What is the purpose of hanging dead men? Day #35 in the Book of Esther with Karen

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Esther 9:11-13. “The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.’

‘If it┬ápleases the king,’ Esther answered, ‘give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on a gallows.’”

Fine, great, the fighting was continuing and the Jews still needed to be allowed to fight back, so Esther’s request to please allow them another day to do so, makes sense. And if the sons were like the father, their hearts were also bent on destruction. Tomorrow would be the time to rid the country of such hatred. Therefore we can understand Esther’s request that tomorrow the ten sons be hung on a gallows like their father.

Wait a minute. The ten sons of Haman were already dead. What would be the purpose in hanging dead men? Indeed. What is this? A request to execute dead man. Did Queen Esther miss that they were already killed? I don’t think so. Do we have an error in the text? Hardly. If you know me you know I believe that every word in the Scripture is there on purpose. Nothing is random in God’s Word, but there are mysteries, things that may not always be apparent immediately. According to the Jewish sages, “There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later.” We’ll talk about this a little more.

Esther’s request, “If it pleases the king, give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on a gallows.” Makes sense until we realize that they were already dead. That begs the question, Why? Why hang dead men?

Remember that one of the unique features of the book of Esther is that God is never mentioned. His Presence seems, and I┬ástress the word seems, to be veiled. However, He is working powerfully throughout, guiding each step, an important reminder for us when we don’t just feel His Presence. One of the messages taught by the Rabbis is that when the book of Esther speaks of the king, it isn’t just referring to Xerxes, but that it is also talking about The King, God Almighty.

Daniel Lapin, a learned Rabbi, says that in the verses naming the ten sons of Haman three of the Hebrew letters are written a little smaller. Since the scribes always copied the text exactly, the fact that these letters are written differently is notable. In Hebrew, letters are also numbers and these corresponds to the year 1946 on our calendar. 1946, the Nuremberg trials were held. Nazi war criminals were tried, and sentenced. Normally, since this was a military tribunal the sentence was death by firing squad. However, for eleven Nazis on the 16th of October, the sentence handed down was death by hanging. During the night, one committed suicide in his cell. So ten men who had tried so hard to kill, destroy, and annihilate the Jews, were hanged for all the world to see. One of the ten, Julius Streicher, turned to the crowd just as he was about to be executed and spit out these words, “Purim Fest 1946.” He somehow got the connection to what had happened years before in ancient Persia. Perhaps this was The King’s answer to Esther’s request that tomorrow ten sons of Haman be hanged. As the sages say, there is a tomorrow that is now and a tomorrow which is later.

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