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The book of Esther tells us that Haman was a grand vizier, or prime minister for the Persian King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus). According to Jewish tradition, Haman was a direct offspring of Agag, king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:8), in the 16th generation (Targum Sheni; Josephus Antiquities xi. 6. 5).
The story of Haman revolves around a man by the name of Mordecai who was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. This man had been taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had adopted when her parents died. Hadassah or Esther was a beautiful young woman. Mordecai worked in the citadel of Susa (Esther 2:5-7).
Esther appointed queen
When King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) wanted to replace his first queen Vashti, he was advised to gather the beautiful virgin’s that he may choose a queen from among them (Esther 2:1-4). As result, Esther was selected (Esther 2:8). Mordecai asked her not to reveal her Jewish identity (Esther 2:10). When the king met Esther, he was pleased with her and crowned her queen (verse 17).
Mordecai and the king
As Mordecai served Ahasuerus, he discovered that two of the king’s eunuchs were planning to lay hands on the king. So, he told Queen Esther and she in turn informed the king in Mordecai’s name. And when an investigation was made, the matter was confirmed, and the eunuchs were hanged. This story was recorded in the king’s chronicles (Esther 2:21–23).
Haman’s hate for the Jews
Haman the Agagite, who was a high official in the king’s court, hated Mordecai because he refused to honor him by bowing (Esther 3:5). For it was against the Jewish faith to bow to anyone except God. So, after learning who Mordecai’s people were, Haman planned to destroy not only Mordecai but all the Jews as well (verse 6). And Haman deceived the king into granting him the permission to annihilate the Jewish people. When Mordecai learned of that decree, he tore his clothing, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes mourning (Esther 4:1).
Esther’s decision to risk her life
Mordecai told Esther of Haman’s plan against the Jews. And he asked her to go at once before the king and plead for the Jews’ lives (Esther 4:8). But Esther answered him that it was not her turn to appear before the king and that anyone that violates this law would be put to death (verses 9–10). But Mordecai told her, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (verse 13,14)
Esther decided to go before the king and uttered her famous phrase: “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). She fasted for three days and appeared before the thing without being summoned. Thankfully, she found favor in the king’s sight. And he asked her about the reason behind her visit. So, she requested that he will come with Haman to a special banquet at her house (Esther 5:1–4). At the banquet, the king asked her about her request, and Esther asked him to come to a second banquet the following night and then she will reveal her petition to him.
The humiliation of Haman
Haman, was greatly pleased with the honor of being invited to the queen’s banquet. But his happiness was turned into rage when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate (verse 9). So, his wife suggested that he should hang Mordecai before the queen’s banquet. The matter pleased him and he built 75-foot-high gallows for that purpose (Esther 5:14).
That night, King Xerxes could not sleep. So, he requested that the king’s chronicles be read to him. Providentially, the part that was read was about Mordecai’s story of saving him. So, the king inquired how was Mordecai rewarded for that act and found that nothing has been done in this regard. At that time, Haman appeared before the king to ask for a permission to hang Mordecai. But the king before hearing Haman’s request commanded him to give Mordecai the royal honors that deserves a man who saved the king’s life in the streets of Susa (Esther 6:10–11).
The death of Haman
At Esther’s second banquet, the king again asked Esther about her request. So, she pleaded that the king would save her life and the lives of her people from the death decree (Esther 6:3–4). And she added that this plan was fabricated by the wicked Haman (verse 6).
At hearing this, the king ordered that Haman would be put to death on the same gallows he set for Mordecai. Then, the king made another decree saying that the Jews can defend themselves against their enemies. And thus, Haman’s wicked plan failed.
Then, the king promoted Mordecai. So that, “Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews” (Esther 10:3). Thus, Mordecai’s integrity and faithfulness to God were rewarded greatly.
In His service,
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