ט וַיֹּאמֶר חַרְבוֹנָה אֶחָד מִן–הַסָּרִיסִים לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ גַּם הִנֵּה–הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר–עָשָׂה הָמָן לְמָרְדֳּכַי אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר–טוֹב עַל–הַמֶּלֶךְ עֹמֵד בְּבֵית הָמָן גָּבֹהַּ חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ תְּלֻהוּ עָלָיו
9. And Charvona, one of the eunuchs before the king, said, “Also, behold! Here is the tree that Haman made for Mordechai who said good regarding on the king. It is standing in Haman’s house fifty-cubit tall.” And the king said, “Hang him on it.”
- The Malbim, Vilna Gaon, and Yosef Lekach propose that Charvona was simply one of the chamberlains sent to fetch Haman to feast (Esther 6:14).
- According to the Talmud (Megillah 16a), Charvona was an evil ally of Haman’s, intent on killing Mordechai. Once he saw that the plan would not succeed, he surrendered. This fits with the verse (Iyov 27:22) that allies of the wicked “will surely flee.”
- The Dubno Maggid explains this with the following allegory: A blind beggar works with a young boy. One day, the boy stole the blind beggar’s wallet with 30 coins. When he saw the beggar crying pitiably, the boy returned the wallet saying, “I found the wallet with the 30 coins.” Instead of thanking the boy, the beggar began to beat the boy mercilessly for the theft. How did he know that the boy stole it? How else could the boy have known that there were 30 coins in the bag? Likewise, the Talmud knows that Charvona is evil because how else could he have known that the gallows were 50 amos tall if he were not in on the plot.
- The Ben Ish Chai points out that Charvona noticed that Haman lost the ability to defend himself, and this emboldened him to speak up.
- The Midrash (Esther Rabba 10:9) lists what many of the angels and other Heavenly Beings were doing during the climax of the Purim story. It says that Eliyahu appeared like Charvona, and said the words attributed to him in this verse.
- Another Midrash (Yalkut 1059) and the Ibn Ezra concur that Charvona is Eliyahu.
- The Alshich adds that another proof that Charvona is Eliyahu is that the verse describes him as “before the king,” and Eliyahu is certainly a minister of the King of kings.
- Interestingly, the song, “Shoshanas Yaakov,” sung on Purim after the public reading of Megillas Esther ends with the words, “v’gam Charvona zachur latov” (“and also Charvona should be remembered for good”). Charvona is the only person who shares the epithet, “zachur latov” with Eliyahu.
- When Charvona is mentioned earlier (Esther 1:10), he is the third in a list of the king’s chamberlains/eunichs. The M’nos HaLevi notes that the name is spelled with a letter aleph at the end there, and with a letter hey at the end here. He explains that when Charvona was on the side of evil, his name is spelled with an aleph. When he repents, and is Eliyahu, it is spelled with a hey.
- In an explanation, R’ Dovid Feinstein writes that this name ending with an aleph means destruction in Aramaic. With a hey, it is a composite of “charav boneh” (“destroy, build”). In the process of true repentance, he was rebuilding that which he had earlier wanted to destroy – namely, Mordechai.
- Rabbeinu Bachya, in his commentary on the Torah writes that he was called Charvona because he helped destroy Haman.
- The Chasam Sofer and R’ Dovid Feinstein both say that with an aleph, it is the gentile Aramaic; with a hey, it is Hebrew, so it is Jewish.