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According to the Gemara Megila 15b Haman had 208 children. Why did they only hang 10 of them?

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These were the ones who had instigated the decree by which Achashveirosh halted the building of Beis Hamikdosh soon after he ascended to the throne. Megilah 16a - Rashi quoting Seder Olam.

  • 2
    Can you clarify your source? I think the Gemara/Rashi you're referring to is talking about Shimshi, Achashverosh's scribe. – Seth J Mar 22 '11 at 12:25
  • Me'am Loez says the same thing, and gives as source references: Rashi, Maamar Mordechai, and Megillas Sesarim. – Alex Mar 22 '11 at 16:24
  • dafyomi.org/index.php?masechta=megilah&daf=16a&go=Go What am I missing?? – Seth J Mar 22 '11 at 19:27
  • Shimshai was the son of Homon (Rashi Ezra 4:8) Maharsha Megilah 16a – Raffy Van der Vaart Mar 22 '11 at 19:50
  • also, look in the hagois habach on the first Rashi on 16a – Raffy Van der Vaart Mar 22 '11 at 19:54
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The gemara you cite would be considered aggadah. There is an accepted tradition to not accept such statements as literally, especially if they contradict mikra. According to this school of thought, he did not have 208 children. That same gemara also says he had 30, 70, 208 or 214 children. There is clearly something going on here non literal. The Rambam would urge us to consider the possible reason for such numbers and what they might mean.

Taking aggadah literally causes all sorts of problems. The list of luminaries that don't take aggadah and midrash literally is endless.

  • The Rambam would urge us to consider the possible reason for such numbers and what they might mean. Sound more like Maharal. – mevaqesh Mar 9 '17 at 0:48
  • "Sound more like Maharal" - Sorry I don't know how to properly quote. This is what I'm referring to. Rambam, intro to perek chelek: ואם אתה מן הכת השלישית כשתראה דבר מדבריהם שהדעת מרחיק אותו תעמוד ותתבונן בו ודע שהוא חידה ומשל ותשכב עשוק הלב וטירוד הרעיון בחבורו ובסברתו ותחשוב למצא כוונת השכל ואמונת היושר כמו שנאמר למצוא דברי חפץ וכתוב יושר דברי אמת ואז תסתכל בספרי זה ויועיל לך בע"ה – Bob Barr Mar 9 '17 at 1:16
  • I am familiar with that rambam, but the style of focusing on significance of numbers in an aggada is much more characteristic of maharal. – mevaqesh Mar 9 '17 at 1:55
  • Why do you assume that it contradicts Mikrah? There is no verse which says that he only had ten sons. – Shmuel Brin Mar 9 '17 at 7:09
  • The question wasn't "how many sons did he have" it was "according to the position that he had 200 of them, why didn't they hang them?" You could think about it like this if you want "anyone speculating about additional sons, even as a parable, would be aware that 10 specific ones are named and killed. so how did they differentiate those 10 from the others?" – Double AA Mar 9 '17 at 15:23

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