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Esther 3

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Haman's Plot To Destroy The Jews (ch. 3:1 - 15)         


In verses 1 and 2 we see the name Haman.  He is the son of Hammedatha, and Agagite.  It is the general thinking, but not all hold to this, that the name Agagite here refers to King Agag of the Amalekites.  Exodus 17:8 - 16 states that the Amalekites were cursed by God because of the trouble they were to Israel.  The Amalekites were constant enemies of Israel.  King Saul was to kill all of them which he did for the most part, but, he did not kill their king, King Agag. (1 Samuel 15:8)  King Saul's days were about 600 years prior to the time of these events in Esther.  Agag is a common name among the Amalekite kings.  Like Pharaoh is to Egyptian kings.  Amalekites were descendents of Esau.  No wonder they were Israel's enemy.


Anyway, for some reason, probably in God's divine plan for nations, Xerxes made Haman second in command in all of Persia.  He decreed that everyone must bow down to him.  Verse 2 tells us that Mordecai did not bow down to Haman.  Why Mordecai didn't bow down to Haman is somewhat speculation.  Many feel that Mordecai was a very religious man and therefore would not bow to a human.  Others say that Mordecai would not bow to an Amalekite.  Still others say that Haman had some kind of necklace with a god around his neck.  Many rabies says this.  This might well be the case.  It's the best speculative scenario to me, especially in light of what verse 4 says.  Mordecai had told those who were to make people comply to the bowing down to Haman decree that he was a Jew.  I believe this tells me that Mordecai didn't bow down for religious reasons.


In verses 3 and 4 certain officials went to Haman to ask what should be done with Mordecai since he didn't bow down to him.  It appears to me, and I could be wrong, that Haman didn't seem to know that Mordecai didn't bow down to him.  This might have been possible if Haman was in a large public crowd.  Maybe he would not have seen Mordecai not bow down.  Whatever the case, Haman knows now, and from this point on, Haman keeps an eye open for Mordecai and sees him not bowing.  


Haman was "enraged" when he heard that Mordecai didn't bow down in honor before him.  I think this makes it clear.  Haman didn't know prior to this that Mordecai didn't bow down and give honor, so, when he finally finds out, he is very upset. 


Verse 7 tells us that Haman was so enraged that killing Mordecai alone didn't satisfy his rage.  He looked for a way to kill all the Jews in Persia.  We certainly see that anti-Semitism has been alive and well all the way through history.


In verse 7 we see that the events of this chapter take place in the twelfth year of King Xerxes.  Esther would have been queen for about 5 years at this point.


What's happening in verse 7 is this.  "Purs" (equivalent to jour lots or dice) were cast to see when the extermination of the Jews should take place.  The lots fell on the month of Adar, which is our March.  Each year in March, many Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim.  This feast has nothing to do with the Law of Moses.  It is not a feast dictated by the Lord.  It is a feast in celebration of the deliverance of Israel under King Xerxes.  The "Purim" comes from the word "pur' in this verse.


Once the day to kill the Jews had been established, Haman went to Xerxes and suggested that he make a decree to kill the Jews, as seen in verses 8 and 9.  The reason Haman gives the king is because the Jews are a separate race from the rest of Persia .  They keep to themselves.  They follow their own traditions and their own religion.  They don't alley themselves with the king's decrees, Mordecai being one prime example.  They don't fit into the Persian tradition, much like Christians shouldn't fit into much of the western culture's tradition. 


Haman's excuse to kill the Jews as seen in verses 8 and 9 might well be exaggerated.  I would not put it past Haman to do such a thing.  Remember, these Jews had the opportunity to return to Jerusalem after their 70 year exile was over, but they didn't.  For many reasons they chose to stay.  They might well have liked and benefited from first the Babylonian Empire, and then secondly, from the Medo Persian Empire.  This might suggest that they were comfortable living away from the promised land.  This then would suggest that the Jews might not have been as separate and distinct as Haman said they were.  Haman simply hated one Jewish  man, so he wanted to kill the whole race of Jews.  That was his real motivation.  


What we see here is a good picture of Christians today.  We, like the Jews  here, are scattered all over the world, and, like the Jews, we follow our own traditions.  We donít always fall in line with government and society.  We are separate and distinct from others, or, at least we should be.  Our problem is that we aren't separate and distinct as we should be.


Haman tells the king that he will throw in ten thousand talents of silver.  That's about 375 tons of silver.  Scholars over the years have wondered how and where Haman would get that kind of money.  Some suggest it would all come from the Jews.  After they were all killed, all of the possessions would be gathered for Haman and his soldiers.  I don't know how they figure this, but some claim that 375 tons of silver was roughly two thirds of the whole year's economy of Persia.


We see in verses 10 and 11 that Xerxes took off his signet ring and gave it to Haman.  These rings were often used as stamps, much like our ink pads.  They would be used in the sealing of the king's decree. We see this in verse 12.  From this point to the end of the chapter we see that this decree was written out and sealed with the king's ring and sent to all parts of Persia.  The Jews would all be killed on what we know as March 13. 


The last phrase of this chapter tells us that Xerxes and Haman sat down and drank.  I suggest this was a drink to celebrate the decree.  The two men were happy, and probably became more happier with the more wine they drank. 


Verse 19 states that those in Susa, the capital city, were bewildered.  Remember, this was all a vendetta by one man.  Haman wanted to kill all the Jews just because one man, Mordecai, wouldn't bow to him.  I think this is what confused the general public.  The general public might well have had no problem with the Jews.  Many in Susa probable had friends with Jewish people.  Many probably had neighbours as Jews. 



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