In Megillas Esther 3:1 Haman is called the Agagite which I always assumed meant he was a descendant of Agag the king of the Amalekite in 1 Shmuel 15:8. His lineage is confirmed in Megillah 13a as being a genetic descendent of Agag the Amalekite.

ומה שילם לי ימיני דלא קטליה שאול לאגג דאתיליד מיניה המן

If the point is to tell us that Haman was an Amalekite, why not just say so explicitly?

  • Maybe he's just from the city of Agag. Many rabbis have called the Nazis Amelekites, but that doesn't mean they were literal descendants of Amalek the person.
    – Double AA
    Dec 10, 2013 at 15:18
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    I believe my answers judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29253/899 and judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29255/899 are relevant but not quite enough to answer the specific question.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Dec 10, 2013 at 15:32
  • Please see edits Dec 10, 2013 at 17:35
  • @pleaseremovemyaccount You just cited a piece of a Medrish Aggadata for historical proof. Just sayin'. It's not even clear that all opinions in the Midrash there support that particular Drash.
    – Double AA
    Dec 10, 2013 at 17:54
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    @pleaseremovemyaccount Severely lacking. שמעי is listed as Mordochai's grandfather. Yet שמעי בן גרא lived about 500-700 years before Mordochai. Credulous or not?
    – Double AA
    Dec 10, 2013 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


R' Rachmiel Zelcer in סימן יב of his נר למאה on פורים cites the צפנת פענח on מסכת סופרים: The name of Agag, king of Amalek, was in fact Hamdata. And "Agag" is actually the title for kings of Amalek. So why does the מגילה call Haman an Agagite (instead of Amalekite)? Since Sanherib mixed up all the nations, we can't be certain that any individual is in fact an Amalekite. However, the Mordechai in chapter eight of Yevamot cites the רא"ם that descendants of royalty were not mixed up by Sanherib. Therefore, by using the term Agagite, the מגילה is revealing that Haman descended from royalty and thus his identity as an Amalekite was certain.

  • Hello. Are you able to provide a link to ether the נר למאה or the צפנת פענח. Thank you for this wonderful insight.
    – The Targum
    Dec 18, 2023 at 18:32

Haman is called an Agagite to link him directly to the failure of Saul to kill Agag before he could reproduce.

Mordechai and Saul were both of the tribe of Benjamin and it is literarily significant that one Benjaminite avenges the failure of another. That is why it is specified that he is an Agagite and not a mere Amalekite. I have also heard that Mordechai was a gilgul of Saul.

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    +1 and to add a corollary, I heard a pshat from my hometown Rav that this is also to underscore the negative trait of Haman that he was a kafui tov in the sense that although his ancestor was spared he desperately wanted to kill the descendant of his ancestor's savior and all their kin. Mar 10, 2017 at 14:21

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