The Word Made Fresh
1So, the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, 2and on that second occasion, as they were drinking their wine, the king said to Esther, “What is it you desire, queen Esther? It shall be granted, even to half of my kingdom. What is your request?”
3Then queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases you, let my life be spared. That is what I desire, for me and for my people. 4For we are to be killed, and completely annihilated. If we had only been sold as slaves, I would hold my peace because no other distress would warrant bothering the king about.”
5Then King Ahasuerus demanded, “Who would dare presume to do such a thing? Tell me!”
6And Esther blurted out, “An evil enemy – this Haman!”
Haman was terrified. 7The king rose from the table in a rage and went out into the palace garden. Haman stayed to beg for his life from the queen, because he could see the king was very angry. 8When the king returned to the banquet, there was Haman on the couch where Esther reclined! The king said, “Is he even going to assault the queen in front of me, and in my own house?”
Haman’s face went pale at the king’s words. 9Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs who was in attendance, said, “Look! Haman has prepared gallows for Mordecai, the very man who saved the king’s life! It is standing there at Haman’s house, seventy-five feet high!”
“Then hang him on it!” the king decreed.
10So, Haman was hung on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.
1-10: Zeresh (Haman’s wife) was right; the elevation of Mordecai in the king’s eyes could not be a good thing for Haman. But while he is bemoaning this latest turn of events, an escort comes and takes him to the queen’s banquet with the king, and again the king presses Esther to tell him what is on her mind. It is, of course, unthinkable that king Ahasuerus would have married anyone without knowing as much about them and their background as can be known, so we must assume that he knows Esther is Jewish. The issue seems to be that he didn’t bother to ask Haman what race of people Haman wanted to do away with. When Esther reveals that her people have been condemned to death, he asks her who would do such a thing, and Haman is surely devastated to learn that Queen Esther is a Jew. Ahasuerus is so enraged when he learns what Haman has done, he finds it necessary to leave the room, and when he returns there is Haman on the couch with the queen. Haman, of course, is begging for his life, but Ahasuerus assumes he is trying to take advantage of her. Haman is taken into custody, and when the king hears that he has constructed gallows on which to hang Mordecai, he orders his guards to hang Haman on it. So ends the mercurial career of Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite.
The book of Esther is indeed a royal comedy, surrounding a very serious subject. The Jews have only recently been allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, but most of the Jewish people are still scattered throughout the Persian empire. Many of them have risen to responsible offices in that government, but the nation of Judah has not been restored; it is at this point merely a province of Persia. The story of Esther helps to flesh out an obscure period in Israel’s history. And, although God is not specifically mentioned in Esther, God is obviously still shaping the history of the Jewish people.