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Esther Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Esther 3:1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.

Agagite. It is possible that Haman was a descendant of Agag, who had been king of the Amalekites at the time of Saul (1 Samuel 15:8), and who had been spared by Saul when he destroyed the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:20), then later slain by Samuel (1 Samuel 15:33). If so, this would help explain why Haman hated all the Jews, not Mordecai only. However, it is also known, from an Akkadian inscription, that there was a district in Media (later a part of the Medo-Persian empire) named Agag.

Esther 3:2 And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.

bowed not. In the Hebrew, “bow down” is the same as “worship.” Mordecai, as a believing Jew, refused to worship Haman, knowing that God alone must be worshiped (Exodus 20:5; Daniel 3:18; etc.). Not even angels are to be worshipped (e.g., Revelation 22:8, 9).

Esther 3:3 Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?

Esther 3:4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

Esther 3:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.

Esther 3:6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

destroy all the Jews. Haman had apparently such delusions of grandeur that he craved worship as a divinity. He realized that not only Mordecai but also the Jews as a people would refuse him the worship he desired. Therefore he determined to stamp out the Jews and their monotheistic religion altogether.

Esther 3:7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

Esther 3:8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.

a certain people. It may be significant that Haman did not reveal that this “certain people” were the Jews. He may have been afraid that Ahasuerus (Xerxes) would remember the earlier decrees of Cyrus and Darius favoring the Jews, and possibly also remember the honored position that Daniel—also a Jew—had held in the courts of two Persian kings (Ezra 1:2-3; 6:11-12; Daniel 6:25-28).

Esther 3:9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.

ten thousand talents. Haman was evidently the wealthiest man in Persia, and Ahasuerus had dipped heavily into his own resources in financing his ill-fated Grecian campaign. No doubt one reason for the king's promotion of Haman was this wealth, which he coveted. Haman thus agreed, in effect, to make up personally any lost income that might otherwise have been received from the Jews. Whether monarchy or democracy, men of wealth have often been able to manipulate political leaders by controlling their financial resources.

Esther 3:10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.

Esther 3:11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.

Esther 3:12 Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.

Esther 3:13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.

twelfth month. Exactly eleven months earlier, on the day before the Passover, this command had been given (compare Exodus 12:6), thus giving the Jews adequate time to prepare their defense. The date for Haman's intended genocide had been set by the casting of lots. God, however, determines how the lot will fall (Proverbs 16:33), and He ordained that the date would be almost a year away. This day was adopted later by the Jews as the date for their annual feast of Purim (meaning “lots). See Esther 9:26-32.

posts. These were “couriers.”

Esther 3:14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.

Esther 3:15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.