When the two witnesses are killed, the people of the land rejoice by exchanging gifts (Revelation 11:10). In the first century, gift-giving was not Christmasy but Purimy. After Mordecai triumphed over Haman, Jews celebrated by sending gifts to the poor (Esther 9:20-22).

For the people of the land, the death of the witnesses is the defeat of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, the Agagite, the final Amalekite. For the people of the land, who are Jews, the two witnesses pose as great a threat to the future of Israel as Haman did. They’re not wrong, for if the two witnesses get their way, there will no longer be Jew or Greek, but only one new man.

As the story continues, it’s clear that the two witnesses are not Haman. With Haman, the Amalekites disappear from the Bible. But the two witnesses stay dead for only a few days and then, like Mordecai, are lifted up.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart