🔼The name Haman: Summary
- Unique, Magnificent, Illustrious
- Certainty, Trustworthy
- Noisy Bunch
- From Persian words meaning solitary, magnificent or illustrious.
- From the verb אמן ('aman), to affirm or support.
- From the verb המה (hama), to be noisy.
🔼The name Haman in the Bible
The name Haman is assigned to only one person in the Bible. Haman the Agagite, son of Hammedatha, is the notorious architect of the near destruction of the Jews during their exilic stay in Babylon (Esther 3:1). But queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai saved the day and the Jews, and Haman was executed on the gallows he had erected for Mordecai.
Haman's house was given to Mordecai and Haman's ten sons were publicly executed on Haman's gallows. What ever happened to Haman's wife Zeresh the story doesn't tell, but it's clear that her scheming days were over (Esther 5:14). The victory of the Jews over Haman and his cronies is still celebrated in the feast of Purim.
🔼Etymology of the name Haman
The true etymology of the name Haman is disputed. The Babylon expert P. Jensen says it has to do with the Elamitic deity Humban or Humman. Simonis derives it from a Persian word meaning to be alone, while Gesenius derives it from a Persian word homam, meaning magnificent, illustrious.
But although Haman's name was most likely Persian, transliterated into Hebrew it's spelled only slightly different from the name הימן (Heman), from the verb אמן ('aman) to affirm or support:
The verb אמן ('aman) means to affirm or support. The familiar adverb אמן ('amen), its lesser known feminine version אמנה ('omna) and the plural variant אמנם ('umnam) mean verily or truly.
Noun אמן ('omen) means faithfulness and noun אמנה ('amana) means faith or support. Noun אמן ('omman) denotes a skilled or "true" worker. Noun אמן ('emun) means trusting or faithfulness. Noun אמונה ('emuna) means firmness, steadfastness or fidelity. And noun אמנה ('omna) means a bringing up or nourishment.
And that's not even too tall an order. The name Mehuman belongs to one of the seven eunuchs of king Ahasuerus (Esther 1:10), and that name derives from the Aramaic version of the verb אמן ('aman).
Another word that is strikingly similar to the Hebrew spelling of Haman is המון (hamon), a noisy troop, from the verb המה (hama), to be noisy:
The masculine pronouns הם (hem) and המה (hemma) mean "they." The feminine versions are הנה (henna) and הן (hen). The singular versions (meaning he and she) are הוא (hu) and היא (hi).
The similar verb המה (hama) means to be noisy, and that particularly of a "them". The derived masculine noun המון (hamon) denotes a noisy multitude.
The verb נהה (naha) means to wail or lament, and is probably onomatopoeic, after the sound of crying. Nouns נהי (nehi), נהיה (nihya), ני (ni) and הי (hi) all describe forms of wailing.
The verb נהם (naham) describes a muffled groaning. Nouns נהם (naham) and נהמה (nehama) mean a growling.
The noun נאם (ne'um) describes a labored utterance of a prophet in trance. Denominative verb נאם (na'am), means to utter a prophetic utterance.
It's safe to say that the original meaning of the name Haman is lost. But to a Hebrew audience it may have meant Certainty, or it may have meant Multitude or Noise. At the Purim celebrations, Jews publicly read the book of Esther and every time the name Haman is about to be pronounced, people drown out the voice of the reader with shouts and noise-making toys.
Haman is typically one of those tyrannical morons who could say: "truth is what I say it is". His name appears to convey the same delusion that killed Korah (Numbers 16:1) and also brought the Roman republic to the brink of destruction, namely the idea that truth and law can be proclaimed at a will. For centuries, Rome had been a law-driven republic, governed by a college of 300 senators and a wide array of magistrates, and citizens could count on justice. When Pompey conquered Rome, he stripped the senate of its power and took control of the legal machine. After him came Julius Caesar, who had similar ideas, and his successor was Augustus, the first emperor, whose words were considered true while he spoke them. The people of the Roman Empire were no longer self-governing and were at the mercy of the whims of the emperor.
The death of Haman in the story of Esther appears to serve as the death of theological dictatorship in favor of the perpetual quest for truth (in its broadest sense and applications). The defiance of the Thought Police became the hallmark quality of Jews first (Esther 3:5, Daniel 3:12) and later Christians (Acts 5:29, Revelation 13:15), and has become somewhat of a ragged standard since the scientific revolution.