Upon hearing that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman set out to do to Mordecai’s people what the Jews were supposed to have done to his. He wants to completely annihilate them from the Empire.
Haman had taken notice that Mordecai did not give the worship he thought he was due him from the king’s command. This was bad enough, but b/c of Haman’s history with the Jews, Mordecai’s actions put his entire people in jeopardy. To me, this implies that if Mordecai had been from any other ethnic group, only he would have been punished and his people spared.
Haman’s actions constitute a full scale invasion into the homes and lives of every Jew throughout the Empire, no matter how old or young. Haman is truly playing the role of their ultimate enemy. He is easily a Hitler of his day. Remember that Jesus in John 10:10 says that the enemy comes to “steal, kill, and destroy”. That is just what Haman set out to do. Chapter 3 calls on everyone to “destroy, kill, and annihilate” as well as to take the plunder of the Jews. Does that sound anything like, “steal, kill, and destroy”?
It is the first month of the Jewish year, the month of Nissan, when Haman puts this plan in motion and casts the lots (purim) in order to determine when the people of the kingdom could destroy the Jews. I find it interesting that in the text this is done before Haman goes to Xerxes. Haman wants everything s in place and ready to go forward once the king gave his approval.
Do you remember in the book of Proverbs, it says that the casting of the lot is determined by God. Here we see that proverb coming to life. Why would I say that? Notice the time the destruction of the Jews was to take place. It was in the final Jewish month of the year, Adar. That’s right. God made sure that the Jews had a full year for things to fall in to place as God wanted them to. No one knew what God was up to, but of course, He did. God had a plan of His own that was being set in motion. And yes, God was using what Haman thought were his own clever plans to do His own will in the life of His people.
Then Haman goes to Xerxes. Keep in mind what we have discussed before, that Xerxes was trying to find someone whom he could trust. Someone who would watch is back from possible assassination and treachery. Haman was the one Xerxes had placed that trust in to protect himself and his kingdom. Haman uses just that to get Xerxes to sign off on his plan. Haman tells Xerxes that there are those in his kingdom who are separate (they do not see themselves as Persians) and have different customs than the rest of the kingdom, including, of course, their religion. In other words, their supreme allegiance was not to Xerxes – they answered to someone else. However, that was not all. Haman specifically mentioned that they did not follow the king’s commands.
Now, if you remember from chapter one, that even Queen Vashti was not exempt from obeying the command of the king and for her disobedience she was banished from the king’s presence. How much more severe would the punishment be for those not even related to the king (little did he know).
Here Mordecai is definitely seen as the peoples’ representative. If Mordecai did not obey then neither would the people. This is definitely seen as a danger by Xerxes. So he listens.
Haman tells Xerxes that it is not beneficial to him to keep these people around. Part of the benefit he is discussing here is a financial benefit, (remember they lost the war with Greece and it would have cost them a great deal financially – Here Haman is offering a way to get some of that back) which makes his next comment very interesting. He offers money into the treasury to finance the operation. He even gives a specific amount, ten thousand talents. Notice the language that Haman uses here. “If it pleases the king”. We have seen this language before. It is up to the pleasure of the king to give final approval or not.
Everything Haman has to say speaks right to the heart of Xerxes. The protection of his life, his kingdom, and a way to get back much of the financial loss he suffered from the war. Were these things enough to warrant such an action. For Xerxes the answer is yes.
The decree is written in every language of the kingdom and sent to every province. Notice the date. This decree was written in the languages of the Empire on the thirteenth of Nissan, the day before Passover. With that being the case it is reasonable to assume that the day that Susa heard the news was indeed Passover. Talk about bewilderment. On one of the most holy days in the life of a Jew they would learn in the city of Susa that all Jews would be annihilated by the hands of their neighbors.
Keep in mind this was a command of the king, which would have made it a crime for the non-Jewish people to disobey. I am sure there were many who immediately began to think about their options, would they obey or risk punishment for disobedience just as many did during World War II in Europe.
While the rest of the city was bewildered, Xerxes and Haman sat calmly drinking together. No doubt Haman was feeling as if he had put one over on Xerxes and feeling proud and successful, while Xerxes would feel safe and protected.
Ironic, isn’t it, the snake was actually in the room with him and not out there. The one Xerxes should have feared and rejected was the one whom he thought he could trust. Isn’t the enemy clever. I believe that is what it says about him right off the bat in Scripture, that he was clever.
We must always be alert and on guard for the schemes of the enemy. We must be dressed in full armor. The enemy is clever and he is more then willing to wait until we are off guard and in a place where we even feel safe. Then he attacks.
Yes, Haman was clever and played right into the concerns of Xerxes. May I even say into his legitimate concerns. The enemy knows just how to play us. The question is, when we fall for it can we end up doing the right thing? Did Xerxes in the end get it right? Did he become stiffnecked like Pharaoh or will he become someone willing to listen like David did with Nathan?
Remember, Esther and Xerxes have been married about 4 to 5 years at this point. She is still very much a part of his life and for all we know a mother at this point. Next, we will narrow the parameters from all of Susa being bewildered to Mordecai then back into the palace itself with Esther’s reaction.