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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

LXXXII. (1) R. Isaak Napḥa said Haman worked cunningly against Israel, for it is written, 'And when these days

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were fulfilled, the king made a feast unto all the people.' 'The people' here referred to is Israel. Haman said to Ahasuerus, 'The God of these people hates lewdness, for it is written in the Torah, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."' He, therefore, brought together lewd women, and making the banquet for then, decreed that they should comply with any man's wish, so as not to give the accused the excuse of saying that they had been forced to do such a thing by a decree of the king. As soon, however, as Mordecai perceived this, he said to the people, 'Do not go to this banquet, that you may not be led into temptation.' But the Jews disregarded Mordecai's advice, and went.

(2) R. Levi said that 18,560 men went to this banquet, and ate and drank until they were intoxicated with the wine. Our sages say that while they were at the table of this wicked man, Satan appeared before God, and accused Israel in these words, 'O Lord of the universe, how long wilt Thou cleave to this nation, who turn their hearts from Thee, who forsake Thee, and separate themselves from Thee? Moreover, they do not turn to Thee in repentance, although the verse has been fulfilled in which it is written, "I shall scatter you among the heathen." Therefore, if it is Thy will, let them perish from the world.' But God asked, 'What will become of My law?' And he replied, 'Let it remain for the higher beings.' Then said the Holy One, blessed be He, 'My mind is satisfied to destroy Israel.' (3) At that moment He wished to blot Israel out of the world, as it is said, 'I shall cease to remember man.' 'What is this nation to Me,' said the Lord, 'for whom My sorrow increases every day?' And God said to Satan, 'Go, and bring Me a scroll, that I may write thereon their destruction.' When Satan went out to fetch the scroll, he came face to face with the Law, which came forth to meet him in widow's garments groaning and weeping, and at the voice of her weeping the ministering angels cried, saying, 'If the Israelites are to be destroyed, what is the use of us?' And they wept aloud, as it is said, 'The Arēlīm cried abroad, and

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the angels of peace wept bitterly.' As soon as the sun, moon, stars, and planets heard it they clothed themselves with sackcloth, and lifted up their voice in lamentation, as it is said, 'The heavens and the earth clothed themselves in blackness, and girded themselves with sackcloth;' as it is said, 'I will clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their garment.' Then they all exclaimed, 'O Lord of the universe, shall Israel be destroyed, who go from door to door wishing to study the law, observe the Sabbath, circumcision, and the commandments, and for whose sakes we were created? as it is said, "If not for My covenant, the day and the night and the ordinances of heaven and earth would not have been founded," and now shall they perish from the world?'

(4) At that moment Elijah went to beseech the righteous men of yore, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and said to them, 'O patriarchs, do ye riot know that the heavens and the earth and all the heavenly host weep in the day, and cry in the night, and that the whole world is now like a travailing woman, while ye remain silent?' 'But why is this?' said they. 'Because Israel has been handed over to the slaughterer like sheep, to be blotted out from the face of the earth, and their name is to perish, as it is said, "Come, and let us destroy them."' Then said Moses to Elijah, 'Is there a righteous man in this generation?' And he replied, 'Yes, there is one, and his name is Mordecai, the son of Jair.' 'Then go, and tell him to supplicate continually for mercy, and I shall do likewise.' 'But,' said Elijah, 'Moses, O faithful shepherd, against thy flock the decree has already been written down, and now they desire to put the seal on it.'

(5) 'Notice,' then said Moses to Elijah, 'whether it has been sealed with clay, for then our prayers may still be heard; but if it is sealed with blood, then what has been decreed will happen.' After this conversation Elijah, of blessed memory, forthwith went to Mordecai, as it is said, 'And Mordecai knew all that had happened,' and when he heard this, he rent his clothes, as it is said, 'And

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[paragraph continues] Mordecai rent his clothes.' Then said Mordecai before God, O Lord of the universe, Thou hast sworn to our forefathers to make their seed as numerous as the stars of the heavens, and now we are accounted for as sheep to be slaughtered. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants.'

(6) Then, gathering all the children of the school together, he afflicted them by depriving them of bread and water, and, clothing them in sackcloth, he placed them on ashes, so that they cried day and night, while the wicked Haman went to his house rejoicing, as it is written, 'And on that day Haman went home rejoicing, and with a merry heart, and calling his friends, said, "Thus and thus has Queen Esther done." And he told them of his greatness, adding, "But all this is not enough for me." And Zeresh, his wife, said to him to erect gallows for Mordecai, and it pleased him, and he erected a gallows. Cutting down a cedar from his garden, 50 cubits high and 15 cubits wide, he brought it out, and fixed it near his door, all the while singing praises and songs, and thinking in his heart that at the time of the reading of the 'Shema‘' he would hang Mordecai thereon. On the same day that he fixed it, it fell upon him; but Gabriel replaced it in its position, saying to him, 'To thee belongs this beautiful tree, and for thee was it established from the creation.'

(7) Haman then went out to seek Mordecai, and found him sitting at the head of the children, while they sat upon ashes girded with sackcloth, lamenting and crying. Having beaten them with chains of iron, he appointed keepers over them, saying, 'First shall these be slain, and afterwards I will hang Mordecai the Jew.' Their mothers then brought them bread and water, saying to them, 'Eat and drink, my children, before you die'; but they refused, and, swearing by the life of Mordecai, they placed their hands upon their books, and said, 'We shall not eat anything at all, but shall die in our fast.' (8) After rolling up his scroll, each one of them placed it at his heart, and when the hours of the night passed by their lamentation was heard on high,

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and the supplications of the patriarchs. The Holy One said, 'I hear the voices of kids and goats;' at which Moses replied, 'O Lord God of the universe, Father of the fatherless, and Judge of the widows, these are not kids and goats, but the young of Thy people of the house of Israel, who sit fasting now for three days and three nights, bound in chains of iron; but to-morrow they are to be slaughtered like kids and goats, while the heart of the enemy rejoiceth.' The mercy of God was then moved for them, so that He broke the seals, rent the decree, and frustrated the counsel of Haman and his plans, causing the salvation of Israel and Mordecai to spring forth, thus fulfilling what is written, 'I shall cut off the horns of the wicked; but the horns of the righteous shall be raised on high.'