Commentary on Esther 6

Notes (NET Translation)

1 Throughout that night the king was unable to sleep, so he asked for the book containing the historical records to be brought. As the records were being read in the king’s presence, 2 it was found written that Mordecai had disclosed that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had plotted to assassinate King Ahasuerus.

At the start of this chapter things look very bleak for the Jews, but from this point forward a series of coincidences leads to the salvation of the Jews:

  1. the king’s inability to sleep (v. 1)
  2. the king’s reading of the chronicles (v. 1)
  3. the king’s reading of the passage about Mordecai (v. 2-3)
  4. Mordecai’s not having been rewarded (v. 3)
  5. Haman’s decision to build the gallows and speak to the king (v. 4)
  6. Haman’s assumption that the king wanted to honor him (v. 6)

The reader is meant to see that this is providence.

In 2:21 the eunuch is named Bigthan but in 6:1 he is named Bigthana.

3 The king asked, “What great honor was bestowed on Mordecai because of this?” The king’s attendants who served him responded, “Not a thing was done for him.”

Persian kings were lavish and meticulous when it came to rewarding their benefactors. For Xerxes to discover in such a manner that a great boon had been ignored for years would have been disturbing. Indeed, his failure to reward Mordecai could have been a source of dishonor for the king himself. Perhaps in the reading he had discovered the source of his agitation, and could take immediate steps to remedy the oversight.1

4 Then the king said, “Who is that in the courtyard?” Now Haman had come to the outer courtyard of the palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had constructed for him.

Haman’s wife instructed him to go to the king in the morning (5:14) so we are to assume these events occur in the morning.

5 The king’s attendants said to him, “It is Haman who is standing in the courtyard.” The king said, “Let him enter.”

6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?” Haman thought to himself, “Who is it that the king would want to honor more than me?”

Note the irony. In 3:8 Haman withheld from the king the identity of the people he wanted to destroy. In 6:6 the king does not tell Haman the identity of the man he wants to honor. Haman rushes to the court to have Mordecai hanged but ends up deciding how to honor him. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).

7 So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 8 let them bring royal attire which the king himself has worn and a horse on which the king himself has ridden – one bearing the royal insignia! 9 Then let this clothing and this horse be given to one of the king’s noble officials. Let him then clothe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him lead him about through the plaza of the city on the horse, calling before him, ‘So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!'”

Schötz has noted that Haman does not even bother with the usual court formality, “If it please the king.” He is so caught up in the daydreams of his anticipated exaltation that he launches into his description without remembering whom he is addressing.2

To wear the royal attire and to ride a horse the king had ridden is to identify in some sense with the king himself.

10 The king then said to Haman, “Go quickly! Take the clothing and the horse, just as you have described, and do as you just indicated to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Don’t neglect a single thing of all that you have said.”

The king mentions Mordecai the Jew but does not seem to connect him with the edict issued in 3:12-15. He had not bothered to ask for the identity of the people whose destruction he had authorized.

11 So Haman took the clothing and the horse, and he clothed Mordecai. He led him about on the horse throughout the plaza of the city, calling before him, “So shall it be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!”

12 Then Mordecai again sat at the king’s gate, while Haman hurried away to his home, mournful and with a veil over his head.

Haman’s covered head signals his grief for his public embarrassment, but it also foreshadows his fate in 7:8.

13 Haman then related to his wife Zeresh and to all his friends everything that had happened to him. These wise men, along with his wife Zeresh, said to him, “If indeed this Mordecai before whom you have begun to fall is Jewish, you will not prevail against him. No, you will surely fall before him!”

In perhaps another sign of providence, Haman’s wife and friends realize that Mordecai and the Jews will triumph. This is a reversal of 5:9-14. The “wise men” may have included those who could interpret dreams, signs, and omens. Perhaps they concluded that Haman’s humiliation was a sign of things to come.

14 While they were still speaking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived. They quickly brought Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Bibliography

Barker, Kenneth L. ed. The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

Brown, Raymond E. ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Mays, James L. ed. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary (Revised Edition). San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2000.

Meeks, Wayne A. ed. The HarperCollins Study Bible. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Tomasino, Anthony. Esther. Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013.


  1. Tomasino EEC 6:3 
  2. Tomasino EEC 6:7 
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