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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Esther 3

Verses 1-15

Chapter 3

And as we get into Chapter 3,

After these things the king Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And the king's servants, that were with the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why do you transgress the king's commandment? Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matter would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. And so when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, and did not give him reverence, he was full of wrath. And thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shown him the people of Mordecai: and he sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. So in the first month, that is, the month of Nisan [or April], in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and month to month, to the twelfth month, and that is the month Adar ( Esther 3:1-7 ).

In other words, he was wanting to set a day for the extermination of the Jews (this was in the first month), and they began to cast month by month the lot to see what month they should exterminate them, sort of following a superstition, and the lot fell on the twelfth month, which would be the month of March, because they started with the month of April. So it brought them around to the month of March that the lot finally fell on that month, the month for the extermination of the Jews.

Now, before we go any further, I want to point out something that to me is fascinating. This fellow Haman, notice it says of him that he was an Agagite. Now, Agag was of the nation of the Amaleks. The Amalekites were always a type of the flesh in the Old Testament. Now you remember when Samuel came to King Saul, he said, "God wants you to go down and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all of these people. Don't leave anyone alive of the women of the children, and don't take any prey or any loot, not even their cattle or sheep. Don't take anything; utterly destroy everything." And so Saul went down against the Amalekites and God gave to him a victory over the Amalekites. However, he did not obey the voice of the Lord. But he saved the lives of the best cattle and the best sheep, and he save the life of Agag the king, and no doubt others of the king's family. So as Saul was coming back from the battle, Samuel went out to meet him. And Saul greeted Samuel saying, "As the Lord liveth I have done all that God has told me to do." And the prophet Samuel said, "If you did all that God told you to do, how come I hear the cattle, and how come I hear the sheep?" He said, "Oh, well, you see, they were so nice. Fat, good animals. We decided that we would bring them back and sacrifice them unto our God." And Samuel said, "To obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken more than the fat of lambs." And he said, "You have done foolishly, and because you have rejected God from ruling over you, so God now has rejected you from ruling over His people, and the kingdom is going to be taken away from you." Because of his disobedience, not utterly destroying Amalek, saving Agag alive.

Now here, interestingly enough, this fellow Haman who several years later, some six hundred years or so later, Haman now is seeking to exterminate the Jews.

Now why would God make, first of all, such a horrible kind of a command to utterly destroy them all? Looking at the picture in Samuel, it seems like maybe God is very cruel in his demand, yet because God can look down the road and see what lies in the future. He realized that if He didn't destroy them all there would arise one day one of the descendants that would seek to destroy all of God's people. Had Saul been obedient to God, Haman would have never existed, and his edict and his attempt to destroy God's people would have never been. God could see that far in advance. But when you get into the type it becomes even more obvious, because Amalek is a type of our flesh, the flesh life, living after the flesh. God has ordered that our flesh be put to death. "If ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh then ye shall live" ( Romans 8:13 ). "Know ye not that your old man was crucified with Christ?" ( Romans 6:6 ) God does not have any program of reform for your flesh.

Paul said, "I know in me (that is, in my flesh,) there dwelleth no good thing" ( Romans 7:18 ). And God has ordered the complete extermination of the flesh; not to live after the flesh; not to walk after the flesh; but to reckon that old man, the old nature, to be dead and to give no place to the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. And God has provided that through the cross of Jesus Christ I might be able to reckon my old man to be dead with Christ. As Paul wrote, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" ( Galatians 2:20 ).

The truth is this: God has ordered your flesh to be put to death, crucified, reckon it to be dead, give no place for it. If you, as Saul, fail to obey the command of God and you continue to make provisions for your flesh, that is, you continue to live after the flesh or you allow an area, "Well, it's just a little area that I'm indulging my flesh," you can be sure that your incomplete obedience to God's command of the destruction of the flesh will come back someday to destroy you, and to destroy your spiritual walk in life. We are to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its desires, its lust. We're to walk after the Spirit; we're to live after the Spirit, making no provisions for the flesh.

So here Saul's disobedience, allowing the flesh to still remain, is now coming back to haunt his descendants years later, as Haman the Agagite was placed in this position of prominence by Ahasuerus, and the command given that whenever he walks by everybody should bow and give him obeisance. But this Mordecai refused to do it.

Now, the Jews took very literally the law of God that you're not to bow down and do reverence to any graven image or any likeness. And Mordecai was carrying that one step further; he wasn't going to bow to any man. He would only bow to God, only bow his knee before God. He would only show that kind of reverence to God. And so, those that were standing around said, "Hey, man. How come you are not bowing? It's the law." And he just would say, "I'm a Jew. We don't bow to anybody. We only bow to God." And so someone called Haman's attention to it, because they wanted to have a test case to see if the law would stand. And so they called Haman's attention to the fact that this Jew wouldn't bow. And so Haman then took notice of it and he became extremely angry, and there is where he plotted to put to death all of the Jews. Not just Mordecai, he was going to kill them all. And so, seeking then the guidance of the spirits, they cast lots to see what would be the most appropriate month to carry out this edict. And so they cast Pur; it fell on the twelfth month, which is in the Jewish calendar the month of March.

And Haman said unto the king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people that are scattered abroad and dispersed among the people of all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, and neither do they keep the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to allow them to remain. [And he said,] If it pleases the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the kings treasury ( Esther 3:8-9 ).

Actually, he was offering here a bribe of about nineteen million dollars. Now, what he was planning to do was kill the Jews and confiscate all their goods, and so he was going to pay it with that. He was just going to rip them all off after he killed them.

So the king took off his ring [that had the signet], and he gave it to Haman. [And he said, Make the proclamation and sign it.] And let the post of the messengers go out throughout all the provinces ( Esther 3:10-11 , Esther 3:13 ),

Now Darius is the Persian king who set up an excellent postal system throughout the Persian Empire. And so, "Go ahead and proclaim it throughout the empire that these people are to be put to death on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month."

And so the letters were sent by the post throughout all the king's provinces, to destroy, and to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children, women, in one day, even the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of March, to take the spoil of them for a prey ( Esther 3:13 ).

So go ahead and kill them and you can have whatever they have.

The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all the people, that they should be ready against that day. And the post went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was perplexed ( Esther 3:14-15 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Esther 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.