Narcissist Case Studies – Haman

Haman – Xerxes’ Viceroy

Haman was an Amalekite who became viceroy in the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus’ (Xerxes I) after an assassination plot on the king was foiled (Esther 3:1). He was most likely a narcissist with insolent pride, which we will see shortly. Let’s look at his case study in the order that book of Esther tells it:

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All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage……When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage.  Esther 3:1-5

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Even though Haman had achieved “everything”, he was still obsessed with the one thing he didn’t have – Mordecai’s acknowledgement of his “glory”. So, Haman resolved to destroy Mordecai.

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But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. Esther 3:6

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Haman determined that to destroy Mordecai, he could also target Mordecai’s entire people throughout the kingdom . Haman manipulated Ahasuerus into allowing him to wipe out the entire Jewish population under Ahasuerus’ name (using the king’s signet ring).

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……..Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.”
Esther 3:5-11

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By suggesting that the Jews “do not observe the king’s laws”, Haman deceived Ahasuerus by appearing to act in the king’s best interest. To seal the deal, he appealed to the king’s greed by offering a bribe. Haman could avoid the appearance of petty vengeance on Mordecai by making this a “grand cause of the king”.

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However, even though Haman already had a plan in place to destroy Mordecai, he still could not stand it any time Mordecai did not pay homage to him. Haman in his arrogance could not bear that not everyone bowed. This is a typical narcissist trait – they are not satisfied until literally everyone around them acknowledges their superiority.

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…..but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate and that he did not stand up or tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.  Esther 5:9-13

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While we saw clues earlier in the story, this is the first time we scope of Haman’s haughtiness. His means to comfort himself over Mordecai’s slight was to tell his wife and friends about the glory of his riches, number of sons, and honor from the king.

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Haman controlled himself, however, went to his house and sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh. Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”  Esther 5:9-13

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However, even that was not enough. Haman’s obsession with one perceived slight dominated his heart and mind. It does not matter how much praise a narcissist receives, they will focus on the slight. A heaping of success and praise does not counterbalance the slight. They want it ALL. Most is not enough.
Even more evidence of Haman’s haughtiness came when the king asked for suggestions on how to reward Mordecai for saving his life. Haman – without knowing who the king wanted to honor – arrogantly assumed it must be him.

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So Haman came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?” Then Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king desires to honor, let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed; and let the robe and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble princes and let them array the man whom the king desires to honor and lead him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.’”
Esther 6:1-12

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In his pride Haman immediately, and mistakenly, assumed that he was the most deserving of the king’s honor. His designed advice for the king that would raise his public image to the same level as the king – wearing the king’s robe, riding the king’s horse, and having someone go in front proclaiming the greatness of the man being exalted. This is what the original narcissist Satan attempted – to be exalted to the same level as his king, God.

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In the process of targeting the Jews, Haman gravely miscalculated. His pride made him feel secure enough in his position that he believed that he could further his agenda with impunity. He was blind to the fact that there was still someone in authority over them who could judge him for wrong doing.

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.  This is a small except from the book “The First Will Be Last:  A Biblical Perspective On Narcissism”

.  Please see “Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective” for an overview of what this blog is about