Esther (Part 8) Chapter 5 (a narrative commentary)
Esther 5:1 “and after three days Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the king”. This is where we left off in our previous narrative commentary on Esther in chapter 4.
“And it happened on the third day that Esther put on royal clothing and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, before the king’s inner house. And the king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal house, in front of the gate of the house”. [LITV; 5:1]
Why the author of Esther (we suggest it was Mordecai) would include such detail is interesting. There are rare occasions, if any, when something of little or no value is added to scripture for the sake of verbiage. The king was sitting in his royal home giving him the vantage point of looking out the open gate or doors into the inner court or yard of his “office”. Esther is not inside the royal house but standing outside in the inner court of the royal house (palace?).
Esther 5:2,3 The King sees her and immediately offers for her to come forward and approach the throne. The greeting the King offers is more of a formality than an actual offer. He says to her: “What shall be done to you, O Queen Esther, and what is your wish? It will be given to you also, even to half of the kingdom” [LITV]. King Ahasuerus is not offering her part of his kingdom. It is a general greeting showing great favor to whomever is approaching the throne. This gives Esther an open field. She is about to disclose much but first needs to set the stage. Similarly, today one might say to another who is in grief… “If there anything I can do to help, just ask.”
Esther 5:4,5 is the initial reason Esther gives to the king for her unannounced visit. She basically offers dinner to him AND Haman. No grounds for suspicion here on either the part of the King or Haman. We do not know of the timing of the offered dinner (banquet), but it was that evening. Time was running short for the edict written by Haman to destroy a rabble-group (Jews). The king still did not know the origins of who these people were. Haman had kept that a secret when obtaining the king’s permission to eliminate them. Haman did not know that Esther was an offspring of a family of Benjamites removed from Jerusalem some 100 years earlier by Nebuchadnezzar of the now conquered Babylon.
Esther 5:6 explains much when read carefully. The king still figures Esther had a reason for this unusual invitation. It was a banquet of wine, not a full meal. She invited the king and Haman alone. This did much for Haman’s ego. We find him later bragging about his promotion in the kingdom and sitting around for a few rounds of wine with the king all at the queen’s invitation.
Esther 5:8 finds the king inquiring once again as to what might be the concern or wish of his queen. Good strategy on her behalf. She basically says, in our modern cultural norms to sit back, enjoy the wine and conversation. Tomorrow at another banquet, one of food and wine, I (Esther) will tell the king her wish or desire. All that this does is inflate the ego of Haman. The king did not need to inflate his ego. He was called the King of kings in his empire. This is different than what we know per Christ being the King of kings [once in I Timothy; four times in Revelation]. Ahasuerus (Xerxes) had appointed many sub-kings called satraps to rule over his vast empire. Christ will be declared the King of a global kingdom. We find this in the opening of the *Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.
*Contrary to church practices, the verses BEFORE the Lord’s Prayer specify that one is to go into his or her prayer closet, close the door, kick out the cat, then petition the Lord Jehovah in prayer. To quote this prayer as a group prayer is not how we are instructed to pray. Just a couple of verses before Jesus demonstrates an example of praying to his three disciples he specifically points out this is personal even though it begins with the word “our”.
Esther 5:9 is the turning point. Has the reader of this commentary ever had a high point in his or her life when almost immediately life’s actualities are once again upon us? This is Haman’s situation as he leaves the first banquet of wine at Esther’s place on cloud 9. Haman finds Mordecai, as usual, hanging around the King’s gate. With his ego well inflated Haman observes that Mordecai still does not bow or even tip a hat at the presence of Haman leaving the King’s palace. BANG! His anger goes off the chart in hate. Haman is now in another plotting mode. He wants total revenge on Mordecai and wishes to give an example of his power to the citizens over which he welds newly appointed powers.
Esther 5:10-12 amplifies his self-indulgence, perhaps best said, his self-delusion. He with excessive pride and self-accolades calls together his family, friends, and close associates to announce his pleasures with the King of Persia. Only HE had been invited to a banquet offered by the Queen herself. He will celebrate in festive style tomorrow as stated in verse 8 and 11. This is a prime example of Proverbs 16:18…pride goes before a fall. For a well-written and easy to follow article on Proverbs 16, go to: https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/what-christians-should-know-about-pride-goes-before-the-fall.html [Amanda Idleman].
How should we deal with pride? Read James 4:10. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up. Do we get this? It is not a command to just humble one’s self before the Lord. When we do, God will lift us up. That is a conditional promise. Like all bible based promises from God, they are conditional. “If you— then will I.”
After Haman’s self-accolades to family and friends, he discloses his issues and hate for Mordecai. Then as often happens in societies and group settings, others will offer their advice per dealing with another’s issues, problems, or trouble. Haman is no different. In the final two verses of Esther 5 we read:
Esther 5:13 Yet all this is no gain to me as long as I am seeing Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. His hate has blinded him of his appointed duties being distracted by the simple presents of Mordecai.
Esther 5:14 And his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, Make a wooden gallows fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak to the king and let them hang Mordecai on it; and go rejoicing in with the king to the banquet. And the thing was good in Haman’s eyes. And he caused the wooden gallows to be made [that very day; Emphasis mine].
Aha moment: From this verse and statement we get the phrase “hang um’ high.”
In chapter 6 the plot thickens. One might describe it as the point of impact in a perfect storm.
Rev. Dr. Jstark