Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.
And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.VII.
(2) What is thy petition?—The king takes for granted that Esther’s invitations to her banquets do not constitute her real request, but merely prepare the way for it.
For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.(4) We are sold.—See above, Esther 3:9.
To be destroyed. . . .—Literally, to destroy and to kill, and to cause to perish. The identical words used in the king’s proclamation for the destruction of the Jews. Herein Esther at once makes confession of her nationality, and relying on the king’s still recent gratitude to one of the race, aided by his present cordiality to herself, she risks, as indeed she can no longer help doing, the fate of herself and her race on the momentary impulse of her fickle lord. Happily for her, God has willed that these, perhaps at any other time untrustworthy grounds of reliance, shall suffice. The “hearts of kings are in His rule and governance,” and now the heart of one is “disposed and turned, as it seemeth best to His godly wisdom.”
Although the enemy. . . .—The meaning of this clause is not quite clear. The literal translation is, although (or because) the enemy is not equal to (i.e., does not make up for) the king’s hurt. This may mean (a) that Haman, though willing to pay a large sum into the royal treasury, cannot thereby make up for the loss which the king must incur by wholesale massacre being carried on in his realm; or (b) “were we merely to be sold into slavery, instead of being killed outright, I should have said nothing, because the enemy was not one worth the king’s while to trouble himself about.” We prefer the former view. The word “enemy” is that translated adversary, in Esther 7:6, and properly means one who oppresses, afflicts, distresses. The word which is, literally, equal to, comparable with, has already occurred in Esther 3:8; Esther 5:13.
And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.(6) Was afraid. . . .—Shrank back in terror before . . . See the use of the word in 1Chronicles 21:30; Daniel 8:17.
And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.(7) Evil.—Heb., the evil, the doom.
Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.(8) The bed—i.e., the couch on which she had been reclining at the banquet. This was the customary posture at meals, not only of the Persians, but also of the Greeks and Romans, and of the later Jews. The Last Supper was thus eaten. Haman had obviously thrown himself at the queen’s feet to ask for mercy. The king on his return was evidently full of wrath against Haman, and though he was for the time God’s instrument in averting Haman’s wicked design, his own base and worthless character is none the less conspicuous. The attempted massacre had been authorised with the full knowledge and consent of the king, who yet ignores utterly his own share of the responsibility. Great and noble ends are at times brought about by the instrumentality of unholy men, blind instruments in a purpose whose end they understand not. What greater blessing, for example, did God vouchsafe to England than the Reformation, whose foremost agent was a bloody and unholy king?
Will he force. . . .—Ahasuerus must have known perfectly well that Haman’s position was that of a suppliant; his words do but indicate his utter anger, as the attendants clearly perceive, for they immediately covered Haman’s face—he must not see the king’s face again. (See above, Esther 1:13.)
And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.(9) Harbonah.—See Esther 1:10.
One of the chamberlains. . . .—Translate, one of the chamberlains [who stood, or served] before the king, said.
Hang him.—In the LXX., let him be crucified. The climax of the story is now reached in the pithy words, “They hanged Haman upon the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.” In his own house (Esther 7:9), that is, probably, in some court or garden belonging to it, in the sight doubtless of his own children and his own servants, and the wife who had given him such cold comfort, did the unfortunate man meet his fate. Thus not only does God vouchsafe to deliver his people, but He brings on the enemy the very destruction he had devised for his adversary: “He hath fallen himself into the pit that he digged for other.” Our Saviour has rescued us from our enemy who was too mighty for us, and has trodden down our foe, to be destroyed for ever in His own good time. So may we Christians see in the dangers threatening the Jews throughout this book a picture of our own, and in Haman’s discomfiture a type of the victory of the Lamb over sin and Satan.