Haman Plots Against the Jews
3 After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.
In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”
Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.
Esther 3 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Every story and needs a villain and here we have a doozy of an individual.
Haman the Agagite serves the king. He’s also a very proud man. Custom had when officials were in your presence, walked by, whatnot, all people would bow down in respect. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, would not do so. Time and again as Haman passed, Mordecai stood. It became a burr under his vest. He would not be satisfied though with just taking Mordecai out. He would use this to wipe the Jews off the planet. His wounded pride would strike back hard.
This disdain was woven into the very fabric of the people. God had commanded Israel way back in their coming into the promised land to have nothing to do with Amalek (An Agagite was a descendant). This was after the Israelites fought the Amalekites in Exodus 17 in order to blot the memory of Amalek out. From then on, Jewish people steered clear of them and the Amalekites hated them deeply.
Cunning and prideful as he was, Haman had a sit down with the King. Telling half-truths, he laid out a picture of a people group who were in direct violation to the King. Strangely, he never mentioned they were Jews, which had never disrespected the King. It was only Haman that felt slighted. The King listened, gave his ring, which was used to seal proclamations and laws into effect, and draw up a day to rid his kingdom of these people. The king had no idea of who he was talking about as the story was vague and more than likely thought them to be revolutionaries.
But here was the problem. What was unknown up to this point was the very group Haman was out to destroy; the people who would be slaughtered in a day of barbaric murder would involve someone very close to the King. One whom he loved would now have a target on her back and that was none other than Queen Esther.
Wounded pride can take very dangerous turns. Many times based upon insecurities, one who is full of arrogance cannot fathom or will tolerate another who does not give what they believe they deserve. It’s a strange thing to consider how pride and insecurity run arm and arm. Both of these destructive emotional thoughts not only destroy others, but it also destroys the individual from the inside out.
As the plot thickens in this remarkable story, we have a front-row seat to the tactics of the enemy as he’s out to destroy God’s people. More on point, he uses those who are not of God, or sold out to Him in an attempt to remove their so-called enemy. As Haman was driven by his wounded pride, this is often the groundwork for a heart that turns and is used by the enemy. Half-truths are spoken. Individuals who are gripped in such a state become delusional and focused only on the destruction of the one who stood up to them to begin with. Often they begin to believe the lies they themselves made up. As with Haman, sometimes they will not stop until they’ve succeeded.
But even in the darkest of days, as was the case for the Jewish people after the decree went out and the city was thrown into confusion, God was still in control. Sometimes in the thick of such hatred and actions taken it’s hard to believe this, but it’s true. God still has the last say. And in His timing, He moves miraculously. Many times he uses such times to not only increase our own faith in Him through oppression but also reveals the individual’s heart. God’s sovereignty involved the exposure of who Haman was which was imperative. He does the same through our own circumstances as well.
We must be mindful that God uses all kinds of situations to bring glory to Himself. Even the most horrific ones where we find ourselves, He works deeply within our relationship to Him. One thing in all this remains: God is in control, not man.
Hold firm to these thoughts if you are in such a place. God will lead through the difficulty. He will renew our hearts daily to face what has come against us. He gives strength through the onslaught of hardship. Trust Him. Believe Him.
Esther 3 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Haman was a descendant of Agag, the mortal enemies of the Jews. So, of course, when Haman found out that Mordecai was a Jew it only compounded the issue at hand. Mordecai’s choice not to bow down to Haman was one thing, but his Jewish ancestry sealed the deal.
There are Haman’s everywhere today. Insecure and power-hungry, they need the validation of man to feel good about themselves and they will do whatever it takes to get it.
During my days of playing college basketball, our coach had a unique and severe type of punishment that he would often use on players at practice. Every time you made an error in a drill, you were told to go to center court and stand. The rest of the team had to line up on the baseline. He then preceded to make the entire team run… and run… and run. All you could do was watch. I will admit, watching my teammates run for something I did was brutal. It made no sense to me, but in his mind, he thought it would be motivating.
Haman takes a similar approach. Instead of just punishing Mordecai for his lack of bowing, he decided to kill off the entire Jewish race!
As horrible as this act sounds, we do see a miraculous glimmer of God’s grace in this chapter. Haman decides to cast lots to determine when he will execute this vicious plan.
Proverbs 16:33 GNB People cast lots to learn God’s will, but God himself determines the answer.
We don’t know all the options that were cast, but we do know the result. Haman’s massacre would not take place for another 11 months. This was God’s plan. This extended delay was known by God from the beginning! Sometimes when bad news strikes, we don’t even think along these lines. It could have potentially happened much sooner, but the Lord was working. Just like the Proverb says, He would determine the answer in the end.