Before I begin today I must tell you that when I do this lesson as a Bible study it is usually the whole chapter and it is done in a two hour setting. I typically begin this lesson by saying something like, “this is the downer week when we have to study the enemy”.
In this post, however, I will only be looking at the very first verse of chapter 3 to give a good understanding of who Haman was and where he was coming from. We will look at the rest of the chapter in the next post.
Esther 3:1 “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.” (NIV)
“After these events” indicates that this took place after Mordecai had saved Xerxes life from the assassination attempt. The two who plotted to take Xerxes life are named leading outsiders to believe that their names meant something to the original readers, perhaps members of the royal family or at least highly connected to the family since they also made these plans at the king’s gate. The truth behind those men has been lost to history, yet the events they put in place triggers the exaltation of another person in the king’s court.
Haman and his elevation is interesting since we can plainly see that he is not of royal blood. If you recall from chapter one, all the advisers that Xerxes turned to for advice on what to do with Vashti were relatives. Now Xerxes has married a woman whose ancestry he does not know and at least two possible relatives try to take his life.
Where does he turn from here? Who does he trust? Remember, we have made the point several times that Xerxes is looking for a home for his heart, he is looking for someone he can trust, trust with his life. One can assume that considering the words, “After these events”, that Haman had something to do with the investigation of the two that attempted to take the life of the king.
At this point it is not Mordecai that Xerxes chooses to trust. Instead, by elevating Haman, it’s safe to make the assumption that Haman was already higher up within the court than Mordecai.
Perhaps Xerxes and Haman already have a personal repor. In any case, Xerxes chooses to trust Haman to be his second in command. He is trusting him with his life. He is trusting him to protect him from anyone else who would try to take his life.
Remember Haman is not Median or Persian, not a member of the royal family, at least by blood, and therefore he is not a threat. He would not be someone after the throne and therefore could be trusted.
At least that seems to be what Xerxes assumed. He assumed he was safe with Haman and so was his throne. In other words, his administration was safe with Haman looking after things because Haman had no obvious motive. Xerxes saw Haman as an outsider who was a safe choice.
Then there is the other side of Haman… how Mordecai would have known him due to the history between their peoples.
Haman is an Agagite and therefore an Amalekite, thereby a descendent of Esau (Genesis 36:12).
This takes us back to I Samuel 15 when Saul was told to go in and destroy the Amalekites whose king was Agag, but he did not. God had told him to do so because of how they attacked the Israelites as they came up out of Egypt. If you recall this was when Joshua was leading the Israelite army and Moses was up on a hill with Hur and Aaron holding up his arms in Exodus 17.
Haman, in other words, was from the royal family of the Amalekites that somehow survived Saul’s attack. Mordecai would have been very aware of this history and would have known that Haman was dangerous and not worthy of trust.
So from the very beginning of this account in Esther, just from Haman’s ancestry we have two very different perspectives of him.
Xerxes chooses to trust him, but Mordecai knows better than to place his trust in this person that was from an accursed lineage (Genesis 17:14-16). Yes, God had said He would always, “from generation to generation”, be at war with Haman’s people, the Amalekites.
That meant that as a child of Israel, as part of God’s people, that he, Mordecai, was also at war with Haman. This automatically put Haman and Mordecai in opposite camps and from there their story only escalates.
Knowing in Whom I trust,