Esther 5 (NRSV)
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. 2As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter.
3The king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.”
Verse 3. it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom—This mode of speaking originated in the Persian custom of appropriating for the maintenance of great men, or royal favorites, one city for his bread, another for his wine, a third for his clothes, &c., so that the phrase denoted great liberality.
–Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown
4Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.”
5Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires.”
Literally the Hebrew says, “so we may do the word of Esther.” This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands. Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call. The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is now obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well. And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew—a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts the lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness.
–Patricia K. Tull
So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Quite cozy — the Queen dines with her husband, the King, and his right-hand-man, Haman.
Why did Esther invite Haman?
Rabbi Eliezer said: She set a trap for him, as it is written (Psalms 69:23): “May their table be a trap for them.”
Rabbi Joshua said: She learned this from her father’s house: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread” (Proverbs 25:21).
Rabbi Judah said: So that they shouldn’t realize that she is a Jew.
Rabbi Nechemia said: So that the Jewish people should not say, “we have a sister in the palace” and refrain from praying to G-d for mercy. (When the Jews would learn that Esther was befriending Haman, they would no longer rely on her to save them.)
Rabbi Yosi said: So that he should be available to her at all times (and she’d be able to utilize every opportunity that comes up to turn the king against him).
Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia said: To induce G-d to perform a miracle.
Rabbi Gamliel said: Achashverosh was a king who was constantly changing his mind (thus she needed that Haman should be there when she turned Achasverosh against him).
Rabbi Elazer Hamoda’i said: To make the king and the ministers jealous of him.
Raba said: “Pride comes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18).
Abayei and Rava both said: “In their heat I shall make them drunk…” (Jeremiah 51:39, where the prophet describes how G-d destroys the wicked as they drink and feast).
Rabbah bar Avuha met Elijah the Prophet and asked: According to which of these sages was Esther’s reasoning? Replied Elijah: According to them all.
–from the Talmud
6While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”
7Then Esther said, “This is my petition and request: 8If I have won the king’s favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said.”
“Tomorrow is another day.” — Tomorrow?!
Esther. why wait? The king has asked you for your request, twice! The enemy is right there beside you! Every day your fellow Jews are suffering!
BUT! — God will use the next 24 hours to accomplish important things! The king will have insomnia, and Haman will initiate a construction project. . .
What are you waiting for the Lord to do for you? As you wait, God is at work on your behalf.
Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Haman Plans to Have Mordecai Hanged
9Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; 10nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home.
Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, 11and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. 12Haman added, “Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. 13Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
14Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.
We should never underestimate the destructive and distorting power of hatred. The same irrational, violent hatred that made Haman want to see Mordecai hang to his death is the same irrational, violent hatred that made man want to hang Jesus on a cross.
The NIV has the verse 13: “But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” Or, as Proverbs 27:20 says, “The eyes of man are never satisfied.” Poor Haman! What a gift to be a person with “A Satisfied Mind”! Done HERE by Joan Baez.
How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way
But little they know
It’s so hard to find
One rich man in a hundred
With a satisfied mind
Once I was waiting
In fortune and fame
Everything I could dream of
To get a start in life’s game
Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I’m richer by far
With a satisfied mind
No, money can’t buy back
Your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonely
Or a love that’s grown cold
The world’s richest man
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind
When my life is over
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I’ll leave, there’s no doubt
But there’s one thing for certain
When it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.