Today Esther risks her life by entering the king’s chambers without being requested. “So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, ‘What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!’”
Esther requests for the king and Haman to come to a banquet that she prepared for them that day. After the feast, she asks them to join her again the next night for a banquet where she will present her petition and request to the king.
Haman is elated that he has been asked to dine twice with the king and Esther, so he goes home and brags to his wife and friends about his riches, his promotion, and his position in the kingdom. However, Haman can’t enjoy all of his success because his eye is still on that one person, Mordecai, who refuses to bow down to him. So although Haman is the second most successful man in the Persian empire, he says, “Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”
“Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.’ And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made.”
However, Haman is unaware of the fact that King Ahasuerus is up late that same night reviewing the book of the records. This is when the king realizes that Mordecai was never rewarded for the time he saved his life. So the next day when Haman approaches the king to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he prepared for him, the king first asks Haman, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Haman, thinking the king was talking about him, suggests letting the man to be honored wear the royal robe and parade him around the city on the king’s horse. And as Haman suggested, Mordecai is paraded around the city in the king’s robe and on the king’s horse by…guess who??…yep, Haman! So instead of hanging Mordecai as planned, Haman is forced to publicly glorify Mordecai for his loyalty to the king.
Then that evening, at the banquet of wine, Esther tells the king of Haman’s evil plot to kill her and her people. When King Ahasuerus hears this, he has Haman hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai, and Mordecai is given Haman’s position in the kingdom. This is quite the turn of events in the lives of Haman and Mordecai. Haman, who had it all, destroyed his life by focusing on the one person who wouldn’t bow down to him. And Mordecai, who remained faithful and focused on the One who could save his life, the Lord, is honored and elevated.
Now that Mordecai is in power, he orchestrates a new decree that goes out permitting the Jews “to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them… And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.”
“Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them. The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.”
Esther requests that the Jews have another day to fight against their enemies. With the king’s permission, the Jews are victorious over their enemies again. “Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.”
“And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor… So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur.”
Pur is the Persian name for “lot”. Casting lots was a traditional way to seek divine guidance. Remember when Haman sought to destroy the Jews because Mordecai refused to bow down to him so “they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar” (Esther 3:7). But we see that the Lord took what man intended for evil and turned it into good for His people by giving them victory and peace, as He always does!
Tomorrow the rebuilding of Jerusalem is once again interrupted and Ezra leads the second wave of captives home to Jerusalem, so keep reading. (Esther 5:1-10:3)