Our verse at the close of our study yesterday was an inspiring one:
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)Can you hear her heart beating as she walks down the corridor to the huge doors? As they swing open, do you hear her take a deep breath?
Oh, the relief she must have felt, when the king smiled and pointed his scepter in her direction! He asks her what is her request -- he tells her that if she would like it, he will give her half of his kingdom! Esther simply asked for him to come to a special banquet in her quarters, and to bring his second in command, Haman, with him. After their sumptuous meal, the king asks again what she would like from him. This brave lady was a master of suspense -- she tells him to come back (and bring Haman) tomorrow for another feast, and she will tell him.
Can't you just picture Haman, strutting around? I bet he feels mighty important; he is the only one that has been invited to eat with the king and queen, and he gets to do it again tomorrow! In fact, chapter five notes that he is in "high spirits."
Oh, what a bummer, though.
As he is leaving, he spots Mordecai at the gate. And Mordecai not only doesn't bow to him, like all the rest, he doesn't even acknowledge Haman. All of the joy gets sucked out of the moment for ole Haman. He is so mad! He just can't wait for the king's decree to be accomplished. When he gets home, he tells all of his friends about his importance. He tells his wife and the others that he is going back tomorrow for the second dinner -- but it's so bothersome that he has to see Mordecai at the gate.
Well, his wife and his friends are just as bad as he. They advise him to build a huge gallows - scaffolding that is about seventy-five feet high! And then, they say, he should ask the king to hang Mordecai from it. After all, a fellow that eats with the royal family surely deserves to have his enemy done away with, right? Haman probably couldn't sleep that night, from the anticipation of having Mordecai gone.
There is someone else who can't sleep, though. Perhaps the king ate too much at Esther's banquet, but he was restless and couldn't sleep well. He thought that some dry, boring reading might soothe him to sleep, so he instructed one of his servants to read from the official records. Just as he started to doze off, he heard about what Mordecai had done a few months earlier, and he realized that he'd not rewarded him for his loyalty. How embarrassing! He needed to do something special for Mordecai.
The first person to the court a few hours later was Haman, so that he could talk about hanging Mordecai. The king asked Haman a very simple question -- "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"
Haman was absolutely sure that the king was talking about him! He came up with an elaborate plan to clothe this person in a royal robe, sit him on the king's horse, and have him led around the streets of the city by one of the princes!
Well, the king liked that idea a lot, and told Haman to "make it so." To immediately get the robe, the horse, and do as suggested, but not for himself . . . for Mordecai the Jew!
I expect that he was in a pretty foul humor when he went to the palace that night for supper. Once again, the king asked Esther what she wanted, and this time she was ready to tell him.
Now, suddenly, the king realized that his beautiful bride was Jewish. Without realizing it, he had signed the queen's death warrant. He asked her who had dared to do such a thing, and she calmly replies that it is Haman.
Haman fell out of his chair, and the king went out of the room in a rage. When he came back into Esther's chambers, Haman was begging for his life -- but Persian etiquette forbade anyone from coming within seven paces of the queen . . . and Haman was leaning on her, on her couch. Oh boy! The king exclaims that Haman is "hitting on" his queen, and instructs the servants and soldiers to have him executed.
(Some scholars translate the verses to read that a pole had been erected, instead of a gallows, and that Haman was impaled upon it. Whether a gallows, or a pole, Haman was gone!)
The king responded to Esther's supplications and reversed the decree, so the Jewish people would not be killed. He even supplied the Jewish people with weapons so that they could defend themselves in the future. Because of the bravery of Esther, her people were saved!
We'll learn more from Esther tomorrow.....