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The Turning Point (Esther 6) December 8

With chapter 6 we come to "the turning point in the book. Within this chapter we observe a series of events that unmistakably point to God's sovereign hand [ultimately] controlling all events. Only because of his sleepless night did the king learn of Mordecai's past bravery on his behalf.... The king might have been aware to some extent of Mordecai's deed when it originally occurred. In 2:23 the author says that the events were written down 'in the presence of the king.' Now the Lord led the king to this very text" (Nelson, notes on verses 1-3). The oversight in not having already rewarded Mordecai "must have disturbed Xerxes, as it was a reflection on him for not rewarding one of his benefactors. Herodotus indicated that it was a point of honor with Persian kings to reward promptly and generously those who had benefited them" (Expositor's, note on verses 2-3).

In verses 4-5 we again see God's hand at work. Xerxes wants to set things right with regard to Mordecai and asks if some court official is around who can attend to the matter. It was at this very moment that Haman arrived to recommend to the king that Mordecai be hanged. Perhaps it was early morning by this point.

There is great irony and humor in what follows. Haman in his prideful arrogance cannot imagine who the king could wish to honor more than him, so he proposes what he believes will be the pinnacle of public adulation showered on himself. Yet the one to be honored turns out to be none other than the hated enemy he has come to have hanged. Worse, he himself would have to stoop to leading Mordecai's horse around and publicly extolling this person against whom he burned with rage. "Haman had no choice but to carry out the king's orders. No writer, however gifted, could adequately describe the chagrin and mortification Haman must have experienced as he robed Mordecai and led him through the streets" (note on verse 11).

It is interesting that the king refers to Mordecai as "Mordecai the Jew" (verse 10)—having not long before issued an edict to eradicate the Jewish people. As mentioned previously, it may be that the king did not realize exactly whom Haman's decree was meant for. It does seem that he would have come to know it by now, but perhaps not. It could be that he thought only some of the Jews were to be killed. In any case, that the king would so greatly honor a Jew did not bode well for Haman's plan—a fact his own wife and friends recognized (verse 13). No doubt they also saw that it was no mere coincidence that Haman had been forced to honor someone he had meant to hang. They perhaps saw this as a case of supernatural forces acting against him—as indeed they should have. Furthermore, as Expositor's notes regarding verse 13, "Most commentators think the author was injecting into the mouths of Haman's friends the Jewish belief in the ultimate victory of the Jews over the Amalekites." Indeed, it may even point to the fact that all God's people will ultimately prevail over all their enemies—a fact prefigured in the outcome of this story.

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