Esther 3

Esther 3 has King Ahasuerus promoting Haman to be his number two, above all the rest of the officials.  The king elevates him to power and the people were expected to bow down to him, but “Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage”.  You know that isn’t going to go over well.  Haman is furious but he doesn’t want to tackle Mordecai as an individual, so he decides to go big and “sought to destroy all the Jews”.  Haman’s anger led him to take out his wrath upon all the Jews in the kingdom.

Haman goes to the king with his plan.  “There is a certain people….their laws are different….they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them”.  Seems pretty simple.  We have this group of people that do things their own way and ignore what the king says.  Easy thing to do is just get rid of the problem children here.  Haman really wants it done, so he offers 10,000 talents of silver.  This was essentially the promise of a bribe. This money would not come from Haman’s own pocket; it would be obtained from the property of slaughtered Jews.

The king is pretty disconnected from reality and listens to his number two man. He tells Haman to “do with them as it seems good to you”.  That is a death sentence for the Jews.  Haman has had enough of Mordecai and his refusal to bow down, and now has convinced the king that the thing to do is wipe out the Jews.  This was a broad brush way to address a very specific problem.  But Mordecai was a bit of a hero for saving the king, so it had to be done as part of a bigger action.  King Ahasuerus probably had no idea what he agreed to; he probably believed that he merely agreed to the execution of a handful of dangerous revolutionaries in his kingdom.

Haman is given the king’s signet ring and “letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews”.  It happened quickly, and created confusion in the kingdom.  When the king sat down to drink, he thought he had done well – but he did not really understand what he had done. Haman also sat down to drink, and thought he had done well – and he knew exactly what he intended to do.  The citizens of the empire knew Jewish people who lived among them, and they knew that they were good citizens who caused no trouble. A bad leader can cause all kinds of confusion, and lead the people to do things that are wrong indeed.

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