From Haman To Sanballat: The Link Between Antisemitism And Antizionism -- By: Ronald E. Diprose

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 21:2 (Winter 2012)
Article: From Haman To Sanballat: The Link Between Antisemitism And Antizionism
Author: Ronald E. Diprose


From Haman To Sanballat:
The Link Between Antisemitism And Antizionism

Ronald E. Diprose1

Ron Diprose is the academic dean at Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano. He is an author of many volumes and a frequent contributor to The Emmaus Journal.

(A Note About The Title)

The title “From Haman to Sanballat” is not intended to indicate primarily chronological sequence, even though the actions of Haman date from when the Persian empire was composed of 127 satraps (Est. 1:1) prior to the defeat of Xerxes’ army by the Greeks in 479 bc, whereas Nehemiah’s mandate, which Sanballat opposed, was linked with the reign of Artaxerxes (465-424 bc, Neh. 2:1). However the primary reference of the title is to this cause-and-effect relationship: a culture of anti-Semitism inevitably produces anti-Zionism (whether in the days of Sanballat, the Horonite, or in the present day).

Haman’s Anti-Semitism

The book of Esther reads like a palace chronicle. Even though the events described therein are not confirmed by other sources dating from that time, the description of Persian customs and of King Xerxes (who, because of his weakness, depended a lot on his counselors) corresponds perfectly with what we know from contemporary sources. There are therefore no grounds for doubting the truthfulness of the story told in the book of Esther. It follows that the attitudes towards the Jews reflected in this story can also be taken to represent faithfully the way things were.

Over one hundred years before the time of Xerxes and his Jewish queen, King Nebuchadnezzar had put an end to Jewish sovereignty by destroying Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple and carrying most of the survivors into exile in Babylon. However, prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel had continued their ministry during the years of exile, encouraging the people of Israel to maintain their identity and their testimony to Yahweh during their exile. The stories of Daniel and his friends (Dan. 1-6) demonstrate that at least some of the Jews were faithful in doing this.

One hundred years after the events described in the book of Daniel, Haman the Agagite reacted with rage at the conduct of another Jew, Mordecai, who “would not kneel down or pay him honor,” despite the fact that all the Persian officials did so (Est. 3:2). Feeling offended, Haman plotted the death of Mordecai, but on discovering that he was a Jew, “looked for a way to destroy a...

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