All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect.
Then the palace officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you disobeying the king’s command?” They spoke to him day after day, but still he refused to comply with the order. So they spoke to Haman about this to see if he would tolerate Mordecai’s conduct, since Mordecai had told them he was a Jew.
When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. (Esther 3:2-6)
Mordecai refused to kneel down before Haman. The people of Israel did bow down to government authorities, at times, as a sign of respect (Genesis 23:7; 1 Samuel 24:8). Kneeling before Haman, however, was an action acknowledging Haman as a god—something Mordecai could not do. Daniel’s three friends had the same convictions (Daniel 3).
Why did Haman want to destroy all Jews just because of one man’s action? (1) Haman was an Agagite (Esther 3:1), a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:20). The Amalekites were ancient enemies of the Israelites (see Exodus 17:16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Haman’s hatred was directed not just at Mordecai, but at all the Jews. (2) As second-in-command in the Persian Empire (Esther 3:1), Haman loved his power and authority and the reverence that was shown him. He realized that the only way to fulfill his self-centered desires was to kill all those who disregarded his authority. His quest for personal power and his hatred of the Jewish race consumed him. Haman’s attitude was prejudiced—he hated a group of people because of a difference in belief or culture. Prejudice grows out of personal pride—considering oneself better than others. God will harshly judge those who are prejudiced or whose pride causes them to look down on others.
We must worship God alone. We should never let any person, institution, or government take God’s place. When people demand loyalties or duties from you that do not honor God, don’t give in. It may be time to take a stand for truth. Pray for the courage you need to do so.