New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Esther 6:1 On that night, sleep fled from the king. He commanded the book of records of the chronicles to be brought, and they were read to the king- Although the Name of God doesn't occur in the Hebrew text of Esther, the letters Y-H-V-H are found in various forms throughout the book, e.g. as acrostics (Esther 1:20; 5:4,13; 7:5,7), and several times in this chapter. The message is clearly that God was active, but in a subtle, hidden way. His insomnia was due to an unconscious sense that something wasn't right, that a payback hadn't been made, or that a payback against himself was now due. Gramatically, there seems a word missing here. Literally, his sleep was taken from him; but the grammar requires the definition of who took it from him. And that isn't stated. Some versions have supplied "God" or "the Lord", but this isn't in the original. The name of God never occurs in Esther. We are to understand only by implication that it was God. The book of records is that alluded to in Mal. 3:16, the "book of remembrance" kept before God concerning His servants. 

Esther 6:2 It was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who were doorkeepers, who had tried to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus-
The fact the king had forgotten this reflects his superficial character, focusing only upon the present. But even such a person still has a conscience and a fear of judgment which keeps them awake at night.

Esther 6:3 The king said, What honour and dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this? Then the king’s servants who attended him said, Nothing has been done for him-
Again we get the impression that the king was forgetful, because he lived only for the immediate present and forgot his responsibilities and undertakings, perhaps resultant from his alcoholism. Likewise he had divorced Vashti and agreed to search for a replacement for her, but had to be reminded five years later to get on and do so. The recollection of having been saved by grace led him to naturally feel that he should do something positive for this man Mordecai. Any move against that man was not going to be well received by him. The entire situation is true to life and has the ring of psychological credibility to it- in contrast to the histories written at the time by uninspired writers.

Esther 6:4 The king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman had come into the outer court of the king’s house, to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him-
We learnt from Esther 4:11 that anyone entering the inner court without invitation was risking their life. Haman's bitterness and jealousy was enough to lead him to risk his life by entering into the court on his own initiative to ask the king to let him kill Mordecai. The proud, self confident Haman approaching the king on his own initiative is set up in parallel to the nervous, humble Esther doing the same- risking her life to save, rather than to destroy.

Esther 6:5 The king’s servants said to him, Behold, Haman stands in the court. The king said, Let him come in-
Haman was risking his life to enter uninvited, but such was his obsessive jealousy.

Esther 6:6 So Haman came in. The king said to him, What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honour?-
It is tempting to imagine that the king was aware of Haman's antipathy toward Mordecai, and already suspected foul play in the plan to exterminate the Jews. At least, it seems he may well have asked the question knowing that Haman would reply as he did, assuming that he was in view.

Now Haman said in his heart, Who would the king delight to honour more than myself?- Again we see the focus of the record upon the human heart and its self-talk.

Esther 6:7 Haman said to the king, For the man whom the king delights to honour-
Haman's eyes were on the throne, and so he asks that this person be set up as the successor of the king; thinking it should be himself. See on :8.

Esther 6:8 Let royal clothing be brought which the king wears, and the horse that the king rides on, and on the head of which a crown royal is set-
"Royal clothing" is LXX "the robe of fine linen". As noted on Esther 1, the palace and regal system is being set up as a fake temple and Kingdom of God. But the impression given here is that Mordecai is being set up as the king, wearing the king's own clothing, riding the king's horse with a royal crown upon it. David's command for Solomon to ride upon his own horse meant that he wanted Solomon to be the next king after him (1 Kings 1:33). See on :9. This grossly exaggerated response to Mordecai's faithfulness was typical of powerful eastern monarchs; we recall how Pharaoh made the prisoner Joseph to be the Prime Minister of Egypt when just hours before he had been wallowing in a dungeon, and was totally unknown to Pharaoh. This would have been shocking to Haman; that Mordecai was suddenly being declared the successor to Ahasuerus. It seems typical of his irresponsible behaviour. But it was tantamount to replacing Haman with Mordecai; for surely Haman's eyes were on the throne for himself.

Esther 6:9 Let the clothing and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man whom the king delights to honour with them, and have him ride on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honour!’-
The man of the king's "delight" is a way of saying 'Whom he wishes to set upon his throne'; it is used in that sense in 2 Chron. 9:8 and possibly 1 Sam. 18:22. The woman whom the king 'delighted in' was made queen (Esther 2:14 s.w.). See on :8.

Esther 6:10 Then the king said to Haman, Hurry and take the clothing and the horse, as you have said, and do this for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken-
"The Jew" means that now Mordecai has declared his Jewishness; or perhaps a note had been made of this in the chronicles, and the king was thereby reminded of it. It could be that the king was unaware that the nation to be destroyed were the Jews; or that he had agreed to it whilst drunk (see on Esther 3:8) and was unaware of what he had really agreed to. The paradox was that a man who was publically disobedient to the king's command to bow before Haman (Esther 3:3) was now being exalted. Again the king is being nudged towards realizing the trap of his own legalism. He had made a law which a man whom he was deeply indebted to- had broken! He likely had heard of Mordecai's disobedience, because it was performed publically and was known by the king's servants.

Esther 6:11 Then Haman took the clothing and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and had him ride through the city square, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honour!-
The record naturally invites us to imagine the tone of voice in which he said this. Haman felt he had to be obedient to the king's commandment- to honour a man who was disobedient to the king's commandment (Esther 3:3).

Esther 6:12 Mordecai came back to the king’s gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and having his head covered-
The roles are now reversed; recently Mordecai had been weeping with covered head in the king's gate, and now Haman was. Esther mourns before going to the first banquet; and now Haman does before the second banquet. The way God brings about justice reflects His full awareness of all that has gone on in the past; unlike human justice. See on :14.

Esther 6:13 Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but you will surely fall before him-
These "wise men" were those who had thrown the lots in order to choose the day of the massacre (Esther 3:7). Suddenly their wisdom changed- from advising to massacre the Jews and kill Mordecai, to now predicting that Haman was not going to succeed but would himself perish. Again, the folly of Persian customs, traditions and wisdom is being developed. Zeresh, his friends and wise men had only yesterday been joining him in glorying over his enemy; and now they change completely, and he is left awfully alone. The book of Esther perhaps functioned as a means of telling the Jews in exile that they were preferring the kingdom of Persia over that of Yahweh; and the kingdom they preferred was terribly weak and compromised at its very foundations. They say that he is going to "fall" before Mordecai; and it was exactly Mordecai's refusal to "fall" before Haman which had been so engraved in Haman's memory (see on Esther 5:13). And again we find repeated the theme of a wife being wiser than her husband and willing to be separate from his positions, as Vashti and Esther were before Zeresh; and what she says comes to pass.

Esther 6:14 While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hurried to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared
- Just as Haman had "hurried" the messengers carrying his decree to kill the Jews, so he was "hurried" by the messengers to come to the banquet; see on :12.