At first reading, Haman is very powerful and wants to use that power to kill the Jews, but he's not actually interested in harming his boss, King Ahasueros ("Achashveirosh" to most of us), in any way. At one point he falls and oops it looks like he's attempting something inappropriate with Queen Esther, but it seems that wasn't his intention.

Are there sources that indicate Haman was out to kill or overthrow Ahasueros? I recall a midrash where Ahasueros sees men cutting down his royal trees, saying "we're just following Haman's orders"; but that was an angelic mirage, not Haman's actual plan. I vaguely recall Malbim implying that Haman was out to get his boss, is that correct? Where did Malbim see that in the text?

  • Interesting to note the המן = המלך Mar 16, 2011 at 19:43

4 Answers 4


Yosippon (ch. 4) says that Bigsan and Teresh were "Haman's relatives, and among his loyal friends and faithful counselors," and that indeed Haman tried but failed to save them from being executed. A few lines earlier he says that they intended, by assassinating Achashverosh, to ingratiate themselves with the Greeks. So there's reason to assume that Haman was in on their plot too.


The Manos HaLevi brings down in the name of R' Yehoshua ben Ilayi that the whole evening Achasverosh saw Haman standing over him with a sword in his hand, and taking his crown and putting it on his head. He was uncertain if it was true or if it was a dream. Then Haman showed up in his Chatzer. So he felt, then it must be true and it is not a dream.

  • 2
    Certainly the story plays on Achashverosh's paranoia that Haman could be a threat. My question is, was Haman actually plotting anything?
    – Shalom
    Mar 15, 2011 at 19:46
  • 1
    From this Sefer it seems not. Mar 15, 2011 at 20:05

There is also the famous discrepancy within Haman's description of what should be done for someone who finds favor in the King's eyes:

וַיֹּאמֶר הָמָן, אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ: אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הַמֶּלֶךְ חָפֵץ בִּיקָרוֹ. יָבִיאוּ לְבוּשׁ מַלְכוּת, אֲשֶׁר לָבַשׁ-בּוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ; וְסוּס, אֲשֶׁר רָכַב עָלָיו הַמֶּלֶךְ, וַאֲשֶׁר נִתַּן כֶּתֶר מַלְכוּת, בְּרֹאשׁוֹ. וְנָתוֹן הַלְּבוּשׁ וְהַסּוּס, עַל-יַד-אִישׁ מִשָּׂרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הַפַּרְתְּמִים, וְהִלְבִּישׁוּ אֶת-הָאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הַמֶּלֶךְ חָפֵץ בִּיקָרוֹ; וְהִרְכִּיבֻהוּ עַל-הַסּוּס, בִּרְחוֹב הָעִיר, וְקָרְאוּ לְפָנָיו, כָּכָה יֵעָשֶׂה לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הַמֶּלֶךְ חָפֵץ בִּיקָרוֹ.

"And Haman said unto the king: 'For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, let royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and on whose head a crown royal is set; and let the apparel and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man therewith whom the king delighteth to honour, and cause him to ride on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him: Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.'"

And A*h*ashverosh's response:

וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְהָמָן, מַהֵר קַח אֶת-הַלְּבוּשׁ וְאֶת-הַסּוּס כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ, וַעֲשֵׂה-כֵן לְמָרְדֳּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי, הַיּוֹשֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ: אַל-תַּפֵּל דָּבָר, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ.

"Then the king said to Haman: 'Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate; let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.'"

In short: Haman says, "Bring out the King's best clothes, horse and crown ... uh ... and place the clothes on this person and let him ride the horse. Yeah, the clothes and the horse. That's the ticket. Who said anything about a crown?"

And A*h*ashverosh responds by saying, "You do realize I'm talking about Mordechai, don't you? Don't leave out that detail. Let him wear the crown, too."

  • Translation from Mechon Mamre: mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3306.htm
    – Seth J
    Mar 15, 2011 at 19:41
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    The straightest reading of the verse, based on grammar and cantillation, is that the horse itself had worn some type of royal crown. One medrish has Haman recommending a crown, but omitting it by the next verse when he sees the look on Achashverosh's face when he says the word "crown." But still: was Haman actually planning treason?
    – Shalom
    Mar 15, 2011 at 19:49
  • If the horse wore a special crown it's conceivable that it was reserved for when the king himself was riding it, even to the exclusion of someone walking it to prepare it for the king. Also, plotting and fantasizing aren't necessarily that far off in ancient politics. Beware the 9th of Adar, as someone said today
    – Seth J
    Mar 15, 2011 at 20:27

Esther 7;6

וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אֶסְתֵּ֔ר אִ֚ישׁ צַ֣ר וְאוֹיֵ֔ב הָמָ֥ן הָרָ֖ע הַזֶּ֑ה וְהָמָ֣ן נִבְעַ֔ת מִלִּפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וְהַמַּלְכָּֽה׃

I will translate the beginning pertaining to your question.

Targum Rishon:

וַאֲמָרַת גַבְרָא מְעִיקָא וּבְעֵל דְבָבָא דִבְעָא לְמִקְטְלָךְ בְּרַמְשָׁא בְּבֵית דִמְכָךְ וְיוֹמָא דֵין בָּעֵא לְמִלְבֵּשׁ אִסְטְלָא דְמַלְכוּתָא וּלְמִרְכַּב עַל סוּסָא דִי לָךְ וּלְאַחָתָא מְנִיכָא דְדַהֲבָא עַל רֵישֵׁיהּ וּלְמָרְדָא בָךְ וּלְמִסַב מִנָךְ מַלְכוּתָא וְאִתְתַּקְפַת מִלְתָא מִן שְׁמַיָא וְאִתְעֲבֵיד הַהוּא יְקָרָא לְמָרְדְכַי צַדִיקָא אֲחוֹי דְאַבָּא בַּר יָאִיר בַּר שִׁמְעִי בַּר שְׁמִידָע בַּר בַּעֲנָה בַּר אֵלָה בַּר מִיכָה בַּר מְפִיבוֹשֶׁת בַּר יְהוֹנָתָן בַּר שָׁאוּל מַלְכָּא בַּר קִישׁ בַּר אֲבִיאֵל בַּר צְרוֹר בַּר בְּכוֹרַת בַּר אֲפִיָה בַּר שְׁחָרִים בַּר עֻזִיָה בַּר שָׂשׂוֹן בַּר מִיכָאֵל בַּר אֱלִיאֵל בַּר עַמִיהוּד בַּר שְׁפַטְיָה בַּר פְּנוּאֵל בַּר פֵיתַח בַּר מְלוֹךְ בַּר יְרוּבַּעַל בַּר יְרוּחָם בַּר חֲנַנְיָא בַּר זַבְדִי בַּר אֶלְפָעַל בַּר שִׁמְרִי בַּר זְבַדְיָה בַּר רְמוּת בַּר חֲשׁוּם בַּר שְׁחוֹרָא בַּר עֻזָא בַּר גּוּזָא בַּר גֵרָא בַּר בִּנְיָמִין בַּר יַעֲקֹב בַּר יִצְחָק בַּר אַבְרָהָם גַבְרָא מְעִיקָא וּבְעֵל דְבָבָא הָמָן בִּישׁ הָדֵין בְּעָא לְמִצְלְבֵיהּ וְהָמָן אִשְׁתַּעֲמִים מִן קֳדָם מַלְכָּא וּמַלְכְּתָא.

And She said, a man of pain and hostility that wanted to kill (you) in the morning in your house, and on this day day he wanted to wear the kings clothing, ride his horse and place the king's crown of gold on his head, and rebel in you, and steal the kingship from you.

Meaning that Haman's plan was to kill The King (when he showed up in his courtyard), then steal the Kings Royal clothing, horse and crown, and take over the Kingdom in this manner.

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