And what is your further request? It shall also be done.

If it pleases the king, let tomorrow also be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do according to the edict of today; and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.

So the king commanded that it should be done so; and an edict was issued in Susa, and Haman’s ten sons were hanged.

We see in this passage that the Jews were able to gain a great victory over those that desired to kill them and Queen Esther even petitioned for a second day to be available on which the fight could continue. This of course was granted by the king.

But Esther’s second request – that Haman’s 10 sons be hanged – is an unusual one. Why?

What is strange about it is that we are told twice previously that the 10 sons had already been killed. Why hang a person who is already dead?

It may be because this was the intended fate that Haman had wanted for Mordecai and so it is fittingly applied to his sons. But there is another interesting prophetic type that is indicated here.


Like the Amalekites and Haman before them, the Nazis tried to eradicate the Jews off the face of the earth. This translated into what became known as the Holocaust, where 6 million European Jews were exterminated in death camps by means of shooting and later gassing.

The city of Nuremberg was the place where the infamous anti-Semitic “Nuremberg Laws” were passed, which revoked German citizenship for all Jews and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of “German or related blood.”

Nuremberg was also the home of the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer - a weekly anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper. As early as 1933 and during the war, Streicher regularly authorized articles in the paper calling for the extermination of the Jewish race.


Adolf Hitler banned and forbade the observance of Purim. In a speech made on 10 Nov 1938 (the day after Kristallnacht), Julius Streicher surmised that just as “the Jew butchered 75,000 Persians” in one night, the same fate would have befallen the German people had the Jews succeeded in inciting a war against Germany; the “Jews would have instituted a new Purim festival in Germany”. 1

On Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Zduńska Wola to “avenge” the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot ten Jews from the Piotrków ghetto. On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby in Szydłowiec. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Purim


At the end of the Second World War, Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler committed suicide and so couldn’t be tried as war criminals for their part in the atrocities committed against the Jews and others. But the surviving Nazi leaders were put on trial at Nuremberg, which commenced on 20 Nov 1945, with 22 German Nazi leaders being indicted.


12 of the German defendants were sentenced to death by hanging on 1 Oct 1946, for their part in the crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust.

One of those convicted was Martin Bormann, who was sentenced in absentia, although it was later confirmed that he had also committed suicide in Berlin to avoid capture by the Soviets.


Martin Bormann

A second convicted Nazi was Hermann Goering, but he evaded the noose by committing suicide in his cell just hours before the executions by taking a cyanide capsule.

The remaining 10 Nazis were hanged on 16 October 1946, the very same number as Haman’s sons who were hanged almost 2½ millennia earlier.


Hermann Goering


Interestingly another parallel between these two eras in Jewish history is that the Talmud (Megillah 16a) explains that in the Purim story, Haman’s daughter committed suicide and thus wasn’t hanged (similar to Goering).

Moshe Katz (of Technion - the Israel Institute of Technology) notes the following about the outcome of the Nuremberg Trials.

Since the trial was conducted by a military tribunal, the sentence handed down should have been death by firing squad, or by electric chair as practiced in the U.S.A. However, the court specifically prescribed hanging, exactly as in Esther’s original request: “… let Haman’s ten sons be hanged.”


In an apparent connection made by Hitler between his Nazi regime and the role of Haman, he stated in a speech made on 30 Jan 1944, that if the Nazis were defeated, the Jews could celebrate “a second Purim”. Indeed, Julius Streicher seems to have been aware of the parallel: he was heard to sarcastically remark “Purimfest 1946” as he ascended the scaffold after Nuremberg. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Purim


Julius Streicher

Remember we asked why the author of Esther would bother to list the names of Haman’s sons?

It has been noted by some that there is a code in the Book of Esther. In the very part which lists the names of Haman’s 10 sons who were hanged, three of the Hebrew letters — a tav, a shin and a zayin — are written smaller than the rest. 1

The numerical values of tav, shin and zayin add up to 707 which is the common form of the Jewish year 5707. 2

Wed, 16 October 1946 = 21st of Tishrei, 5707

1 The tav of Parshandata, the shin of Parmashta, the zayin of Vizata 2 “When written in Hebrew numerals, year numbers usually omit the millennium.” – HEBREW DATING by Nachum Dershowitz and Edward M. Reingold


The ten Nazi defendants in the Nuremberg Trials were hanged on 16 Oct 1946, which corresponds to the Jewish year 5707.

The date of the execution (21st Tishri, 5707) also happened to be the seventh day of Sukkot the Hebrew calendar.

The seventh day of Sukkot is also known to the Jews as Hoshana Rabbah, the day that they believe that God’s judgments are sealed for the following year. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Hoshana_Rabbah Hoshana Rabbah is known as the last of the Days of Judgment which began on Rosh Hashana. The Zohar [a Kabbalist work] says that while the judgment for the new year is sealed on Yom Kippur, it is not “delivered” until Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot, during which time one can still alter their verdict and decree for the new year.


Some criticise Dispensationalists because we maintain that God has an irrevocable covenant with Israel and that he will restore his people once the times of the Gentiles is completed. Yet it is apparent that God’s providence has played a role in the remarkable events leading up to Israel becoming a nation again after over 2 millennia.

The words spoken to Abraham and his natural seed many years ago still ring true:

Gen 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Like Haman before them, the Nazis discovered to their own peril - that the true God in heaven will avenge those who curse his covenant people.


The Book of Esther


The Agag connection

10:1-2 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?

10:3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.


Mordecai “was second in rank to King Xerxes”. Like Joseph (who was second to Pharaoh) and Daniel (who was promised the third most prominent position by Belshazzar), he was a man who held firm to his convictions. Yet he was respected and able to work in, and influence a pagan government, for the good of God’s people.

This shows that as Christians we can work with the ungodly and still maintain our testimony and integrity, while defending the cause of God’s people.

It would be wonderful if all politicians would emulate this example set by Mordecai. Unlike Haman, who feathered his own nest and used the state power and resources to settle private scores, Mordecai “worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews”.


In Mordecai we have a picture of the future millennial rule of Jesus. His fame will also be great, his work selfless and his reign characterized by peace never-ending.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore.


In conclusion we recall that Haman tried to exalt himself but ended up dying, along with all of his plans which came to nothing.

On the other hand, Esther said, “If I perish, I perish.” She was prepared to do what was right, even if her life was at risk. She and Mordecai were exalted and honoured.

Haman, in trying to serve self, ended up dying anyway. Esther, in giving up self, saved her family and nation from death.


Many today (including church leaders) are taking titles to themselves and demanding honour, reminiscent of what Jesus said of the religious leaders of his day:

Everything they do is done for people to see… they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. (Matt 23:5-7)

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Matt 23:8-9)

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt 23:11-12)

If like Haman, you choose to be self seeking, you will ultimately lose everything.

If you die to self, like Esther and Mordecai, you will not only attain eternal life, but be a chosen instrument of God to administer life to others.

Matt 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”



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