Esther 5-7 part 4
Previously, Haman talked the king into setting a date for all the Jews in his kingdom to be killed, and Mordecai sent word to Esther that she needed to go before the king and ask him stop this massacre. At first she was hesitant, but in the end she decided to go before the king even though it might cost her her life. What happened next is found in Chapter 5.
Esther 5:1 Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, across from the king's house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house.† 2 So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.† 3 And the king said to her, "What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you -- up to half the kingdom!"† 4 So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him."†
Esther, her maids, and the Jews had been fasting for three days and just as Esther had promised, she went before the king. When you put yourself in her shoes, you can just imagine how much her heart was racing and how scared she was. Of course most of us have no way of fully understanding what she was experiencing because most of us have never been in a situation where we might be killed. The more you think about what she was willing to do for her people, the more you will be able see how courageous she was being.
Esther put on her royal robes and she entered the forbidden zone. While the king sat on his royal throne, he noticed Esther standing there, and she found favor in his sight, so the king held out his golden scepter. Again, you can just imagine how relived she was that the king did not allow her to be drug out and killed.
The king knew that Esther wanted something otherwise she would not have risked her life to come before him, so he wants to know what she wants, and he tells her that he will give her up to half the kingdom. If you remember this is same statement that Herod made to the daughter of Herodias (he-roe-dee-us) when she danced for him. Of course, I do not believe either one of these men actually meant they would give up half there kingdom, instead this was an expression used to say that they were willing to grant them what they asked for.
Now you might think that Esther would have just told the king what she wanted right away, but instead she delayed it by inviting the king and Haman to a banquet that day.
Esther 5:5 Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said." So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.† 6 At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!"† 7 Then Esther answered and said, "My petition and request is this:† 8 "If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said."
By now the kingís curiosity had to be getting to him, and he asked for Haman to come quickly so they could go to Estherís banquet. Once again, the king wanted to know what Esther wanted, and he promised her up to half the kingdom. Now you would think Esther would have made her request, but for a second time she puts it off and tells the king she will tell him her request tomorrow at the next banquet.
Why do you think Esther keeps putting off her request? Some have speculated that maybe she lacked the courage, so she kept putting it off. Others have suggested that she wanted to have more time to pray about the matter. Some also believe that she was doing this so she would have more time to please the king so that he might be more inclined to grant her request. Any one of these may be possible or perhaps little bit each is the reason, but the Bible simply doesnít reveal the real reason.
Esther 5:9 So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.† 10 Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh.† 11 Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.† 12 Moreover Haman said, "Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.† 13 "Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."† 14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, "Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet." And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made.†
Haman was on cloud 9 because everything was going his way. He was second in command and now the queen had invited him to her banquet not once but twice, but because of his pride, his joy was taken away from him when Mordecai would not show him the respect he thought he deserved. He felt like striking Mordecai dead right then and there, but he restrained himself, and he went home and invited his friends and wife to come to him.
He brought them there to brag about his riches and accomplishments because he apparently he thought this would make him feel better, but Mordecaiís actions were just to strong for him, and he was allowing this to make him miserable. It is hard me for to understand how a man that had everything going his way would allow one man to bring him so much misery, but this shows how prideful Haman was.
Hamanís wife and his friends suggested that gallows be built that would be about 75 feet high so that Mordecai could be hung on it. The higher up the victim is hung, the more people could see him from afar. As I begin to investigate this idea of gallows, I found out that this simply means a structure build of wood and when it says that Mordecai was to be hanged, it wasnít talking about hanging him from a rope, but hanging him by crucifying him, which a common practice among the Persians. Whether the gallows were actually made this high or whether this was merely an expression to hang him as high as possible is up for debate, but one thing we know for sure is that Haman thought this was wonderful idea and he thought for sure he could convince the king to hang him, which is why he had the gallows built before he had the kings permission.
Esther 6:1 That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.† 2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.† 3 Then the king said, "What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" And the king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him."† 4 So the king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.† 5 The king's servants said to him, "Haman is there, standing in the court." And the king said, "Let him come in."† 6 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?"
Once again we see Godís providence at work. The king could not sleep so he wanted have the book of records read to him. Although it is not stated, it is possible he used this to help him get to sleep on occasion, but this time, the written record caught his attention because it was about how Mordecai had saved him from the plot of his two eunuchs.
When Mordecai did this, nothing was done for him, and apparently the king didnít remember anything being done for him either, which is why he wanted to know if he had been honored for his noble deed. While this was going on, Haman had entered the court and the king wanted to know who it was. When he found out it was Haman, he invited him in.
Before Haman was able to say anything to the king, the king was asking Haman for his advice of how he should honor a man that he was delighted with. Of course, Haman being as arrogant as he was thought the king wanted to honor him. So, notice what Haman says:
Esther 6:7 And Haman answered the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor,† 8 "let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head.† 9 "Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!' "
Since Haman thought the king wanted to honor him, he went out his way to think of the best honor possible that would feed his ego. This is why you see him wanting to wear the royal robe and to be paraded around on a horse that the king has ridden. You can just imagine how pleased Haman was with himself, and I can just see him smiling ear to ear that is until he hears what the king says next.
Esther 6:10 Then the king said to Haman, "Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king's gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken."† 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!"
You have to love the irony here. Haman wanted to kill Mordecai, but now he has to give him the honor that he thought he was going to receive. What a humbling and devastating experience this was for Haman. You can just imagine how low he felt when he had to array Mordecai with the royal robe and the horse with the royal crest and then have to parade him around town in front of everyone. The writer of proverbs saying comes true:
Proverbs 16:18 ††Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall
Esther 6:12 Afterward Mordecai went back to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered.† 13 When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him."† 14 While they were still talking with him, the king's eunuchs came, and hastened to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared.
Haman was so discouraged and he felt defeated, and this caused him to go back home and mourn with his head covered. His wife and his friends didnít help matters because they told Haman if Mordecai was a Jew then he doesnít stand a chance of defeating him. While Haman was sulking, the kingís eunuchs tell him to come to the banquet prepared by the queen. This probably made him feel better knowing that he was still being honored in this way, but even this is not going to turn out like Haman thought it would.
Esther 7:1 So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther.† 2 And on the second day, at the banquet of wine, the king again said to Esther, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!"† 3 Then Queen Esther answered and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.† 4 "For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king's loss."† 5 So King Ahasuerus answered and said to Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?"† 6 And Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!" So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.
This second banquet lasted for at least two days because it wasnít until the second day that the king asked for a third time what Estherís request was and that he would grant it. Now Esther did not come right out and say who was guilty of this, instead she tells the king that her and her people have been sold out and they are to be destroyed. She goes on to say that she would not have bothered the king with this matter if her people were just going to be sold as slaves, but even if that happened there is no way the king could be compensated for all the good people he would lose.
This news made the king furious, and he wanted to know who would dare to do such a thing. Then Esther reveals that Haman is this wicked man. The text says that Haman was terrified. Haman didnít realize that Esther was a Jew and now his decree that he made to kill all the Jews was an attack on the Queen. As you put yourself in this arrogant manís shoes you can just imagine how overwhelmed he felt. It amazes me that he didnít faint because he knew that was not going to turn out well for him.
Esther 7:7 Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king.† 8 When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, "Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?" As the word left the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.† 9 Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, "Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king's behalf, is standing at the house of Haman." Then the king said, "Hang him on it!"† 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's wrath subsided.
According to one commentator, tradition states that when the king rose up in anger, the person that made him angry would have no mercy. While the king was out in the garden Haman began to beg the Queen for his life. In Hamanís desperation, he was laying down on the couch the queen was sitting on and he was pleading with her, but when the king walked back in, †he thought that Haman was trying to assault the Queen, so he had Hamanís face covered.
Once again, we can see a great example of what the writer of proverbs wrote in,
Proverbs 26:27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.
Haman had gallows built to hang Mordecai on and now he would be hung or we could say crucified on his own gallows. Haman serves as a good example of what can happen if you allow yourself to be driven by greed and pride. Again, all of this came about because of the providence of God. As we will see next week, the king gives Esther Hamanís house and Mordecai is given Hamanís old position. As James says,
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.