Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not the Templars, but the enemies of the Jews, arrested on the 13th day of the month.

- Bigger than Dan Brown!

Damien F. Mackey

For some, the origin of the 13th as being an unlucky day has arisen from a famous conspiracy in the Old Testament’s Book of Esther; for others it may have come about due to an incident in (presumably) modern European history about which very much has been written in recent times. In the first case, in the Book of Esther, it is the plot of the evil Haman and his co-conspirators to annihilate all the Jews in the 13th day of the month Adar (Esther 3:6-13). This is perhaps the first famous 13th day incident in history, that is if you believe that the story of Queen Esther is in fact history, rather than just a pious and edifying fiction. (On this, see our: But some historians regard the arrest of the leaders of the Knights Templar on the 13th day of October, 1307, as the reason why the 13th day is considered to be unlucky. Sharan Newman has considered the thirteenth in the context of the Templars in her brand new book, The Real History Behind the Templars (Penguin 2009, p. 249):
I have often heard that our superstition about Friday the thirteenth being an unlucky day stems from the arrest of the Templars. It’s very difficult to trace the origin of a folk belief. It does seem that the thirteenth was an unlucky number long before the Templars, and there are traditions that Friday is an unlucky day, perhaps stemming from Friday being the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. I haven’t been able to discover when the two beliefs were joined. It was certainly unlucky for Jacques [de Molay] and the rest of the Templars. In fact, Jacques’ world was shattered in the predawn hours of the next morning, Friday, October 13, when the Temple in Paris was invaded by agents of the king. “All the Templars that could be found in the kingdom of France were, all at once, in the same moment, seized and locked up in different prisons, after an order and decree of the king”.
[End of quote]

So which of these views, if either, is the correct one?

I would say both.

But how, both?
When reading Newman’s critical account of the famous Templar incident I was struck for the first time (even though I had read about this many times before) by the host of likenesses in the overall account of this gripping story with the details of the biblical Book of Esther.
The comparisons are amazing.
Just to take as a starting-point the brief account given above by Newman, we have here all of the basic elements that we find also in the plot of the Book of Esther, namely:
The leader of a group of supposed conspirators arrested without warning
at the behest of the king (not mentioned in the above account),
by “agents of the king”,
on the thirteenth day of a month,
with his fellow conspirators also seized “all at once”.
This action was followed by the execution of the leader and of all of his followers.
Both accounts are fascinating.
The Book of Esther is considered by some to be a well worked out piece of literature, with not too much in it by way of historical reality. And, there is again so much intrigue surrounding the Knights Templar - as nearly anyone living today would probably know, thanks to authors such as Dan Brown - that it is often hard to separate what is fact about them from what is fiction. Books continue to be churned out on this most fascinating of subjects. The logistics of the arrest of these formidable knights, on the 13th day, “in the same moment”, for instance, can almost beggar belief. And for what reason? There is no unanimity at all about the why’s and the wherefore’s of it. It is all a bit bizarre, something like the cruel execution of the old and amiable Socrates.
In various of my now many historical reconstructions (some might call them historical deconstructions), dedicated to Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, and Lord of all history, I have argued that some key Old Testament personages and events have, strangely, been sucked into the Black Hole of so-called ‘Dark Ages’ history (600-900 AD), where they have been re-cast - given a modern colouring (names, geography). The supposed incident of king Philip the IV’s capture of the chief Templars, on that fateful 13th day of October 1307, is of course outside that timescale. However, thanks to Newman’s critical account of it, I have been suddenly struck by the host of likenesses in the overall account of it with the Book of Esther, with which I am well familiar.
Though this event, as just said, falls a bit outside the ‘Dark Ages’ period, it, too, seems to be largely fictional. I am not going to go so far as to deny the historical existence of the main players in the drama, but I am going to make bold as to insist that many of the dramatic events in this terrible tale are completely fictitious as to AD time, though they did actually occur (with different names and geography, of course) back in about the C6th BC, in an equally terrifying conspiracy of biblical proportions: the story of Queen Esther.
It will be the purpose of this article to unravel the modern tale by showing how it, in its basic elements, finds its real place in the Book of Esther.
An Important Note About the Characters Involved
As was the case in my article, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Myths” ( - in which I had argued that the biblical books of Tobit and Job underlie much of Homer’s Odyssey - I had noted that what certain characters might have done or said in the original (biblical) versions, can be, in the case of the copycat version, transferred to another character: “I need to point out that it sometimes happens that incidents attributed to the son, in the Book of Tobit, might, in The Odyssey, be attributed to the son's father, or vice versa (or even be attributed to some less important character). The same sort of mix occurs with the female characters”, so now do I say the same thing again in the case of the Book of Esther as absorbed into the presumed C14th AD scenario.
So who are the main players in the supposed C14th incident involving the Knights Templar, who I believe find their basis in the Book of Esther?
Most obviously, to begin with, there is the king.
The King
King Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther and King Philip IV le Bel (“the Fair”) in the C14th. Both can be competent, but they are also flawed. Both are keen on money. Both have a tendency towards gullibility - being “duped and taken advantage of by his entourage” is a description of King Philip that we shall encounter below - he being prepared to leave important affairs in the hands of his trusted officials. Philip IV’s supposed contemporary, Bernard Saisset, certainly thought that Philip le Bel was all show and no substance. Thus Newman (p. 241):
One comment that Saisset made became famous throughout Europe. “Our king resembles an owl, the fairest of birds but worthless. He is the handsomest man in the world, but he only knows how to look at people unblinkingly, without speaking”.
And similarly, p. 244:
Historians have disagreed as to how much Philip was the instigator of the deeds attributed to him. ….
Another contemporary said, “Our king is an apathetic man, a falcon. While the Flemings acted, he passed his time in hunting …. He is a child; he does not see that he is being duped and taken advantage of by his entourage” ….
This last aspect of the king’s make up is certainly apparent at least in his counterpart in the Book of Esther, king Ahasuerus (of whom we do not have a physical description). King Ahasuerus, after he had been duped by Haman and his fellow conspirators, seems then to have come to his senses, to have matured. Thus he decrees with the wisdom of hindsight (Esther 16:8-9): “In the future we will take care to render our kingdom quiet and peaceable for all, by changing our methods and always judging what comes before our eyes with more equitable consideration”.
Still, Ahasuerus must have been basically a most competent king to have been able to rule over so massive an empire (127 provinces, Esther 1:1). It is only to be expected that he would have had to delegate responsibilities to his ministers. He had an active and close-knit bureaucracy (Esther 12:10: 1:13, 14; 2:14; 3:12; 4:6; 7:9) and he kept close about him “sages who knew the laws (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and custom” (1:13). He had also a most efficient courier and postal service (3:13; 8:1; 12:22). Newman has made some favourable comments on King Philip as an administrator (p. 245): “From looking at the records, I’m inclined to think he was smarter than people thought and not just a puppet …”.
Another of the significant changes in King Philip’s reign is his reliance on lawyers to maintain the workings of the state. Unlike his ancestors, Philip’s advisers were not relatives or knights who owed him military service, but legal administrators. “The strongest, most highly developed … branch of the government was the judicial system” …. Philip was a master at using this system to give legal justification for all his actions, including annexing the land of other countries, bringing down a pope, expelling the Jews, and, of course, destroying the Templars.
His legacy is still being disputed. In many ways he strengthened the French government …. He established a weblike bureaucracy that, as far as I can tell, still survives.
Essentially this is all perfectly apt for king Ahasuerus as well. Did he not, for instance, employ his legal team to determine the case of his first wife, Queen Vashti, whom he subsequently dismissed on their advice (Esther 12:12-21)? – thereby paving the way for the young Esther. He also greatly strengthened his kingdom, adding further tribute to his treasuries (Esther 10:1-2): “King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea [presumably Greece]. All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?”
The Wicked Conspirator
In the Book of Esther the chief conspirator is of course Haman himself, who, as we have read, conspires to massacre all the Jews. Haman is the archetypal secret Masonic or Illuminati type of conspirator, bent on world domination. Now Jacques de Molay, because of the ambiguity (good and bad) associated with him, also partly fills the role of Haman, as the wicked conspirator, but partly, too, he emerges as the righteous persecuted party. Newman tells as follows of this most enigmatic Jacques de Molay (p. 227):
Jacques de Molay, the final Grand Master of the Templars, has become a figure of legend. To some he was a martyr, to others a heretic. He was either the victim of a plot or justly punished for the crimes of the order. Plays have been written about him. A Masonic youth group is named after him. Was he the last master of a secret society? Was he a heretic who denied the divinity of Christ? Or was he just a devout soldier caught up in the snares of the king of France, a relic of a dying world?
Who was this man who presided over the Templars in their last days?
Similarly Guillaume de Nogaret, the king’s adviser and henchman, can on the one hand represent the wicked Haman in the C14th saga, whilst, on the other hand, he can appear to be the hero, or righteous adviser, like Mordecai, who got rid of a most pernicious influence (Haman/fallen Templars). It is de Nogaret who apparently organises the 13th day capture of the Templars.
For some, though de Nogaret definitely had an evil (Haman-like) reputation. Thus Newman (pp. 244-245):
[King Philip’s] close adviser Guillaume de Nogaret has been blamed for every evil thing Philip did, especially regarding Pope Boniface and the Temple. It’s possible that Philip was easily duped. It’s also possible that Philip, like many people, preferred to make a good impression on the public and let underlings take the heat. He might have been a Teflon king.
…. I’m sure the matter will continue to be debated for years.
“[Nogaret] also earned the enmity of a much better writer than he”, Newman goes on to tell (p. 274). “In the Divine Comedy Dante compared Nogaret to Pontius Pilate …”.
This particular Guillaume may very well merge in the story of the Templars with Guillaume de Paris, the Inquisitor General of Paris, whose directions King Philip was, as we shall read below, inclined to follow.
The Persecuted Jews
Persecuted Jews are a common factor in both ‘histories’, the biblical and the C14th. Newman considers the Jews in our context in a section, “Philip and the Jews”, pp. 243-244:
Money still being a problem, Philip’s next target was the Jewish population … they were already set apart from the rest of the population and could be more easily targeted. They were not numerous and concentrated mostly in the major cities. Jews were also considered a separate society ….
By 1306 … Philip began looking for a new source of cash. In the Jews he suddenly noticed a section of the population that had a good deal of disposable income and who wouldn’t be missed at all.
…. Philip made a plan to expel the Jews and take their property. His excuse was that they were known usurers who gouged honest Christians with exorbitant interest ….
Actually it was Haman who had prompted the king about the Jews in the kingdom, owing to the fact that the Jew, Mordecai, had refused to do obeisance to Haman, despite the king’s directives. In the following account, Haman, after having cast lots and having determined on the 13th as the most propitious day, then tells king Ahasuerus about these unco-operative Jews in his kingdom. It is Haman, too, who adds the money element to it. The singularity of the Jews is again here, as in the case of Philip IV, a major issue (Esther 3:8-9):
‘There is a certain people scattered and separated among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not appropriate for the king to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, so that they may put it into the king’s treasuries’.
Apparently the Templars were also amongst the beneficiaries of the Jewish purge (Newman, p. 244): “Evidence that the Templars weren’t expecting to be put among the outsiders was the fact they bought the synagogue complex in Belvèze either from the fleeing Jews or from the king. The complex was walled and had a moat, perfect to the needs of the Templars …”.
That King Philip IV was interested in money and pomp is apparent from any written account of him. And these identical factors also seem to be well to the fore in the Book of Esther in regard to king Ahasuerus. Thus he, in a great banquet, “displayed the great wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and pomp of his majesty for many days, one hundred eighty days in all” (Esther 1:4). Just as Haman had provided big money for the king’s treasury, “so that the king would not suffer any loss”, so presumably had “the treasurer of the Templars [given] Philip a loan of 200,000 florins … enormous loan …” (Newman, p. 231). Around 1297, the king had collected another sum from the Templars (p. 230): “… King Philip had borrowed 2,500 livres from the Temple”.
Haman seemed to know the empire better than did the king, as he has to tell the king of the geography of the Jews. The Jews were largely at this time in the ‘Babylonian Captivity’, due to the destruction of their city and Temple by king Nebuchednezzar II. And indeed we read that there was also a ‘Babylonian Captivity’ of Temple Knights as late as 1302, but by the Saracens, supposedly, not by the Chaldeans (Newman p. 230): “… the brethren of the Temple were dishonourably conducted to Babylon…”.
Likewise, Jacques de Molay well knew the kingdom of his king and beyond it, due to his vast travels (ibid.): “The next two years [1294-1295] were spent in a tireless crisscross of the countries in which the Templars were most invested: France, Provence, Burgundy, Spain, Italy, and England”.
The Band of Conspirators and/or the Persecuted
The enigmatic Knights Templar are at once - because of the mystery surrounding them - the dark conspirators, Haman’s allies, of the Book of Esther, but they are also the ones who, like the persecuted in the Book of Esther, are marked out for a 13th day annihilation. The “rival operation” (as discussed in our Five First Saturdays book, with its many references to the Book of Esther, at:, that complete bouleversement in the plot of the Book of Esther, with the persecuted suddenly becoming the persecutors, is what has apparently caused so much of the confusion.
The tension between the two warring sides, symbolised in “Mordecai’s Dream” by the “two great dragons” (Esther 11:2-12), is picked up in the Templar story, as we shall see, in the frequent rivalry and competition between the Knights Templar and the Hospitallers, who outlast them. “The Templars and Hospitallers are often seen as rivals, even enemies”, writes Newman (p. 157). And (p. 159): “The main issues that divided the two orders were political. Although in theory they were supposed to be outside of local squabbles, in reality it was impossible not to get pulled into them”. On one occasion, in a dispute over property, “the Hospitallers supported the Genoese and the Templars the Venetians. This more than once led to blows between the knights”.
Does this all symbolically recall the great political division between the Persians and the ‘Macedonians’ in the Book of Esther?
Comparing the Book of Esther with
the Fall of the Knights Templar
127 Reasons to Compare the Book of Esther and the Downfall of the Templars
King Ahasuerus is introduced into the Book of Esther as the ruler of a vast empire (1:1): “This happened in the days of Ahasuerus, the same Ahasueurus who ruled over one hundred twenty-seven [127] provinces from India to Ethiopia”. Whilst the extent of the territory ruled by the king of France could by no means compare with that, what we have here in the Book of Esther is a second figure (apart from the number 13) that re-occurs in the Templar saga. I refer to the number 127. It is the number of provinces in the king’s empire. It is also, as Newman has noted, the number of charges issued against the Templars (p. 265): “In the next few months [after the first questioning of de Molay on October 24, 1307], the list of accusations grew to 127”.
The Mysterious Haman
Haman has been a person most difficult to identify historically, but even to understand properly within the context of the Book of Esther.
Who was he, and from whence did he arise?
Even his nationality seems to vary from text to text: ‘Bougaean’, ‘Agagite’, ‘Macedonian’.
We have seen above similar questions asked about de Molay’s origins, whose birthplace too, apparently, is by no means certain. Thus Newman (p. 228):
The place of [de Molay’s] birth is not certain, either. He seems to have been from a village in Burgundy, but there are several there named Molay. His biographer, Alain Demurger, has narrowed it down to two towns …. But one can’t be certain about even that.
…. Jacques’ family and early life are a complete mystery. We don’t know why he decided to join the Templars. There isn’t a mention of him in any surviving Templar documents that might tell us what he did before he was elected Grand Master. It seems ironic that the most famous of the Templar Grand Masters is also the one we have the least information on.
Ironic indeed!
Newman has dedicated her Chapter Thirty-Two to a character whom she says has been “considered the most sinister”, Guillaume de Nogaret. She begins (p. 272):
Of all the people involved in the arrest and trials of the Templars, Guillaume de Nogaret has been considered the most sinister, the man who was the mastermind behind everything that happened. This servant of the king had cut his teeth on the stage with Pope Boniface VIII in 1303 and was ready once again to prove himself to his master, King Philip IV, by destroying the Templars as well. Many have considered him the evil genius behind the trial of the Templars as well as the campaign against Boniface.
Who was this man? Was he pulling the strings to make King Philip dance to his tune or was it Guillaume who was the puppet, taking the fall for the king?
What a marvellous description - this could also be of the rise and fall of Haman!
The name “Nogaret” is, according to Newman (ibid.), “not the name of a place but is a variation on the Occitan word nogarède, or “walnut grower” …. Interestingly, the Jews, on the Feast of Purim – the feast that grew from the Jewish victory over Haman (Esther 10:13; 11:1) – eat what they call “Haman’s ears” (Oznei Haman); a special triangular pastry whose ingredients include chopped up walnuts.
Nogaret’s rise to power had been rapid, just as Haman’s was (Esther 3:1-2):
… King Ahasuerus promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did obeisance to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him ….
Newman (pp. 273-274):
Sometime around 1296, Nogaret received a call from Paris. He’d made the big time, legal counsel to the king! …. Over the next few years he successfully handled several negotiations for Philip. In 1299, he was rewarded by being promoted to the nobility. After that, he was entitled to call himself “knight” …
Nogaret seems to have been Philip’s main counselor during the king’s battle with Pope Boniface. ….
In Philip’s confrontation with the pope, Nogaret was apparently the guiding hand and also the one who physically led the attack on the pope in his retreat at Anagni in 1303. ….
In [his use of the media], Nogaret was a master. According to Nogaret’s defense of the king’s actions, Boniface was a heretic, idolater, murderer, and sodomite. He also practised usury, bribed his way into his position, and made trouble wherever he went. …. These charges were never proved but they convinced many. They also gave Guillaume de Nogaret good material for his diatribe against the Templars four years later.
Similarly, Haman had earlier dubious ‘form’. He had actually been secretly plotting, via the agency of “two eunuchs of the king”, against king Ahasuerus himself (Esther 12:1-6). Haman had obviously covetted the first place in the empire right from the start. The plot was foiled by Mordecai, who then became the object of Haman’s wrath. But Haman was proud. “… he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:6).
As noted earlier, Guillaume de Nogaret may also be merged with Guillaume of Paris, at whose instigation King Philip claimed to have sent out his secret orders for the arrest of the Templars on that fateful 13th day. Newman (p. 249):
Philip winds up by telling his officials that he is only taking this drastic step at the request of the Inquisitor General in Paris, and with the permission of the pope, because the Templars pose a clear and present danger to all the people of Christendom.
…. Guillaume de Paris, the Inquisitor, was also Philip’s private confessor.
This is exactly the same scenario as in the case of Haman’s plot. The king is, in this instance at least, passive. And, for Ahasuerus, it is owing to the advice of the “counselors”, as he said, with “Hamanin charge of affairs”, that the king had proposed to annihilate the Jews (Esther 13:3-7):
When I asked my counselors how this might be accomplished, Haman - who excels among us in sound judgment, and is distinguished for his unchanging goodwill and steadfast fidelity, and has attained the second place in the kingdom - pointed out to us that among all the nations in the world there is scattered a certain hostile people, who have laws contrary to those of every nation and continually disregard the ordinances of kings, so that the unifying of the kingdom that we honourably intend cannot be brought about. We understand that this people, and it alone, stands constantly in opposition to every nation, perversely following a strange manner of life and laws, and is ill-disposed to our government, doing all the harm they can so that our kingdom may not attain stability.
Therefore we have decreed that those indicated to you in the letters written by Haman, who is in charge of affairs and is our second father, shall all – wives and children included – be utterly destroyed by the swords of their enemies, without pity or restraint, on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar, of this present year, so that those who have long been hostile and remain so may in a single day go down in violence to Hades, and leave our government completely secure and untroubled hereafter.
The Counter Plots
In the Book of Esther the original plot is the secret covenant of Haman and his allies to annihilate the Jews. The conspirators then cleverly, through deceit, manage to gain the king’s co-operation in their evil plan. Eventually, of course, all that is turned around, thanks to Queen Esther, prompted by Mordecai, leading to the exposure of the conspiracy to the king and the death of the conspirators. In the Templar tale, the Templars are both the secret schemers, supposedly (thus reflecting one aspect of the Esther story), but they are also the victims of the king’s wrath (thus reflecting another aspect of it).
The motivation for the destruction of the Jews in the story of Esther is basically Haman’s pride and ambition, hurt by the refusal of Mordecai to bow down before him as the king had commanded all the officials to do (Esther 3:2). Lots (“Pur”) were cast before Haman to determine the most propitious day for the destruction of the Jews (3:7). According to Queen Esther, in her prayer to God: “…[the conspirators] have covenanted with their idols to abolish what [God’s] mouth has ordained … to open the mouths of nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify forever a mortal king”. In this, including also Haman’s accusation above that “this people, and it alone, stands constantly in opposition to every nation, perversely following a strange manner of life and laws, and is ill-disposed to our government”, I think we have the very foundation of the charges against the secretive Templars for idolatry, singularity and their bowing down.
The secretive Haman and his fellow conspirators were certainly practising idolatry - they were up to no good. But the charge of secrecy against the Templars may be a bit odd, as this was typical of religious orders. Newman explains it (p. 269):
On the accusation that the Templars met at night, and in secret, that’s one of those no-win situations. They sometimes met at night after reciting the predawn prayers called matins. According to the rule, they were first to check up on their horses and gear and then could go to bed. But this was also a convenient time for holding chapter meetings. The meetings were held in secret in the sense that what happened in them was not to be discussed with outsiders.
The odd thing about the charge is that most religious orders had closed meetings. The purpose of the chapter was to discuss faults and problems. These weren’t things they wanted the public at large to know about. I don’t know why no Templars bothered to mention this ….
{Because it didn’t actually happen}.
What is most sinister and Mason-like in the case of Haman and company, turns out to be perfectly normal, however, in the context of a religious order such as the Templars. “Why did Philip decide that the Templars would be his next target?” Newman asks next (p. 248):
It’s not really clear, even with the mass of material his counsellors wrote to justify his actions. If we take these documents at face value, the pious king had recently been horrified to learn that the Templars were not as they seemed. Instead of being the pillars of Christendom, a bulwark against the heathen, they had really renounced Christ and were working actively against Him and, by extension, against the most Christian king of France and, oh yes, the papacy.
One month before the arrest, on September 14, 1307, Philip sent secret orders to his officials throughout the land. His words leave no doubt of his shock and horror at what he was asking them to do.
Compare this with Haman’s accusations against the Jews. But most especially also, later, king Ahasuerus’ realisation in his decree of what Haman was really all about, which could almost be a manifesto of what the Templars were supposed to have degenerated to (Esther 16:2-7):
Many people, the more they are honoured with the most generous kindness of their benefactors, the more proud do they become, and not only seek to injure our subjects, but in their inability to stand prosperity, they even undertake to scheme against their own benefactors. They not only take away thankfulness from others, but, carried away by the boasts of those who know nothing of goodness, they even assume that they will escape the evil-hating justice of God, who always sees everything. And often many of those who are set in places of authority have been made in part responsible for the shedding of innocent blood, and have been involved in irremediable calamities, by the persuasion of friends who have been entrusted with the administration of public affairs, when these persons by the false trickery of their evil natures beguile the sincere goodwill of their sovereigns. What has been wickedly accomplished through the pestilent behavior of those who exercise authority unworthily can be seen, not so much from the more ancient records that we hand on, as from investigation to matters close at hand.
This situation explains the genuine shock of the (less than historically genuine, as according to the Templar story, at least) much less grand and eloquent king of France (Newman, p. 248):
“A bitter thing, a doleful thing, a thing horrible to contemplate, terrible to hear, a detestable crime, an execrable pollution, an abominable act, a shocking infamy, something completely inhuman, even more, outside of all humanity”.!!!
The men who received this must have been quaking in their boots as they read, not knowing what monster was about to be unleashed. Philip’s orders continue in this way for a full page before he lets on that the perpetrators of this evil are, gasp, the Templars! “Wolves in sheep’s clothing, under the habit of their order, they insult the faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for the salvation of mankind, is crucified again in our time …”.
Likewise, the more composed king Ahasuerus, does not immediately name to whom he is referring. For, so far from what has been quoted above of his decree, the public would not have known about whom he was actually talking. But now, after his statement about his intending to be more prudent in the future (v. 8), Ahasuerus does name the chief culprit in this most damning statement (vv. 10-14):
For Haman son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian (really an alien to the Persian blood, and quite devoid of our kindliness), having become our guest, enjoyed so fully the goodwill that we have for every nation that he was called our father and was continually bowed down to by all as the person second to the royal throne. But, unable to restrain his arrogance, he undertook to relieve us of our kingdom and our life, and with intricate craft and deceit asked for the destruction of Mordecai, our saviour and personal benefactor, and of Esther, the blameless partner of our kingdom, together with their whole nation. He thought that by these methods he would catch us undefended and would transfer the kingdom of the Persians to the Macedonians.
Now, this is a reason for a king’s anger!
King Philip’s letter was written on a 14th day, a figure that also appears in Haman’s decree for the slaughter of the Jews, “on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month” (Esther 13: 6). Just as king Ahasuerus had commanded, through Haman’s design, the destruction of all the Jews (vv. 6-7), so King Philip, likewise (Newman, p. 249):
… commands his men to arrest all the Templars in their jurisdiction and hold them. The officials are also to seize all their goods, both buildings and property, and hold them for the king (ad manum nostrum – “for our hand”), without using or destroying anything. Because, of course, if it should turn out that the Templars were innocent, everything ought to be returned to them just as they left it ….
To which Newman adds (in footnote 8): “If you believe this, I have some land in Atlantis I’d like to sell you”.
Greed, the procuring of the victims’ goods and property, was also a motivating factor in Haman’s cruel decree (Esther 3:13): “Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods”. The “king’s provinces” here takes the place of “their jurisdiction” in the case of King Philip’s “men”.
It is noticeable that the Jews who were victorious on the 13th day of the month, killing all their enemies, “laid no hands on the plunder”. Did Ahasuerus also decree in his case the equivalent of Philip’s ad manum nostrum? On the day of Haman’s death, Queen Esther had been given by the king “the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews”. Then the king took off the signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman” (8:1-2).
And, in the case of King Philip:
“It was rumoured that Philip even spent the night of October 13, 1307 at the Temple so that he could be the first to start counting the loot after the arrests. It’s a nice image”, writes Newman (p. 208), “but there is no evidence”. She is more definite that: “After the fall of the Templars, the Templar enclosure was taken over by the crown for a time before it was finally turned over to the Hospitallers”.
Again it is the same parallel scenario.
The king (Ahasuerus) has a sleepless night (the night before Haman’s arrest). (Esther 6:1). After the arrest, he takes over Haman’s possessions, holds them for a while, but then hands them over to Queen Esther (whose vindicated party “the Hospitallers” sometimes, as we have found, seem to represent).
Queen Esther
Does the regal person after whom the Book of Esther is named figure anywhere, in any shape or form, in our reconstructed history?
Not obviously. There is no queen of King Philip who appears able to match the status of Queen Esther by any stretch of the imagination. His wife, we are told, was “Jeanne, heiress of Navarre and Champagne” (Newman (p. 239).
A far more significant queen is Queen Melisande, from about a century earlier, presumably, who might be a faint reflection of Queen Esther. Newman has considered her important enough to have dedicated an entire chapter (Ten) to her, as “Melisande, Queen of Jerusalem”. There is perhaps an incident in the Book of Esther, known as “Esther’s banquet” (5:1-14; 7:1-10), where there may be something of a partly parallel situation of Melisande with Esther. Queen Esther is preparing to lure Haman into a snare for his destruction at a dinner attended by the king. According to the story, Queen Esther, previously, had bravely gone before the king to request that he and Haman attend a banquet that she had prepared for them (Esther 15). She had won over the king, who had then promised that he would fulfil whatever she might request, “even to the half of my kingdom” (5:1). Her only request at the first banquet would be for a repeat of it on the second day, “let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them and then I will do as the king has said” (v. 8). A crucial section now follows that just may have some resonances in the Templar story, but not yet with Queen Melisande (vv. 9-14):
Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home. Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honoured him, and how he had advanced Haman over the officials and the ministers of the king. Haman added, “Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate”.
In the Templar story, it is Jacques de Molay who is supposedly feeling secure, blissfully unaware of the trap into which he is about to plunge headlong. Of course he did not have a wife and many sons, as in the case of Haman. That part of the story may pertain to de Molay’s sometime ‘double’, de Nogaret who “had a wife Beatrix, and three children, Raymond, Guillaume and Guillemette …” (Newman p. 235). Nor was it a banquet that de Molay had attended on his last day, supposedly, but a funeral. Newman tells of it (p. 249):
On Thursday, October 12, 1307, Jacques de Molay attended the funeral of Catherine de Courtenay, the wife of Charles de Valois …. He was given a place of honor and even held one of the cords of the pall …. That night, he must have gone to bed feeling sure of his place in court society.
The “funeral” aspect of this story may have arisen from how it all develops, with the sleepless king finally recalling what Mordecai had done for him, and deciding to honour him. This all happens just prior to the second banquet (Esther 6:1-11). Certainly Haman is suddenly reduced from his high pitch of arrogance to a flat state of mourning: “… but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered”. It sounds like a funeral alright! His wife then predicts her husband’s complete fall before Mordecai the Jew (v. 13).
It is during the second banquet, to which Haman is now whisked off (v. 14), that there occurs an incident with the queen that the already angry king views in the worst possible light. The terrified Haman (once Queen Esther has exposed him before the king as a mortal enemy) throws himself on the couch where Esther was reclining to beg his life from her. The king had just risen from the feast in wrath and gone into the palace garden (7:5-7). “When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall … the king said “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?””.
Now this serious story may have its slight resonance in the following account that Newman gives about Queen Melisande at a banquet, where it is the queen herself who is up to mischief (p. 59):
William of Tyre relates with great relish a story of how the queen was having an affair with her cousin, Hugh of Le Puiset ….The tale says that, one day at a dinner, one of Hugh’s stepsons accused him of being Melisande’s lover and plotting to kill the king. The young man challenged Hugh to prove his innocence in combat. When the day came, Hugh was nowhere to be found. He was judged guilty and his lands forfeit.
The accuser of the rebel in the Book of Esther is the king’s eunuch, Harbona. The ‘guilty’ man who has “his lands forfeit” is Haman. But the queen is not an active partner in any sort of affair with this guilty man, who had indeed harboured an ambition “to kill the king”. (And, when transferred to de Molay, the guilty man’s death is not by fire, but on the gallows). Thus Esther (7:9-10):
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high”. And the king said, “Hang him on that”. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Similarly King Philip makes his decision on the fate of de Molay in relation to his own palace garden (Newman p. 236):
King Philip was at his palace nearby and was immediately informed of the stand taken by Jacques and Geoffrey de Charney. The king had had enough. The chronicler, Guillaume de Nangis, says, “Without telling the clergy, by a prudent decision, that evening, he [the king] delivered the two Templars to the flames on a little island in the Seine, between the royal garden and the church of the Hermit brothers ….
King Ahasuerus had permitted Queen Esther to ask even for half of his kingdom. He subsequently gave her all of the deceased Haman’s property. In the Templar story it all goes one better – but most unbelievably. A whole kingdom is actually given to the Templars and the Hospitallers, as Newman tells (p. 157):
Many donation charters gave property equally to the Templars and Hospitallers. The most astonishing of these is that of Alfonso I, king of Aragon and Navarre, made in 1131 in which he left his entire kingdom to the Templars, Hospitallers, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ….
Dan Brown could never have guessed that the ancient Book of Esther, an inspired book of the Holy Scriptures, may contain all the secrets of the Knights Templar and may be the very key to unlocking their many mysteries.
Feast of Christ the King

No comments:

Post a Comment