AHASUERUS RECEIVING ESTHER FAVOURABLY, SHE INVITES
HIM AND HAMAN TO A BANQUET. ALLOWED TO ASK
WHATEVER BOON SHE LIKES, SHE INVITES THEM BOTH TO A
SECOND BANQUET (vs. 1-8). Esther, we must suppose, kept
her fast religiously for the time that she had specified (ch.4:16), and
then, “on the third day,” made her venture. It has been asked, Why did she
not request an audience, which any subject might do, and then prefer her
request to the king? But this would probably have been wholly contrary to
Persian custom; and to do such a thing may not even have occurred to her
as a possible course. Set audiences were for strangers, or at any rate for
outsiders, not for the members of the court circle. To have demanded one
would have set all the court suspecting and conjecturing, and would
certainly not have tended to predispose the king in her favor. She took,
therefore, the step which had seemed to her the one possible thing to do
from the time that Mordecai made his application to her, and entering the
inner court, stood conspicuously opposite the gate of the king’s throne room,
intending to attract his regard. It happened that the king was seated
on his throne, looking down the pillared vista towards the door (v. 1),
which was of course open, and his eye rested on the graceful form
(ch. 2:7) of his young wife with surprise, and at the same time with
pleasure (v. 2). Instantly he held out to her the golden scepter, which
showed that her breach of etiquette was forgiven; and, assuming that
nothing but some urgent need would have induced her to imperil her life,
he followed up his act of grace with an inquiry and a promise — “What is
thy request, queen Esther? It shall even be given thee to the half of the
kingdom” (v. 3). The reader expects an immediate petition on the part of
the queen for the life of her people; but Esther is too timid, perhaps too
wary, to venture all at once. She will wait, she will gain time, she will be
sure that she has the king’s full affection, before she makes the appeal that
must decide everything; and so for the present she is content with inviting
Ahasuerus and Haman to a “banquet of wine” (v. 4). It is not quite clear
why she associates Haman with the king; but perhaps she wishes to prevent
him from suspecting that she looks on him as an enemy. At the customary
time, towards evening, the banquet takes place; and in the course of it the
king repeats his offer to grant her any boon she pleases, “even to the half of
the kingdom” (v. 6). Still doubtful, still hesitating, still unwilling to make
the final cast that is life or death to her, she once more temporizes, invites
the pair to a second banquet on the morrow, and promises that then at last
she will reveal herself and say what it is which she desires (vs. 7-8).
The king once more accedes to her wish, as we gather from the sequel
(ch.7:1); and so the final determination of the matter is put off for another day.
1 “Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal
apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over
against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in
the royal house, over against the gate of the house.”
On the third day. The third day from that on which Esther and
Mordecai had communicated together through Hatach (ch.4:5-17).
Esther put on her royal apparel. This is certainly the meaning, though
the elliptical phrase used is uncommon. Esther, while she fasted, had worn
some garb of woe; now she laid it aside, and appeared once more in all the
splendor of her royal robes. She took up her position directly in front of
the king’s apartment, with the object of attracting his attention, and
perhaps with the knowledge that he was upon his throne, whence he could
not fail to see her. The king sat upon his royal throne, over against the
gate. In a Persian pillared hall the place for the throne would be at the
further end, midway between the side walls. The throne would be elevated
on steps, and would command a view down the midmost avenue of
columns to the main entrance, which would commonly occupy that position.
A Royal Throne (v. 1)
This verse is full of royalty. Esther put on “her royal apparel, and stood
in the inner court of the king’s house.” “The king sat upon his royal
throne in the royal house.” This royal, throne may suggest to us some
thoughts concerning the throne of “the King of kings.
blessed and only Potentate sits thereon. (I Timothy 6:15) Before
His seat it behooves the creatures of His power to fall prostrate in
cometh unto God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It is not honoring
God to come to Him doubtfully or distrustfully. On the contrary, it is
to question His faithfulness and His truth.
SINNERS AND SUPPLIANTS. It is a throne of grace, and to it we
come boldly, that we may “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in
time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Let us draw near as those whose
only claim is upon DIVINE MERCY, whose only hope is IN
DIVINE CONDESCENSION AND BOUNTY!
DIVINE MEDIATOR, JESUS CHRIST. The High Priest and Intercessor
both removes every difficulty in our access, and inspires us with those
sentiments of confidence and filial love which will animate us in laying our
many petitions for urgent blessings at the very footstool of the throne.
Asking through Christ, and in His name, we cannot be refused and
2 “And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the
court, that she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to
Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew
near, and touched the top of the scepter.” Esther… touched the top
of the scepter. This was, no doubt, the customary act by which the king’s
grace was, as it were, accepted and appropriated. It is analogous to that
touch of the person or of the garments which secured the suppliant mercy
among the Greeks.
3 “Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and
what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the
kingdom.” What is thy request? It shall be even given thee. The
practice of granting requests beforehand is one common among Oriental
monarchs. Sometimes no limit at all is placed to the petitioner’s liberty of
choice — seldom any less wide limit than that of the present passage.
According to Herodotus (9:111), there was one day in the year on which
the king was bound to grant any request made by a guest at his table. To
the half of the kingdom. Compare Mark 6:23, where Herod Antipas
makes the same limitation.
4 “And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king
and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for
him. 5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as
Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that
Esther had prepared.” Let the king and Haman come this day unto the
banquet that l have prepared. Such an invitation as this was very unusual.
Ordinarily the king and queen dined separately, each in their own
apartments; family gatherings, however, not being unknown (Plut., ‘Vit.
Artaxerx.,’ § 5; Athen., ‘Deipnsoph.,’ 4. p. 145, A). But for the queen to
invite not only the king, but also another male guest, not a relation, was a
remarkable innovation, and must have seemed to the fortunate recipient of
the invitation a high act of favor.
6 “And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy
petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even
to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.” What is thy petition?
Ahasuerus has understood that it was not for the mere pleasure of entertaining
himself and his prime minister at a banquet that Esther adventured her life.
He knows that she must still have a request — the real favor that she wants
him to grant — in the background. He therefore repeats the inquiry and the
promise that he had made previously (v. 8).
7 “Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;
8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the
king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king
and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I
will do to morrow as the king hath said.” Esther still hesitates to prefer
her real request. We are not likely to be able in the twenty-first century to
understand all the motives that actuated her, or all the workings of her
mind. Perhaps nothing kept her back but the natural fear of a repulse, and a
desire to defer the evil day; perhaps she saw some real advantage in putting
off the determination of the matter. At any rate, she again declined to
declare herself, and merely gave her two guests a second invitation for the
ensuing evening. She concludes, however, with a promise that she will ask
no further respite. I will do to-morrow as the king hath said. i.e. I will
prefer my real request; I will ask the favor which was in my thoughts
when I adventured myself in the inner court without having received an
Human and Divine Sovereignty (vs. 1-8)
These verses suggest thoughts on the sovereignty of man and of
God, the suggestion being almost entirely one of contrast.
DIVINE. “The king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house” (v. 1).
The words are suggestive of the exceeding pomp and state with which
Persian majesty surrounded itself, of the power it wielded, of the
obsequious reverence it claimed. We are reminded of:
Ø Royal rank. We make much of the different degrees of dignity that
exist amongst us; from the common walks of life we look up beyond
the knight to the baronet, to the earl to the marquis, to the duke, to the
king, to the emperor, and feel something approaching to awe in the
presence of exalted human rank. But what are these human distinctions
to that which separates the mightiest monarch on earth from Him who is
(what they call themselves) the “King of kings,” who sits not “in the
royal house,” but on the throne of the universe? Merest bubbles on
the surface! invisible specks in the air! small dust of the balance!
Ø Royal power. Some human sovereigns have “the power of life and
death” — an awful prerogative for mortal man to wield. They can exalt
or humiliate, enrich or impoverish. But they have “no more that they
can do” (Luke 12:4). What is their power to His, who “is able to destroy
both soul and body in hell”? (Matthew 10:28).
Ø Royal will. The will of the human monarch is often exercised quite
capriciously. Esther could not tell whether, when “she stood in the inner
court of the king’s house” (v. 1), she would be graciously welcomed or
instantaneously ordered for execution. All turned on the mood of the
moment. God’s will is sovereign, but never capricious. He doeth
“according to His will,” etc. (Daniel 4:35), but never wills to do that
which is unwise, unjust, unkind. By everlasting and universal
principles of righteousness He decides what He will do toward
the children of men.
THE DIVINE SOVEREIGN. The subject wants to approach the
sovereign; he has requests to make of him. Let us contrast the accessibility
and treatment of the earthly with that of THE HEAVENLY MONARCH!
Ø When he may be approached. Esther was not acting “according to law”
(ch. 4:16) in now drawing near. She did it at the peril of her life. We
picture her waiting for the king s notice with tearful eye and trembling
heart, lest the “golden scepter” (v. 2) should not be held out to her. Our
great and gracious King is accessible to the meanest of his subjects AT
ANY MOMENT! There is indeed a Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) between
Him and us, but through Him we may come AT ALL TIMES!
His throne on which He sits is A THRONE OF GRACE! His scepter
is one of boundless beneficence. We may touch it WHEN WE WILL
(v. 3). If He rebukes us, it is not for coming when He does not send;
it is for not coming oftener than we do. Jesus said, Men ought
always to pray and not to faint. (Luke 18:1)
Ø How He may be pleased. Queen Esther sought acceptance by attention
to her personal appearance; she “put on her royal apparel.” That which
we are to wear to gain the favor of our Sovereign is other than this. We
are to “be clothed with humility” (I Peter 5:5). (Now this is one of the
sticky points of contemporary and traditional Christianity. Dress. I do
think that humility is the avenue to take. It is very important for us to
be mindful of how God, who looks upon the heart, sizes up attitudes
of the well dressed, overdressed and sloppily dressed, as we frequent
His house! CY – 2014) “He has respect unto the lowly” (Psalm 138:6).
Of such as the poor in spirit is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).
Another garment we must have on in our approach to the king is that
of faith. Without faith it is “impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
What it is He promises. The king of
very “royal” fashion; he offered her, in word, much more than he had any
intention of granting. “It shall be given thee to the hall of the kingdom”
(vs. 3, 6). Today he promises superfluously; tomorrow he may virtually
withdraw his word. There is no wisdom, carefulness, certainty about it.
God’s promises are righteous, wise, generous.
o Righteous, for He gives nothing to those who are deliberately
vicious or impenitent, who “regard iniquity in their heart”
o Wise, for He gives sufficiency to those who are His servants,
and who, as such, ask for their daily bread (Psalm 50:15;
Proverbs 30:8; Matthew 6.).
o Generous, for He gives abounding spiritual blessings to those
who seek them in Christ Jesus (Luke 11:13; Romans 8:32).
Not tremblingly to an earthly throne, like Esther, do we come,
but “boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians
3:12), to find grace for all our sin and help for all our need.
HAMAN, EXULTING AT THESE SIGNS OF ROYAL FAVOUR, IS
THE MORE EXASPERATED AT MORDECAI’S CONTEMPT OF
HIM. AT THE BIDDING OF HIS WIFE HE RESOLVES TO IMPALE
MORDECAI, AND CAUSES A LOFTY CROSS TO BE ERECTED
FOR THE PURPOSE (vs.:9-14). The favor shown him by the
king and queen in admitting him to the very close intimacy implied in their
making him the sole companion of their private hours, produced in Haman
a dangerous exaltation of spirit. He seemed to himself to have attained the
pinnacle of a subject’s greatness. Returning home in this frame of mind,
and having to pass through the gate where Mordecai was on duty, he was
more vexed than usual with that official’s disrespect, which was more
pointed and open than it had ever been before (v. 9). However, he took
no immediate notice of the porter’s conduct (v. 10), but proceeded to his
own house, where he assembled his friends, and communicated to them,
and at the same time to Zeresh his wife, the circumstances which had so
greatly raised his spirits. The climax was that “Esther the queen had let no
man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but
himself; nay, more, he was again invited on the morrow to banquet with
her and the king” (v. 12). He added, however, Mordecai’s insult
remaining fresh in his recollection, that all his glory, all his honors, availed
him nothing — were as nothing in his eyes — so long as he was
condemned to see Mordecai the Jew every time that he passed though the
palace gate, and to be treated by him with contempt and contumely (v.13).
Upon this Zeresh made, and Haman’s friends approved, a proposal
that a lofty cross should be at once erected in the court of Haman’s house,
on which Mordecai should be impaled, with the king’s consent, as soon as
it was finished. Haman agreed to this, recovered his spirits, and gave
orders for the cross to be made (v. 14).
9 “ Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but
when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up,
nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.”
Mordecai… stood not up, nor moved for him. Originally
Mordecai had merely declined to prostrate himself before Haman on
religious grounds. Now he looked upon Haman as his personal enemy, and
would not even acknowledge his presence. There is nothing more galling
than such utter contempt shown openly in the presence of others.
10 “Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home,
he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.”
Haman refrained himself. That is to say, so far as speech and
act went. He said nothing; he did not strike his insulter; he did not order his
servants to drag the fellow outside the gate and give him the bastinado. But
he did not “refrain his heart.” He allowed the affront that he had received
to remain in his mind and rankle there. It poisoned his happiness, marred all
his enjoyment, filled him with hatred and rage. When he came home, he
sent and called for his friends. It was not so much to be partners in his joy
that Haman called his friends around him as to be companions in his grief.
It is true that his speech to them was chiefly occupied with boasts; but the
true intention of the discourse is seen in its close — “All this availeth me
11 “ And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude
of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted
him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants
of the king. 12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man
come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself;
and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.”
The multitude of his children. Literally, “of his sons.” Of these we see by
ch.9:7-10 that he had ten. To be the father of many sons was accounted
highly honorable by the Persians (Herod., 1:136). How he had advanced
him above the princes. See above, ch.3:1.
Prosperity and Self-Gratulation (vs. 11-12)
In Oriental courts, where promotion depends upon the favor of the sovereign,
it is sometimes as rapid as it is undeserved, and as insecure as it is rapid. So
was it with the worthless, vain, arrogant Haman. His career is full of instruction,
especially as an instance of the effects and perils of prosperity.
Ø Riches. The minister’s position gave him the opportunity of acquiring
vast wealth, especially by means of extortion, and oppression, and
bribes. And the king gave his favorite large sums of money, in that
lavish and insane capriciousness which distinguished him.
Ø Family. We are told that Haman had ten sons, and we know that a large
number of sons was counted in
Ø Promotion and power. What Haman’s origin was we are not told, but
that he was raised by royal favor to a station he could never have
anticipated is clear enough. He was the first of subjects, and had the ear
of the king, who delegated to him his authority, handing him his signet
to use as he thought fit.
Ø Preeminence over rivals. This, to such a nature as Haman’s, was no
mean element in joy and self-gratulation. To pass others in the race,
to see them behind him, to have them supplicating his favor and good
word with the monarch, all this was very gratifying to the minister of
Ø Favor with the queen. He only was invited to the banquet given by
Esther. True, he misconstrued the motive of the invitation; but, at the
time, to himself and to the courtiers this must have been regarded as a
proof how high he stood in royal favor.
Ø The companionship of the monarch. Haman was evidently admitted to
frequent audiences; he had the ear of the king, and was not presuming
when he deemed himself “the man whom the king delighted to honor.”
“head was turned” by the giddy elevation to which he had climbed is clear
Ø Joy and elation.
Ø Boasting and self-confidence. So convinced was he that he was secure
of favor and power, that he vaunted of his greatness before his family
Ø Contempt of those in adversity. This is ever a proof of a mean, a little
mind. Remark, that the higher Haman rose, the more did he despise the
Ø There is danger lest men forget the vicissitudes of life. “In my prosperity
I said, I shall never be moved.” (Psalm 30:6) “Riches take to themselves
wings and flee away.” (Proverbs 23:5)
Ø There is danger lest men forget the approach of death. How often has
God said to the prosperous, the boastful, the self-confident, “Thou fool,
this night shall thy soul be required of thee!” (Luke 12:20)
Ø There is danger lest men lose sympathy with those in obscurity or
Ø There is danger lest men forget God. They say, like the great king,
“Is not this great
“My power, and the might of my hand, hath gotten me this wealth.”
(Deuteronomy 8:17) Let these considerations lead the prosperous to
reflection, to trembling, to searching of heart.
13 “Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew
sitting at the king’s gate.” All this availeth me nothing. The bitter drop in
his cup deprived Haman’s life of all sweetness. He had not learned the wisdom
of setting pleasure against pain, joy against sorrow, satisfaction against annoyance.
Much less had he taught himself to look upon the vexations and trials of
life as blessings in disguise. His was a coarse and undisciplined nature, little
better than that of a savage, albeit he was the chief minister of the first
monarch in the world. So little proof is worldly greatness of either
greatness or goodness of soul.
Happiness Marred (v. 13)
A little screw loose may spoil the working of a vast and powerful engine.
A clot of blood upon the brain may suddenly deprive of life a man
seemingly healthy and certainly powerful. A seeming trifle may spoil the
content and embitter the life of a prince. And so humble a person as
Mordecai, by so insignificant an act of disrespect as is here mentioned, may
mar the happiness of a great minister of state like Haman, and may make
even his prosperity miserable.
Ø It is at the mercy of circumstances. Ahab was a powerful and prosperous
king; but whilst he could not have Naboth’s vineyard for his own
pleasure nothing gave him any satisfaction. Place your welfare in
worldly good, set your heart upon an earthly object, and something will
certainly occur to show you the vanity of such an aim and of such a
trust. Whatever Haman gained, it was insufficient to make him happy.
A poor Jew would not do him reverence; it was the fly in the
Ø It is at the mercy of an evil heart. The same circumstances which spoil
the pleasure of a worldling have no power to occasion a Christian one
moment’s distress or anxiety. If Haman had not been a bad, and selfish,
and vain man he would never have troubled himself about the conduct of
Mordecai. A good conscience and a quiet heart, with the habit of
referring to God’s judgment rather than to men’s, will render you largely
independent of common causes of solicitude and vexation.
WILL HAVE LITTLE POWER TO MAR IT. (“Set your affection on things
above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2; “Lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where
thieves do not break through and steal.” Matthew 6:20) Not in outward
prosperity, not in the approval or the applause of men, not in preeminence
and authority, is true happiness to be found. But in the favor, the fellowship,
and the approbation of Him “who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins of
the children of men.” (Psalm 7:9) They who make this choice choose that
good part which shall not be taken away from them.
14 “Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a
gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou
unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou
in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased
Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.” Let a gallows be made.
Rather, “a pale” or “cross.” The Persians did not hang men, as we do, but
ordinarily executed them by impalement (see the comment on ch. 2:23).
Fifty cubits high. This is a very improbable height, and we may suspect a
corruption of the number. It occurs, however, again in ch.7:9. Speak thou
unto the king. Haman’s wife and friends assume that so trifling a matter as the
immediate execution of one Jew will be of course allowed at the request of
the chief minister, who has already obtained an edict for the early
destruction of the entire people. It certainly would seem to be highly
probable that Xerxes would have granted Haman’s petition but for the
accident of his sleeplessness, as narrated in the next chapter.
Prudence versus Guile (vs. 4-14)
open her heart to the king? Was she confused by his unexpected kindness,
or seized with timidity at the moment of peril? Most likely she was
prompted by an intuitive feeling that the time was not fit. She might lose
everything by precipitancy. It is wise to study occasion or opportunity.
Many failures have resulted solely from want of attention to time and place
would provide a better opportunity. Yet Esther again deferred her request,
though the king repeated his promise to grant her any boon, to “the half of
his kingdom.” She was acting now not in the dark, or under impulse, but
under a new light and in watchful thought. Her regaining of influence over
the king gave her confidence and made her patient. Her woman’s instinct
told her that by prolonging suspense she would increase her power. The
king once hers, she could defy Haman. So she worked and waited. The
prudence of the righteous may be more than a match for the guile of the
wicked. These sometimes seem to resemble each other; but the distinction
between is, that while prudence is honorable in method and pure in
motive, guile is impure and unscrupulous. God disciplines His people into
patience, and then sends them deliverance through it. It is often harder to
wait than to work or to suffer. Patience, therefore, is an excelling grace
(Psalm 40:1-4; James 1:3-4; Hebrews 10:36).
THE WICKED. Haman was a proud man when he went forth from the
banquet. To have been alone with the king and queen at their private feast,
and to be invited to a similar feast on the next day, was almost too much
honor for his vain soul to bear. But he had not gone far when his eye fell
on the unbending Mordecai. Then indignation took possession of his heart.
What a humbling of pride! what a beclouding of joy! So is it always with
the happiness of the wicked. It is ever meeting with signs of menace — a
word, a look, an attitude, an enemy — which make it fade. A Mordecai sits
at the gate that leads from its feastings. Evil joys are attended by a mocking
shade which has only to appear to turn them into wormwood.
reaching home from the palace, should call his friends around him, and tell
them of the double honor he had received. Nothing is pleasanter to behold
than a united family in which there is a free sharing of confidences and
sympathies, all the members rejoicing in the happiness of each. But if the
family be godless and wicked, and bound together by common interests of
an evil kind, then all the pleasantness of the picture vanishes. Such was the
family of Haman. His wife and friends knew the arts by which he had
gained the royal favor, and the terrible revenge he was about to execute
on the whole Jewish race for the offence of Mordecai. Yet they flattered
him as he flattered the king, and stimulated him in his abounding crimes.
Saddest of sights that of a family whose bond is wickedness! Learn, further:
Ø How character influences. A man who acquires power draws about him
his own circle, and infuses his spirit into all the members of it. Children
catch the spirit and habits of their parents. Men are known by the
companions that attract them.
Ø How pride puffs itself up. It was a glowing story which Haman told of
his wealth, and grander, and promotions, and of the special honors
which even Esther was conferring on him. His vanity plumed itself rarely
before his admiring hearers. But to us the exhibition is repugnant. It was
a self-feeding of all that was worst in the man, and a kindling of hateful
fires in the hearts that were listening. The boaster little suspected what
the favor of Esther meant. “Pride goeth before destruction.” (Proverbs
Ø How pride resents affront. The recital of an ill-gotten glory was ended
by a confession that all was dimmed by the remembrance of one man.
The higher his advancement to honor, the more deeply did the iron of
the Jew’s contempt enter into Haman’s soul. He described to his home
circle his passing of Mordecai at the king’s gate, and the difficulty
with which he had restrained an outflow of his passion. The self-restraint
of evil men in presence of supposed insult is exercised not that they may
overlook or forget, but that they may inflict a deadlier vengeance.
Ø How the result of consultations will be in accordance with the spirit that
governs them. The practical question before Haman and his friends came
to be, How should Mordecai be dealt with? There was no thought of pity
or forgiveness, or even of silent contempt. The insulted favorite could no
longer, even in prospect of the coming slaughter, possess his soul in
patience. The conclusion arrived at was consistent with the fierce animosity
that had communicated itself to every breast. Justice, compassion, wisdom
were swallowed up in the common hatred. Notice:
o The proposer of the scheme of punishment. We infer that it was
Zeresh, the wife of Haman. She, as his most intimate companion,
would be most influenced by his spirit, and would enter most
sympathetically into his ambitious projects. The tenderest nature
may become brutalized by the dominance of evil.
o The nature of the adopted proposal. It consisted of three parts:
§ That a gallows fifty cubits high should be constructed
for the hanging of Mordecai. The higher the gibbet, the
more conspicuous, and therefore the more satisfying the
vengeance of the favorite.
§ That Haman was to get the king’s sanction for the
hanging of the Jew on the morrow. Having secured
a decree for the destruction of all the Jews,
it would be an easy matter to obtain the premature
sacrifice of this one Jew.
§ That Haman, having done this business, was to
“go in merrily with the king unto the banquet.”
(v. 14) Merrily! with so much evil in his heart!
with so much blood on his head! (Psalm 1:1; 2:1-4).
DESTROY. Haman had no perception of any influences that were working
against him. So vainly secure was his sense of power with the king, that he
took Esther’s banquets as intended to confer special honor on himself.
God had entered the lists against him.
Ø It was God who had given to Mordecai the heroism of faith.
Ø It was God who had strengthened the timid Esther, and
Ø given her “a mouthpiece and wisdom.”
Ø And it was God who had allowed Haman to erect a gallows
Malevolent Purpose and Pleasure (v. 14)
This one verse contains the record of “a world of iniquity” (James 3:6), and shows
us to what lengths sinners may proceed in their evil plans. Happily the sequel
shows us that there is One who says to the raging sea of human
malevolence and impiety, “Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further; and here
shall thy proud waves be stayed!” (Job 38:11) Follow the clauses of the
verse, and behold the progress of atrocious crime.
with Haman because of his folly, “fooled him to the top of his bent.” They
counseled him as they knew he would fain be counseled. It is too
generally so with the families and companions of the great. Haman’s
responsibility was not diminished because his friends were partakers of his
hanging? His offence was trifling, and should have been altogether
disregarded. It is a serious thing to take away the life even of a murderer;
how much more of an innocent, unoffending man.
death by his own authority. The plan was to speak to the king, and to get
his sanction for the detestable deed. It is well when a sovereign is reluctant
to use his prerogative and order the execution of a capital sentence; as the
Roman emperor, who in such a case exclaimed, I would I could not write
my name; or as Edward VI, who could hardly be persuaded to sign the
order for burning one condemned. There was no apprehension of any
difficulty with Artaxerxes; let him but be urged by his favorite, and the
deed was done. An awful responsibility, to give such advice.
As Stephen Gardiner would not dine until the tidings reached him that the
Protestant bishops were burnt at
banquet until the order for Mordecai’s impalement or crucifixion had been
given by the king. They sleep not, except they do evil.
Haman!” What a “thing!” and what a man to be pleased therewith!
sanctioned by the king, the order was given to rear the gallows, that the
evil work might be accomplished. Little thought they whose body should
be hanged thereon, ere many hours were passed.
Ø The heinousness of sin;
Ø the need of A DIVINE REMEDY;
Ø the wisdom and grace of God in the gospel of Christ.
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