Haman the Agagite

If you’ve read Esther, then you know Haman is a bad guy, whose hatred for the Jews knows no bounds. He schemes a plan to have the entire Jewish nation wiped from the face of the earth, by decree of the Persian king. But why did Haman hate the Jews so much? The answer might just be found in the title of this short article. Haman was an Agagite—that is, he was descended from a man named Agag.  So who is Agag? I’m glad you asked.

Back in 1 Samuel 15, King Saul was instructed to completely kill all the Amalekites. But he disobeyed God, and in addition to saving many of the animals, he also spared the king, Agag. When Samuel showed up, he corrected that problem and “hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord.”

But it appears that Agag had children who didn’t live there (or who weren’t in the city when it was destroyed), because Haman is an Agagite. Even though hundreds of years had passed since that incident, Haman would have heard the story about how the Jews slaughtered his people—and even though Agag was spared temporarily, they finally executed him too. And Haman wanted revenge by doing to the Jews what they did to his ancestors so long ago.

Note: Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, book XI, chapter 6, paragraph 5) says “He [Haman] rather determined to abolish the whole nation. For he was naturally an enemy to the Jews: because the nation of the Amalekites, of which he was, had been destroyed by them.”

-Bradley S. Cobb

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