Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
Attention!
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Esther 7

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Esther Chapter 7

Esther 7:1 "So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen." This was speaking of the second banquet. We saw in the last lesson, the humiliation of this self-centered Haman. He still was not aware that Esther was a Jew. The king had granted the queen both requests to come to her banquet, but he knew that was not really her request of him. He had already offered her half of the kingdom, if that was what she desired.

Esther 7:2 "And the king said again unto 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? and it shall be performed, [even] to the half of the kingdom." The king offered, again, to grant Esther’s request. He loved her and he wanted her to be happy.

Esther 7:3 "Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour 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:" This had to be a shock to the king, that anyone would threaten the life of his queen. He did not know that Esther was Hebrew. She had never told him, and he had never asked, up until now. She first asked him to save her life, and then she asked for the lives of her people.

Esther 7:4 "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 tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage." The king, possibly, still had no idea of what she was speaking. He did not write the edict to kill all of the Jews. Haman had written the edict, and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. She actually believed the king had sold their lives to the wicked Haman. She said she would have understood, if he had people to take their place, but she did not understand the destruction with nothing to gain. She thought that Haman was going to pay the king for the Jews that were killed. She was saying he would not have near enough money to pay for the lives. "Countervail", in this instance, means equalize. The king would lose far more than Haman could pay.

Esther 7:5 "Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?" The king was still not aware that this was connected with the edict. He asked Esther who would dare to kill the queen?

Esther 7:6 "And Esther said, The adversary and enemy [is] this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen." The king had not even suspicioned Haman. Haman suddenly remembered what the wise men had told him would happen to him. Esther called Haman an adversary of the king.

Esther 7:7 "And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath [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." The king was not quick to kill someone. He walked into the garden, possibly, to try to sort out this whole thing. He really wanted to kill Haman for trying to kill Esther. Haman caught him gone to the garden and began to plead for his life to be spared. He realized the king would kill him, if Esther did not stop him.

Esther 7:8 "Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther [was]. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face." The couches for reclining were in the banqueting room, and it appeared that Esther had been reclining on one of them. Haman was so desperate for Esther to ask the king to spare his life, that he fell upon the bed face down where Esther was. The king walked back into the room and was furious with Haman. He accused Haman of trying to rape Esther in his presence. It appears, the attendants grabbed Haman and covered his head to take him to execute him.

Esther 7:9 "And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon." The very gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordecai on, would be where he would hang. Haman had sown the wind, and would now reap the whirlwind. Harbonah reminded the king that Mordecai had saved his life, and this Haman had wanted to kill him. The prophecy of the wise men had come true.

Esther 7:10 "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified." Haman’s life had been wicked. He lived by violence, and he died by violence. He had wanted to be a famous man, and died as an infamous man. Haman died on the gallows he built for Mordecai. The king’s wrath subsided after Haman had paid for his crime with his life. This really did not save Esther’s life or the Jews, however. The edict still stood. We will see in the next lesson what was done about that.

Esther 7 Questions

1. Who came to banquet with Esther the queen?

2. In the last lesson, we saw the __________ of this wicked Haman.

3. He still was not aware that Esther was a _______.

4. What question did the king ask Esther at this banquet?

5. What did he offer to give her?

6. What did she say that was a shock to the king?

7. What did she say had been done to them, that she believed the king had done.

8. Why did the king have no idea what she was speaking of?

9. What does "countervail" mean here?

10. What questions did Ahasuerus ask Esther in Esther 7:5?

11. What did she call Haman in Esther 7:6?

12. How did this affect Haman?

13. Why did the king walk into the garden?

14. Who did Haman ask to save him?

15. Haman realized what about the king?

16. When the king returned from the garden, where was Haman?

17. What did the king say to him?

18. What was the bed really?

19. What was meant by them covering Haman’s head?

20. Who reminded the king that the gallows for Haman were already ready?

21. When was the king’s wrath pacified?

Verses 1-4

Est 7:1-4

Introduction

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 7:1-4

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.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 7:1. To banquet. The second word is a verb and is defined in the lexicon, "to imbibe." That is the main item of the occasion, although it would imply also a feasting as an additional indulgence.

Esther 7:2. The king was still under the "spell" of his love for Esther. Ordinarily a man tries to express his love for a woman by making her a present of some valuable article. He may spare no expense within his possibilities, sometimes even bringing himself almost into bankruptcy. Ahasuerus could think of no gift that was good enough for this woman who had him overwhelmed by his devotion to her. So he told her to name the gift most desirable, the limit being nothing less than half of his kingdom.

Esther 7:3. Esther made her request general at first, merely asking that she and her people be spared their lives. This must have been one of the greatest surprises the king ever received. Being entirely uninformed of the identity of the people against whom he had signed the decree of destruction, he had no inkling of any danger to the Jews. He was also unaware of the nationality or race of his wife, and consequently had no idea of the peril overhanging her.

Esther 7:4. In continuing her answer to the king, Esther was actually recounting the terms of the decree that he had unconsciously signed against her and her people. However, she did not as yet reveal their race, nor the connection between them and the decree that had authorized Haman to start a movement of destruction. She explained that she would not have made any complaint had the edict required only that they be sold into slavery. It would have been a loss to the kingdom had the Jews been sold into bondage, for the price of their sale would not have been as great as the loss from the services of so good a people as hers. And neither would Haman have been able to make up for the loss, although he had pretended to have great wealth when asking for the decree. These last remarks are based on the concluding words of the verse, which may appear a little vague to the readers. I shall offer a few words of explanation. The enemy is Haman. Countervail means "make up for," and damage means loss. With these definitions in mind I will reword the last sentence thus: "I had held my tongue, although Haman could not make up for the king’s loss." In other words, the sale of the Jews would have been a loss to the king, which Haman with all his boasted wealth could not have made up for the king. While Esther might have regretted seeing such loss to the king, yet she would have suffered it to go through, rather than cause any appearance of opposition to the royal decree.

Verses 5-7

Est 7:5-7

Esther 7:5-7

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.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 7:5. The reply and questions of the king showed that he was entirely in the dark about what was going on. His words where is he especially indicated that he was wholly unsuspecting as to the guilty party.

Esther 7:6. This verse is brief but very weighty. It is the climax to all of the things that Esther and Mordecai had been doing, beginning with the 4th chapter. She wanted to be sure of her ground before springing the surprise upon the king. In order to that end she drew him on with her social program, and in the progress of that she could observe the complete willingness manifested to grant her any request she might make. Thus, after he had thrice offered her anything up to half of the kingdom, she concluded "the iron was hot" and ready to be struck. So there, at that second banquet, with the king still lost in his rapturous admiration for his lovely queen, and in the immediate presence of Haman, she told the king the answer. She used three words to describe Haman; adversary, enemy and wicked. Haman was afraid which means he trembled in the presence of the king and queen. The memory of the march through the streets of the city would come surging into his mind. Now that the queen had dared to accuse him at the inquiry of the king, and with an accusation that he knew to be true, the full extent of possibilities threw him into a panic of fear.

Esther 7:7. Esther displayed much wisdom by not stating the full details of her case in Esther 7:3-4. She told enough to give the king a shock, and start his mind working toward the desired conclusion. With that much of the situation arrayed before him, his nerves would be in a tension of concern for the welfare of his beloved wife. To think that anyone would dare wish to harm the idol of his heart was almost more than he could stand. The person who could be so unreasonably rash must undoubtedly be skulking somewhere like a cowardly spy. Imagine, then, his state of mind when the awful truth was stated to add its weight to his already outraged temper. No wonder that he arose unceremoniously from the banquet and left the room, as if shrinking from the vile presence of the man on whom so much honor had been heaped, but undeservedly. Haman was able to see the grave danger confronting him. The king had gone out, so his only means of contact to make a plea for mercy was through the queen.

Verses 8-10

Est 7:8-10

Esther 7:8-10

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.

E.M. Zerr:

Esther 7:8. Having brought the situation to this dramatic climax, Esther was overcome with emotion and lay down upon her bed. Haman was then desperate with fear and threw aside all discretion. In casting himself upon the bed by the side of the queen, we are sure he had no intention but to beg earnestly for his life. Nevertheless, the position was interpreted by the enraged king in the light that such a compromise would logically be taken. With an accusing question he spoke in the hearing of the ones present, calling attention to the threefold offense namely, force the queen, before me, in the house. The witnesses took the view of the case that was expressed by the king and resolved not to let the wicked Haman add one word more in his plea. They shut him off by covering his face, thereby smothering him as with a gag.

Esther 7:9. When Harbonah called attention to the gallows that Haman had erected he may not have thought especially of the use the king would make of it. The purpose was to cite another item of evidence, proving how wicked a man Haman was; that he had constructed an instrument for the destruction of the very man who had saved the king’s life. But the suggestion was enough for Ahasuerus. He promptly gave orders that Haman should be hanged thereon.

Esther 7:10. The orders were carried out. The inspired writer added emphasis to the occasion by stating that the hanging of Haman took place on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. This pacified the king’s wrath because it struck out the man who was the author of the terrible conspiracy just discovered.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Esther 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/esther-7.html.
 
adsfree-icon
Ads FreeProfile