A scene from the Old Testament Book of Esther. Haman, King Ahasuaerus’ duplicitous minister, wearing oriental dress and turban, leads Mordechai uncle of Queen Esther mounted on a magnificent horse and richly dressed, through the streets of Susa the capital of Babylonia. Mordechai had earned the enmity of Haman by refusing to bow down to him. In revenge Haman had arranged to have all the Jews throughout the empire murdered. The plot was discovered by Esther who invited Haman and the King to a banquet, where Esther revealed that Mordechai had foiled a plot on the King’s life. The King then asked Haman the famous question –
What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? 6:7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, 6:8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: 6:9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
6:10 Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
6:11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
Eventually Mordechai triumphed over his enemy, the Jews were saved from Haman’s machinations and Haman was hung on a gallows 50 cubits high that had originally been intended for Mordechai.
Eeckhout (1621-74) was a follower and imitator of Rembrandt, specialising in Jewish and biblical subjects. The painting of Haman and Mordecai was bought by the 3rd Earl of Bute for his collection at Luton Hoo.