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Go to Bible: Esther 3
“Haman.” Haman was “the enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10; 8:1; 9:10, 24), and a representative and prophetic picture of the Devil himself (see commentary on Esther 5:14).
“the Agagite.” It has long been believed by both Jews and conservative Christians that Haman is a descendant of Agag, who was a king of the Amalekites at the time of Saul (1 Sam. 15:8-9, 32-33). Although there is no way to prove that, God is the Author of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16), and one of the purposes of the Bible is to inform us of things we need to know to understand how evil and evil spirits can work through many generations. Given that, what Jews and Christians have believed through the centuries about Haman being a descendant of Agag makes sense and fits with the overall purpose of Scripture.
We know that when Saul killed the Amalekites as recorded in 1 Samuel 15, he did not kill all of them because there were still Amalekites during the reign of David (1 Sam. 27:8; 30:1). Since Agag was the king of the Amalekites during the time of Saul, it makes sense that like most kings he would have had more than one wife and would have had quite a few sons. Those sons were princes, and most likely at least some of them would have acted as under-rulers to Agag and lived in cities scattered around the Amalekite kingdom. That explains why when Saul killed the Amalekites as recorded in 1 Samuel 15, that some of the sons of Agag survived—they were not in the cities that Saul attacked. Furthermore, those sons had descendants who then survived through the reigns of David and other Judean kings, and eventually moved into other areas of the ancient Near East such that by the time of Esther, which was some 500 years after Saul, there were descendants of Agag, Agagites, in the Persian empire. Add to that the fact that it is common in the Eastern culture for people to have very long historic memories, including blood feuds that last for generations, and we can see why when Haman got angry at Mordecai he did not just want to kill Mordecai, but he wanted to use the occasion to exterminate all the Jews. Actually, Mordecai felt the same way about Haman as Haman did about Mordecai. Mordecai would not bow down before Haman because Mordecai was a Jew and he knew the Amalekites were enemies of God (Esther 3:4).(top)
“servants who were in the king’s gate.” This is an instance where “servants” is used of the royal officials of the king. While technically they were his “servants,” they were his royal officials, which is why they were at the gate (cp. “royal staff,” HCSB; “royal officials,” NIV; “king’s officials,” NLT). The elders and important people of a city usually went to the gate of the city to meet people and conduct business.
[For more on the elders at the gate, see commentary on Ruth 4:11 and Proverbs 1:21. For more on “servants” being used for people of high position in the kingdom, see commentary on 2 Samuel 11:1.]
“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. The word translated “bowed down,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “worship.”
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chronicles 29:20.](top)
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“thought it beneath him.” One of the meanings of the Hebrew word bazah (#0959 בָּזָה) in this context (cp. HALOT;a NAB translation.
“put forth his hand against Mordecai.” This is idiomatic for coming against someone, in this case, it is almost euphemistic for killing Mordecai.
“So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews.” Haman was rightly called “wicked,” because of the way he acted. Although the Bible does not say so, he was very likely a child of the Devil like some Pharisees were at the time of Jesus. Jesus told the Pharisees who were trying to kill him, “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44). People in league with the Devil do the works of the Devil, so by studying the people in the Bible who are in league with the Devil we get a good look at the true character of the Devil. The Devil and his people are ruthless, heartless, enemies of God, and we see that in Haman. In studying Haman we learn about the Devil and his people.
[For information on Haman’s death being typological of the Devil’s death, see commentary on Esther 7:10.]
“Pur.” Pur is an Akkadian loanword, and therefore likely unfamiliar to the people reading the Hebrew text, thus the explanation of what “Pur” meant.
“from day to day.” The custom and method used in casting lots was unknown, and the Hebrew text is not clear on what was done or how. It seems extremely unlikely that Haman met with his astrologers and magicians to cast lots every day until a propitious day was found. If they cast lots from day to day, they would start with a day and if the lot said “no,” they would ask about the next day, and in that matter they would move “from day to day, and from month to month.” This process would have taken a while but would have been accomplished in one day. There is little doubt that God had his hand on the date because from Nisan, the first month, to Adar, the twelfth month, there was a year’s time, and so God had time to work behind the scenes with the situation so the Jews could be saved.(top)
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“palace-fortress.” See commentary on Esther 1:2.(top)