|ESTHER CHAPTER THREE|
Esther Chapter Three
Today we're continuing with chapter three. In order to get the best results from the study I suggest that you turn to each of the scriptures referenced in the study and read them in their full context. Keep a pen ready and make notes on things that you notice as well as things that you'll want to remember from this study.
Meaning of names in this chapter:
Haman: Persian word Hamayun meaning "illustrious." (Wikipedia)
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. 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.
In Esther chapter three we are introduced to Haman the “Agagite.” It is important to note that he is an Agagite in understanding the rest of the chapter as this will explain why Mordecai refused to bow down to him. And why there was bad blood between the two.
Many of us will remember the story from Exodus chapter 17 of Moses, Aaron, and Hur who went up to the top of the hill while the Israelites were in battle with the Amalekites below. When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, they lost strength. And so we are told that when his hands got heavy, Aaron and Hur held them up. In verse 16 of that chapter (Ex.17) we are told, “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
1. How does this relate to Haman?
Haman was a descendant of Agag, who we see from 1 Samuel 15:8 was king of the Amalekites. If you’ve been following the symbolism in Esther you will begin to notice that Haman is a type of Satan as he is at war with the Jews.
Read Isaiah 14:12-14.
1. From this scripture, what do we know about the fall of Satan?
Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, which could give some people the impression that we don’t need to obey the laws of our land or that we as believers are somehow above them. However, we are clearly instructed in scripture to submit to authorities:
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.~ 1 Peter 2:13&14, KJV
If Vashti was rebellious when she refused to submit to the King in chapter one, how then was it okay for Mordecai to refuse? We can find a clue to that answer when we read Acts 5:27-29.
1. What do you deduct from the example of Peter and the apostles?
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 Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. 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.
Haman begins to devise his plan to annihilate the Jews. This hatred illustrates the power that unchecked anger can have on a person. If left to fester, it will usually grow.
1. What does Proverbs 16:32 tell us about anger?
In verse 7 we see the use of the word “Pur,” when it says, “they cast Pur…” This is where the word Purim comes from. As I mentioned in the introduction to chapter one, the feast of Purim is a Jewish feast that is still celebrated today. The full text of Esther is read aloud twice during the feast each year—once in the evening and again in the morning. In biblical times they would often cast lots to determine decisions. Although it’s unclear what method was used, it would compare to our drawing straws, throwing dice, or flipping coins. In this case they cast lots to determine when the Jews would be destroyed.
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. 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. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. 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.
Here we see that the King was deceived by Haman. He told the King that the Jewish people didn’t keep his laws. However, in chapter 2:21-23 we learned how Mordecai saved the king’s life. He was loyal to the king, but he wasn’t loyal to the Amalekites which fueled Haman’s anger toward all Jewish people.
I am reminded of the scripture in Job 1:9-12 where we read that Satan has access to God. He’s a tattle-tale of sorts, who puts God’s people in the worst possible light to discredit our faith as he seeks to tempt and destroy all believers.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he [Job] hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. ~ Job 1:11, KJV
Although God allows us to be tempted, He understands the benefits that trials bring to each believer. This is an example of God’s wisdom exceeding that of man, and His power ruling over evil.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: ~ 1 Peter 1:7, KJV
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 Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring. 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. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.
It’s interesting to note that Haman and Mordecai represent the flesh at war with the spirit in a believer’s life. Mordecai looks out for the best interest of Esther, while Haman is taking steps to destroy her. As long as we’re still in the flesh we will continue to struggle with this until the return of our Lord when Satan is destroyed for once and for all.
Look at the way that Paul describes it:
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. ~ Romans 7:18, KJV
1. Have you ever set out to do good and lost your temper?
2. Have you ever tried to change a bad habit and failed?
This is the spirit and the flesh at war within you. Consider your life.
1. What things do you struggle with, i.e. temptation, addiction, lying, laziness, overeating, etc.?
2. What areas of your life would you like to improve?
In verse twelve we see that letters were sent out informing the people that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, all of the Jewish people were to be destroyed--men, women and children. These letters of condemnation represent the law (Old Testament ordinances) that condemns all men to death.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ~ Romans 3:19-20, KJV
In other words nobody other than Jesus Christ has been without sin. If we think that we’ll go to heaven because we’re a good person, we can simply take one look at the Ten Commandments to see how often we fail and fail again. Sin separates us from God, and therefore we are in need of a Savior who reconciles us with the Father.
In the following chapters of Esther we will uncover a beautiful story of grace and redemption as Esther struggles against Haman who seeks to destroy her.
Until then be on the lookout for temptation in your life - struggle against he who seeks to destroy you.