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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of SouthPointe Bible Fellowship in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the December 22 reading. Select here for a new reading date:

BibleTrack Summary: December 22
<< Esth 5

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Esther 6-10    Listen Podcast


Surprise, surprise, surprise! (Esther 6)

1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
3 And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.
4 And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king’s house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
5 And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.
6 So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,
8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:
9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
10 Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
12 And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.
13 And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.
14 And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Our story continues from Esther 5 (see notes).
King Ahasuerus can't sleep. Quick! Somebody read to the king so he can fall to sleep! Reading material is scarce; he has them read to him the accounts of memorable events since he has been king. Hey! Here's one: Remember when Mordecai uncovered the assassination plot against the king? Well, it just so happens that this account is read to the king; it occurs to the king that nothing was done back then to reward Mordecai for this noble deed. "Find me somebody to take care of rewarding Mordecai!" the king commands. It just so happens that Haman is up early this morning; ironically, he's outside the king's chamber getting ready to ask for Mordecai's execution - got the gallows built and just needs a few papers signed. Haman gets the call to appear before the king. The king wants to honor somebody...royally. How best do we proceed, Haman? Haman mistakenly thinks the king is talking about Haman himself as the one to be royally honored, and he accordingly comes up with an elaborate list of actions for this occasion.

You simply must pay close attention to verses 7-9 where Haman recites his five-ways-to-honor-a-guy list to the king:

7 And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,
8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:
9 And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

It would have been a picture-perfect moment to see the look on his face when he finds that he's being charged with honoring Mordecai just that way - the Jewish guy for whom he is seeking an execution - not himself. This probably isn't a good time to ask for that execution. Haman performs his Mordecai-honoring duties according to his own specifications that very day. And that evening his wife and advisors astutely point out that this could possibly derail their kingdom-wide Jew extermination plans. "Oh, well - still got that special banquet at the queen's house tonight. That should turn my day from gloom to glory!" Haman probably thought. Haman doesn't realize it yet, but that banquet's not going to be much fun either.

Haman! Enjoy your last banquet! (Esther 7:1-6)

1 So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.
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.
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:
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.
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?
6 And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

What a difference a day makes. This time yesterday, Haman was on top of the heap (he thought); now he's about to get the surprise of his life as he attends Esther's banquet along with the king. King Ahasuerus knows he's there to grant Esther her petition - up to half his kingdom. And remember, Haman doesn't even realize that Esther is Jewish or a relative of Mordecai. As a matter of fact, neither does the king.

Haman's had a tough day already with his execute-Mordecai plan going sour. How much worse can it get after that? Answer: MUCH WORSE! Esther lays it out at the banquet before the king, "Somebody on your behalf has called for the extermination of my people and me." She even makes an economic point by noting that the king could have gotten money for the sale of her people as slaves, but extermination only costs him money. Whoa! What a way for Haman to find out that the queen is Jewish and related to your archenemy!
The king in his outrage asks, "Who is this man?"
"That wicked guy right there, Haman!" she replies.
Haman, mark this day down as the toughest day of your miserable, wicked life.

How convenient! A gallows has already been built. (Esther 7:7-10)

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.
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.
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.
10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.

King Ahasuerus leaves the room to fume, but when he returns, Haman appears to the king to be assaulting Esther. He's really just begging for his life to Esther, but who really cares at this point. And then, more poetic justice - the 75-foot-high gallows Haman had built for Mordecai doesn't go to waste after all; the king designates Haman to do a personal performance check on his own gallows - that right...hanged on his own gallows. very well. Hey! It was already built anyway - why not?

But what about the death warrant on the Jews? (Esther 8)

1 On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews’ enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.
2 And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
3 And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.
4 Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,
5 And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces:
6 For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
7 Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
8 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.
9 Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.
10 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:
11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,
12 Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.
13 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
14 So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.
15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.
17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

Esther reveals that Mordecai is her cousin who raised her. The king is very compliant at this point - gives Haman's stuff to Mordecai, including the power ring that Haman had been given to wear by King Ahasuerus back in Esther 3:10. Now, Mordecai's the man. He authorizes Mordecai to decree the Jews to be safe throughout the empire. There were a lot of people throughout the kingdom just marking their calendars for the day when they could exterminate the Jews...and get paid to do so. When this decree circulates through the kingdom that it is now fashionable to be Jewish, many non-Jewish people in the kingdom decide to become Jewish, or at least faked being Jewish (verse 17). They celebrate with a festival.

Just like the old days (Esther 9:1-19)

1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)
2 The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people.
3 And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.
4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater.
5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.
6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.
7 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha,
8 And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha,
9 And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha,
10 The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.
11 On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king.
12 And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.
13 Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.
14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.
15 For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.
16 But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,
17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.

Now, as Esther requested of the king, the Jews come together with the king's blessings for the purpose of destroying their enemies. When the deed was done, they had dangled 10 of Haman's sons on the gallows (how nice of Haman to provide it), and had killed an additional 75,000+ Jew haters in all of the 127 provinces. These are described in verse 8:11 as those "that would assault them [the Jews]." Presumably these were those mercenaries who intended to participate in the Jew-extermination program devised by Haman, along with their families.

Here's a new Jewish festival...and a hangover (Esther 9:20-32)

20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,
21 To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,
22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them;
24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;
25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,
27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year;
28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.
30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.
32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.

It's a banner day for the Jews, so they declare that this day will be celebrated each year as a festival. Thus, Purim became the first Jewish festival not established in the Torah, but considered just as binding as the other festivals. However, it's a minor festival each year on the 14th day of Adar, which generally falls in March on our calendars. What a weird name for a holiday, "Purim." Actually, that's the unique word (only used in Esther) for the "lot" that was cast back in Esther 3:7 (see notes) to choose just the right day to present the Jews' extermination petition to the king. There it is in verse 26, "Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur."

It's an unusual religious celebration by our standards. Some have referred to it as the Jewish Mardi Gras. The Jews have parties on that day. The story of Esther is read and the audience are encouraged to boo and hiss when Haman's name is heard and to cheer for Mordecai. The ancient Rabbis passed along a long-standing tradition that in order to celebrate the victory of Purim, everyone is supposed to drink alcohol and reach the point where they are unable to differentiate between the phrases "Bless Mordecai" and "Curse Haman." While the dictum of consuming alcohol is inappropriate to us, for the Jews, drinking and merriment remain a traditional aspect of Purim celebrations. As I said, it's an unusual way to celebrate a religious holiday; it reminds me of the aftermath of the November 10 Marine Corps birthday celebrations I witnessed during my enlistment.

A great ending to this story (Esther 10)

1 And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.
2 And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

Mordecai, the Jewish cousin of the queen, becomes the second in command over the Persian empire. We are told that Mordecai worked for the best interests of his own people, the Jews. It only goes to prove the saying in business, "Be nice to the people you pass as you climb the ladder of success, because they are the same people you'll pass on your way back down!"

One more thing you should know about this story. It is commonly believed by Jewish sources that Haman, the arch anti–Semite who sought to exterminate all the Jews in the Persian empire, was an Agagite, a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag, seen in I Samuel 15:32-35 (see notes). That inclusion in this story adds another layer of vengeance in the mind of Haman if he is seen as avenging his ancestor's death at the hands of the Jewish Judge Samuel. In later Jewish tradition Amalek came to symbolize anti–Semites in general.

For commentary on another passage, click here.

Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner