Power, pride, position, prestige, and fortune seem to go to people’s heads and there is nothing but their own demise that brings them back to reality. Some people think so highly of themselves that nothing matters but the selfish desires that propels them to energetically jump out of bed each morning ready to face the next conquest. These selfish desires for power, prestige, and fortune are more important than the people they use as stepping stones to get to the ideal destination. In many instances in history, this lust for power and fortune costs people their lives. This is seen in the numerous battles that have been fought over the years in order to conquer new lands and gain more wealth.
Haman fits quite nicely into the picture painted above. As the story in Esther continues to unfold, the desires of Haman become visible and his means are no different than the many that have gone before him. Haman was appointed the top official in King Ahasuerus’ kingdom. (Esther 3:1) In order to feed into this quest for prestige even more, the king ordered that all must bow down and pay homage to Haman. (Esther 3:2). Homage or reverence means to bow down as to worship. King Ahasuerus ordered all the people to bow down and worship Haman. Mordecai, being a Jew, was not going to worship anyone except God, the Creator of the Universe.
Mordecai did not obey. Forced worship is not true worship, and forced respect is not true respect. This bowing down to pay homage to Haman did nothing more than feed into Haman’s ego about himself and cause a wider gap between him and his subjects. Mordecai was reminded time and time again by the king’s servants that he was disobeying the king’s edict. This did not matter to Mordecai; he was being true to his God.
After Mordecai’s continued refusal to bow down to Haman, these same servants went to Haman and reported to him Mordecai’s disobedience. It was not just his disobedience they reported but also his nationality, “he was a Jew.” (Esther 3:4). To say the least Haman was furious, but was able to control himself and not lay a hand on Mordecai, but rather “Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.” (Esther 3:6).
This injustice to Haman burned within him for a year as he cast lots “day after day, and month after month” (Esther 3:7) to find the appropriate time to handle this situation. Casting lots was a common practice throughout the Bible. It was used by the High Priest to assist in making decisions, knowing that the decision was an impartial one albeit a chance decision. Various things were used to assist in this decision making process like stones, sticks, cards, or dice. “I drew the short end of the stick” comes from this practice of casting lots. Whoever drew the short stick was the intended person for the question to be answered. Casting lots is seen in the life of Jonah, Jesus and His clothing at the cross, and Matthias who replaced Judas as one of the twelve apostles.
Finally, after twelve months of casting lots day after day, Haman went to King Ahasuerus with his evil plot. He presented the Jews as a group of people that were insubordinate and did not follow the rules of the King. Haman twisted the facts and the rules of the Jews into a plot of terror that if allowed to continue would cause the demise of the kingdom of Ahasuerus. After twelve months of hatching a plot and saving his money, Haman had a plan. Haman would personally deposit 10,000 talents of his own silver into the treasury of the king so that all the Jews could be destroyed. The king’s scribes were summoned the thirteenth day of the next month and the edict was written “according to all that Haman commanded.” (Esther 3:12). Once the decree was written the “instructions to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month…and to plunder their goods.” (Esther 3:13).
- Who is Haman and where did he come from? (Genesis 36:1, Exodus 17:8-16, Deut. 25:17-19, I Samuel 15) The Amalekites lived in the same area as Esau and the Edomites, so it is believed they are descendants of Esau.)
- Record the chronology of the events of this chapter in order to see the length of time it took for this plan to come to fruition.
- What did Mordecai do that he told Esther not to do? (Esther 3:4)
- Do you think this was the appropriate time for Mordecai to disclose his ancestors?
- In essence, it was not his ancestors that Mordecai was taking a stand for, but whom?
- Compare the edict that was written in Esther 3:13 with the order from God in I Samuel 15:3?
- What would have happened if Saul would have obeyed in I Samuel 15?
- Once the edict was written and began to circulate what was the response of the people versus the response of the King and Haman? (Esther 3:15).