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.”

As Haman had opined his humiliation the night before, he now shared this new slight with his wife and his friends. They say he has “begun to fall” before Mordecai, foreshadowing his doom. And then they proclaim a fearful prophecy: that if Mordecai was a Jew, Haman would not prevail.

While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunuchs came, and hurried to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

“While they were yet talking with him…” The biblical author thus drives the narrative forward relentlessly, giving Haman no opportunity to fully comprehend what he’s been told, to process the information, or even to prepare himself, before he is swept forward to the next banquet, where he will meet his end.

Imagine the emotional turmoil Haman experiences, as once again he attends an exclusive banquet with the Queen, where he and the King are the only guests. Within 24 hours he has experienced exultation at the first banquet, frustration that Mordecai still does not bow, anticipation as he orders a gallows for his hated foe, exhilaration as he prescribes the reward he expects to receive, humiliation as he leads Mordecai through the streets, declaring the king’s recognition of the man he most despises, and now again exultation as the guest of King and Queen. And he’s still to receive the greatest shock.

At first, the banquet must have helped settled Haman’s raw nerves. Excellent food, pleasant conversation, the attention of his king, and the company of a beautiful woman. After the meal, Ahasuerus repeated his offer to grant her any request, “up to half of my kingdom.” If he thought about it at all, Haman probably expected her to request a title or position for a relative, or expanded quarters for herself, perhaps silver or gold, or more servants. Most likely, he was considering his own desires. So he probably awaited Esther’s response with only mild curiosity. That would change.

“If I have found favor 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.

For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish.

But if we had been sold for male and female slaves, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king’s loss.”

One cannot help but wonder what went through the mind of each of the two men listening to her request. We have some idea of the King’s thoughts, because he gives voice to them.

“Who is he, and where is he who dared presume in his heart to do so?”

Clearly, the King is surprised and shocked by the queen’s request, even though he originated the decree. He finds it astonishing that someone would presume to kill his queen and her people. And once again, the beauty of her character stands out. “If we had been sold for male and female slaves I would have held my peace.” She is willing that she and her people should serve the king, even as slaves. This directly contradicts Haman’s claim that the Jews refused to follow the king’s laws, and that they were therefore essentially in rebellion.He is indignant and furious. He wants to know the identity of the perpetrator so that he may be dealt with.

Now imagine Haman’s thoughts. He probably believes this beautiful creature is shallow and frivolous. But with each word she speaks, he becomes more and more alarmed. And the king’s reaction must’ve sent Haman into the depths of despair. And now the Queen will deliver the final blow.

“An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman!”

Upon hearing this, and seeing the confirmation of his guilt ridden on Haman’s face, Ahasuerus faces a new and frightening reality. Haman, whom he had trusted implicitly, even giving him his ring and allowing him to write the decree that condemned the Jews, he now sees as completely untrustworthy. Haman has repaid the king’s trust by using his authority for himself, and not of the king’s interest. By contrast, his beautiful wife, Esther, proclaims that she would not use her position to protect herself from serving the king. She says that if she and her people had been sold as slaves, she would not have objected. This is humility.

Once again, the beauty of Esther’s character stands out. It brings to mind Paul’s hymn to Christ in Philippians chapter 2, where he proclaims that Christ did not consider his station as God something to be held onto, but rather was willing to become a servant. Of course Christ’s sacrifice was infinitely greater, yet it does remain a striking parallel. Naturally, Ahasuerus could not be aware of that, but the dramatic contrast of Haman’s treachery and Esther’s loyalty cannot have escaped him.

Haman clearly saw the king’s anger, and like many bullies, when confronted with his own demise, demonstrates his craven nature, flinging himself literally upon, and figuratively upon the mercy of the Queen.

At this moment the king returns from the garden, where he was no doubt pacing about pondering the consequences of what you just learned. And here he finds Haman apparently in physical contact with the Queen. What ever shreds of regard for Haman remained in the king’s mind, finding the man in such a position swept all notions of mercy away.

Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in front of me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

“They covered Haman’s face.” It is an age old custom to cover the head of one who is about to be executed, and that is what the guards are doing. For anyone to assault a member of the royal family was a capital crime, and in ancient times the king was judge and jury anyway. So the king’s declaration about Haman assaulting the queen was in fact a death sentence. Only the means of execution remained to be specified. The eunuch who was apparently part of the Kings “Secret Service” detail had a suggestion:

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.”

It is interesting that the royal servants were more aware of Haman’s machinations that was the King. For Harbonah knows about Haman’s gallows, and its intended victim, but the king does not. Harbonah also points out that Haman had hoped to hang Mordecia, “who spoke good for the king.” The servants apparently knew who could be trusted and whose ambition made him treacherous. We also have an indication that there was no love lost among the royal servants for Haman, not only because they immediately covered his head in preparation for execution, but because they made known to the king the most fitting penalty. The king, still furious, wastes neither time no words:

“Hang him on it!”


Read other posts in the “Matriarchs and Prophets” series.