The Persians execute their criminals by impaling them on a sharpened pole.
3 A little while later, according to King Ahasuerus’ wishes, Haman (son of Hammedatha, an Agagite) was promoted to a rank above all his fellow nobles in the kingdom. 2 The officials at the king’s gate all bowed down before Haman and paid him homage because the king commanded this. But Mordecai, the Jew, refused to kneel and refused to honor him.
The bad blood between the families of Benjamin and Agag goes back a long way to the time when Saul, a Benjaminite, destroyed the Amalekites and took their king, Agag, as his captive (1 Samuel 15:7–9). Now the tables are turned, and Agag’s descendant exercises nearly supreme power over Mordecai and the other subjects of Persian power. But, true to his Jewish teaching, Mordecai bows to no man nor pays him homage. That honor is reserved for God and Him alone.
3 Mordecai’s actions came to the attention of the king’s officials standing at the gate.
Officials (looking at Mordecai): Why are you disobeying the king’s command?
4 The officers questioned him daily about his disobedience to the king, but Mordecai refused to listen and bow down. The officers reported this to Haman to learn whether or not Mordecai’s excuse would be tolerated, for Mordecai had told them he was a Jew. 5 Haman was furious when he saw that Mordecai refused to bow and pay him the respect he was due. 6 But Haman wasn’t to be satisfied with killing only Mordecai, so he began to think of ways to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.
7 During the 1st month (the month of Nisan) of Ahasuerus’ 12th year as king, they cast lots (also known as “purim”) in the presence of Haman in order to select a day and month. [The lot fell on the 13th day of][a] the 12th month (the month of Adar), a day nearly one year in the future.
Haman (to the king): 8 All the provinces in your kingdom are overrun with one insignificant group of foreigners, people who haven’t adopted our customs. Their laws differ from all other peoples’, and they do not keep your laws. Therefore it’s not a good idea for you to tolerate them or their actions any longer. 9 If it is your wish, sign an order that these people be destroyed, and I will bear all the costs. I’ll pay 375 tons of silver directly to those who carry out the king’s business in order to relieve the royal treasury of the expense.
10 Not knowing which group of foreigners was being targeted, the king took his signet ring, the symbol of his power and authority, from his finger and passed it to Haman (son of Hammedatha, the Agagite), who hated the Jews.
King Ahasuerus (to Haman): 11 The money is yours and the people are yours also to do with as you wish.
12 On the 13th day of the 1st month, the royal secretaries were summoned. The king’s order was written down exactly the way Haman dictated it to all of the king’s rulers of the regions, governors of the provinces, and nobles of the ethnic groups. The orders were written in every script and every language spoken in the provinces in the name of the king, and they were sealed into law with his ring. 13 Messengers were sent out to all the royal provinces with the official law giving the order to destroy, kill, and annihilate all of the Jews. They were to kill everyone, including women and children, young and old, on the 13th day of the 12th month (the month of Adar), and they were free to take everything the Jews owned. 14 An official copy of the king’s order was to be issued to every province and read publicly, so that the people could get ready for that day. 15 The messengers were quickly dispatched by order of the king. Then the decree was publicly proclaimed in the citadel of Susa. As the king and Haman relaxed and drank wine, the city of Susa was thrown into chaos.
- 3:7 Hebrew manuscripts omit this portion.