In Maoz Tzur we say:

רב בניו וקנייניו,‏
על העץ תלית

His many sons and his possessions,
You hung on a tree

Were Haman's possessions really hung on a tree?

6 Answers 6


It's amazing what you can find on Hebrewbooks!...

In Sifsei Chachamim, by R' Avraham Abba Hertzel (Bratislava, 1899), he says that this is based on the Gemara's statement (Megillah 15b, top) that "that wicked man had all of his treasures engraved on his chest" (evidently meaning that he wore a medallion, or something similar, that had all of his possessions depicted or listed on it). Presumably he would have worn this to the two feasts to which Esther invited him, and since he was taken directly from the second one to be hanged, then that medallion - "all his treasures" in microcosm - was hanging there on the gallows with him.

  • 5
    You never fail to amaze me with your sources Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 5:02
  • 2
    It's not so much what you know, as where you know to look for it...
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 5:04

At the 2014 International Bible Contest for Adults (חידון התנ"ך הבינלאומי למבוגרים תשע"ה) televised finals1, celebrated grammarian2 Dr. Avshalom Kor (אבשלום קור) posed this question among a series of short vignettes about "Ma'oz Tzur" that he presented while the next contestant was getting into place. He answered that the 'ו' preceding "his possessions" is an example of a "ו' שמסבירה" - a "vav that explains."3 So, this 'ו' is more of a dash than an "and."

Dr. Kor provided, as a Scriptural example of this construct, Shmuel I 28:3, which says, of Shmuel:

...  וַיִּקְבְּרֻהוּ בָרָמָה וּ‏בְעִירוֹ ...

... and buried him in Ramah, וּ‏ in his own city ...

The 'וּ' here doesn't mean that they buried him twice, in Ramah and in his own city, but that they buried him in Ramah, which was his own city.4

Similarly, here, the song says that they hung up Haman's sons, who were his possessions, not as well as his possessions. This explains the translation choices of siddurim documented in Yosef's answer.

1. In which one Alexander Heppenheimer, 42, of Crown Heights, took second place.    

2. Yes, according to Wikipedia, Israel has such a thing: "עקב קנאותו לשפה העברית וסלידתו משגיאות כתיב וטעויות דקדוקיות בדיבור הפך שמו לשם נרדף ליודע השפה העברית והלצות רבות על הדקדוק בעברית נקשרו בשמו."    

3. Or, as seen in footnote 1(b) to Gesenius, §154a, wāw explicativum. (Thanks to msh210 for the reference.)

4. It appears that this interpretation could be consistent with that of Metzudat David, but not that of Rashi.    


The translations I have seen translate it differently, and effectively elide the vav; either קניניו refers to the rest of Haman's household, or to the fact that his sons were his dearest possessions.

From Koren/Sacks:

His many sons and his household You hanged on the gallows.

From Artscroll:

His numerous progeny -- his possessions -- on the gallows You hanged.

From Rödelheim/Bamberger:

Der Söhne Schar, sein teurer Schatz, an seinem Galgen aufgeknüpft.

which means: "His multitude of sons, his dear treasure, were hung on his own gallows."

From Rödelheim/Wilhelm:

Hans dyraste egendom, hans många söner, lät du hänga i galgen.

which means: "His most precious property, his many sons, You let hang on the gallows."


Perhaps you can break it up like this (M'layl)- you wiped out the enemy of his name (including) his many children and possessions, you hung him on a tree.

  • the problem with that is that there wouldn't be an object. the "him" is missing, it would just read "you hung on a tree."
    – eliyahu
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 4:22
  • The direct object is before the - inserted phrase - piyutim are known for that type of creative grammar.
    – LN6595
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 3:31

In Riv'vos Efrayim (volume 8 number 267), Rabbi Efrayim Greenblatt suggests that it may refer to Haman's slaves. (He also refers the reader to Or L'avraham on Rus, by Rabbi Avraham Gurewitz (spelling?), page 98; but I don't have a copy.)

  • Re: spelling of "אברהם גורביץ": There is one by that name who's Rosh Yeshivah at ישיבת בית יוסף גייטסהעד. The English Wikipedia has his name spelled as Avrohom Gurwicz. I don't see Or L'avraham mentioned as one of his books, though.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 18:43
  • 1
    On the other hand, you're probably right, as there is, in Otzar HaHochma, a "ספר אור אברהם על מגילת רות" (notice there's no Lamed before Avraham) by אברהם איתיאל בן משה גורביץ (not the one I mentioned in my previous comment), who, on the second page, has his name in English given as Avrohom Gurewitz.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:22

My brother recently asked me this question, and he came up with some interesting answers of his own: the word “possessions” is really going back on Mordechai (Rosh yemini) earlier on in the stanza, that Haman had sold himself to Mordechai (blanking on source) and it would follow that Haman’s sons were Mordechai’s slaves as well. Not sure why that would need to be mentioned in the stanza, but I thought it was clever.
And another one is maybe it refers to the ring that Achashveirosh gave Haman and later transferred to Mordechai (the way my brother described the scene is you have Haman hanging and the ring mysteriously slips off his finger and lands right next to Achashveirosh who then decides to give it Mordechai).

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for your contribution. The medallion on Haman's neck was a family idol, meaning the traditional idol of the Amalekites/Philistines, who were his ancestors. Like is recorded in 1 Samuel, chapter 6, this was the images of a golden mouse or rat (עכבר) and a golden hemorrhoid (טחור). Mordechai saw the images of these idols hanging from Haman's neck and refused to bow to Haman like is recorded in Megillat Esther. Commented May 2 at 15:29

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