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The Expulsion of Vashti Decreed
The Elevation of Esther Accomplished
The Extermination of the Jews Planned
The Extermination of the Jews Thwarted
Esther's Request to the King
Haman's Plan to Kill Mordecai
Haman's Humiliation and Mordecai's Honor
Esther's Accusation and Haman's Execution
Mordecai's Promotion and the Jews' Deliverance
Triumph of the Jews
Purim Celebrated
The Exaltation of Mordecai

The Extermination of the Jews Thwarted
Esther 5:1-9:32

Esther's Request to the King

Esther 5:1-8

  • After her three days of prayer and fasting were complete, Esther aproached the king. (v. 1)
  • Notice that Esther took a lot of care to prepare herself for the king. She spent time in prayer and fasting. Additionally, she made sure to prepare herself physically and took care to ensure that her appearance was the best it could be.
  • The king welcomed Esther. (v. 2)
  • Remember how much Esther fretted about the possibility of being put to death by approaching the king uninvited? We would expect the moment where the king decides if she lives or dies to be a moment full of drama, but the author essentially passes over this moment quickly. It is important to see that the real drama is in Esther's decision to try to help her people.
  • Instead of continuing the drama from the last chapter, we move to brand new drama.
  • The king asked Esther what she wanted and offered her as much as half the kingdom. (v. 3)
  • The offer of half the kingdom was obviously an exaggeration, and Esther knew it. Apparently, it was common for Persian kings to make extravant offers such as this, with both the offerer and the offereree knowing that it was an exaggeration. Esther shows her political savy by not taking advantage of the king's offer.
  • See also the story of the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6:23, e.g.) for another Biblical story of a king offering up to half his kingdom on a request.
  • Esther asked the king and Haman to come to a banquet she had prepared for them. (v. 4)
  • Esther creates more drama and positions herself to be in a position more likely to achieve her results by holding a banquet and prolonging her request.
  • The king and Haman went to Esther's banquet. (v. 5)
  • While they were drinking wine, the king once again asked what Esther's real request was. (v. 6)
  • Esther told the king that if he and Haman came back tomorrow for another banquett, she would explain what it was all about. (v. 7-8)
  • It would be intrepreted as a great honor for Haman to be the only person asked to attend the private banquet with Esther and the king.

Haman's Plan to Kill Mordecai

Esther 5:9-14

  • Haman was very happy when he left the banquet, but when he saw Mordecai, he became furious. (v. 9)
  • Notice that Haman's hatred toward Mordecai kept him from being able to enjoy the great honor that was bestowed upon him by being invited to the queen's banquet. See, for example, Hebrews 12:15 for a warning: "watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison."
  • Haman's hatred caused his plans to backfire against him. This is a warning to us.
  • When Haman got home, he gathered all his friends and wife together and bragged about his accomplishments, including the fact that Esther invited him for a special banquet with the king. (v. 10-12)
  • However, even with Haman's blessings, he was frustrated and thought it meaningless since Mordecai wouldn't pay him the respect he felt he deserved. (v. 13)
  • Haman's attitude toward Mordecai is a very unhealthy attitude. If Haman were a more humble man, he probably would not have even noticed Mordecai's actions. This is especially the case since Haman had a much higher position than Mordecai.
  • Haman's wife and all his friends suggested taht Haman build a gallows and ask that the king hang Mordecain on it the next morning. Haman thought this was a great idea. (v. 14)
  • See Proverbs 16:18 - "Pride goes before destruction." - for a commentary on Haman's desire to build the gallows.
  • Don't let the little things in life bother you.

Haman's Humiliation and Mordecai's Honor

Esther 6:1-14

  • That night, the king was having problems sleeping, so he asked that someone come read a history book (about his own reign) to him. (v. 1)
  • God uses small things. The fact that the king can't sleep seems to be a small matter, but it turns out to be the catalyst that saves the Jews! How might God be working in small ways in your life right now?
  • In the book, they discovered about how Mordecai had uncovered the plot to assassinate the king. (v. 2)
  • These couple of verses bring together a lot of "cooincidences." 1) Mordecai had saved the king's life all that time ago. 2) Mordecai was not honored at the time. 3) The king decides to honor Mordecai at the exact moment that Esther is planning to plead a case for the Jews. Is this really a cooincidence? Of course not. Once again, the author is plainly showing the extent to which God is in control of the situation without actually saying that it's God. The reader is left to recognize that fact for themselves.
  • King Xerxes asked what honor was given to Mordecai and he was informed that nothing was given to him. (v. 3)
  • When the king heard that, he asked who was in the court. His attendants told him that Haman was in the outer court and the king ordered him in. (v. 4-5)
  • King Xerxes asks Haman what he should do for a man who he wants to honor. (v. 6)
  • This is quite an ironic twist in the story, due to the fact that neither Haman nor the King know what the other one is thinking. The king has no idea that Haman has an intense hatred for Mordecai and Haman has no idea that the king is planning to elevate Mordecai! The reader is the only one with all the information about the character's motives.
  • Haman thinks that the king is talking about him. (v. 6)
  • Haman describes several elaborate and honorable things that the king should do, thinking that the king would honor him like that. (v. 7-9)
  • Haman makes several mistakes here. He is making an assumption about who the king wants to honor. Instead of thinking about what the person should really deserve, Haman thinks about what he wants. Haman allows his lust for respect and power blind him. This eventually proves to be his downfall.
  • The king commands Haman to do everything that Haman recommends - but to honor Mordecai! (v. 10)
  • Haman did as he was commanded. (v. 11)
  • What do you think Mordecai is thinking when Haman - his enemy - is parading him about town with high honor? How do you think Haman felt?
  • Mordecai returned to the king's gate and Haman returned home in disgrace. (v. 12)
  • Note that Mordecai's reward was not immediate. So it is with how God treats us. God promises us that our good deeds will be rewarded. Sometimes, however, we have to wait for the reward to be in heaven. Knowing that we might not be rewarded immediately for our good works should encourage us to cultivate an attitude of doing good for the sake of doing good - without regard to reward.
  • Haman told his friends and family about this turn of events and they warn him that his downfall will come of this, since Mordecai is a Jew. (v. 13)
  • While they were still discussing this issue, the king's eunuchs arrived to escort Haman to Esther's banquet. (v. 14)

Esther's Accusation and Haman's Execution

Esther 7:1-10

  • The king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther. (v. 1)
  • Remember how we were supposed to be watching for the important roles that banquets play in this study? Esther's banquet has ramifications that are felt throughout the entire kingdom, starting at Haman's house.
  • Once again, the king asks Esther what her wish was. (v. 2)
  • Esther lays out the situation that she and the other Jews are in - ripe to be destroyed. (v. 3-4)
  • Esther speaks highly of the Jewish people, saying that they are so valuable that the king could not be compensated for their loss. (v. 4)
  • Esther says that she would have held her tongue if the plan were simply for the enslavement, not the extermination, of the Jews. Had the Jews been enslaved, it would have been a decision that could have been reversed if it were later found to be a bad idea. However, once the population were exterminated, there would be no reversing that decision.
  • The king demands to know who has put a price on the heads of the Jews. (v. 5)
  • Esther revealed that Haman was the man who had orchestrated it and Haman was terrified. (v. 6)
  • The King Causes Haman to be Hanged on his own Gallows
  • The king was very angry and went into the garden. (v. 7)
  • The king provides us an excellent example of how to act when angry: take time to carefully consider the situation and do not make decisions in haste.
  • Do you have a place where you go to be alone and think about things, especially when you're angry? For me, I enjoy a ride on my motorcycle. We can find quiet places in our own gardens, in our houses, or anywhere that we can "get away" from the normal routine and take time to meditate.
  • Perhaps the king was also a bit embarrassed by his part in this matter. Remember that he gave Haman the authority to create and carry out the order to kill the Jews.
  • Haman started begging for his life to Queen Esther. (v. 7)
  • Look at how earnestly Haman pleads for his life. Do you plead for things from other people, from people in authority? What about your pleadings before Jesus - the King of Kings. We know that God wants to give us the best, even more than we can comprehend for ourselves. We should seek the best, but we often neglect to ask God for things that we can ask for. Why? Is it because we feel that we're not worthy? We are not worthy, yet God continues to offer us the best anyway. If Haman can plead for his life to Esther, if we can plead for things from people in authority here, we can certainly put our pleadings before God. Haman is pleading for his own salvation. We can, and should, plead for the salvation of ourselves, our relatives, and our friends.
  • When the king returned, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was and the king thought that he was attacking Esther. (v. 8)
  • One of the eunuchs pionted out the gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai and the king commanded that Haman be hanged upon it. (v. 9)
  • They covered Haman's face. This was an indication of his sudden degradation of status. As a criminal, he was no longer worthy of looking upon the king's face.
  • They hanged Haman and the king's anger subsided. (v. 10)
  • Haman was destroyed by his own gallows. Often, when we embark on a plan conceived in anger or hate, we find that the plan backfires on us. It might not cost us our lives, as it did Haman, but it is still a painful situation to find ourselves in.
  • Haman reaped what he had sown.

Mordecai's Promotion and the Jews' Deliverance

Esther 8:1-17

  • King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman. (v. 1)
  • Esther told the king how she was related to Mordecai. (v. 1)
  • This is the first time Esther has revealed that Mordecai is her adopted father. Finally, there are no more secrets, no more intrigue. All of the characters have access to the same information.
  • The king promoted Mordecai by giving him the signet ring that he had reclaimed from Haman. Esther put Mordecai in charge of Haman's estate. (v. 2)
  • Notice that everything that Haman had build up for himself - riches, social position, etc. - have now been placed upon Mordecai. This serves as a reminder to us that when we build up things, we don't always know who will gather them. Haman heaped up piles of earthly riches and Mordecai gathered them.
  • This also serves as a final ironic twist for Haman in that the man whom he despised most is now in charge of his entire estate.
  • Esther pleaded with the king, begging that he put an end to Haman's plan. (v. 3-6)
  • Why does Esther beg with the king again? The immediate danger of Mordecai's life being taken away has passed, but the bigger picture of the threat to all Jews still remains. Esther is reminding the king that Haman's decree will outlast Haman's death.
  • Notice that even in her pleading, Esther continues to remain in control of the situation. She has never failed to move the king to act in the way she wants action to take place.
  • Notice also Esther's coyness, especially in verse five where she alternates phrases between calling attention to the king and calling attention to her desire to please the king.
  • King Xerxes replied that he had already given Haman's estate to Mordecai and Ester and that he had Haman executed. The king further goes on to tell Esther and Mordecai to write another decree in the king's name in behalf of the Jews. (v. 7-8)
  • Mordecai wrote an edict in the kings name and it was written to be distributed throughout the entire kingdom. (v. 9-10)
  • The edict gave the Jews permission to protect themselves from their enemies. It also gave them permission to attack and kill any armed force that rose against them and to plunder the property of their enemies. (v. 11)
  • Notice that the new order does not cancel the old order. Official orders that are sealed with the king's ring cannot be cancelled or altered. Instead, this order provides a way to counteract the previous order.
  • Is the new edict an order forged out of revenge? No, it was a defensive one. The order gave the Jews permission to do to their enemies exactly what their enemies were preparing to do to them, nothing more.
  • The day appointed for the Jews to do this was on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. This is the same day that Haman's original order was to be carried out. (v. 12)
  • The edict was published throughout the kingdom. (v. 13-14)
  • Mordecai left the king's presence wearing royal clothing and jewelry. (No longer in sackcloth.) There was great celebration on behalf of the Jews throughtout the kingdom. (v. 15-17)
  • What is the "fear of the Jews" mentioned in verse 17? It is probably not fear of their aggression, for they were granted permission to defend themselves, not to become an attacking force. More likely, the "fear" was a respect or an awe - remember that the Jews were scheduled for essentially a slaughter, now they have the protection of the king and the authority to fight back. The people would have realized that there is some sort of divine protection upon the Jews and they want to be a part of that.
  • People should be able to see how God is a part of our lives and want to learn more. Some of the most effective Christian evangalism is found in the simplicity of living a good Christian life and being a good example to everyone who sees you. You never know who might be watching what you do, so it is always the best policy to life your life as though you are being an example to those around you at all times.

Triumph of the Jews

Esther 9:1-17

  • On the appointed day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand. (v. 1)
  • No one could stand against the Jews because the people of the other nationalities were afraid of them. (v. 2)
  • The government officials all helped the Jews because of Mordecaiıs power in the royal court. (v. 3-4)
  • The Jews defeated all their enemies. (v. 5)
  • The Jews also killed Hamanıs sons. (v. 7-10)
  • The Jews did not lay their hands on the plunder. (v. 10)
  • The king asked Esther what else she wanted. (v. 11-12)
  • The king appears to be more concerned with Estherıs wishes than with the well-being of his own subjects (many of whom were slaughtered).
  • Esther asked that the edict be allowed to be carried out one more day and that Hamanıs sons be hanged on the gallows. (v. 13)
  • Throughout the kingdom, the Jews were victorious against their enemies. (v. 14-17)

Purim Celebrated

Esther 9:18-32

  • The Jews in Susa assembled on the 13th and 14th, celebrating on the 15th. The rural Jews celebrated on the 14th. (v. 18-19)
  • Mordecai recorded the events and said that the celebration should take place every year. (v. 20-22)
  • The story of the decrees is recapped. (v. 23-25)
  • The reasons the celebration is called Purim are discussed ­ the name is taken from ³pur,² the lots used to decide on the day for the edicts. (v. 26-28)
  • Purim was established throughout the land. (v. 29-32)
  • By writing down the story and instituting an anual celebration, the events recorded in Esther are more solidified in the minds of the people. Be establishing this celebration, Godıs providence is remembered every year.
  • Purim is the only major Jewish festival not specified in the Pentateuch.

Last update: July 6, 2003

© 2003 Greg Cohoon

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