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Deeper Commentary

Esther 7:1 So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen- The record helps us see it all happening as if in a video. Haman went first to the king and then together they two came to Esther.

Esther 7:2 The king said again to Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is your petition, queen Esther? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed-
"The banquet of wine" confirms the connection between the king and alcohol discussed on Esther 3:8. "Banquet" is literally "the drinking". But in Yahweh's system of things, "wine is not for kings" (Prov. 31:4). The kingdom of Persia is set up as most definitely not the kingdom of God, to which the exiles ought to have aspired rather than to prosperity in Persia's kingdom. Again we the readership wait with baited breath, knowing that surely now Esther has to overcome her stage fright and speak. And she does.

But I will argue on Esther 8-10 that although Esther is indeed heroic and a commendable example of the triumph of good over evil, neither she nor Mordecai go far enough. For they do not seek the restoration of the Jews to Judah. She is set up in conscious contrast with Nehemiah, also a Jew in the palace at Shushan. He too asked for a favour, and whilst also very nervous is asked by the king "What is your request?" (Neh. 2:4). His request was for the restoration of the Jews to their land. Esther by contrast says nothing about the restoration, but asks only for short term deliverance.

Esther 7:3 Then Esther the queen answered, If I have found favour in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request-
"My request" reflects her understanding that their salvation was being made to depend upon her requesting it. The same words are used in Ezra 7:6, the only time outside of the book of Esther, to describe how "the king granted [Ezra's] request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him". Perhaps Esther had been encouraged by Ezra's example, knowing that the invisible hand of God made kings of Persia grant requests. We too should be directed and inspired by Biblical examples, and those within our own experience of the brotherhood. The ideas of 'finding favour in your sight' and asking for petitions / requests being granted are more commonly associated with people praying to God; indeed the whole verse is intended to recall Moses' plea to Yahweh to save the people, if indeed Moses has "found favour in Your sight" (Ex. 33:12,13,17). This young, nervous, not very spiritually strong teenager was suddenly catapulted into the place of Moses, Judaism's most revered figure. We are surely intended to conclude that her begging the king was a reflection of her prayers to God, or at least, she would have perceived that her petitioning the king was effectively petitioning Yahweh. Again, she was led closer to God by her experience.

It simply can’t be that we rejoice in our own salvation, and don’t want to breathe a whimper of that good news to others. Esther made her request for “my life… my people” in parallel; and when her own safety was assured, she didn’t just relax and mop her brow with relief, she went on to petition for them- with all the risks this involved for her (see on Esther 8:3). We can’t possibly just rejoice in our own salvation, that we have found the Lord and are secured in Him; if we have truly experienced this, we will wish to share it with others.


Esther 7:4 For we are sold-
This could mean that the huge sum of money offered by Haman if the Jews were destroyed may not have been a reference to their goods being plundered; but rather to Haman 'buying' the Jews through a huge donation to the treasury. Esther here is an eloquent type of the Lord’s mediation for us, risked her life because she felt that “we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed”. She was tempted to reason that if she’d have kept her mouth shut, she wouldn’t have been destroyed. But she fought and won the same battle as we have daily or weekly before us: to identify ourselves with our weaker and more suffering brethren. The Lord Jesus didn’t sin Himself but He took upon Himself our sins- to the extent that He felt a sinner, even though He wasn’t. Our response to this utter and saving grace is to likewise take upon ourselves the infirmities and sins of our brethren. If one is offended, we burn too; if one is weak, we are weak; we bear the infirmities of the weak (Rom. 15:1).


I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish- This is Esther 'coming out' as a Jewess; she seems to emphasize the point: "we... I and my people... we...". It appears only later that she stated her relationship to Mordecai (Esther 8:1). We reflect how little the king knew about his wives; he didn't know her nationality, her parents nor even her birthday (see on Esther 5:4). 

But if we had been sold for bondservants and bondmaids, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king’s loss- Haman the adversary had offered to compensate for the lives of the Jews by paying money to the treasury. But she is saying that even if the Jews had been enslaved and not killed, the loss to the king would never have been compensated by money. She argues for the value not only of human life, but of that human life being lived in freedom and not slavery. And we note her usage of the word "we" in reflection of her connection with her people.


Esther 7:5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he who dared presume in his heart to do so?-
Again we note the emphasis of the record upon "his heart". Surely the king knew the answer. "Where is he" could as well be translated "How could he...", as if the king is now angry with himself for letting this happen. Or perhaps he really was so disconnected from reality that he didn't guess it was Haman. We notice this disconnection from reality several times in the record (not least his not enquiring which people were to be destroyed before agreeing, and failing to make the connection between the Jews being destroyed and Mordecai being a Jew). Through all this, God was revealing His Name. 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 as acrostics, and this is an example (Esther 1:20; 5:4,13; 7:5,7).

Esther 7:6 Esther said, The adversary and the enemy is even this wicked Haman!-
These words "adversary and enemy" are frequently used together in the Psalms, in prayers that the adversary and enemy would not triumph but that God would triumph over them. Surely Esther was alluding to them. She could have tried to tactfully point out that the destruction of the Jews would involve her and Mordecai being killed, and work towards some negotiated solution, without wishing to offend Haman. But she calls him "this wicked Haman!". It was all or nothing. If the king took Haman's side, she would lose her life. For this was not a tactful approach. It was an outburst of accusation. But it worked. Likewise in standing up for God's people, it is all or nothing; nicespeak and negotiated solutions cannot be the answer.

I imagine that Esther could have resolved her personal problem in a quite different way. She had invited Haman and the king to a banquet / drinking of wine. She could have chatted them up nicely, waited until they were drunk, and then said to the effect: "Gents, I have a slight problem with this decree about killing the Jews; because actually, I'm a bit Jewish. Can't you just kindly resolve that little problem for me?". And her two guests would likely have proudly chuckled and said to the effect "Sure, no problem, we can just easily fix that, don't you worry, just relax, really it's nothing, sure, sleep easy tonight about that. The whole thing's under our control, nobody will touch you, all's good. And just... bring us the next pink champagne on ice". This was the kind of thing the holocaust was full of. But she didn't take that path. Her spiritual growth was very fast, as it can be in all people. She realized now that it wasn't a case of merely her salvation, but that of the body of God's people. To focus solely upon "me being saved" would be selfish. There is more to relationship with God than that. It's about His glory and the larger picture of His purpose rather than only "me". It takes some decades to realize this; but Esther got there in the course of a few days.
Esther 7:7 The king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden-
Circumstances again repeated in his life; for he had arisen in fury from the banquet in Esther 1, seeking to have Vashti killed; and he was circumscribed by his own laws, as discussed there. Likewise here, he was angry because he was circumscribed by his own laws. It would be hard to change the law without resigning his own supposed divinity.

Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king- We recall that Haman fixed the picture in his mind of Mordecai not standing up before him in respect, and it led to terrible jealousy complexes (Esther 5:13). And now he stood up and bowed in desperate respect for his life before Mordecai's Jewish daughter. Through all this, God was working. 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 as acrostics, and this is an example (Esther 1:20; 5:4,13; 7:5,7).

Esther 7:8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was-
The Esther story is full of the hand of providence. It seems Haman had collapsed, perhaps suffered a heart attack from the stress on top of the alcohol from the "banquet / drinking of wine" (:2). And he fell unconscious onto Esther's couch. That was surely from God, because the king was greeted by the sight of Haman's prostrate body on his wife's couch.


Then the king said, Will he even assault the queen in front of me in the house?-  "Assault" is AV "force", and the idea is not only of force but more manipulation. The word choice reflects the king's anger at how he had been manipulated.

As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face- Condemned criminals were not allowed to see the king's face. The courtiers knew that Haman was condemned to death.

Esther 7:9 Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were with the king said, Behold, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, is standing at Haman’s house. The king said, Hang him on it!-
This may have been one of the eunuchs sent to collect Haman from his house, who had seen the gallows at Haman's home and heard from the surrounding folks what it was intended for.

Esther 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified
- Earlier, the king's wrath had demanded pacification in killing Vashti. But he was caught by his own legal system, and had been unable to do that. We wonder whether there was any legal basis for the execution of Haman; probably there wasn't. By the letter of the law, he had done everything right. So the execution of Haman was the king departing from the letter of the law; and as discussed on Esther 1:15, this is a major theme of the book. God was nudging the king beyond legalism, and also to a realization that his laws weren't actually very good and needed to be changed. And therefore, he was not the divine being he liked to think he was, who made perfect laws that could never be changed because to do so would be to question his divinity and rightness.