“…Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.”
The author somehow knows that Haman has privately revealed his singularity: nothing matters so long as Mordecai hangs. Hyperbolic, to be sure, but hyperbole that reveals deeply held values. The same could be said of Esther’s reflection, “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Haman no more wants to give up his status than Esther wants to die. But each character kneels before deeper motivations.
You know that the plot has turned when Haman’s question, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” is answered. But listen closely to the prophecy of Haman’s wife that closed yesterday’s reading: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” Follow the clearly-stated logic: If Mordecai is a Jew, then you will not be able to overcome him, based on that fact alone. This is similar to Mordecai’s certainty in chapter 4, that even if Esther remains silent, “…relief and assistance will rise for the Jews from another place.” To the characters, and the author, the plot turn isn’t just a twist of fate.
Hold onto that while I heed another detail. Have you noticed that the name of God is never mentioned in Esther? Not just the God of Israel; no god is mentioned. No other book of the Bible holds that distinction. Just as the author hides exactly why Vashti refused to come and why Mordecai refused to bow, all of the LORD’s activity or interest must be inferred. It’s impossible to prove, but also impossible to ignore, that the author must have a purpose in this approach. The LORD remains silent; yet the characters’ confidence speaks for Him.
Before you head into this final reading, I want to remind you of the subtle details of the royal edict in chapter 3. Haman never names the Jews before Ahasuerus, only that a certain people… do not keep the king’s laws. Ahasuerus took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, who then commissioned the edict to annihilate the Jews. Remember that Esther had not made known her kindred or her people… So the king, with incomplete knowledge, has no idea of how the fates of Haman and Mordecai and Esther will intersect – of course – at a feast.
Our verses for this week are Psalm 37:4-5: Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.
Esther 7 through 10. Now let’s read it!
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.