OK, that headline was just to grab your attention. I have no way of proving the Cup belonged to Haman from the Purim story in Megillath Esther (or from my 4th grade’s modern adaptation of the biblical story), but one does wonder (or is it that one’s imagination does wander?)…..
Anyway, CNN.com reported yesterday that John Webber, the grandson of a British junk dealer by the name of William Sparks (Webber himself is now in his 70s), decided when he moved last year, to take a closer look at the oddly designed “bronze or brass” cup that his grandfather had acquired “some time in the 1930s or 1940s” and had given to him before his death some years ago.
To Webber’s surprise, the cup was not made of bronze or brass, but was in fact fashioned out of gold. It features the double-face of the ancient Roman god Janus, who was said to look both to the future and to the past. It has two faces, on opposite sides of the cup, and dates back to the third or fourth century BCE, near the end of the Archaemenid, or Achaemenid, dynasty in the Persian Empire, which then spanned from the borders of modern Pakistan and India through Asia Minor, the Black Sea, much of the modern Middle East, including Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, much of Egypt, and up to Lybia. Or, as TaNa”Kh tells us, “from Hodu until Kush”.
This was the period under which the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians and spread a philosophy of religious freedom, in order to unite all of the new segments of the Empire and prevent rebellion (they also engaged in ethnic-cleansing tactics like population relocation, but I digress). It is also the period during which, according to Jewish tradition, the wicked Haman plotted genocide against the Jews, but was defeated by subtle miracles, and shortly thereafter the Jews returned to Zion under the great leadership of ‘Ezra and Nehemiah, and the good graces of King Cyrus. According to secular historians, at least, it is the period when the Israelites, who had been dispersed by the Babylonians, were allowed to return to their land and rebuild their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, under the good graces of King Cyrus II, the Great, whose philosophy of uniting the Empire was to allow self-rule in certain regions and religious freedom for his subjects.
Well, this cup has the face(s) of an ancient idol on it. It’s made of gold, indicating that it was owned by a rather wealthy person, and it dates back to the Archaemenid Dynasty. It may not have belonged to Haman, but don’tcha just wonder what-if?
Oh, incidendtally, Mr. Webber successfully auctioned the cup through Duke’s Auction House in Dorchester, England, for $100,000. He is also selling two other items from his grandfather’s collection, a gold spoon with the engraved image of a Roman emperor, and a “round gold mount with a figure, probably of ancient Greek hero Ajax, who besieged Troy,” which dates from the second century BCE.