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Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther, by Rembrandt

Image via Wikipedia

 

by Eric Sommer

Chapter I

And it came to pass in the third year of the reign of Achashverosh, King of Persia, that the King threw a great party. And it was during that party, that the King became intoxicated and called for his wife Vashti to come dance naked in front of the guests. Now, Vashti was a liberated woman, and was not at all ashamed to display her body in public (“my body, my choice,” she used to say). But she was certainly not going to do so at the behest of a male chauvinist like her husband. So she refused to appear, and the following morning, in addition to a major hangover, Achashverosh had one royal-size sexual harassment suit waiting for him. Public opinion quickly turned against the King, and he was forced to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.

Chapter II

It was after those events that the King missed Vashti, and wanted to find a new wife. He consulted his inner circle of advisors, which, in accordance with multi-cultural practices, consisted of, among others, one woman, one Indian, one Ethiopian, and one handicapped person, who was also rumored to be gay. One of his advisors, Memoochan, suggested holding a beauty contest, attended by all the fairest maidens in the land. But his female advisor informed him that Memoochan was a Neanderthal living in the dark ages, and that beauty contests where men gawk at women walking around in swimsuits had long ago gone out of fashion. Instead, she suggested giving a test in such subjects as physics, literature and music, and the most intelligent woman would be made queen. And the King, already lagging in the public opinion polls, had no choice, and he said to make it so.

Now it just so happened that in the Kingdom of Persia there lived a young Jewish girl named Esther who was very beautiful, but much more importantly, had a 195 IQ. Having successfully sued her parents for termination of custody, she had been living with her uncle Mordechai. Esther aced the test and was chosen to be the new queen. Only, the homosexual community objected the word “queen,” and the feminists didn’t like the whole gender-based title thing, so it was decided that she would just be called “Royal Person.” So Esther was crowned Royal Person of Persia and was married to King Achashverosh, though she kept her own last name. And being that Esther was an intelligent woman in her own right, and had no intention whatsoever of sitting quietly next to the King looking pretty, she was given her own staff of 15 and an office in the west wing of the palace.

Chapter III

It was after those events that King Achashverosh elevated his advisor Haman to be his chief advisor. There were some protests by the African-Persian community because he hadn’t selected an African Persian to be his top advisor, by the appointment went through anyway. It turned out the Haman was a big anti-Semite, and he asked the King’s permission to kill all the Jews, which he got. So Haman sent out a proclamation to all the lands in the kingdom outlining his plan. Distressed, the Jews sought a court-issued injunction to stop Haman from sending it. But Haman was defended by the head of the Persian Civil Liberties Union, who ironically was also Jewish, and who claimed that the injunction would violate Haman’s right to free speech. And the injunction was not issued, so the proclamation was sent.

Chapter IV

And Mordechai knew of all that had happened, and he donned a black ribbon as a sign of mourning. And Esther sent a messenger to Mordechai to console him, but he would not be consoled. Then Mordechai sent word back to Esther that she should go the King and ask him to stop the impending killing of all the Jews. Esther replied that other social issues, such as the environment and harassment in the workplace were more pressing, but Mordechai persuaded her as to the urgency of the matter, and she agreed. Mordechai suggested calling all the Jews to synagogue for three days of fasting and prayers, but Esther thought that was way outdated, and instead called for a non-denominational candlelight vigil, and it was so.

Chapter V

And it came to pass on the third day that Esther put on her smartest business suit and went to see the King. The King offered Esther up to half his assets, which he was actually required to give her anyway, based on their pre-nup. Esther told the King that she had come to invite him and Haman to a big party she was throwing the next day. The King was very excited, and both he and Haman showed up to Royal Person Esther’s party. The King, for his part, was careful not to violate the out-of-court settlement he had made with Vashti, and there was none of that “dance naked” stuff that night. The party was a big hit, with performances by Fleetwood Mac and crowd favorite Barbra Streisand. And Esther informed the King that both he and Haman were also invited to her next party, being thrown the following day on Martha’s Vineyard. Upon leaving the party, Haman spotted his old nemesis Mordechai, which ruined his night. Haman’s wife advised Haman to build a gallows 50 amot tall and ask the King to have Mordechai hanged the next day. She further advised him to quit referring to her as “Haman’s Wife.” And he built the gallows.

Chapter VI

That night, the King had trouble sleeping. He called for his servants to bring him a video to watch, but since having gotten rid of all his stag films as part of his sensitivity training following the Vashti debacle, all they had left were a bunch of movies filmed in Montana and produced by Robert Redford. So they brought him the royal archives instead, and there he read that Mordechai had done him a big favor a few years back. Just then, Haman came in, and the King asked him what to do for someone to whom he owed a favor. Haman suggested maybe an ambassadorship to some insignificant but warm-climate country, or maybe letting him spend a night in the palace’s “Lincoln Bedroom.” But the King decided to have Haman lead Mordechai around on a horse throughout the streets of Shushan. However, the animal rights activists got wind of the King’s plan, and they went nuts, so it was decided that Haman would just lead Mordechai around on foot. And it was so. When he was done leading Mordechai around, Haman walked home, despondent. But no sooner had he returned home than the King’s messengers arrived to bring him to Esther’s second party. Haman’s wife realized that her husband was doomed and commented that she had always known he would never amount to anything.

Chapter VII

And the King and Haman came to drink with Royal Person Esther. And it was during the party that Esther shocked the King by telling him that someone in that very room was plotting to kill her and all the other Jews. “Who is that man?” yelled the King. To which Esther replied “What makes you so sure it’s a man? You don’t think that a women is capable of killing all the Jewish people?” After an awkward silence, Esther told the King that is was, in fact, a man, and it was none other than his chief advisor Haman! The King stormed out in a fit a rage and meanwhile Haman begged at Esther’s feet for her to spare his life. He told her how he had grown up in a broken home, was raised by a crack-selling mother and had never had a normal childhood. Esther declared Haman to be a product of society’s failure to protect its children. So Haman’s crime of “attempted genocide” was reduced to “issuing proclamations without a license” and he was given the relatively light sentence of five-to-seven years. After serving just two years of that sentence, he was given time off for good behavior and paroled. And the following year, the residents of Shushan elected Haman as their mayor, his being a felon notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Esther convinced the King to come to terms with his anger and latent feelings of hostility towards women, and the King entered a 12-step program and when he was through, his anger had subsided.

Chapter VIII

That day, the King gave Esther Haman’s house, and she told the King that Mordechai was her uncle. And Mordechai asked the King’s permission for the Jews to rise up and kill their enemies. But Esther would have no such thing, and instead, she arranged for a dialog being the Jewish leaders and the leaders of the people of Shushan. And while they couldn’t overcome all their differences, they did agree to joint-author a letter of mutual acceptance and tolerance.

Chapter IX

And in the twelfth month, the month of Adar, on the day when the Jews were supposed to have been exterminated, the Jews held a three-day conference of the Leaders of Jewish Organizations. And during that conference, they agreed that a holiday should be established-the holiday of Purim. A holiday of charity and gift-giving. A holiday of brotherly love. A holiday where alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules would be suspended. A holiday where Jewish kids could dress up like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and not have to feel that they had missed out on something by not celebrating Halloween. And a proclamation was sent out to all the King’s lands, in all 127 languages, plus Ebonics. And the Jews were careful not to mention G-d’s name, lest any of the gentiles be offended.

Chapter X

And King Achashverosh–the kinder and gentler King Achashverosh–levied a tax across the land, to raise money to pay for welfare and public television. And the great deeds of Royal Person Esther and her uncle Mordechai were duly recorded in the annals of Persia.

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