Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Crucify Him!

In the book of Esther, Haman decides to humiliate Mordecai before all the people by having a fifty cubit high gallows erected in his yard upon which to hang Mordecai. At about twenty-five meters high, the gallows would be hard to miss and should have been able to be seen for some distance. The Septuagint version just has it as a wooden object. When Haman's plot is exposed, he ends up the victim of his own planned punishment. What is interesting, however, is what the king says in pronouncing his punishment:
σταυρωθήτω (Esther 7:9 LXX).
This is exactly the same thing said when Pilate asked the Jews what they wanted him to do with Jesus (Matthew 27:22-23):
Crucify him!
(Technically, I suppose it should be: "Let him be crucified!")

This seems a bit unusual since the Persians were not particularly noted for crucifixion, and the Hebrew version just says that he should be hung.

In modern times, when the book of Esther is read at Purim, the reading is interactive with appropriate boos and hisses for Haman. One can wonder, given the odd wording in the Septuagint, if the book of Esther (whether in the Septuagint or not) might have influenced the crowd on the original Good Friday. Jesus had noted that "they have called the master of the house Beelzebub" (Matthew 10:25) so equating him with the devil as they did Haman (Esther 7:4; 8:1 LXX) is really not a stretch.