Class Notes: 7/11/2012
God turns the tables on Haman in our study of the providence of God in Esther
In our study of God's providence in Esther we have seen that God had prepared everything that would be needed to deliver His people from the evil of Haman in advance.
Esther 4:4-8; Esther was apparently sequestered in the palace and as a result was unaware of the decree. When she was told of Mordecai's was doing she sent him new clothes but he would not accept them so she sent Hathach to find out what was the cause of the behavior.
Mordecai gave him a copy of the edict to show to Esther. He also told Hathach to tell her all the details of how the edict came about and to urge her to go to the king on behalf of her people to beg for their lives.
The words "her people" revealed for the first time that Esther was a Jew. Without some reprieve from the king, Esther, Mordecai, and all their people would die.
Esther 4:9-11; Esther replied to Mordecai reminding him that she could not simply enter the king's inner chambers unannounced or she might be put to death.
The king had the power to execute anyone who came into his court without an appointment. The king could accept an unannounced visitor by extending a golden scepter to indicate that he approved of the visit and that the person was welcome and not to be executed by the guards. He had not summoned Esther for a month so she did not know whether he would accept an unannounced visit from her or not.
Esther 4:12-14; Mordecai's response to Esther stated that she was in a unique position to avert the disaster and that if she was killed as a result of her attempt to remedy the problem she would die anyway as a result of the edict. Death for attempting an unannounced visit to the king would be no worse than death from Haman's edict.
Esther 4:15-17; Esther understands the situation. In her reply to Mordecai she states, "if I perish, I perish". She resolved to carry out the wishes of Mordecai and go to the king even though doing so risked her life. She asked him and the other Jews in the city to fast for her.
Esther 5:1-4; on the third day of the fasting Esther went to the king and he was pleased that she came so he pointed the gold scepter toward her sparing her life.
He apparently sensed that she had come to request something so he asked her for her request. And he even offered to give her whatever she wanted even up to half the kingdom. This was an idiom to express the point that Esther could request whatever she desired and that her wish would be granted.
Esther's request was simply that that Xerxes and Haman come to a banquet that she had prepared.
Esther 5:5-8; The banquet was prepared and Haman was told to come as Esther had requested. It was apparently an unusual honor to be invited to a banquet with the queen. When the king asked what she wanted he again promised to fulfill anything she desired.
Esther replied that she would tell him the next day at a second banquet. We do not know why Esther did not relate Haman's plot at the first banquet.
Xerxes' response to Esther's suggestion is not stated, but Haman's boasting Esther 5:12; shows that the king was in agreement with coming to a second banquet.
Esther 5:9-14; Haman was euphoric about his sudden good fortune with the king and the queen but simultaneously he was enraged about Mordecai, the Jew, who still refused to bow down to him.
Haman was so livid from his anger about Mordecai that he could not enjoy his good position. On this occasion, to relieve himself of his rage and anxiety about Mordecai, he gathered his family and friends and spent time boasting about the wealth he had amassed and his family.
He bragged about his promotions, his rank in the government and he topped it off by telling them that on two successive days he was to be the guest of honor at a private banquet with only the king and queen present. However, he admitted that all his money, prestige, and fame did not satisfy him because of Mordecai.
Haman's wife, Zeresh, and all his friends were all influenced by his anger and they suggested that he have a gallows built that would be 75 feet high (Net note 20) and that he have Mordecai hanged on it before the banquet so he would have nothing bothering him when he went to the banquet.
As we have previously seen the gallows probably was an impaling stake, a common method of execution in the ancient world. The purpose in building such a tall gallows was so it would be visible from a long distance.
The person on the stake would be visible from all directions, since he would be higher than all the trees. The sight of this would emphasize to all that Haman was in control and that no one should try to oppose him.
Haman probably felt that with Mordecai gone there would be no organized opposition from the Jews and he would be freed from his opposition forever.
But we will see as the events unfold that God is sovereignly at work behind every detail including the building of the gallows. Jesus Christ controls history and He is in control of all things all of the time. Col 1:17-18; John 19:10-11; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:23-28;
Esther 6:1-3; During the night before Esther's second banquet, Xerxes was unable to sleep. The author had not explained why Esther asked for a delay before telling the king her request at the first banquet but the reason is now made clear.
God was going to elevate Mordecai, to prepare the king to react unfavorably to Haman. Because of the king's sleeplessness he asked for some of the chronicles that we read about in Esther 2:23; to be read to him.
God used Xerxes insomnia to bring to his attention Mordecai's work in preventing Xerxes' assassination. Of all the texts that could have been selected by the librarian from the records of his 12 years of rule up to that time, the one that contained the account of Mordecai's uncovering the assassination plot Esther 2:21-23; was read to the king that night.
When Xerxes asked what honor Mordecai had been given for saving the king's life about five years previously the king found that he had not been rewarded most likely because of some bureaucratic oversight.
If Mordecai had been immediately rewarded for his saving the king there would have been no need for the elaborate plan which would soon be carried out by the king by Haman.
God's providential hand was at work in the failure to reward Mordecai because it is much more significant that it be done in the context of Esther's request for her people.
Esther 6:4-6; In the morning Haman entered the palace outer court to ask for permission to hang Mordecai and at that moment. The king asked who was in the court and Haman "just happened" to be there.
God was now turning events against Haman and everything that was meant for evil against the Jews was turning out for good for them. Gen 50:20;
When Haman was brought into the king's presence, he must have felt honored. And when the king asked him " What should be done for the man the king delights to honor"? Haman was beside himself with joy and enthusiasm because he thought that the king was speaking about him.
Esther 6:7-9; Haman responded to the king by mentioning several things that should be done for the person the king wished to honor:
Haman recommended that such a man should have the appearance of royalty, by wearing a kingly robe and riding a royal steed, one the king had already ridden.
Haman said that the honored man should be served by one of the noblest princes.
The princes were to take the man through the city on this horse, clearing the way before him and pointing out to all who watched that this man was honored by the king.
Haman did not need money but he had approbation and power lust. Even though he was wealthy and had more power than anyone outside the royal family he was not satisfied. He wanted even more respect from the people of the city. Haman's lust for respect from Mordecai is what got him to issue his Anti-Semitic decree and it is going to destroy him.
Esther 6:10-13; Haman's ideas apparently appealed to the king; he commanded Haman to carry them out for Mordecai the Jew.
This is the first of five times Mordecai is called "the Jew" Esther 8:7; Esther 9:29,31; Esther 10:3; apparently to highlight the fact that a Jew was given a prominent position in Susa the capital city of the Persian Empire.
Haman who hates Mordecai and was going to ask to be able to kill him now has to honor him. He wanted respect from Mordecai now he has to give respect to Mordecai. Haman had to carry out the king's order even though it embarrassed and angered him greatly. This is God honoring the Abrahamic covenant. Gen 12:1-2;
When Haman had left home that morning he was going to request permission to kill Mordecai and now he was to be the one to honor him for the king and to make matters worse, his advisers and his wife now saw nothing but trouble for him in the future.
They noted that Mordecai's Jewish origin meant that Haman was doomed. We have seen that Haman was very superstitious and that the Persian religions much was made of omens and signs. Fate, chance, and luck were considered important in everyday life.
The Book of Esther is the story that shows that even though events often appear to be fatalistic and happenstance that, God rules and He works through the events and circumstances for His people.
Haman nor any other human can stand against God's people, the Jewish nation many of whom were then back in the Promised Land with a rebuilt temple, offering sacrifices to God at Jerusalem and completely unaware of these events in Susa.
Esther 6:14; After escorting Mordecai around town on the royal steed all day Haman is escorted to Esther's second banquet.
Esther 7:1-4; During the banquet the king again asked Esther her request, and again he promised that he would grant it to her. This time Esther got right to the point and gave her request for her life and for her people.
She explained that all her people had been sold into annihilation. Showing her subservient position to the king, she added that if they had only been sold into slavery she certainly would not have bothered the king.
Esther 7:5-6; The king asked her who was doing this to Esther and her people and she responded that it was Haman.
Esther 7:7-8; The king was outraged and withdrew from the banquet; Haman begged Esther to spare his life and at that moment that the king returned he fell down on the couch and the king accused Haman of trying to assault Esther.
Haman was not assaulting her but had simply fallen on her couch as he was begging for his life but it looked bad and it sealed his death sentence so the guards covered his face and carried him off.
The tables had now been turned, but the Jews were still left with the problem that the irrevocable edict that Haman had sent out in the king's name was still in effect.
Esther 7:9-10; Harbona, one of the king's seven eunuchs told the king about the gallows which Haman had built to kill Mordecai and the kin ordered that Haman be hanged on his own gallows.
God had sovereignly setup the circumstances so that His people could be delivered. Now it was their' turn.
Esther 8:1-2; Haman was apparently considered a criminal for his act because his property was confiscated. The king's signet ring, which had been given Haman to authorize the edict against the Jews was now given to Mordecai so he now had the power that Haman previously had.
Haman who had hoped to confiscate the Jews' property; Esther 3:13; now had his own property removed and given to, of all people and Esther appointed Mordecai to oversee it.
Esther 8:3-6; Since Haman's edict to exterminate the Jews was still in force, Esther appeared before the king a second time without an invitation. The king was favorable toward her and once again held out the gold scepter to her. Esther's request was for a second decree to be sent out that would overrule the effects of Haman's decree.
Esther 8:7-8; The king noted that Esther and Mordecai now had the power and resources that previously belonged to Haman and therefore they should use that power to their advantage.
Though the decree that Haman had sent could not be revoked, a second one could supersede it. Xerxes even gave Mordecai authority to write the decree any way he wished and he could stamp it with the king's authority by using the signet ring.
Esther 8:9-14; The decree Mordecai wrote was sent out in the third month that is called Sivan that corresponds to our June-July in 474BC. Since this was a little over two months after Haman's decree had been sent the Jews had about nine months to prepare themselves for the conflict.
The new decree was dispatched by horsemen throughout the whole empire from India to Cush and was written in the appropriate languages for each province. The edict gave the Jews the right to protect themselves and the right to annihilate and plunder any group that fought against them.
The Jews could also confiscate the property of those who fought them just as Mordecai had taken away the property of Haman.
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