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In Megilas Esther 7:4, Esther tells Achashveros that someone is planning on wiping out her people:

כִּי נִמְכַּרְנוּ אֲנִי וְעַמִּי, לְהַשְׁמִיד לַהֲרוֹג וּלְאַבֵּד; וְאִלּוּ לַעֲבָדִים וְלִשְׁפָחוֹת נִמְכַּרְנוּ, הֶחֱרַשְׁתִּי--כִּי אֵין הַצָּר שֹׁוֶה, בְּנֵזֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ.‏

for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my peace, for the adversary is not worthy that the king be endamaged.

None of this should be news to Achashverosh; Haman already told him about his plot to kill the Jews. The only new information here is that the queen herself is Jewish. So why does this information suddenly enrage Achashverosh against Haman? If anything, Esther was the one who withheld information. It's not even clear to me that Haman knew about Esther's relationship to Mordekhai and thus her Jewishness.

  • I think your question (and therefore the answers) misses a very important point of Ach.'s relations with the Jews and his expectations from them. The Meggilah mentions nothing about it, but acc. to Ariz"l he was on Haman's side from the very beginning, not letting the Jews to return to Israel and build the Temple and strip him from the nice golden toys he was bragging about. – Al Berko Mar 23 at 23:41
  • When seen from this viewpoint his behavior looks much more erratic and illogical and your question sounds much more impressive. – Al Berko Mar 23 at 23:42
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Haman never said "the Jews"; he just said "some small people out there." Technically true ... but Achashverosh didn't think he meant that people.

Malbim observes that Haman offered l'abdam -- "to make them go away." It could have been interpreted as a massive social education/assimilation effort, especially in the context of the verse -- "they act differently than anyone else." Or at least ... Achashverosh has plausible deniability that that's all he signed on for. Haman, of course, turns around and explicitly orders the obliteration of every man, woman, and child.

And of course ... there is the possibility that Achashverosh is just doing whatever will save face. Did he really not know it was the Jews? Well ... he can say he was shocked, SHOCKED, and this was all really Haman's idea!

  • Whether Achashverosh knew the small group of people Haman wanted to kill was "the Jews" is irrelevant since he didn't know Esther's background. He knew Haman wanted to kill a group of people and now Esther is telling him that she's one of them. But that's just information that she withheld before and presumably Haman didn't know it either. – Daniel Mar 1 '18 at 3:32
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I heard this explanation from my rav a few years ago.

In Esther 7:4, Esther says:

כי אין הצר שוה בנזק המלך

The oppressor is not concerned with the damage to the king

In other words, Esther is hinting that these people pay taxes to the king and in general contribute to the kingdom's economy. By destroying these people, the king will suffer considerable economic damage.

Related, my rav pointed out that this is a repetitive historic precedent. Fortunately, this didn't happen in Persia at the time. But, when Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, Spain suffered great economic downfall, afterwards. In New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant wanted to get rid of Jews. The Dutch India company discouraged him stating that they need the Jews money to keep the government going.

  • Presumably Achashverosh would have been aware of this consideration when Haman came to him originally. – Daniel Mar 24 at 20:09
  • @Daniel Not exactly. Keep in mind some critical factors. The king made spur-of-the moment decisions and he implicitly trusted Haman as demonstrated by giving him a top position. Also, it was sufficient that Haman had mentioned that there was a group of people that don't follow the king's laws. It didn't matter that Haman didn't mention who that group was. He was happy to have Haman rid of them, to the point that he even refused the 10,000 talents of silver. So, apparently, Ahashverush didn't even consider the loss of revenue in this mix at the time. – DanF Mar 25 at 1:09
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The annihilation of the Jewish people would mean that Queen Esther and her close relatives (such as Mordechai) would be executed too. Why shouldn't Achashverosh have been mad? And, as mentioned in Shalom's answer, Haman (boo) never said the Jewish people specifically.

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My personal interpretation: He wasn't! (about the plot)

  1. See my comment to your question:

    [we need to address the] point of Ach.'s relations with the Jews and his expectations from them. The Meggilah mentions nothing about it, but acc. to Ariz"l he was on Haman's side from the very beginning, not letting the Jews to return to Israel and build the Temple and strip him from the nice golden toys he was bragging about.

    Seemingly he was a part of this plot anyway. I did read about the difference that he didn't mean to exterminate the whole nation, only prevent them from building the Temple, unlike Haman, but still, their goals look aligned.

  2. A deeper reading of the Targum and Midrashim suggests that what really pissed him off was the destruction of his garden by angels and Haman laying on the bed with Ester. This seems more consistent with the very beginning of the Megillah where he proves his erratic, capricious and selfish behavior, not caring about the consequences.

  • But Achashverosh stormed off in a rage before going to the garden or Haman pleaded with Esther. – Daniel Mar 24 at 20:11
  • @Daniel Don't let your fact spoil my theory, please. It wasn't serious until he saw the garden and his precious wife cheating. – Al Berko Mar 24 at 20:14

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