Esther 3 and 4 Feb. 11, 2007

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Esther 3 and 4 Feb. 11, 2007

The story of Esther has many of the same elements of fairytales with storylines of unjust and wicked villains, a character representing the vital link whom, through a various set of circumstances, sees through the villainous tactics, and lastly the vibrant heroine who is given special powers to not only expose the villain but to rid society of his/her element. But…. the book of Esther is no fairytale, it is history in the reality of the joust of evil against good, Satan against God which began in the Garden of Eden and which we face each and every day of our lives and will continue to do so until Jesus returns with His to banish evil forever.

PRINCIPLES: Satan designs diabolical plots but God places vital links to expose him and to stay his power. God’s Word reveals to us the sinister character of Satan that we may be ‘wise as serpents, harmless as doves’ and to discern good from evil.

AIM: That we may stay so close to God that we see truth and error, discern good and evil and determine to obey Him first and only.
DAY ONE: Haman, the villain: pedigree, promotion, prejudicial path.

1.Chapter 3 begins “after these things”. What “things”? After Mordecai saved the king from those who were planning to assassinate him and after Esther has become queen.

2. There are two schools of thought as to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite was. One you might find in scripture: 1 Sam. 15:8-33. The other is noted in the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies: Haman being an Agagite probably refers to the district of Agag in Persia. Is it possible that Haman might have descended from King Agag? Give proof for your decision. Most commentators today are leaning towards the latter – that Haman was fully Persian and not an Amalekite based upon the fact of the province known as Agag, thus one from there is an Agagite. However, there are many still who believe and teach that Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of King Agag. They base their decision on 1Sam. 15:8-33, where King Saul was sent to kill all of the Amalekites because they refused the Israelites as they began their journey to the Promised Land, Exodus 17:8. The Israelites were faint and weary and they took advantage of them, to this God sought revenge. They say that although Samuel finally did kill King Agag, which he had sent Saul to do but he did not, that still there were descendants left to carry on the line of Amalekites. The problem with this theory is vs. 8 “Saul” utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. If scripture is true, then how can there be any descendants? How an Amalekite would be in the kingdom of Persia and in the King’s court at this time is also a fact that is not understandable. However, that being said, if Haman was a descendant of Agag, this would be further evidence as to why he would be an enemy of the Jews, noted 5 times in the book of Esther, and would seek to “settle the score” between his descendants and God:

Esther 3:10 Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.

Esther 7:6 The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman

Esther 8:1 Haman the Jews' enemy

Esther 9:10 ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews,

Esther 9:24 Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews,

One more fact to enter into this discussion is from Esther 6:13 where Haman’s wise men and Zeresh his wife said 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--- this might be the critical evidence to know that this was a personal vendetta between Haman and Jews for what happened to his ancestor, King Agag or it might be that they like Rahab, knew the power of Jehovah. How else might this fit in with the understanding of Haman wanting to not just kill Mordecai but ALL the Jews?

3. Scanning the rest of the book of Esther what do we learn of this “villain”?

Esther 3:1-15 He was an Agagite, discussed above, part of the king’s cabinet most likely; was promoted; filled with rage at Mordecai’s lack of obeisance; lived by the superstition of casting lots to determine dates; a common practice among the Persians of that era; exaggerated claims and received permission to exterminate all Jews and to plunder them.
Esther 5:9-14 moods changed at sight of Mordecai; wealthy; had 10 sons that of which we are aware; invited to a banquet with the Queen and King—he was the only invited guest; built a gallows seventy-five feet high built or approximately 9 stories high
Esther 6:4-14 went to the king to gain permission to hang Mordecai on the gallows he built the previous night; it seems that he had authority to do many things but not this; unwittingly due to pride assumed that the king wanted to honor him and thus gave an exaggerated idea of what should be done; his family seemed to know of the consequences of Mordecai’s Jewish heritage –Esther 6:13 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
Esther 7:6-8 noted as an enemy and adversary of Esther; terrified and pled with Esther for his life; saw evil determined by the king; was hung on the very gallows he had erected for Mordecai, history tells us that they were not merely hung but impaled upon the gallows, they were the first to use crucifixion as a method of execution. In Esther 9:10 we also find out that Haman’s 10 sons were executed by the Jews and in vs. 13 we read that his 10 sons were hung on the gallows, whether the hanging was a part of the execution of vs. 10 is not known or that they were hung after being executed.

4. From the book of Esther, summarize what you believe to be the character qualities of Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite. Haman was a man led by superstition, a hatred for the Jews, and prone to audacious and extravagant living. He was manipulative, a liar, and a spreader of strife. He had a problem with anger and pride, which led to his downfall.

DAY TWO: Haman cont’d

5. Turning to the book of Proverbs, what do you see about his heart?

Prov. 3:33-35 that he was wicked and thus God’s curse fell upon him; shame is their legacy. Today , Haman is a byword for those who share in his legacy. When the book of Esther is read in the synagogue, boos and jeers are heard when his name is read.

Prov. 11:2 the end of pride is shame
Prov. 14:22 the devices of evil will lead one astray
Prov. 16:5-8 pride is the one thing God hates and it leads to one’s fall.

6. Read Prov. 6:16-19. Give the verses and then practical evidence that prove he is not a “God-fearer”.

Haman lived by the very things that God finds abominable. He was prideful, he lied by not telling the whole truth; he wrote an edict to kill ALL Jews, not just the males; his heart planned this wickedness and he quickly went to the king with his devious plan; he was a false witness who only spoke lies (note the three he said: Esther 3:8: (1) their laws are diverse from all people; these people were part of the Persian empire, and their laws were the king’s law;– (2) neither keep they the king's laws: these people were in his kingdom and by force were commanded to obey the laws that he determined; (3) it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. – thus not giving the king the whole picture—loss of revenue from these Jews who served him in all of his 180 provinces!;

Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (Haman had written in the edict that all women and children were to be a executed as well)

Pro 6:18 A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

7. To what can we link Haman’s downfall in later chapters? Pro 16:18 Pride goes before destruction,

and a haughty spirit before a fall.

It was his pride to think he was in control of man’s destiny and his as well.

8. Do any of these proverbs speak to your heart? If so, what will you do about it? Personal responses.

DAY THREE: Mordecai: Determined, Decisive, Demonstrative

9. What was the reaction to Haman’s promotion by the populace and by Mordecai? Esther 3:2 : all the king’s servants that were in the king’s gate, bowed and reverenced Haman for the king had so commanded….but Mordecai bowed not nor did he reverence. They began to question Mordecai as to why they had to and he did not.
10. Give one reason perhaps why Mordecai did not do that was commanded by law and how he explained it to those who asked? Ex. 20:5 One reason could be his training in the Levitical law to bow to any but Jehovah. Another reason was his hatred of any descendants of Agag and the Amalekites. We do know that when questioned he gave the answer “I am a Jew”.
11. Walk through the book of Esther to learn more about Mordecai’s character traits.

Esther 2:19-23 responsible to the task given; loyal to the king; still felt responsible for Esther

Esther 3:1-4 refused to honor Haman
Esther 4:1-17 heard or read the edict; put on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of mourning; wept. Went to the palace; refused to be comforted; challenged Esther; obeyed her request to fast for 3 days and to gather the assembly of Jews so that all in Susa would join him in this
Esther 5:9 did not stand or tremble as Haman walked by
Esther 8:1-2, 9-10,15 he came before the king and rec’d his signet ring; appointed over the house of Haman; wrote a new edict; went out from the king dressed in royal garments
Esther 9:20 sent letters to Jews in all the provinces
Esther 9:4; 10:3 became famous and 2nd only to the king (much like Joseph)
12. If you had been in the same place as Mordecai would you have been so decisive and determined? Why or why not? Personal responses

DAY FOUR: Queen Esther at risk

13. What does chapter 4 tell us about the continuing relationship that Queen Esther had with Mordecai? Mordecai continued to monitor Esther’s life even though he had no access to her quarters. We thus assume from chapter 4 that he gathered information about her from the eunuchs that cared for her as they went about their business and passed by the king’s gate where Mordecai was stationed. He obviously cared very deeply for her.

14. How did Esther react to the news of Mordecai’s mourning; how did she attempt to change his attitude and a possible reason. She was exceedingly grieved; she sent Hatach, her attendant to inquire as to why he was out there weeping and mourning; she sent him clean clothes that he might change but he would not. One commentator’s reason was that if he was not dressed in sackcloth and ashes he might enter the palace and he would have a personal audience with her, but this is not necessarily so—since earlier in Esther we read that he gathered information about Esther from those who came and went about the palace’s business. Est 2:11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.

15. Esther 4:14-16 is the key verse used to show God’s providential planning for Esther’s life. Read it and then put yourself into her position. What did she realize were the risks involved if she went into the king unannounced? What were the risks if she did not go? Esther realized that to go into the king unannounced that her life was in jeopardy. Perhaps she recalled what had happened to her predecessor, Queen Vashti who went against the king’s orders and wishes. But, either way; Esther knew that to go in unannounced meant death unless the king extended his scepter. If she did not go, the edict would stand and all Jews would perish and she would be ultimately be held responsible and Mordecai reminded her of this fact and that she too would perish because it would then be known that she was then a Jew and that God would raise another to save them if she did not. Had Haman not considered this fact? We will never know. If she did go, she might perish as well; thus her statement: if I perish, I perish.

16. We are once again faced with the subject of fasting. In Nehemiah we read that he fasted and prayed. What element is not mentioned in Esther?__prayer.. many commentators note that just because it is not listed, does not mean that Esther and her maidens and the Jews in Susa did not . The fact that she required Mordecai to gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan—and the meeting would have been held in a local synagogue or other religious meeting place that it was for the purpose of a prayer meeting as well.

17. What practical lessons can we glean from this character analysis of Haman, Mordecai, Esther? Some practical lessons:

  1. From Haman: There will always be those who are led by evil desires to exterminate the Jewish race; Haman is one. Hitler was another. Satan hates the Jews and even though he was unable to halt the birth of the Messiah, in our own present time we saw the hatred of Hitler who sought to exterminate them and now presently Ahmadinejad of Iran seeks to do the same with lies and threats.

  2. There will also always be Mordecai’s who will raise the banner of truth and alert people to what is occurring. To be silent is to live out these words and Mordecai was not silent.

Pro 24:10 If you faint in the day of trouble, your strength is small!

Pro 24:11 Deliver those being taken away to death, and hold back those slipping to the slaughter.

Pro 24:12 If you say, "But we did not know about this," does not the one who evaluates hearts consider? Does not the one who guards your life know? Will he not repay each person according to his deeds?

From Esther we lean that God continues to order His children and their steps. She was providentially placed in the right place at the right time. Psa 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

  1. From God we learn that He is in control and He is sovereign over man. We can thus trust that nothing occurs but what He has already allowed to accomplish His purposes. Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

  2. For us: the lesson we can learn is this: Isa 6:8 I heard the voice of the sovereign master say, "Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?" I answered, "Here I am, send me!" Isa 6:9 He said, "Go and tell these people: Will we go? Will we stand in the presence of those in authority to stop the stench of death? Or will we see these words come to pass: If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews (we can put in anything here, babies, abused children and vulnerable seniors; etc.) will appear from another source,

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