Trump An Instrument of God – To Save the Jews? (#85)
Trump An Instrument of God – To Save the Jews? Well at least that’s what US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, thinks is possible because of his ‘faith’. On his current visit to Israel, Pompeo was reportedly asked by an interviewer of the Christian Broadcasting Network, if - "President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace". Pompeo’s response was reported to be - "As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible..." & "...I am confident that the Lord is at work here," he added (as reported by the BBC). This visit was taking place during the Israeli holiday of ‘Purim’, which celebrates the rescue of the Jews from possible genocide by the alleged 2nd wife, of the Persian King Xerxes I, Queen Esther.
The story of Esther loosely is – that a drunken King Xerxes-I of Persia, at a massive celebration, orders his wife Vashti to appear before him, and his guests, and display her beauty. Queen Vashti refuses, and an angry King Xerxes disposes his Queen and holds a beauty contest of ‘virgins’ to pick a new bride. And, for many months, each night, he calls for one of them to see which young virgin pleases him the most. According to the story, he is pleased the most by a young woman called ‘Hadassah’ and decides to make her his wife, and to be his next Queen who is then called Esther (meaning: 'evening star'). After this, her and her guardian, Mordecai, star literally rises in the Persian Court and Mordecai is given a high post as royal scribe. But, Mordecai refuses to bow to King Xerxes’s chief adviser, a man called Haman, who takes great offence and convinces King Xerxes to issue a decree that all Jews in the kingdom should be slaughtered.
The story continues - Mordecai convinces Esther to disclose to the King that she is a Jew, and to intercede on behalf of the condemned Jews and try to get the decree overturned. Which she very effectively does, and not only saves all the Jews in the Persian Kingdom, but gets permission to slaughter 75000 other Persians on the very day of their own slaughter, who plotted against them, and whom the Jews considered enemies, all with the Persian King’s benign blessings.
And - Esther manages to turn the tables on the chief adviser Haman himself, gets him executed on the very day of Mordecai’s day of execution, and, has Mordecai (her guardian and a Jew) installed in the very position of his enemy, Haman, as chief advisor to the Persian King; the most important man, after the King himself, in all of Persia.
What a woman, and what a story!
It is a compelling story, complete with drunken debauchery, sex, drama, intrigue, political machinations, an easily manipulated Persian King (first by Haman and then by Esther), triumph and perfect revenge; and unfortunately it is all untrue.
There are endless debates as to how accurate is Esther’s story? Most of the defence and rationales about the authenticity of the Esther story is obviously, and vigorously, pushed by Jewish and Christian organizations and ‘scholars’, but almost all of their arguments are based on their scriptures, and any anecdotal historic evidence cited by them, of course has gaping holes in historical facts.
The general consensus amongst secular scholars, looking only at historical evidence, and not at scriptures, is that the tale is mostly made up. A patch up of various incidents, historic and otherwise, time frames, various Persian Kings and their reigns, and Jewish traditions, and tales with uncanny similarities of captive Jews overcoming all odds to rise above impossible circumstances, and overturning the tables on their enemies, and rising to the highest positions of power in alien empires under alien Kings. The story of Daniel and Joseph are almost identical.
A key factor which questions the truth of this revered tale amongst the Jews is that Esther could not have been King Xerxes’s wife, as the time frame of Mordecai, and of Esther’s marriage, does not match the time of King Xerxes’s rule; and that the historically recorded King’s wife was Amestris, daughter of Otanes, a Persian nobleman, and not Hadassah the charge of Mordecai, the Jew.
Amestris was mother to King Xerxes’s sons, Darius, Hystaspes, Artaxerxes I, Achamenes, and his two daughters, Amytis and Rhodogune. It is also recorded that Amestris remained Xerxes’s only ‘recorded’ wife well past his death.
Also, there is no historical record of a Jewish ‘Persian’ Queen named ‘Esther’ ever.
There is so much that is not right with the story of Esther and the historic traditions of Persia, but the purpose of this brief commentary is not to dissect all that is wrong with Esther’s story. People are free to believe what they wish, for their religious purposes. But here, the rather far-fetched assertion that ‘God’ would ordain Donald Trump to be the ‘Esther like’ saviour of the Jews from modern day Persia (Iran) is to purposely put a religious twist on a 21st Century political problem, which is, as has been demonstrated in history, a bad idea.
In this case, for the interviewer to infer that Israel faces genocide at the hands of modern day Iran, by referring to an unproven story from the ancient times, is simply wrong, fear mongering and propagating Islamophobia.
Also the story is mostly wrong, in that Xerxes was by all ‘historic’ accounts an intelligent and capable Persian King, who was diminished in history because of his defeat at the hands of the Greeks, but not because he was a drunken, easily manipulated lout. He was a Zoroastrian, and therefore despised idol worship, and therefore was more likely to be tolerant of the Jews who also abhorred idol worship, as was apparent by their residing in Persia for centuries. Besides even in the story he supposedly elevated Esther and Mordecai to the highest levels in the court, as Jews, so it is unlikely he would be that easily be swayed to exterminate all Jews (his subjects), because ONE offended his chief advisor.
For such a senior official as Mike Pompeo, of the World’s leading power, to push such a narrative is plainly wrong and irresponsible. If anything, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that strikes deep into neighboring countries, including Iran, at will, when it feels even remotely threatened (apart from the US of course). Israel regularly carries out preemptive attacks when it feels like it, mostly without serious repercussions because the US unconditionally has its back. No Muslim country is allowed to do that. So to portray Iran as an existential threat to Israel with the US so openly hostile to it, and proactively strangling it with crushing economic sanctions, for decades, is to push a hateful propaganda, purposely. Iran may verbally threaten Israel, but it is incapable of hurting it materially, as has been proven over and over, through decades of animosity.
But this kind of talk is unproductive and dangerous as it promotes religious bigotry and extremism, which results in incidents such as the New Zealand attacks. For the Islamic terrorist acts, entire countries in the Middle East have been destroyed by the US and the Western coalitions, and millions of Muslims killed. Pompeo’s endorsement of a false narrative is highly irresponsible.
That is why there is the separation of Religion and State in the American Constitution. But Trump and his administration have been particularly and demonstratively ignorant of Constitutional and factual accuracy (they prefer ‘alternate facts’), as the last two years of Trump’s term have shown, and as Pompeo once again demonstrated in invoking the 'Lord' in justifying an otherwise absurd statement from an interviewer. But if a fictional character is to be assigned as a role model for Trump regarding Israel, in a weird way ‘Esther’ may be appropriate, not as the Christian interviewer and Pompeo intended it, but as Trump himself would prefer it, an alternate reality world of fiction and fantasy.