A Story About Perfect Justice
One of the great stories about interaction between the Persian Empire and various Bible figures is the story of Mor4decai and Hanan. You will find this story in Chapter 7 and 8 of Rebuilding ;Jerusalem.
Mordecai and Esther were Jewish exiles living at the citadel of Susa; (modern day Shush, Iran). Because his young cousin did not have parents, Mordecai raised her. After Esther became King Xerxes Queen, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate when he heard two guards at the king’s door conspiring to assassinate King Xerxes. He told Queen Esther and she reported it to the king. It was written in the king’s records. The two men were hanged.
Meanwhile Xerxes promoted Haman to a high position. All the royal officials knelt down to honor him except Mordecai. The other officers asked Mordecai why he didn’t pay Haman his due and Mordecai told them he was a Jew.
When Haman heard about it, he decided, not just Mordecai, but all Jews throughout the Persian Empire must die! He said to the king. “There are people in your kingdom who do not obey the king’s laws. It is not in the interest of the king to tolerate them? If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them. I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business”(Esther 3:8-11). The king told Haman to do as he p leased concerning the Jews and gave him his signet ring authorizing his decisions. Haman posted the new laws throughout all the nations of the Persian Empire.
When Mordecai heard the edict issued in the king’s name, he passed through the city wailing aloud, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, the symbol of deep mourning. Esther heard about it and sent him some suitable clothes to wear, as he could not enter the king’s gate in mourning. Mordecai refused to accept them. She sent another messenger to find out what was troubling him.
Mordecai sent a copy of Haman’s decree to Queen Esther and a message urging her to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews. Esther sent her servant to Mordecai with the reply that anyone who approached the king without invitation was put to death unless the king extended his gold scepter to them. She added that Xerxes had not sent for her for 30 days.
Mordecai sent this message back. “Don’t believe that you alone will be saved when all of your people are annihilated! Deliverance will come for the Jews from another place but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for just such a time as this”(Esther 4:12-14, NIV). Convinced, Esther went to the king. He extended his scepter, asking, “What is your request, Esther? It will be given to you, even up to half of the kingdom (Esther 5:3, NIV). Esther asked that the king and Haman come to dine with her the next day.
Meanwhile Haman had a gallows built in order to hang Mordecai. During the night, Xerxes couldn’t sleep and was reading the records of his reign. he ran across the notes about Mordecai reporting the men who planned to assassinate him. He asked his attendant what had bee done to honor Mordecai. His attendant replied that nothing had been done. “Who is in the court?” the king asked (Esther 6:4, NIV). At that very moment, Haman walked in to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had built for him.
Xerxes asked Haman, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Haman thought, “Who would the king rather honor than me.” So Haman reported all the ways he, himself wanted to be honored. the king was pleased. “Go at once,” he commanded Haman, “Do not neglect anything you have recommended. Put my robe on Mordecai the Jew and put him on my horse and lead him through the streets, proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor”(Esther 6:6-10, NIV) So Haman did as he was commanded by Xerxes. When he was finished, he covered his head in grief and went home. Very shortly, the messenger came to take him to Esther’s banquet.
King Xerxes and Haman were drinking wine when the king asked Esther to make her request known. Esther replied, “If I find favor with you, O king, grant me my life—that is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation.”
“Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing,” the king asked? Esther replied, “the adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” One of the eunuchs attending the king said, “A gallows stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” “Hang him on it!” the king said (Esther, Chapter 7, NIV).
Mordecai was given power to plan and execute ways to save the Jews in every nation. The king’s signet ring was given to him to carry out his plans.
This event is still celebrated every year at the feast of Purim when the entire book of Esther is read in the synagogue. People cheer when Mordecai’s name is read and boo when they hear Haman’s name.