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Esther 3-5: The Threat to the Jews

Original Publication Date
April 22, 2017
Updated
Nov 24, 2022 3:21 AM
Tags
EstherChapter StudyWomenFastingRacismGenocide
Bible References
Esther 3-5
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 22, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

The next few chapters of Esther discuss a plot against the Jews by Haman, a leader in the Persian empire. Haman's hatred for the Jews seems to be based solely on one person, highlighting the ridiculousness of racism. Throughout history, Satan has had it out for the Jews simply because they are God's people. As we accept Jesus and become part of Israel through faith, he will come for us as well.

Haman

Haman is promoted above the other leaders of Persia by King Ahasuerus. When this occurs, all of the servants in the palace show respect to Haman. All except Mordecai, that is. When Haman sees that Mordecai does not bow to him or give him reverence, he is enraged. The logical reaction would have been for Haman to have Mordecai punished, but in his vanity, Haman choses to have all the Jews punished. Haman requests to kill the Jews on the grounds that their laws are different from the Persians, and they do not follow the king's law. Haman doesn't specify who the people are when he discusses the matter, but he offers to pay for someone to oversee the extermination of the Jewish population and the king obliges.

Why Didn't Mordecai Bow?

In many Asian countries, bowing to someone is a sign of respect. For the most part, these bows are slight bows, not the kind in which you fall to the floor or over exert yourself to bend. We aren't told what type of bow Haman expected, but I suspect it was the kind reserved for worshipping God, such as dropping to your knees. This would explain Mordecai's refusal to bow to Haman.

Mordecai Takes Action

When Mordecai hears that the decree has been issued, he knows that he is partly to blame. Haman would not have gone after the Jews if Mordecai had bowed to him like the other servants. In a show of mourning and guilt, Mordecai rents his clothes and weeps before the palace gates.

It isn't long before news of this reaches Esther. When she finds out what has happened, she sends a messenger to Mordecai with food and clothing to learn more. Mordecai reveals that it is up to Esther to counter the attack on the Jews; no one else had access to the king to plead their case.

Approaching the King

Customs and laws prevented Esther from simply strolling up to the king and stating what was troubling her. Approaching the king without permission was a death sentence. Knowing this, Esther asks the Jews to fast with her and at the end of the fast, she takes her chances at approaching the king without being summoned.

When the king sees Esther, clearly wanting to speak with him, he grants her favor to approach. Instead of jumping straight to the point, Esther asks to host a feast with the king and Haman. Seeming like a reasonable request, the king is eager to give her whatever she wants and agrees to the terms.

Haman's Anger Grows

Meanwhile, Haman's anger grows when he sees Mordecai at the palace gates. Clearly, Haman had quite the ego and Mordecai's disregard for Haman served to bruise that ego. Haman plots with his friends to have Mordecai placed in the gallows, they even go through the trouble have having gallows made especially for him. This turns around to bite Haman in the butt.

Thoughts and Morals

People often compare Vashti and Esther, since they are both women and share the same role; however, I think it is also desirable to compare Haman and Esther. Haman was rash and acted on impulse out of anger, whereas Esther took time and carefully thought out a plan. Esther's patience won the race.

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