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The Decree Against the Jews

Scripture Passage: 
Esther 3:1-15
Attached audio files: 

INTRODUCTION: The first two chapters gave the background of the story of Esther. Chapter three reveals the true conflict. Haman was established as the chief of the princes of the Persian Empire. Then Haman, in his hatred of Mordecai, lashed out at all Jews within the realm of the empire.

    1. The Promotion of Haman (Esther 3:1)
      1. His new position
        1. Advanced by the king (Esther 5:11)
        2. Into a seat above all the princes (compare to Daniel in Daniel 6:2)
      2. His personal identity
        1. He was the Agagite (Esther 3:1; Numbers 24:7; 1 Samuel 15:7-8, 32-33); Agag was the common title for the king of the Amalekites. A special name for the kings of a nation was common. Compare Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-2; Genesis 26:11), Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1; Exodus 1:22), and Caesar (Luke 2:1). Haman may have been of this royal line.
        2. He was the Jews’ enemy (Esther 3:10; Esther 8:1; Esther 9:10, 24).
          1. The Amalekites were a great enemy of Israel (Exodus 17:13-16; Numbers 24:20; Deuteronomy 25:17-19).
          2. Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:1-2), refused to destroy the city of Amalek as he was commanded (1 Samuel 15:1-9). Agag had to be killed by Samuel (1 Samuel 15:32-33).
          3. Shortly before the death of Saul, David and his men had a battle with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1-6, 16-19).
          4. An Amalekite claimed to take Saul’s life (2 Samuel 1:1-16).
          5. Mordecai was of the tribe of Benjamin as was Saul (Esther 2:5).
          6. The anger between the two lines continued. Mordecai would not bow to Haman. Haman would attempt to destroy the Jews.
    2. The Refusal of Mordecai (Esther 3:2-4a)
      1. Despite the king’s commandment (Esther 3:2; Acts 5:29)
        1. All the king’s servants in the king’s gate
          1. They bowed and did reverence to Haman.
          2. They did as the king commanded them.
        2. Mordecai did not bow or do reverence to Haman.
      2. Despite the servants’ pressure (Esther 3:3-4a; Proverbs 1:10)
        1. They rebuked Mordecai (Esther 3:3).
        2. They reminded Mordecai of the king’s commandment (Esther 3:3).
        3. They spoke daily to Mordecai of the matter (Esther 3:4a).
        4. Mordecai did not hearken to the servants (Esther 3:4a).
    3. The Discovery of Haman (Esther 3:4b-5)
      1. Haman was informed of Mordecai (Esther 3:4b).
        1. The servants reported Mordecai to Haman.
        2. They wanted to see if Mordecai could get by with his insubordination.
        3. They knew that his actions were connected to his being a Jew.
      2. Haman was full of wrath (Esther 3:5; Job 5:2; Proverbs 27:3-4; James 1:20).
    1. The Extent of Haman’s Hatred (Esther 3:6)
      1. Not against Mordecai alone; he scorned killing only Mordecai.
      2. But against Mordecai’s people (Psalm 83:1-5; Revelation 12:1, 17)
    2. The Effort of Haman’s Superstition (Esther 3:7; Esther 9:24; Isaiah 47:12-14)
      1. The time of the plotting
        1. In the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus
        2. In the first month of the year
      2. The casting of lots
        1. From month to month and from day to day
        2. To find the best day for the destruction of the Jews (see Esther 3:13)
        3. The meaning of Pur is lots. It was the origin of the Jewish feast of Purim (Esther 9:24-26). This gives insight into the theme of Esther. Haman cast lots in his design to destroy the Jewish people, but God is in charge of the outcome of the casting of lots (Proverbs 16:33).
        4. The casting of lots can be compared to the flipping of a coin. It was a way to make a decision by chance.
    3. The Effect of Haman’s Plotting (Esther 3:8-9)
      1. His case against the Jews (Esther 3:8)
        1. They were dispersed among all provinces.
        2. They were different (Acts 19:26-27; 1 Peter 4:3-4) – “their laws are diverse from all people.”
        3. They were disobedient (Acts 16:19-21).
        4. They were despised – “it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.”
      2. His offer of financial support (Esther 3:9; 1 Timothy 6:5) – “ten thousand talents of silver” (compare 2 Kings 15:19; 1 Chronicles 19:6)
  3. THE KING’S APPROVAL OF THE PLAN (Esther 3:10-15)
    1. The Support of the King (Esther 3:10-11)
      1. He gave his ring (Esther 3:10; see Esther 3:12; Esther 8:2).
        1. The king’s ring had the king’s seal on it (Esther 3:12; Esther 8:8, 10).
        2. Note: “The seal is, in the East, of more importance than the signature, and indeed is often used in place of a signature. No document is of any validity without it. The ordinary mode of using it is to cover it with ink, and press it on the paper. The seal is often connected with a ring, and worn on the finger. [Genesis 41:42; 1 Kings 21:8]” –from Handbook of Bible Manners and Customs by James Freeman (p.166). At other times, the document or object was sealed with clay (see Job 38:14). In this way, it could not be opened without breaking the seal.
        3. The ring equaled authority. The one holding the ring held the authority.
      2. He gave his resources (Esther 3:11).
        1. The king used his own silver.
        2. The king delivered the people to Haman.
    2. The Decree of the King (Esther 3:12-15)
      1. The sealing of the decree (Esther 3:12; Esther 8:8)
        1. Written by the scribes
          1. On the 13th day of the first month
          2. According to the commandment of Haman
          3. To the rulers of every province
          4. To every people after their language
        2. Confirmed by the king’s seal
          1. In the name of Ahasuerus
          2. Sealed with the king’s ring
      2. The sending of the letters (Esther 3:13-15; Esther 8:10; 2 Chronicles 30:6)
        1. Letters sent by posts [as in post office] (Esther 3:13)
        2. Content of the letters (Esther 3:13)
          1. To destroy all Jews
          2. On the 13th day of the 12th month
          3. To take the spoil as a prey
        3. The commandment published (Esther 3:14)
        4. The posts went out by haste (Esther 3:15).
        5. The king and Haman sat down to drink (Esther 3:15).
        6. The city of Shushan perplexed (Esther 3:15)

CONCLUSION: There is a battle going on in this chapter. It is a type of the battle that goes on in each of us. It is the battle for who gets the ring; that is, who gets the authority to rule in our life. Haman is a type of the flesh. Who rules your life today?

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 17:2

A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.