Hatred for God's People
In spite of the omission of any name for Deity, there is no other book in all the Bible where God is more evident, working behind the scenes than in the Book of Esther.
The key to understanding Esther is the word “providence”, meaning to provide in advance.
One may, with full justification, pen the words of Romans 8:28 across the Book of Esther: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
In the Book of Esther, we are once again confronted with Satan’s hatred for the Jew. But God has always had a people.
Herod – not all the Jews, but babies under 2 years of age
There are many enemies of the Jews who have through the years sought to destroy the Jews. The Jew is “the apple of God’s eye,” His chosen people.
We’re going to meet one we might not know about; his name is Haman, and his is the story in the 3RD chapter.
We notice first of all in verses 1-6 the prejudices of Haman.
“After these things did King A-has-u-e-rus promote Haman, the son of Ham-med-a-tha the A-gag-ite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 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. Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? 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. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai, alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of A-has-u-e-rus, even the people of Mordecai.”
HAMAN –JEWS’ ENEMY
Here we are introduced to Haman. He is one in a long line of those who have led in a campaign to sort out people to hate.
He is promoted in Persia by King Ahasuerus; that would probably be like that of a Prime Minister. He is now, above all the others in the kingdom, and it is required of all who pass by this man, to give him reverence and bow down to him.
Haman is brought on the scene and he will occupy a later place in this book. He is to all the Jews of this day the most scorned and hated of men. He was the son of Ham-med-a-tha, the A-gag-ite; the Jews’ enemy is in his title. When his name is mentioned, the Orthodox Jews spit and stomp their feet, so hateful is his memory.
As we read these verses, we need to note under the prejudice of Haman, the reason for his prejudice. Why was he so prejudiced against the Jew? The reason is just one word that we might pass over quickly, if we do not study the history of the Old Testament. We are told in this text that Haman was an A-gag-ite. That’s the one word, Agagite. In the life of David, there was a study of Saul (1 Samuel 15). He was given instructions to go up against the Am-a-lek-ites to destroy them. That story is in chapter 15.
Is that one of the reasons why there is such hatred in the heart of Haman for the Jews, even when generations have passed?
1 Samuel 15, Verses 2-3
”Thus saith the Lord of hosts. I remember that which Am-a-lek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Am-a-lek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
And Saul smote the Am-a-lek-ites.
And he took A-gag the king of the Am-a-lek-ites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared A-gag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good.”
Saul was sharply rebuked by the prophet Samuel. Samuel hewed A-gag in pieces before the Lord in Gil-gal. Now, in the third chapter of Esther we discover that Haman was an A-gag-ite, we realize that he is from the lineage of the Amalekites who were hated enemies of the Jews. And the word came down to Haman that Samuel had hewn into pieces A-gag. This great hatred for all of the Jewish people was raging in Haman’s heart for what had been done by Samuel.
But in the lives of many people there does not need to be a reason. There is a built in hatred for the Jewish people in many hearts today.
The results of Haman’s hatred: It meant much to Haman to be bowed down to and bow they did! There was one who wouldn’t, but that one just drove Haman crazy. He would not be content. He was willing to lose everything in order to punish the one person, who wouldn’t bow.
So he decided that he wouldn’t just punish Mordecai but since Mordecai was a Jew and that there were many other Jews, he decided to kill them all. Haman’s actions was the first recorded effort to exterminate the Jews in the Bible.
Pharoah tried to limit their numbers, by ordering the male babies, ages two and younger, to be killed, but he never tried to terminate the whole race.
Nebuhadnezzar carried the nation away into captivity, but until this place in the Bible, there is no attempt on the part of anyone to exterminate the whole race of Jews.
Haman could have dealt with just Mordecai, but he used this occasion for a springboard to destroy all of the Jews that he hated. In his distorted vision, he didn’t see the hundreds of humble Jewish people who were so talented, the unoffensive women and young people. All he saw was one man who insulted him and he indicted an entire race and he became the picture of prejudice for us to study today.
Haman was filled with prejudice and he constructed a plot to kill the Jews.
“In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king A-has-u-e-rus, 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. And Haman said unto king A-has-u-e-rus, 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. 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”.
Now we learn first of all, from the 7TH verse, that five years have passed since Esther has become queen. Haman has learned the timeframe for wiping out the Jewish nation. It was to be April, which is the first month of the year in the Persian calendar and the Persians believed that their gods at the first of their year would come together to fix the fates of men. And Haman called in the soothsayers and the witches and all of the astronomers and they cast their lots to see which of these days would be the luckiest in which to terminate all the Jewish nation.
It’s interesting that the Bible says in Proverbs 16:33:
“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” The Lord is behind all of this. He doesn’t approve it; He doesn’t ordain it, but He is still in control of it, isn’t He!
Verse 8>, Haman now goes in before the presence of the king and notice he doesn’t say a word about his personal reason for destroying the Jews. He doesn’t mention Mordecai by name. He begins by saying, “There is a certain people scattered abroad in all the provinces of thy kingdom.”
Some of Haman’s words were true. These folks, the Jews, are a different people; they do observe the Law. They do observe special days. They do have feasts and they do abhor the intermarriages of their people with the Persian people. What happens is, Haman takes it one step farther and says that the Jews have been in violation of the king’s laws. That was not true. History has proven that some of the most obedient citizens, no matter what culture they have been in, have been the Jewish people. But Haman, because of his prejudice, has taken some facts and blown them into fiction in order that he might accuse the people of God.
He literally says that he will pay “10,000.00 talents of silver into the hands of those that have charge of the business, so they can bring it into the king’s treasuries.” Now the king was very interested.
You remember in the first chapter he had invited all these people to the banquet, so that he could win them over to help him conquer the Greeks. He had fought the campaign and lost, lost all of his fleet in the sea. This had depleted his resources and Haman knew that this kind of money would be very attractive to King Xerxes (zuhrk’seez) and Haman used monetary motivation to get the king involved in this project—10,00.00 talents of silver is 20 million $.
That’s a lot of money, but in those days it was lot more. You wonder where Haman is going to get all this money. He would get it the same way Sadam Hussein got his: ravaged the people.
He had already sorted this out in his mind. He would exterminate the Jews and confiscate their goods. He would take their money and their property, and he would turn that into the ransom which he had promised to the king and there would be plenty left over for him to use for himself.
We think about wicked Haman and how awful he was, but this king to whom Esther is married, he is terrible himself. What’s missing in this story that I find is amazing, King A-has-u-e-rus didn’t ever inquire about the people that Haman wanted to exterminate. He didn’t know who they were and he obviously didn’t know that one of them was his own wife, Esther, for she was a Jew.
He probably saw $20 million coming into his possession and since he had lost the war, and all his fleet of ships, the money looked good regardless of why or how Haman was going to get it.
You can’t help but wonder how much pressure Esther was feeling, even this early in her relationship with King A-has-u-e-rus. Now we’ll see that permission is granted for the extermination of the Jews. First of all, Haman is given permission to act in place of the king. Notice verse 10:
“And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Ham-med-a-tha the A-gag-ite, the Jews’ enemy.”
And in handing over his signet ring, King A-has-u-e-rus gave Haman power to act in the name of the king. So here is this ruthless, prejudiced Jew hating, who now has the authority of the royal decree in his hands. He has everything he needs to go out and destroy the Jewish nation. Not only does he have the authority to kill, he has been given the approval to steal. Notice verse 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.”
EXTERMINATION OF THE JEWS
What we have here is a man that is filled with hatred, and he has been given all this authority by the most powerful man in the world. He’s got the ring and he’s given the motivation to get and keep all he gets from the extermination of the Jews.
I’ve been to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Nazi Germany where six million Jews were killed in the ovens. They would take them and melt the gold out of their teeth. I saw the ovens. Then in 1999 I went back to the barracks. I also went to the museum in Germany and there were teeth, hair, little shoes, clothing…I also went to Hitler’s hideaway, …a fabulous place. We had to go underground.
In the Persian Empire there were many, many wealthy Jews. Jews have been very good business people. God gave to the Jewish people a great ability to do business.
And Haman saw the opportunity, not only to exterminate them, but to fill his own pockets with that which they had acquired. That is exactly what happened in Kuwait all over again, except this was to be done to the Jewish people. It will be years and years before the physiology impact of that ravishing and plundering begins to subside enough so that those people in that very small nation will be able again to live as human beings because of one man’s greed and ruthlessness. This reminds us of the man we are reading about in the book of Esther.
1. We have observed the prejudice of Haman
2. The plot to destroy the Jews
3. The permission for extermination
4. We have the proclamation of the plan
“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 A-has-u-e-rus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.”
Haman summoned the king’s scribes and they wrote out the order in the language of each province. Esther 1:1 states that “A-has-u-e-rus reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces.”
There might have been as many as 127 different languages in the Persian Empire, and they had to have all their translation in their own tongue, and there were hundreds of hours of work involved in translating this decree, so that all of the people could read it.
So Haman used this opportunity to whip up anti-semitism throughout the Empire and the word began to spread concerning this act that was about to transpire in their land.
From Verse 13 we read something about what the document contained.
“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.”
Notice how many different ways are used to describe the extermination and it was sealed and signed and stamped with the king’s ring, worn by Haman, stamped on every single paper, and was delivered by riders on Persian horses and, they say, nothing traveled as fast as their horses.
Haman wanted the order to go out fast so that nothing could be done to change it. Maybe he wanted the Jews to hear about it, so they would suffer anticipation. Maybe he thought some of them would flee the country and leave all of their goods and he wouldn’t have to kill them.
God said something very interesting through His prophet Isaiah, Chapter 54:17:
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
Satan hates the Jews, because Jesus Christ descended from these people. The Bible came to us through the Jews. God chose them as His people. God told Abram in Genesis 12:3:
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Persia - an ancient country in southwestern Asia; officially renamed Iran in 1935
Xerxes - King of Persia 486-465 BC
King Ahasuerus - the throne of his kingdom, in Shushan
Xerxes - King of Persia 486-465 BC
King Ahasuerus is also referred to as Xerxes.
(Feast of Xerxes, 483 BC, Queen Vashti deposed)
Vashti - the queen of Ahasuerus, who, for refusing to show herself to the king’s guests at the royal banquet, when sent for by the king, was repudiated and deposed
Haman – an Agagite, the chief minister of King Ahasuerus . After the failure of his attempt to cut off all the Jews in the Persian Empire, he was hanged on the gallows which he had erected for Mordecai.
Agagite – possibly a synonym for Amalekite, is a reference to a descendant of Agag. Agag was king of the Amalekites, a tribal people whom the Lord ordered King Saul to destroy completely. Saul disobeyed by sparing King Agag, so Samuel put Agag to death. Haman, the arch villain in Esther, was an Agagite.
Mordecai – the deliverer, under Divine Providence, of the Jews from the destruction plotted against them by Haman, the chief minister of Xerxes. Three things are predicated of Mordecai in the book of Esther: (1) that he lived at Shushan; (2) that his name was Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish the Benjamite who was taken captive with Jehoiachin; (3) that he brought up Esther.
Esther – Hebrew name, Hadassah; cousin of Mordecai, Persian queen, Esther crowned Queen, 478 BC.