(1) Haman . . . the Agagite.—Nothing appears to be known of Haman save from this book. His name, as well as that of his father and his sons, is Persian; and it is thus difficult to see the meaning of the name Agagite. which has generally been assumed to imply descent from Agag, king of the Amalekites, with whom the name Agag may have been dynastic (Numbers 24:7; 1 Samuel 15:8). Thus Josephus (Ant. xi. 6. 5) and the Chaldee Targum call him an Amalekite. But apart from the difficulty of the name being Persian, it is hard to see how, after the wholesale destruction of Amalek recorded in 1 Samuel 15, any members should have been left of the kingly family, maintaining a distinct tribal name for so many centuries. In one of the Greek Apocryphal additions to Esther (after Esther 9:24) Haman is called a Macedonian.
Nisan.—The later name of the month, known in the Pentateuch as Abib. In this month the Passover had been first instituted, when God smote the Egyptians with a terrible visitation, the death of the first-born, and bade the destroying angel spare the houses with the blood-besprinkled door-posts. It was in the same month that the Passover received its final fulfilment, when “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,” when no mere earthly Egypt was discomfited, but principalities and powers of evil.
Pur.—This is evidently a Persian word for “lot,” for both here and in Esther 9:24 the usual Hebrew word is added. It is doubtless connected with the Latin pars, portio. and the English part. The people who cast Pur were seeking for a lucky day, as indicated by the lots, for the purpose in hand. A lot was cast for each day of the month, and for each month in the year, and in some way or other one day and one mouth were indicated as the most favourable. The notion of lucky and unlucky days seems to have been prevalent in the East in early times. and iudeed has, to a certain extent. found credence in the West.
The twelfth month.—The lucky month is thus indicated, but not the day. The LXX. adds a clause saying that it was on the fourteenth day, doubtless an interpolation on the strength of Esther 3:13.
Adar.—The lunar month ending at the new moon in March. It was the twelfth month, so that nearly a year would intervene between the throwing of the lot and the carrying out of the scheme. Thus in God’s providence ample time was allowed for redressing matters.
Neither keep they . . .—The charge of disloyalty has been a favourite weapon in the hands of persecutors. Haman was not the first who had brought this charge against the Jews (see Ezra 4:13; Ezra 4:16). Our Lord’s accusers were those who knew no king but Cæsar. The early Christians found to their cost how deadly was the accusation of disloyalty to the Empire.
Lieutenants.—Literally, satraps. The Hebrew word here (akhashdarpan) is simply an attempt to transliterate the Persian khahatrapa, Whence the Greek satrapes, and so the English word. The word occurs several times in this book and in Ezra and Daniel.