Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

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Wednesday, October 2. Esther 3 – 5

A considerable amount of time is covered between Ezra 6 and Esther. Ezra 6 occurs during the reign of Darius (cir. 544 B.C.). Esther occurs during the reign of Xerxes (beginning 486 B.C.), nearly sixty years later. The story of Esther probably occurs about 479 B.C. Xerxes had initiated a campaign against Greece and while he was gone, considerable unrest occurred back home in Babylon. Xerxes had to return home to quell the disorder. The big party in chapter one of Esther was likely an attempt to re-unify his political position (and so you can see why the revolt of Queen Vashti was so troublesome).

Haman makes his first appearance in the story in chapter three of Esther. He is called an Agagite. You are supposed to make a connection here. Esau was the son of Isaac, Jacob’s brother. Esau was the grandfather of Amalek, who became a leader among the Edomites as well as the beginning of his own dynasty – that of the Amalekites. A recurring royal name of the kings of the Amalekites was Agag, and his descendants were called the Agagites. So, with the appearance of Haman the Agagite, a deep seated hatred for the Jews appears once again in the Bible story. The reader, making this connection, knows that it’s not going to go well for the people of God.

Haman perpetuates the hatred of his people for the Jews, a hatred Amos has told us raged unchecked perpetually (Amos 1:11-12). Because Mordecai refused to worship Haman as a god, Haman’s anger increased exponentially and he determined to exterminate the Jewish people.

Xerxes doesn’t get much press in the Bible. He doesn’t seem to know much about the Jews and if he considers them at all, he considers them to be as troublesome as a flea – and worthy of the same treatment. By the end of chapter three, it would appear the days of God’s people are numbered.

The end of the story, however, reminds us of the fate of all who harbor hatred and animosity in their heart. This was Haman’s real problem, but he came by it honestly; he was descended from a long line of hotheads. Ancestry may make you the way you are, but that will be no excuse before the God who judges the hearts of men.