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ESTHER MAKES HER REQUEST; THE KING GRANTED IT; AND THEN SHE IDENTIFIED HAMAN AS HER ENEMY; WHOM THE KING EXECUTED
This second banquet was the climax of the episode. Esther made her petition for her life and for the life of all her people. She identified Haman as the author of the plot to murder them, and she was rewarded by the king's favorable reception of her plea.
ESTHER'S PETITION FOR HER LIFE
"So the king and Haman came to the banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again to Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king's damage."
What an incredible shock that request must have been to Haman! At this point, no doubt, he began to understand that Esther was pleading for the life of all the Jews whom Haman had determined to destroy, and that she herself was among the number. This request was most skillfully presented.
(1) Esther protested that if the Jews had merely been sold as slaves, she would have held her peace.
(2) She protested that Haman had lied about being able to compensate the king for the damage done.
(3) She displayed perfect knowledge of Haman's immense bribe, noting that she and her people had been "sold."
(4) She placed all the blame on Haman, ignoring the king's own responsibility for that evil decree.
THE KING'S REQUEST FOR THE ADVERSARY'S IDENTITY
"Then spake the king Ahasuerus and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said, An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. And the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king."
At this juncture, the king began to get the whole picture. Indeed it had been Haman who had concocted that evil story about the Jews, had advised their destruction, and with the king's ring had himself mailed out the decree calling for their slaughter. In his anger, the king arose and left the banquet; and Haman was astute enough to know that his goose was indeed cooked. Naturally, Haman pleaded with Esther to spare his life; and when it became apparent that she would not help him, he fell at her feet imploring her. "He was still prostrate before the reclining queen, probably clasping her feet as a suppliant, when the furious king returned from his walk in the garden." "Like the Greeks and Romans, the Persians reclined at their meals on sofas or couches."
We have no agreement with, "Some commentators (who) have criticized Esther for not interceding for Haman." However, such writers forget that as long as Haman lived, he was a deadly threat to the Jewish people. Esther was wise enough to see that although Haman was at the moment defeated; if he had survived, he might have found a way to achieve his purpose.
THE KING RETURNED AND ORDERED HAMAN'S EXECUTION
"Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine, and Haman was fallen upon the couch where Esther was. Then said the king, Will he even force the queen before me in this house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. Then said Harbonah, one of the king's chamberlains that went before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman hath made for Mordecai, who spake good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. And the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified."
"Will he even force the queen before me" (Esther 7:8)? The furious king was placing the worst possible construction upon Haman's prostrate position before Esther, suggesting by these words that Haman was attempting to rape the queen. That was certainly not the case at all; but it is a matter of history that Xerxes was capable of doing nearly anything, and that he was unstable, unreasonable and capricious. It was the knowledge of all this that had fueled Esther's fear when she went unbidden into his presence.
"As the word went out of the king's mouth" (Esther 7:8). The singular rendition of WORD in this place is correct; "For it is singular in the Hebrew." Furthermore, "That Hebrew word may also be rendered JUDGMENT, being therefore a statement that the king immediately pronounced the judgment of death against Haman." The fact that they immediately, "covered Haman's face," supports that understanding of the passage.
"Then said Harbonah ... Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high in the house of Haman" (Esther 7:9). This sheds further light on that gallows. Its being in the house of Haman forbids the notion that it was really that tall. How then was it "fifty cubits high"? The answer appears to be that it had been placed at that altitude on the city wall, where, in all probability Haman's house was located; and in that position, it could be seen from the place where the banquet of wine was being held. The meaning then would be that the gallows was that high, in the sense of being erected at that elevation. Our analysis of this has some element of speculation in it; but it is difficult to suppose that any kind of structure nearly a hundred feet in height could have been constructed over night. Also, the word behold indicates that it was visible from the palace.
"Then the king's wrath was pacified" (Esther 7:10). Very well, so far, so good! But the danger was far from being averted. That evil decree sent forth in the authority of the "Law of the Medes and Persians that altereth not," was still out there, in every province of the Empire (Daniel 6:9). The great danger of a wholesale slaughter of the Jews still persisted.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Esther 7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25