Bible Survey on Esther – Lesson 3

The first chapter of Esther laid some important groundwork for the book.  More than once we saw how that society operated according to the law and how their laws once made were not changeable.

We also saw a real life example of the danger of making rash decisions with emotion, and how there can be lasting consequences to them.

In chapter 2 we have more important groundwork laid down for us.  This time it is about the character of Esther.

She had many hard things come her way.  Both of her parents died and she was raised by her cousin.  Then she was taken along with many others so that the king could choose a new queen.

We learned much about her character.  She treated the chamberlain in charge with kindness.  And years later we find her letting the chamberlain choose what to take with her to visit the king.   This showed trust and humility, and it showed that she was able to maintain the relationship with the chamberlain for years.  Esther treated people with kindness year after year.

Esther then gets notified by Mordecai of a plot to kill the king.  And she does what is right and certifies this to the king in the name of Mordecai.  She gives credit where credit is due and gives Mordecai the credit for it.

Going against the kings men is always a risk.  This was a smaller risk.

We see God at work in this in several ways.

  • This event will be used later on in the life of the king and in the life of Mordecai.
  • This event will be used in an attempt to humble Haman. Yes God is preparing for it before Haman even knows of Mordecai.  God is always working ahead.  This is true in our lives as well.
  • Giving Esther this smaller risk is helping Esther grow her faith and prepare her for when it is time for her to step up and risk her life to save her people.

God often puts things into our lives that at the time we can’t see the reason why.  But God has reasons.  He knows why.  He knows what is best and He knows the best timing.

Esther is a woman who is doing the best she can with the hard circumstances of life.  She is not letting the circumstances determine who she is going to be on the inside.  She is a woman of strength and character that decided to rise above it all and live godly in a wicked world.

Treat people with kindness anyway, have faith anyway, trust anyway, do what is right anyway.  And do it all with godly wisdom, kindness, humbleness, and grace.  I really did enjoy last week looking at the character of Esther.

The foundation has been laid for the place, the empire and the importance of law and how it is not changeable, the time (after the temple is rebuilt but before the wall is rebuilt), the king, for Mordechai and Esther.

In chapter 3 we start to get into the story and we are now introduced to Haman.  And just as we learned a lot about the character of Mordecai and Esther by their actions we are going to learn a lot about the character of Haman by his actions.

Est 3:1  After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 

4 times in the book of Esther it is pointed out that Haman was an Agagite.  In the Bible the ite is added to the end of a name to show the linage of a person.  It shows what family they came from.  So simply drop the ite and you know who this person is decended from.  The name can go back a long time.

For example, one that you are familiar with is Levite.  It means they are descended from the son of Jacob named Levi.

Another example is Edomite.  Take off the ite and you have Edom.

Gen_25:30  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

When Esau sold the birthright for a bowl of beans, he received a new name in connection with that.  Edom.  So the name Edom has to do with despising the gift from God of the birthright.

Gen_32:3  And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

Gen_36:1  Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

Gen_36:8  Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

So when someone is called an Edomite, they are descended from Esau.

1Sa_22:18  And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.

Doeg the Edomite had the same despising of the things of God that Esau had.  Actually even worse.  Doeg murdered 85 priests.

So the use of Edomite means more than just being descended from Esau.  It also carries the idea that the person also is like the person called Edom.  The way the guy thinks, or his character, his tendencies.  Something about him is like the original.  So it can be both linage, and attitude.  Both who your ancestors are and who you are.  Your character.

Est 3:1  After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 

Agagite means that Haman was descended from Agag.

Who was Agag?

1Sa_15:8  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

1Sa_15:9  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Agag was the king of the Amalekites.

Who were the Amalekites.  They were a group of people who were the enemies of the people of God.

Num_14:45  Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

The Amalekites hated God’s people and sought to destroy them for centuries.  By the time we get to Saul, God’s longsuffering with the Amalekites is at an end and God tells Saul to wipe them all out.

But Saul spares Agag.  Saul spares the king of the enemy of God’s people.  Samuel ends up doing away with Agag, but some of Agag’s descendants survive.  And now a long time later Haman will try to kill all the Jewish people.

Est 3:1  After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. 

So saying that Haman is an Agagite is bringing all of that history up.  It is not only that Haman is a decedent of Agag the Amalekite; it is also that Haman has the same kind of wicked heart as they did.  It is also that Haman hates God’s people just like they did.  Haman is their enemy just like the Amalekites were.

This brings up something that we do see in the world around us.  Families tend to reproduce people that are the same.  This works both ways.  A good family tends to produce good families.  And a bad family tends to produce bad.

One example is in domestic abuse.  Often domestic abusers suffered domestic abuse as children.  It can be a cycle.  But everyone has a free will and anyone can break the cycle.

In the south side of Chicago many kids raised without fathers get into gangs.  They then have kids and the mother has to raise them alone.  Those kids grow up and get into gangs and do the same thing.

There is a pastor that went there 20 years ago and has had some success of getting some of those young men to leave the gang and learn a trade and break the cycle.  They are getting good jobs and learning to be a father and a husband.

Anyone can break the cycle.  When we are told that Haman is an Agagite, we are being told that Haman did not break the cycle.  The hate of the Jewish people had been passed down generation after generation and Haman accepted that hate.

My mother and her father were very prejudiced people.  I refused to accept the passing down of that to me.  I said no.  That is wrong.  I reject it.  The cycle stops with me.  Haman did not do that, Haman accepted it.

This all helps explain Haman’s reaction to Mordecai.

Est 3:2  And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 

Est 3:3  Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? 

Est 3:4  Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. 

Est 3:5  And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 

Est 3:6  And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. 

And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone.

Scorn is Extreme contempt.  Disdain which springs from a person’s opinion, and a consciousness or belief of his own superiority.

The thought of only going after Mordecai alone was extreme contempt to Haman.  He disdained the thought of only going after Mordecai.

Instead he sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom.  That seems like an unreasonable and completely crazy unstable and no reason for this level of reaction to one man not bowing.

Haman being an Agagite sheds light on this.  Haman had the same racism and hatred of the Amalekites handed down to him.

See more Bible Survey on Esther