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Bible Commentaries
Esther 3

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-15


(vv. 1-15)

After this (though we are not told how long after) King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, an Agagite, to a position above all the princes (v. 1).Agag had been the king of the Amalekites(1 Samuel 15:8), who were bitter enemies of Israel from the time Israel came out of Egypt(Exodus 17:8-16) concerning whom God said He would utterly blot out the remembrance of them from under heaven (Exodus 17:8-14). King Saul had later spared Agag when destroying the Amalekites, but "Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord" (1 Samuel 15:32-33).We may wonder how this man Haman came into the favor of a Persian king, but this is not explained.

Ahasuerus gave command that all the servants who were in the gate should bow in allegiance to Haman, but Mordecai would not bow to him.The king's servants saw this and asked why he disobeyed the king's commandment (v. 3). He told them he was a Jew, no doubt inferring that it would be wrong for him to bow to Haman. Eventually the servants brought the matter to Haman's attention, including the fact that Mordecai was a Jew. Of course Haman, every time he passed the gate, would particularly observe Mordecai and his not bowing to Haman, so that the man was filled with anger (vv. 4-5). Haman was a shrewd man who bitterly hated all Jews, so that he conceived a plan of not only getting rid of Mordecai, but all the Jews in the realm of King Ahasuerus (vv. 5-6). But Haman was a religious man of the superstitious sort.He with others (perhaps his relatives) cast lots to determine the best day on which to approach the king with the project of getting rid of the Jews (v. 7). His confidence was really in Satan, and just as is often the case at first, this cunning approach worked.

In petitioning the king, Haman did not even mention that he was speaking of the Jews, but told Ahasuerus that there was "a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of our kingdom:their laws are different from all other people"s, and they do not keep the king's laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain" (v. 8).He asked therefore that a decree should be written that these people should be destroyed; but he immediately added that he himself would pay 10,000 talents of silver "into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king's treasury" (v. 9).

Surely the king ought to have realized that Haman had a personal axe to grind since he would personally pay this great amount to have this people destroyed. But the king evidently had a great deal of confidence in this conniving Amalakite who had far more concern for his own reputation than he had for the Persian kingdom.The king therefore agreed, and gave Haman liberty to do just as he desired (vv. 10-11). It seems strange that the king would consult with the princes as to what to do about Vashti (ch. 1:13-15), but in this far more serious case that he would act as though he were a dictator!

The king's scribes were then called to write a decree "according to all that Haman commanded," addressed to all the officials of the kingdom in every province, sealed with the king's signet (v. 12).These letters were then sent by couriers to all the king's provinces, with instructions to the people to kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, women and children on one appropriate day, and to take all their possessions as plunder. Haman had taken fullest advantage of the king's permission, having copies of the document sent everywhere (v. 14), declaring this slaughter as law, which law could not be changed, for the Medes and Persians prided themselves on having unchangeable laws (Daniel 6:8).

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Esther 3". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/esther-3.html. 1897-1910.
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