Superstition and Cynicism
Esther 3:7-15
In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot…

Haman now proceeds to carry out the terrible plan of revenge on which he had resolved. Some important steps had to be taken before he could reach his end. These seem to us strange and incongruous. We may learn from them -

I. THAT THE FREEDOM WHICH "NEITHER FEARS GOD NOR REGARDS MAN" MAY BE A SLAVE TO SUPERSTITION. Haman was a fatalist. He consulted Pur, or the lot, as to the day which would be favourable for his intended slaughter. Though it was only on the twelfth month that a propitious day was announced, yet he submitted to the long delay thus imposed. Fear of the fates curbed his impatience, even though it was spurred by an intense wrath. The first Napoleon, while willing to sacrifice millions of human lives at the shrine of a reckless ambition, was a victim, like Haman, to fatalistic ideas. Those who throw aside the restraints of virtue and religion come into other and more oppressive captivities.

II. THAT SUPERSTITIOUS FEARS MISLEAD THOSE WHO ARE GUIDED BY THEM. The ten or eleven months which Pur placed between the conceiving and executing of Haman's vengeance were the means of wrecking it. They gave time to Mordecai and Esther to counterplot, and to work the wicked favourite's downfall. But Haman was so confident in his power over the king, and in the pronounced favour of destiny, that he submitted to the delay. All false gods, all idols of man's fashioning, only get possession of the soul to deceive and destroy it.


1. Haman's lying report to the king concerning the Jews (ver. 8). There was some plausibility in the report, yet it was essentially a lie. It was so framed as to make the weak king falsely believe that it was not to his profit that the Jews should exist in his empire. It was true that the Israelites had their own law, and honoured it; but their loyalty to Moses, and the God of Moses, did not prevent them from being good citizens in the countries in which their scattered tribes had found a home. It is easy to clothe falsehood in the garb of truth.

2. Haman's offer of a bribe to the king. It was an immense sum, over two millions sterling of our money. Whence was it to be drawn? Not from Haman's own treasures, but from the devoted Jews. They were rich, and after being killed all their wealth was granted to Haman to be his own. In connection with this proposal there was evidently no consciousness of offering insult on the one side, or of receiving insult on the other. Bribery was as common in the East then as it is now. Would that we could describe it as a sin confined to the East. It enters so largely into the commercial and political life even of such a country as our own, that many touch and are tainted by it without suspecting the wrong they have received and done. The sensitiveness created by a living fellowship with Christ is required to deliver us wholly from its multiform and insidious temptations (see Isaiah 33:15, 16).

IV. THAT THE THOUGHTLESS AND SELF-INDULGENT BECOME AN EASY PREY TO THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WICKED. The king of Persia fell at once into the trap of Haman. He accepted his report without investigation, and delivered over to his will the Jews and their possessions. His proclamation, ordering the destruction of all the men, women, and children belonging to the Jewish race, was soon on its way to the authorities of every province in the empire.

V. THAT THOUGHTLESSNESS, OR A FOOLISH CONFIDENCE, DOES NOT RELIEVE MEN OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS. There is, perhaps, more misery caused in the world by want of thought than by evil intention. We are bound to consider the quality and issues of our conduct, and to examine carefully the counsel of others before committing ourselves to it. It will not diminish our responsibility to say that we acted without thought, or from an inconsiderate trust in designing men. The royal seal appropriated to the king the terrible iniquity of Haman.

VI. THAT EVIL CAN MAKE MERRY IN PRESENCE OF THE MISERY IT CREATES. Nero, after he had set fire to Rome, fiddled as he sat and looked at the blaze. So, while Shushan was agitated by fear, the king and his favourite "sat down to drink." The contrast here is most striking; it was evidently designed to impress the imagination and heart. We think of the fearfulness that entered into every household of the city; and then we turn to the two revellers, who, having issued the terrible edict, betook themselves to the wine-cup, that they might drown thought and care. Human nature may become so wanton in its allegiance to evil as to laugh at the suffering it works.

VII.. THAT COMMUNITIES OF PEOPLE ARE OFTEN BETTER THAN THEIR RULERS. The citizens of Shushan had sympathy with the innocent multitudes whose blood was to be so needlessly shed. They knew their peaceful virtues. They were united with them in many interests. They grew afraid of a licentious power which could without reason decree the massacre of an unoffending race. It is rather in the common heart of a people than in the will of selfish potentates that we look for a recognition of what is sound and good in feeling or action. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.

WEB: In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, and chose the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.

Consulting Omens
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