Haman was King Xerxes’ right hand man. He was well respected in the palace. The king thought he was like his first chief. Haman hated Mordecai. Actually he hated all the Jews. One day he hatched a plan to get rid of them.
Haman went into the king’s throne room. “Hey king, we’ve got a bunch of these foreigners in the land. They are different than we are. Their customs are different from ours. The differences are starting to rattle our people. I’m afraid we could have a civil war on our hands. I propose we kill them all.”
“How are we going to do that? There are so many of them.”
“I think we should offer a bounty. Our citizens should get a bounty for every Jew he kills. If we offer a big enough bounty, our citizens will go for it.”
“I do. Let’s write it up.”
“Okay.” So the king called his scribes in and had them write the law.
Rumors were flying all over the land. Mordecai, being the intelligent person he was, listened carefully. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that his people were going to be killed off, one by one. He was distraught. He dressed himself in sackcloth, as was the custom if one was grieving. He went to the palace, but no one was allowed in if they were wearing sackcloth. Esther was told about Mordecai sitting at the gate. She was mortified.
“Here, take these clothes to Mordecai. Tell him I said to change his clothes and come inside.” Esther told one of her best maids.
The maid did exactly as Esther told her. Mordecai refused to change his clothes. The maid went back and told Esther about it.
“Go back and ask him what he’s upset about.”
The maid returned with the story that the Jews were to be killed. “Mordecai wants you to go ask the king to reverse that order.”
The maid did. Mordecai sent a message back to Esther. Don’t think that you will be saved because you live in the palace. Once they find out who you are, you will be killed also.
Esther thought about that. It was true. She had managed to keep her secret so far, but how long could she keep acting like one of the natives? She spent a lot of time in prayer and thought about the problem. Then she told her maid, “Go tell Mordecai that I will go see the king. I need all the Jewish people fasting for three days and nights. They need to pray for me for three days and nights. Then I will go into the throne room. If I die, I die.”
The maid told Mordecai. He rallied the people to fast and pray for Esther. Esther fasted and prayed for three days. Then Esther spent a day being pampered and becoming as beautiful as possible. Finally she was ready to go into the king’s throne room. She entered quietly and stood meekly at the back. She was prepared for whatever the king decided. If he didn’t hold out his scepter to receive her, she would be taken out and killed immediately.
The king looked up and saw Esther standing in the back of the room. He smiled, showing his pleasure in seeing her. Then he raised his scepter and Esther walked to the throne. She touched the end of the scepter as was the custom.
“Good morning, Esther. What is your pleasure?”
“I would like to invite you and Haman to a banquet which I will prepare.”
“That sounds wonderful. We will be there.” He turned to the guards. “Guards, go and find Haman. Tell him that Esther wants us at a banquet and we are going.”
Haman was delighted that Esther wanted only King Xerxes and him at the banquet. His chest was puffed out like a rooster. Haman already thought highly of himself and now it was worse.
Esther planned the banquet and her maids did as she asked. She made sure that the best recipes were used. There were not dainty or delicate dishes at this banquet. This was a man’s banquet, designed to please a man. The table was decorated with things men like. Esther made sure she dressed the way King Xerxes liked for her to dress. Her makeup was perfect. Her hair was silky and shiny.
King Xerxes and Haman entered the banquet hall together. They were greeted by one of Esther’s maids, who made them comfortable on a soft cushiony mat. Then the maid asked what they wanted to drink. The drinks were perfect. Esther had consulted Hegai about the king’s preferences. And she set about making sure every detail was complete.
The meal was scrumptious. “I might have to roll home.” King Xerxes joked. “Esther, what is your desire? Ask for anything up to half my kingdom and it shall be yours.”
“I wish for you and Haman to come to a banquet I’m preparing tomorrow.”
“Absolutely, we’ll come. Won’t we Haman?” Of course, Haman was all too glad to go another banquet. He had a wonderful time at the first one and didn’t doubt the second one would be just as great.