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Haman's Fall (Esther 7) December 9

At Esther's second banquet, the king again asks her what this is really all about, promising to grant her request (verses 1-2). This time she makes her impassioned plea—for her own life and that of her people (verses 3-4). From the king's response in verse 5, it may be that she did not yet reveal the identity of her people. For had she done so, and if he were aware that the Jews were slated for destruction—which seems likely on some level despite his honoring of Mordecai—he wouldn't have wondered who was paying for their eradication, having himself been complicit in Haman's decree.

Then, in verse 6, she lets the hammer drop—the enemy is Haman. It is this statement that actually reveals Esther as a Jew. The king is stunned and furious. He storms outside—dazed, full of emotional turmoil and trying to think. He may well have been unhappy with Esther herself for hiding her nationality from him for all this time. And had not Haman made a good case against those deserving execution? Was he not a valued, trusted adviser? Yet perhaps Haman was the evil, wicked person the queen claimed after all. And look at what he had allowed this man to talk him into. The wise and mighty Xerxes had let someone pull the wool over his eyes, making a fool of him. It was just too much to take in all at once.

The terror-stricken Haman runs over to Esther, pleading for his life. When the king returns, he finds "Haman...draped over the queen's couch in a compromising position. Presumably, he was grasping at her with a desire to implore her favor. The king, on discovering this outrageous situation, wondered aloud if Haman intended to ravage the queen. The Persians had strict rules about contact with the harem by any male other than the king. The eunuchs were the only persons who had access to the rooms of these women. Haman was in danger merely by being near her. This sight enraged the king" (Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 8). Perhaps the king saw Haman as attempting through such an assault to force her to retract her accusation against him. In any case, it was all over for Haman the Agagite.

As the king spoke, the account says that "they" covered Haman's face (verse 8)—evidently referring to the eunuchs mentioned in the next verse. We are not told whether they had been present the whole time or came in because of the commotion. "The king's angry words were a sentence of death. Although there is no evidence that it was a Persian custom to cover the face of a condemned criminal before he was led away to execution, that was probably its meaning here" (Expositor's, note on verse 8).

In verse 9, Harbonah, mentioned near the beginning of the book as one of the eunuchs sent to summon Queen Vashti (1:10), speaks up about Haman's just-built scaffolding meant for Mordecai, a man the king had honored the previous day for saving his life. The poetic justice demanded was all too clear. Haman was sentenced to the same grim fate he had planned for Mordecai (7:9-10).

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