Read Esther 7:1-10
1 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet. 2 On this second occasion,while they were drinking wine,the king again said to Esther,”Tell me what you want,Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you,even if it is half the kingdom!”
3 Queen Esther replied,”If I have found favor with the king,and if it pleases the king to grant my request,I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. 4 For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill,slaughter,and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves,I could remain quiet,for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.”
5 “Who would do such a thing?” King Xerxes demanded. “Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you?”
6 Esther replied,”This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.” Haman grew pale with fright before the king and queen. 7 Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden.
Haman,however,stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther,for he knew that the king intended to kill him. 8 In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining,just as the king was returning from the palace garden.
The king exclaimed,”Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace,before my very eyes?” And as soon as the king spoke,his attendants covered Haman’s face,signaling his doom.
9 Then Harbona,one of the king’s eunuchs,said,”Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai,the man who saved the king from assassination.”
“Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai,and the king’s anger subsided. (NLT)
Not one of the more edifying passages of Scripture! The beautiful Queen Esther described in many a children’s Bible story has another side to her. Later in this same story,she has not only Haman executed but his sons as well. She also pleads with the king to allow for an extra day of slaughter of the enemies of the Jews. She has no hesitation in using her feminine charms to have her enemies wiped out.
This was not a lady to be trifled with it seems. We can certainly say in her defence that the Jews were about to be unjustly wiped out by Haman and his colleague. We can certainly say that the Jews acted in self-defence as they slaughtered their enemies. We can certainly say that wickedness is punished and that warfare and criminal punishment were carried out according to the customs of the day.
But we are still left with mixed feelings. And these mixed feelings remind us that our so-called biblical heroes were flesh-and-blood sinners like us all. Not all that is described in Scripture is endorsed by God. There is some horrible history in the Bible. We dare not point the finger at other sacred books and pronounce that they support war and violence without recalling that our own sacred book presents us with some moral dilemmas of its own.
We are not to try to sanitise the history of God’s people. We confront the mess and the mystery of it. We cling to the belief that despite all human wrongdoing,God works out his purposes. And in Jesus we see what human beings were supposed to be like. Esther had her admirable qualities,but as a model of life Jesus is the only way to go.