Mordecai and Esther are not in the kings inner circle. Haman has the ear of the king and convinces the king that these Jews “do not observe the laws of the king” and a decree is issued to “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, on one day”. The decree was issued before anyone knew it was coming. Mordecai is distraught and tells Esther she must go to the king for her people but no one knows she is a Jew. She says she has not been called, but they agree to fast for three days and then she will approach the king. When she does, she finds favor, and the king receives her. Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet and they agree to come again the next day. God is at work, Haman goes home to celebrate his favor with the king and orders a gallows to hang Mordecai. That same night, the king cannot sleep and finds Mordecai’s name in the daily records and decides to honor him. In the morning, Haman is charged to parade Mordecai through the city honoring him for the king and the eunuch’s arrive to escort Haman to Esthers banquet.
All of the King’s Servants Were Bowing Down
Chapter 3 begins with “‘After these things’, that is, after Esther became queen in the seventh year of the reign (2:16) and before the twelfth year (3:7), Haman was exalted to a position second only to the king”.1
Some years had gone by and Mordecai’s good deed for the King is forgotten. Now in Esther 3:1 we find Haman “The Agagite is reminiscent of 1 Samuel 15, where Saul is reprimanded for sparing King Agag, leader of the Amalekites against whom he was fighting. There had been enmity between Israel and Amalek since Amalek attacked at Rephidim (Ex. 17:8–16; cf. Dt. 25:17–19; 1 Ch. 4:43), before the Israelites reached Sinai”.2
And it does seem that there was animosity between Haman and Mordecai. It may have been the result of their history or it may have been Mordecai’s revulsion to the pride-fulness and arrogance of Haman. Whatever the reason, Mordecai would not bow, in Esther 3:4 “day after day, but he did not listen to them”. And in Esther 3:5 Haman “was filled with wrath” but waited for an opportune time and then spoke a decree into the kings ear. In Esther 3:9-10 Haman said, “their laws are different … destroy them … and I will pay”.
A Decree Was Issued
The king gives Haman his signet ring, full authorization to handle this task, in Esther 3:13 “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, on one day, the thirteenth day of the month, that is Adar, and to plunder their goods”. Then in
Esther 3:14 (LEB) A copy of the edict was presented as law in every province making it known to all the people to be ready for that day.
They were to learn who the Jews were, prepare their weapons, and plan their ambush for every Jew and all of their family. And as the messengers went out, in Esther 3:15 “The king and Haman sat down to drink; and the city of Susa was bewildered”
By our way of thinking, and the Jewish law, the wrong doer was punished. In this culture it was common for them to punish also the family and descendants who they assumed were involved in any plot or scheme and were also guilty. It was not uncommon for the Persians to destroy their opposition. For example, “In 522 BC, at the time of King Cambyses’ death, Smerdis the Magus usurped the throne. When he was put to death in a conspiracy, every Persian in the capital took up his weapons and killed every Magus he could find”.3
Go To The King
Mordecai had a position at the gate as an official in the kingdom, but he was not in the kings inner circle. All of this plot was carried out behind closed doors and no one knew until after the edict had been signed and the messengers had been sent. Mordecai was distraught as were all the Jews across the empire as we see in Esther 4:1-3. Esther was also outside the kings inner circle as this was easily five years after she had become queen (see Esther 2:16, 3:7). As Esther inquires about Mordecai’s distress, she learns of the edict in Esther 4:4-8 and is asked to “make supplication to him (the king) … for her people”. Yet, she has not revealed her heritage to anyone. Even the king does not know she is a Jew.
I Have Not Been Called
Esther explains to Mordecai in Esther 411 that only the king can summon her and he has not called her for more than thirty days. There is a death penalty for anyone that approaches the king without being called. Only the king can stay that execution by extending his sceptre, which is for him to acknowledge and call them. Mordecai responds in Esther 4:13-14 that her position as queen will not spare her life. Mordecai knew the Persian mind and culture. What the king decrees is done absolutely and with vigor by all of his subjects. Esther asks Modecai and “all the Jews that are found in Susa” to fast for three days and “then I will go to the king”.
I have heard some good Christian people say, we live in the new covenant, so stay in the new testament. But here is a great lesson we can learn from the old testament. When you face opposition, an insurmountable problem, something bigger than you, or something others are doing to you, fast and pray. And then act on what God has put in front of you to do. Then as she says in Esther 4:17 “if I perish, I perish”.
She Found Favor
Esther prepared herself, first by fasting and praying for three days, but now in Esther 5:1 she “put on royal robes” and stood “in the inner courtyard of the king’s palace” where the king could see her. It seems a small thing to us that she entered the courtyard, but this was a transgression. She had her place as the queen and he had his place as the king. And his place was “in the midst of their guards and counsellors, are the bashaws, kadis, and other great officers, accustomed to distribute justice, and transact the public affairs of the provinces [SHAW, Travels]. In such a situation the Persian king was seated”.4 Anyone entering without invitation interrupted the business of the day, the kings business and the needs of the empire. This was not proper, not allowed, and punished harshly.
The king, in Esther 5:2 extends his sceptre, and she approaches. The king asks, what is your request in Esther 5:3 then she invites the king and Haman to a banquet in Esther 5:4 saying “let the king and Haman come today”. She has already interrupted the business of the day, now she says, drop everything and come with me now and as it said in vs. 2 “she found favor in his eyes”. Esther holds back her request as the king and Haman are drinking wine and getting comfortable.
Come to the Banquet
Esther holds her petition and in Esther 5:7-8 invites the king and Haman back for a banquet the following day and they agree.
What Is To Be Done For Honor
The Man Whom the King Wishes To Honor
- Esther 4:1–8 Go To The King
- Esther 4:9–17 I Have Not Been Called
- Esther 5:1–6 She Found Favor
- Esther 3:1-15
- Esther 4:1-17
- Esther 5:1-14
- Esther 6:1-14
is helping Jewish people return to their homeland. You might fund one that desires to go home. http://operationexodususa.org/Overview
Return to Israel – Ezra
We often read one book of the Bible at a time and that is easier for everyone to follow. The order of our readings, beginning with Ezra, are from the Tyndale One Year Chronological Bible because the return from Babylonian exile includes Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Esther, a few Psalms, and other connections. Covering these events chronologically as they happened, gives a much better context and helps us understand the move of God as He is reestablishing His people. Review the whole series beginning with Go Up To Jerusalem.
- 1. Baldwin, J. G. (1984). Esther: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 12, p. 71). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 2. Baldwin, J. G. (1984). Esther: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 12, pp. 71–72). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 3. Baldwin, J. G. (1984). Esther: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 12, p. 74). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 4. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 305). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.