Talking About God Tuesday: Enough Rope To Hang Himself

Haman was a very proud and prestigious man. He was a noble and was placed in the highest seat of honour by King Xerxes. All the royal officials knelt down and paid him honour as the king commanded. Everyone except for Mordecai.  (He was not impressed) When the officials asked Mordecai why he refused to honour Haman (in direct disobedience of the king), Mordecai didn’t respond.

Every day they asked, and every day Mordecai refused to kneel. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow and revere him, he became incensed.

There are three main types of vindictive people. The first group is the grudge holders. They are mostly a danger to themselves because they refuse to let go of past offenses, whether perceived or genuine. The second group will act on their feelings of vengeance in either subtle or overt ways. Then there’s the third group. It is not enough for them to harm the person who slighted them. They have to harm everyone and everything connected to that person.

Haman belonged to the latter group. He decided that, not only should Mordecai be put to death, but every single Jew in the kingdom. Haman approached king Xerxes with a proposition, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”

Haman made the king an offer he couldn’t refuse. Since Haman was a member of the king’s inner circle, the king trusted his judgment. After telling Haman to keep his money, King Xerxes told him to ” do with the people as you please.” As a result, letters were sent to each province in the native tongue of the land, each with orders–approved by the king–to annihilate every Jewish man, woman, and child on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.

When Mordecai found out what happened, he tore his clothes, put on a sackcloth (similar to burlap) and ashes as a symbol of his mourning, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But in his quest for vengeance, Haman made a fatal flaw. He underestimated his opponent.

Mordecai had friends in high places. He had God, and he had his cousin and adopted daughter, Esther. The Queen. Esther’s maids and eunuchs told her about Mordecai. She became distressed. She asked one of her servants to ask Mordecai why he was in mourning. Mordecai told his story and gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their destruction. He told the servant to ask Esther to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead the cause of her people.

But there was a snag in that plan. One does not simply go before the king. Even as the king’s wife, Esther would need to be officially summoned. Approaching the king without an invitation was punishable by death. Esther relayed this information to Mordecai, when he reminded her, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther was their only hope. So she instructed Mordecai to gather all the Jews in his town and together, they would fast (ingesting no food or drink), including Esther and her maids. When the fast was done, she would approach the king, regardless of the consequences.

Fortunately, when King Xerxes saw his wife, he was happy to see her. When he asked her what she wanted, she replied, “Invite Haman to a banquet with us.” The king did what she said, and invited Haman to a banquet. The king asked Esther if she wanted anything else. Esther told him that, if they had another banquet with Haman, she would tell him then.

At this point, Haman is pretty pleased with himself. But then he ran into Mordecai and noticed that he didn’t rise to greet him or show any signs of being intimidated by him. Then he got angry all again. Haman managed to restrain himself and went home, where he called up a few of his buddies to brag about how wealthy he was, how many sons he had, and how the king elevated him above all the other nobles. He also bragged about how the queen invited him to a lavish banquet.

Yet he was still unhappy as long as Mordecai was allowed to sit at the king’s gate. Haman’s wife and all of his friends encouraged him to ask the king to have a gallows built, seventy five feet high and have Mordecai hanged on it. Haman loved this idea, and had the gallows built.

To make a long story longer, in the interim, King Xerxes was reminded of Mordecai’s heroism. Mordecai had overheard two of the king’s officials plotting to assassinate him, and told Queen Esther. She told the king, giving credit to Mordecai. The king decided to bestow a belated honour to Mordecai at the banquet. The same banquet where Haman was an esteemed guest.

Haman approached the king, about to ask him to hang Mordecai, when the king asked him what he would do to honour a good man. Thinking that the king meant him, Haman gave an appropriately showy response, and was stunned to discover that Mordecai was the one who would be wearing the king’s robe, and riding the king’s horse.

Haman was upset, but his troubles didn’t end there. When he told his wife and friends all of the things that happened to him, his wife said, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him–you will surely come to ruin!”  From there, Haman went to dine with the king and queen. When the king finally asked the queen what she wanted, she told him that she wanted her people to be spared, and the man who ordered their annihilation to be put to death.

The king asked her who would do such a thing, and Esther replied, “The adversary and the enemy is this vile Haman”.

Uh-Oh.

Mordecai, Esther, and the Jews were saved.

Haman was hanged on the 75 foot gallows that he had ordered built to hang Mordecai.

Haman’s downfall was his insatiable need for vengeance, and his proud boastful attitude. He had everything. An influential job, wealth, a wife and sons, and well-meaning but misguided friends. But he lost it all because he could not accept the fact that Mordecai wouldn’t kneel and honour him. if Haman had just let it go, he would still have his wealth, his wife, his sons, and his title. But because his desire for revenge was more important than anything else in his life, he lost all of it.

There are times when we are all tempted to get revenge on people who have hurt us. In the short term, vengeance seems to work in our favour, but when you’re out there, building your figurative 75 foot gallows, the only way to make sure you won’t be the person hanging there is by not building one in the first place.

Let it go.

Peace,

Erie

 

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