Study and Theory/
Purim

Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 13, 14

And Haman told King Ahasuerus, there is one people. Raba said: There never was a traducer so skillful as Haman.

He said to Ahasuerus: Come, let us destroy them.

He replied: I am afraid of their G-d, lest He do to me as he did to my predecessors.

He replied: They are negligent of the precepts.

He replied: There are Rabbis among them.

He replied: They are one people.

Should you say: I will make a void in your kingdom, [I reply], they are scattered abroad among the peoples.

Should you say: There is some profit in them, I reply, they are dispersed, like an isolated bough that does not bear fruit.

Should you say: They occupy one province, I reply, they are in all the provinces of my kingdom. Their laws are diverse from those of every other people: they do not eat of our food, nor do they marry our women nor give us theirs in marriage.

Neither keep they the king’s laws, since they evade taxes the whole year by their loitering and sauntering. They say: It is the Sabbath or it is a holiday, on which the king is not served. He began to calculate holidays: Passover, Shavuot, Succot, Rosh Hashanah, the Yom Kippur fast.

The Lord said: Evil man! You cast an evil eye on their holidays; hence I shall throw you at their feet, and they shall then have another holiday on which to celebrate your downfall.

Therefore it profiteth not the king to suffer them, because they eat and drink and despise the throne. For if a fly falls into the cup of one of them, he throws it out and drinks the wine, but if my lord the king were to touch his cup, he would dash it on the ground and not drink from it. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver.

And the king said to Haman, the silver is given to thee and the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. R. Abba said: To what can we compare Ahasuerus and Haman at this point?  To two men: One had a mound in the middle of his field and the other a ditch in the middle of his field. The owner of the mound said: I wish I could buy that ditch and the owner of the ditch said: I wish I could buy that mound. One day they met, And the owner of the ditch said to the owner of the mound: Sell me your mound, whereupon the other replied: Take it for nothing, and I shall be only too glad.

(Haman’s words reflect the claims of anti-Semites, and one may safely assume that the author of the Midrash was familiar with these claims when he wrote them).

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