Intelligence and unconventional warfare in "Book of Esther"
MEGILAT ESTER (The scroll of Esther) relates the story of a Hebrew woman in ancient Persia, born as Hadassah but known as Esther, who becomes undercover queen of the Great Empire of Persia, and single handedly sabotaging the Viceroy's genocide plan to annihilate all the Hebrew people in the 127 provinces of this greatest empire of the ancient world. The story forms the core of the Jewish festival of Purim and celebrates the reversal of destiny through a sudden and unexpected turn of events: the Jewish people seem destined to be destroyed, but instead are saved. A fascinating account of the faithful principle, that the power of G-D is always at work behind human events.
This gripping story about the deliverance of the Jewish people, offers a rare insight into the unconventional warfare of the ancient world, and how one courageous undercover agent, utilizes humint, resourcefulness, intelligence and counter-intelligence, to unleash pre-amptive attacks, precisely orchestrated by undetectable SOF operators to defeat an otherwise invincible superpower.
Let's review the 10 year chronicles that make this story so powerful and inspiring:
The year is 482BCE and Xerxes (Ak'hashverosh), is the Persian King who rules over 127 provinces sprawled from Hodu (India) to Koosh (modern day Ethiopia) . Xerxes holds a lavish 180-day banquet, showcasing his wealth and power, The feast is initially designated for his Satraps (governors) and dignitaries and afterwards a seven-day banquet for all inhabitants of the capital city Shushan. On the seventh day of the latter banquet, Xerxes orders his beloved queen Vashti (Granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar, destroyer of the holy temple in Jerusalem) to display her beauty before the guests, wearing but her golden crown. She refuses, and by that disrespects the King before his court, and is publicly beheaded as an example to other women who might be emboldened to disobey their husbands.
Year 478BCE King Xerxes orders his servants to find him a new queen from a selection of the most beautiful young women from throughout his empire. Among these women is a Jewish orphan named Hadassah, who was raised by her uncle Mordec'hai, the leader of SANHEDRIN (The Authoritative Jewish Sages Assembly). Xerxes chooses Hadassah from thousands of women to become his queen, and, with her Uncle's directive she changes her name to Esther, while hiding her true identity as not only jewish but also the direct descendant to legendary Israelite King - Saul son of Kish.
For the new queen to be adored by all subjects - Xerxes orders to lower taxation and sends lavish gifts to all dignitaries and Satraps in his Empire. At that time, two of the court's guards are plotting to assassinate the King. Mordec'hai, fluent in 70 languages, understands their exchange and warns King Xerxes. The two conspirators are executed and Mordec'hai service to the King is recorded in the Royal Book of Chronicles.
By 474BCE Xerxes appoints Hamman as his viceroy. Hamman, a descendant of the Ammalek (Antichrist in Christianity) the nemesis of nation of Israel, encounters Mordec'hai in the Palace gates, and while everyone bows before Hamman - Mordechai BOWS TO NO ONE on account of his jewish faith in one G-D. In an act of revenge, Hamman plots to kill not just Mordechai, but all the Jews in the empire.
Hamman, as wise as he is evil, is a seasoned manipulator and convinces King Xerxes that the annihilation of all jews from the massive empire will make the King even more wealthy and secure his throne for generations to come. A royal decree is issued throughout the kingdom to slay all Jews on that fateful date of 13 of the month of ADAR, a day that was determined by casting a lot, as Hamman and his wife Zeresh, were advanced practitioners of KISHOOF (black Magic) and were convinced that G-D's protective dome over his people was "compromised" on that very day they set up to carry their genocide.
Mordec'hai discovers the plan and realizes the time to deploys Esther, his most effective sleeper cell, has come. He implores her to intercede with the King. However, asking for the Kings audience is impossible in those days, and entering without invitation is punishable by death. Esther being the humblest of creatures and a woman of faith, elevates her spiritual prowess by fasting for three days, and Mordechai recruits all Israelites to fast along with her and by that, focus the collective soul of the entire nation of Israel into that one dangerous act, of presenting herself to King Xerxes unsummoned. She then suggests the King to do what he loves most - attend a feast in her honor.
Xerxes and his Viceroy Hamman attend queen Esther's feast, and she soften his raging spirit with wine and tend him with care. Hamman seizes the opportunity to prepare a tall gallows to hang Mordec'hai, who once again, refuses to bow.
That very night Xerxes cannot sleep, although drunk from the queen's feast, so he orders his servant to read him aloud from the Royal book of records. Xerxes is reminded that Mordec'hai interceded in the previous plot against his life, and discovers that Mordec'hai never received any recognition. Just then, Hamman appears to request the King's permission to hang Mordec'hai, but instead asked by Xerxes "what should be done for the man that the King wishes to honor ?" Assuming that the King is referring to Hamman himself, he suggests that the man be dressed in the King's royal robes, and crown and led around on the King's royal horse and heralded "honored by the King".
To his surprise and horror, the King instructs Hamman to do so to Mordec'hai!
The next night, King Xerxes and Hamman attend queen Esther's second banquet. With fearless faith and unbreakable focus - she gathers her mental strength and dares to reveal before her king that she is, in fact, Jewish, and that Hamman is planning to exterminate her people, herself included.
Overcome by rage, Xerxes leaves the room, while Hamman panics and falls on the queen's lap begging for his life. Ambivalent Xerxes returns just to find what he believes to be his Viceroy assaulting his queen! He immediately orders Hamman hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordec'hai. To the queen's dismay, Xerxes informs her of the sacred rule, that, a King is unable to annul a formal royal decree. Being resourceful and creative, the queen suggests Xerxes adds to it, permitting the Jews to form self-defence militias to destroy any and all of those seeking to kill them across the enormous empire. Xerxes, agrees, and, being the greedy King he is, adds that they may not only kill those who are out to harm them - but also authorizes them to legally possess all plunder taken of the dead.
The operation picked up momentum on the 13th day of the month of ADAR, Year 473BCE. After weeks of gathering humint (human intelligence) to locate those prepared to annihilate the jews, and upon masterfully spreading counterintelligence about the "vulnerability" of the jewish communities to discourage those seeking to harm from being well prepared, multiple small groups of brave jewish men and women, armed with only faith and short daggers (much like their Sicarii predecessors) unleashed a simultaneous, preemptive and surprise attack against Hamman's followers plotting to kill the Jews in all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. By day two of the clandestine operation, over 75,000 people are slaughtered by the jewish operatives, who, contrary to the King's permission - are careful to take no plunder.
Mordec'hai and queen Esther send letters throughout the provinces instituting an annual commemoration of the Jewish people's redemption, in a holiday called PURIM (casting lots). King Xerxes remains very powerful and continues his reign, with Mordec'hai assuming a prominent position in his court. Xerxes and Esther give birth to the heir, Cyrus the great, who declares full freedom of creed in the Persian empire, and gives his blessing to rebuild the holy temple in Jerusalem. The story of MEGILAT ESTER is full of turns of events, and the evidence that the "HASHGAC'HA PRATIT" (G-D's watchful care over each individual in this world) is never compromised or absent, but rather, excluded from the mind when the soul is drifted away from virtue.
C'HA"ZAL (The ancient sages) teach us that: "Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person's neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy" [ אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צווארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים ] For prayer is not calling upon G-D to connect to us, but rather calling onto our own selves to finally, connect to G-D. Have a blessed weekend, #ShabbatShalom and #HappyPurim ! Stay safe and ...stay dangerous my friends