Esther 2:21-5:8

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017



In Esther chapter 1, Queen Vashti was deposed, and in Esther 2:1-20 we have seen that Esther was made the new queen.


As we study the Book of Esther, we realize that Esther had no idea that God had placed her in her position as queen in order that He might use her to deliver the Jews from a plot to exterminate the entire nation; but we can see that God prepared her in advance to accomplish His purpose. As we look back on our lives, we can see that God has also prepared us to accomplish His purposes in some way.

As we continue, we see that –

  II.     The Jews Marked for Extermination – 2:21 - 4:3


            A.  A feud and Haman’s hatred of the Jews – 2:21 - 3:6


                        1.   King saved by Mordecai – 2:21-23


God also used this event to accomplish His purpose.


Esther 2:21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains [i.e. eunuchs], Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door [i.e. guarded the door], were wroth [i.e. were furious], and sought to lay hand on [i.e. sought to assassinate] the king Ahasuerus.


(BKC) . . . A reference to Mordecai’s position at the gate . . . as a judiciary official points to God’s sovereign control over these events.


Esther 2:22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified [i.e. informed] the king thereof [i.e. about it] in Mordecai’s name.


Esther 2:23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out [i.e. when the report was investigated and found to be true]; therefore they were both hanged on a tree [i.e. hanged on a gallows, impaled on sharpened poles]: and it was written [i.e. recorded] in the book of the chronicles before the king.


2:21-23 – (RSB) Mordecai foiled an assassination plot against the king, and the report of this service was duly recorded in the king’s diary (6:1-2).


(RSB) hanged. Not by the neck but impaled on a stake or post. . . .


(BKC) Rather than being hanged by the neck on a modern-type gallows, the men were probably impaled on a stake or post . . . . This was not an unusual method of execution in the Persian Empire. Darius, Xerxes’ father, was known to have once impaled 3,000 men.


Esther 3


                        2.   Haman promoted – 3:1-6


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.


(BKC) Because Haman was an Agagite, some have supposed that he was descended from Agag, king of the Amalekites. . . . However, it seems unlikely that a high-ranking Persian official would be related to a west Semite who lived 600 years earlier. Archaeologists have uncovered an inscription which indicates that Agag was also the name of a province in the Persian Empire. This probably explains why Haman was called an Agagite.


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.


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 [i.e., Mordecai’s reason for not bowing] 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 [i.e. filled with wrath, filled with rage].


Esther 3:6 And he thought scorn [i.e. he disdained, he scorned the idea] to lay hands on Mordecai alone [i.e. only on Mordecai]; for they had shewed 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.


3:6 – (RSB) Haman realized that to kill only Mordecai would not solve his problem.


            B.  King persuaded by Haman to destroy the Jews – 3:7-15


                        1.   Lot cast by Haman – 3:7-9


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.


3:7 – (RSB) first month ... twelfth year (Mar-Apr. 474), more than four years after Esther had become queen.


(RSB) Pur. An Assyrian word meaning “lot.” The plural, Purim, gives its name to the feast commemorating the Jews’ deliverance from Haman . . . . Haman, being very superstitious, cast the lot in order to determine the most propitious time for carrying out his plot against the Jews. The lot fell on the twelfth month (Feb-Mar.), which not only gave Haman time to prepare but also, in the overruling providence of God, gave the Jews time to thwart his plan.


(BKC) . . . God was working to protect His people even in the timing of events. As things worked out, the Jews had almost a year in which to prepare themselves for the conflict with their enemies.


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 [i.e. it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them (or to let them remain)].


Esther 3:9 If it please the king, let it be written [i.e. let a decree be issued, let it be decreed] 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.


3:9 – (RSB) In reality Haman offered a bribe to the king, the amount of which he expected to cover by confiscating the property of the Jews.


(RSB) ten thousand talents of silver = 12,000,000 oz (375 tons. . .) [On Feb. 17, 2017, the price of silver was $17.99/ounce. This means that Haman’s bribe approximated $215,880,000.00 in today’s money as of last Friday].


                        2.   King’s permission given – 3:10-11


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 [i.e. as you please].


3:10-11 – (RSB) The king, not even interested enough to inquire who the people were, gave Haman his ring (on which was the official seal, the equivalent of the king’s signature) and permission to do whatever he wished with the people and their money.


(BKC) Little did the king realize that his queen, Esther, was a Jewess and would be included in this hideous plan.


                        3.   Proclamations sent out – 3:12-15


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 [i.e. satraps], and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people [i.e. and to the princes of each people] of every province according to the writing thereof [i.e. according to its script], and to every people after their language [i.e. in 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 [i.e. by couriers] into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish [i.e. and to annihilate], 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 [i.e. on March 7, 473 B.C.], and to take the spoil of them for a prey [i.e. and to plunder their possessions, and to seize their possessions as plunder].


3:12-13 – (RSB) The edict was drawn up and letters were sent immediately by a postal system that employed riders stationed at various intervals who passed messages along to each other, thus allowing the letters to reach the remotest part of the empire in time to prepare for the execution of the Jews on March 7, 473 B.C.


Esther 3:14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given [i.e. a copy of the document was to be issued as law] in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day [i.e. that they should be ready for that day].


Esther 3:15 The posts went out, being hastened [i.e. spurred on] by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given [i.e. was issued] in Shushan the palace [i.e. the capital]. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed [i.e. was bewildered, was in confusion].


(BKC) The edict . . . bewildered the people in the city of Susa . . . . Apparently such a decree had never before come from the royal court. Haman’s bloodthirstiness, along with Xerxes’ seeming indifference to such atrocities, was incredible even to a sophisticated society which was used to cruel behavior. Perhaps other minority populations wondered if they would be the next to be annihilated.


Esther 4


            C.  Mordecai mourned – 4:1-3


Esther 4:1 When Mordecai perceived [i.e. learned] all that was done, Mordecai rent [i.e. tore] his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;


(RSB) note on Gen. 37:34 – sackcloth. A coarse, loose cloth (like burlap), worn as a sign of mourning.


Esther 4:2 And came [i.e. Mordecai came] even before the king’s gate [i.e. went as far as the front of the king’s gate]: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.


Esther 4:3 And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.


 III.     Calamity Averted by Esther – 4:4 - 9:19


            A.  Communications between Mordecai and Esther – 4:4-17


Esther 4:4 So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains [i.e. eunuchs] came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment [i.e. garments] to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not [i.e. but he would not accept them].


Esther 4:5 Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains [i.e. eunuchs], whom he [i.e. Ahasuerus] had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him [i.e. Esther gave Hatach] a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it was, and why it was [i.e. to learn what and why this was].


Esther 4:6 So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which was before the king’s gate [i.e. went out to Mordecai in the city square that was in front of the king’s gate].


Esther 4:7 And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them [i.e. to destroy the Jews].


4:7 – (RSB) That Mordecai was privy to these details indicates his high position in the realm.


Esther 4:8 Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree [i.e. of the written decree, of the text of the edict] that was given at Shushan to destroy them [i.e. for the Jews’ destruction, for the Jews’ annihilation], to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her [i.e. and to explain it to her], and to charge her [i.e. that he might command her] that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request [i.e. and to plead] before him for her people.


4:8 – (RSB) for her people. Hatach now knew that Esther was a Jewess.


Esther 4:9 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.


Esther 4:10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

Esther said –

Esther 4:11 All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.


Esther 4:12 And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words.


Esther 4:13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews [i.e. Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews].


4:13 – (RSB) Mordecai put pressure on Esther, reminding her that she risked death whether she approached the king or not.


Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time [i.e. if you remain completely silent at this time], then shall there enlargement [i.e. relief] and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed [i.e. but you and your father’s house will perish]: and who knoweth whether thou art come [i.e. you have come] to the kingdom for such a time as this?


4:14 – (RSB) Mordecai was convinced that God would somehow save the Jewish nation, whether through Esther or otherwise.


Esther 4:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer [i.e. told them to reply to Mordecai],


Esther 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law [i.e. which is against the law]: and if I perish, I perish.


4:16 – (RSB) Prayer was no doubt the purpose for this fast, indicating Esther’s sense of dependence on God.


Esther 4:17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.


Esther 5


            B.  Plot exposed by Esther – 5:1 - 7:10


                        1.   Banquet prepared – 5:1-4


Esther 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against [i.e. in front of, across from] the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against [i.e. opposite, facing] the gate of the house.


5:1 – (RSB) on the third day. A part of a day was counted as a whole day, explaining how the fast could extend for three days, night and day (4:16), and yet terminate on the third day. . . .


Esther 5:2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.


Esther 5:3 Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou [i.e. what do you wish], queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.


(BKC) This was apparently an idiom to express the point that Esther could request whatever she desired and that her wish would be fulfilled.


Esther 5:4 And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king [i.e. if it pleases the king], let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.


                        2.   Second banquet prepared – 5:5-8


Esther 5:5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste [i.e. bring Haman quickly], that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.


Esther 5:6 And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed [i.e. it shall be done].


Esther 5:7 Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is;


Esther 5:8 If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request [i.e. and fulfill my request, and do what I request], let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.


(BKC) Why Esther did not relate Haman’s plot at the first banquet is not stated. Perhaps Esther was afraid to voice her complaint to the king. Perhaps she had second thoughts about telling him at all. Or perhaps she sensed that he was not in the right frame of mind for her to tell him on that day.


5:5-8 – (RSB) It was providential that Esther apparently lost the courage to expose Haman before the king at her first banquet and so held a second one the next day. During the intervening night, the events of chap. 6 took place, making it much easier for Esther to expose Haman at the second banquet.


(Dr. Q.) Perhaps she never lost her courage but that it is what God in His providence led her to do.


This sermon is the 2nd part of the series, Study of Esther. Other sermons in this series are: