Haman Is Punished
1The king and Haman were dining with Esther 2and drinking wine during the second dinner, when the king again said, “Esther, what can I do for you? Just ask, and I will give you as much as half of my kingdom!”
3Esther answered, “Your Majesty, if you really care for me and are willing to help, you can save me and my people. That's what I really want, 4because a reward has been promised to anyone who kills my people. Your Majesty, if we were merely going to be sold as slaves, I would not have bothered you.”
5“Who would dare to do such a thing?” the king asked.
6Esther replied, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us!”
Haman was terrified, as he looked at the king and the queen.
7The king was so angry that he got up, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.
Haman realized that the king had already decided what to do with him, and he stayed and begged Esther to save his life.
8Just as the king came back into the room, Haman got down on his knees beside Esther, who was lying on the couch. The king shouted, “Now you're even trying to rape my queen here in my own palace!”
As soon as the king said this, his servants covered Haman's head. 9Then Harbona, one of the king's personal servants, said, “Your Majesty, Haman built a gallows 22 meters high beside his house, so he could hang Mordecai on it. And Mordecai is the very one who spoke up and saved your life.”
“Hang Haman from his own gallows!” the king commanded. 10At once, Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built to hang Mordecai, and the king calmed down.
“Save me. Save my people.” Esther makes her request known to the king, trusting the King’s care for her and his declared willingness to help.
“This is what I really want,” Esther says to underscore her request. The king is completely unaware that the Queen’s life — and the lives of her people, is in danger. Who would dare to sentence the Queen and her people to death?
Esther then presents the whole truth behind her case for justice and deliverance for her people. Life and death are the stakes. A reward has been promised to anyone participating in the legally-sanctioned genocide against the Jews in the last month of the year. It’s mandated in the King’s law, but the real villain is Haman. Esther declares, “That evil Haman is the one out to get us.”
Haman’s fortune is reversed. God’s providence is at work, dealing out justice and mercy. Ironically and shamefully for him, Haman must plead for his own life from the Queen that he sought to kill. Ironically, Haman breaches royal protocol, approaching the Queen too closely to beg for his life, and the King mistakenly thinks the Queen is in danger. He orders that Haman hang on the gallows he had erected for Mordecai.
The genocide plot against Jewish people in the Persian kingdom is finally out in the open. Mordecai and Esther, in the meantime, are safe. But the threat of genocide raises its terrible head over and over again, century after century. Genocide is still a reality in our world today. God calls on each of us, just as he called on Esther and Mordecai, to pursue justice and redemption over evil workings. He calls us to pray, to speak out, to risk our lives for the lives of others.
God our protector, we recall the Lord Jesus’ story of the widow who pestered an uncaring judge with her pleas to get justice, fair treatment in court (Luke 18:1-8). Even so, in the face of genocide and great suffering, we know you care and so pray for your justice. May we see deliverance in our day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.