Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Esther 3

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


We have here the church of GOD brought into great danger, and threatened with total destruction. Haman the Agagite is advanced by the king to great honors; being slighted by Mordecai he determineth revenge upon the whole nation of Israel.

Esther 3:1

(1) ¶ After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.

The Reader should recollect, for the better apprehension of this history, that at this time the kingdom of Persia, as the Roman in after ages, and the Babylonian in former times, swayed the sceptre of the then known world. This Haman therefore, it is probable, had been brought under the government of Persia, and being at court had gained the favor of Ahasuerus.

Verses 2-4

(2) And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. (3) Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment? (4) Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.

At the first reading of this passage, it may seem somewhat extraordinary to a common Reader, that Mordecai should refuse to pay homage to Haman. But the reason will soon be discovered, when we call to mind what GOD had commanded his people on this point. Haman, we are told, was an Agagite; a descendant, therefore, of that Agag, who was king of the Amalekites; against whom the LORD had sworn, that his people should have war, from generation to generation. Hence, therefore, Mordecai considered the LORD'S command, and refused to bow down to an Amalekite: so that nothing can be more beautiful in proof of Mordecai's faithfulness. Though his life was at stake, and he knew that the absolute power of the king might order him to death without trial; yet he feared not the wrath of the king, like another champion for the truth of old, for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Exodus 17:14-16 ; Deuteronomy 25:17-19 ; 1 Samuel 15:32-33; 1 Samuel 15:32-33 ; Hebrews 11:7 .

Verses 5-6

(5) And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. (6) And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.

Mark the true Amalekitish spirit in this monster of iniquity. Suppose that Mordecai was ever so deserving of death, was it not enough, Haman, to cut him off; but thou must destroy a whole nation with him? Alas! what a desperate height the bad passions of bad men are capable of advancing to. But, Reader! may we not spiritualize the passage, and behold in it (like Pharaoh in Egypt) the hatred of the world against the church of JESUS. It was the enemy of souls which caused this hellish design to take flame in the breast of Haman. And at the bottom of this intended destruction, it was JESUS, and his church and people, which the Devil aimed at one blow to destroy. Oh! how precious it is, to behold the LORD'S watchful eye over his people. Destroy it not, (saith He that looketh on) there is a blessing in it. Yes! JESUS is in it, and it cannot be hurt. Isaiah 65:8 .

Verse 7

(7) ¶ In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

It should seem, that what is here said concerning the casting of the lot, means as if Haman was using some art or contrivance, by way of better forwarding his malicious designs. One thing, however, seems clear from it, that, as the lot did not turn up until the twelfth month, it gave a longer time for the LORD'S purposes, concerning the delivery of his people, to ripen. Solomon tells us, that the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. Proverbs 16:33 . No doubt, while these diabolical designs of Haman were contriving, the LORD'S people were sharply exercised. And, no doubt, great opportunity was afforded for prayer. Reader! the delay of judgments and of mercies may be all sanctified, when they lead us the oftener to the throne of grace.

Verses 8-9

(8) And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. (9) If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.

Now the policy of hell begins to work. Never, surely, was there a deeper scheme of revenge formed. Oh! how well it is for as that the LORD looks on. Reader! what a relief is it to the mind, when at any time iniquity abounds, to remark the tender, watchful love of JESUS over his church. His message to the church of Smyrna is an example of this kind, never to be forgotten. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten day; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10 . How sweet and consolatory are these words. The devil, like Haman, would have cast them all; but the LORD saith, it should only be some of them. And he would have cast them into hell; but no, saith JESUS, it shall be but in prison. And he would have kept them there forever; but it shall be only ten days. Oh! how sure is the crown, when JESUS hath purchased it.

Verses 10-11

(10) And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy. (11) And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.

Was there ever so foolish, as well as worthless, a monarch, as this poor unthinking Persian, to consent to an act so cruel. Reader! remark it, wherever the gratification of corrupt lusts reign in the body, the mind will be also under the dominion of cruelty.

Verses 12-15

(12) Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring. (13) And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. (14) The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. (15) The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.

It is impossible to conceive the different effects, which must have been called forth in the different minds of the people, throughout the whole empire, in consequence of this edict. What a mercy did the LORD manifest to his people in the midst, that the whole kingdom were to be apprised of it, before that the execution was to take place. So JESUS holds forth grace to his people, and even to the rebellious, a space for repentance. Having planned the ruin of the poor defenseless Jews, the king and Haman sit down to drunkenness. While GOD'S people are afflicted the enemy shouts. Here let us wait awhile, and see how the LORD will work. In every trial these sweet words should comfort daring the dark hour: For the oppression of the poor, and the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD. And when GOD ariseth, woe to the oppressor. Psalms 12:5 .

Verse 15


IF we anticipate the history of this memorable event, as the sacred writer hath in the subsequent chapters given it, we shall not only derive a most blessed lesson, how to wait the LORD'S time in all trials for deliverance; but we shall learn also, how to possess our souls in patience during the dark hour. Never, perhaps, was there a more deadly blow aimed by any wretch, than this Agagite leveled at the poor Jews. And the sequel shows us that it fell wholly upon himself. Reader! depend upon it, such will be all the stratagems and schemes of Satan, in his various attacks upon JESUS and his Church. It is not enough to say that his designs shall do no harm; we must say more than this, and be convinced that they shall all do good. For all things work together for good to them that love GOD. Doth Satan plan my soul's destruction? Doth he want to get me into his snare? doth he desire to have me, that he may sift me as wheat? Do I know these things? do I feel, at times, his power? Doth he join with my corruptions to cast me down? And doth a sense of this make me cry to the LORD? Doth it cause me to fly out of myself, and take refuge in JESUS? Surely then, the LORD overrules even the devices of the enemy to my soul's welfare. And I ought to rejoice, as the HOLY GHOST, by his servant James, commanded the church, when falling into divers temptations. Here then, blessed JESUS, let my soul always rest on thee, and thy finished work of salvation, when at any time unpromising events and discouraging trials occur. Oh! for grace, at all times, to exercise faith on that sweet promise: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Esther 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/esther-3.html. 1828.
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