Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 12 2019 - Esther 7 – Haman hanged

A troubled Haman, now uncertain of the outcome of his plotting, was led away to his banquet with King Xerxes and Queen Esther. No doubt he viewed it as a pleasant diversion from his troubles. But as the king and Haman were drinking wine, perhaps towards the end of a splendid meal, the king asked Esther what she wanted to ask from him, again promising that he will grant her request.

Rising to the challenge that Mordecai had given her, the queen asks that if she has found favour with the king, he would spare her people from death. Esther then makes it quite clear that she is also under a death sentence; "I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated" (v. 4). Her reference to being "sold" perhaps implies her knowledge that Haman had promised to pay the king in return for granting his request.

The king does not seem to understand what Esther has said. Perhaps he has not yet realised that she is Jewish. Or, as may be indicated by his recent treatment of Mordecai, amid all the other affairs of the empire, the king has quite overlooked the decree against the Jews – it had been issued by Haman in the king's name rather than being issued personally by the king. Whatever the case, he blurts out, "Who is he? Where is he – the man who has dared to do such a thing?" (v. 5). Esther's immediate reply is, "An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!" (v. 6). Her words imply that Haman is an enemy not only of the Jews but also of the king and that he has used his relationship with the king to pursue his own evil purposes.

Haman listens in terror, and the king is so enraged that he cannot speak and has to go out of the banqueting room into his garden to cool down. Haman knows that for plotting against the queen he will suffer the same fate as that of the officers at the king's gate whom Mordecai overheard. His only hope is to get Esther on his side. He throws himself on Esther's mercy, which unfortunately involved throwing himself on the couch where Esther was reclining. (Court etiquette forbade a man from approaching to within seven steps of any of the women from the harem.) At that moment the king returned and exclaimed, "Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?" (v. 8). Haman is hauled away and, when the king is told of the pole that Haman had erected beside his house for the impaling of Mordecai – the Jew whom the king had honoured – he ordered that Haman be impaled on it. For a second time, Haman and Mordecai exchange places: on the first occasion Mordecai received the honour which Haman had carefully designed for himself; now Haman suffers the fate which he had carefully designed for Mordecai. Only when this had been done did the fury of the king subside.

The Book of Esther is a skilfully told story, worthy of a modern TV drama or feature film. But this is not the end of the story for the decree commanding the slaughter of the Jews is still in place and has not been repealed. What will happen next?

Jesus also was the Jew sentenced to death by those who were his enemies, sold for thirty pieces of silver. By his resurrection from the dead he gained the victory over Satan, his chief enemy, but there are still many who oppose the work of his kingdom and seek to harm his people. We await the day when all threats shall be removed and our Saviour will return to reign unopposed in the glory of his kingdom – a glory that we shall share. While the outcome is not uncertain, we each remain uncertain of the opposition we may experience as we seek to live consistent lives as God's people. We also are a people who await the next instalment in the story of our salvation.

Father God, we live in a world that is full of threats and uncertainties. Help us to know that there are things even more certain than death and taxes. Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Help us to put all of our trust in our great King, knowing that his kingdom will not fail and that he will not fail to save his people and bring us each one safe to glory. Father, we pray especially for those of your people who face a sentence of death today. Encourage them with the sense of your presence with them. Deliver them from those who threaten them we pray.

Peter Misselbrook