Esther Plays on Haman’s Pride
Text: Esther 5
Understanding What You Read
- Did the king behave as Esther had feared?
- Why did Esther invite the king to dinner instead of directly stating the problem?
- Why did the king continue to offer Esther up to half his kingdom?
- What ruined Haman’s day after having dinner with the king and queen?
- How did Haman soothe his wounded pride?
- Who came up with the idea of hanging Mordecai?
On the third day, Esther courageously goes before the king. She dresses in royal attire so all would know who came into the king’s presence. Ahasuerus acknowledges her presence. He notices that something is bothering Esther, but when he asks, she simply invites the king and Haman to a dinner that she has prepared. Ahasuerus is fond of excess. He had offered her up to half his kingdom, so it seems he cared about his queen. Thus, when all she asked was for Haman and he to attend a dinner with her, he immediately demands that Haman come quickly.
At the dinner, Ahasuerus is once again drinking. The king again asks what her to make her request, offering Esther up to half his kingdom to solve her problem. But Esther only asks for the king and Haman to attend tomorrow another dinner that she will prepare and she will then make her request.
Haman was beside himself in being invited to two dinners with the royal couple. He clearly assumed that he was being honored by the queen to have his presence demanded. Pride prevented him from wondering why he, of all people, was invited to an intimate dinner. But even that joy was spoiled when he saw Mordecai at the gate. Mordecai did not acknowledge him by standing up or trembled before him. Haman managed to control himself until he got home. Then he soothed his wounded ego by recounting all his past successes up to the most recent invitations to dine with the King and Esther on meals that she had prepared herself. Apparently, Haman only enjoys life when he sees himself above other people. Yet, he still was unhappy because Mordecai haunts him and that was because Mordecai makes him doubt his self-importance. When Haman refers to Mordecai as “Mordecai the Jew,” we see him transferring his anger beyond the man and broadening it to all who of the same ethnicity.
Haman’s wife, Zeresh, along with his friends, suggests that he have a gallows build and then get the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on it in the morning. Then he can enjoy his dinner with the king and queen. The suggestion cheers Haman. The gallows was to be 50 cubits high (or about 75 feet tall). It was more than simply killing the man, the desire was to make a public spectacle of his death.