Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Study of the Book of Esther: Week Two, Day Four

Day Four: Haman and Mordecai

Read Esther 3:1-15. What happened "after these events" (3:1)?

What did the royal officials do in response (3:2)?

What did Mordecai do (3:2)?

     "After these events," according to the notes in my Study Bible, actually tells us that four years have passed since Esther was chosen as queen. That's four- probably uneventful- years between chapter 2 and chapter 3. And you'll notice that these verses say nothing about why Haman received this honor. Maybe you also noticed that Mordecai received nothing for saving the king's life earlier.

Reflection: Why do you think Haman was honored and Mordecai was not?

What did the royal officials ask Mordecai (3:3)?

What happened when Haman saw that Mordecai refused to bow (3:5)?

What did Haman decide to do in response (3:6)?

     If you look at Haman's introduction in verse 1 again, you'll notice that it says there he was an Agragite. This very likely points back to a king named Agag, king of the Amaleks. The Amalekites actually attacked Israel after they fled from Egypt.
     Read Exodus 17:14. What instruction did Moses receive from the Lord?

     God promised to wipe out the memory of the Amalekites. Those events happened about 500 years before the story of Esther ever took place. This anger and hostility between Mordecai and Haman went back a long way. Mordecai didn't simply refuse to bow for religious reasons, he refused to bow because the Amalekites were sworn enemies of the Lord. Haman knew who Mordecai was. He knew he was a Jew and he hated the Jews. Look at what he decided to when Mordecai wouldn't bow! He didn't want to just destroy Mordecai. He wanted to take the entire Jewish population down with him. That's some serious anger and need for revenge.

How did Haman decide on a date for the Jews' destruction (3:7)?

What did Haman tell the king in order to get his way (3:8-9)?

Reflection: Why do you think Haman didn't mention who the group of people was?

     Haman had an evil plot in mind here. He decided to kill all of the Jews and he needed the king's blessing to do it. So he took one sin and piled another on top of it by mixing a little truth into his big lies. He tells the king that a "certain people" in the kingdom have their own customs and laws (truth) and that they are disobedient to the king (lie). He tells the king that they should be destroyed because of this. And then to top it all off? He promises quite a large sum of money to secure this request.

What does the king do in response (3:10-11)?

After the orders were written, where were they sent (3:13)?

What did the king and Haman do once the order was made (3:15)?

How did the people of Susa respond to the order (3:15)?

     So many things stand out to me about Haman in this chapter of the story. First, Haman is full of pride. He is proud of his rise to power. He is forcing those around him to bow to him in order to stroke that ego of his. And when someone refuses? He reacts in a dramatic and angry way. He lets his pride lead the way and gets a decree issued that cannot be taken back, not that he wanted it to be.
     And that makes me wonder, how often do I allow my emotions to lead the way? How often do I make a bad decision because I'm hurt or sad and then let that lead to another bad decision? I've never plotted someone's death or tried to get revenge on anyone, but I do avoid conflict too often or choose to do the easy things rather than diving into the hard things.
     This weekend, I'm set to attend a writer's workshop where I'm supposed to be meeting with a literary agent to tell her about my current project. The problem? She doesn't represent what I'm working on so that's leaving me floundering for the right thing to present. And rather than dealing with that, diving into the hard stuff even when it's hard, I'm ignoring it. Suddenly I want to clean all the things and finish sewing projects and work on catching up on Gilmore Girls. I want to bake cake and eat the whole thing. Like Mordecai, I'm refusing to bow here. And like Haman, I'm following my feelings too much rather than listening to the logic in my head that this needs to just get done.

Personal Reflection: In what ways are you refusing to bow in your own life or even following your feelings a little too closely?

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