v1 On the third day, Esther put on her royal clothing. She stood in the inner yard of the king’s palace. This yard was in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal seat in the hall. He was looking towards the entrance. v2 The king noticed Queen Esther who was standing in the yard. And he was pleased to see her. The king held out to Esther his gold stick that was in his hand. So Esther approached the king and she touched the end of the stick. v3 Then the king said to Esther, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What do you want? You shall have it. I will give you even up to half of my *kingdom.’
Verses 1-3 For three days, Esther and the *Jews did not eat food but they prayed instead. Then Esther went to see the king. She knew that she was risking her life. But she also knew that God was in control. She wore her royal clothing in order to remind the king that she was the queen. The king had not invited her. So, he would know that she must have come about a very important matter.
God helped Esther to please the king. The king promised to give her almost anything that she wanted.
v4 And Esther answered, ‘Here is an idea that the king might like. I invite the king and Haman today to a meal that I have prepared for the king.’
v5 Then the king said, ‘Bring Haman quickly. Then we can do what Esther wants.’ So, the king and Haman came to the dinner that Esther had prepared.
Verses 4-5 Esther did not ask for what she wanted immediately. Perhaps God made her know that the time was not right. There were many people in the king’s hall. Esther had a plan. She believed that God would help her. And she had already prepared a meal for the king and Haman. That would be a better time to ask the king to grant her request.
It might seem strange that she invited Haman to the meal. He was second in rank to the king, so it might just have been the right thing to do. Perhaps she wanted Haman to think that she respected him. Perhaps she did not want him to be ready when she told her request to the king.
Or perhaps it was because she wanted the king to deal with Haman immediately. She did not want Haman to avoid judgement.
v6 As they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, ‘What do you want? You shall have it. What is your request? I will grant it. I will even give you up to half of my *kingdom.’ v7 Esther replied, ‘The request that I want is this. v8 I hope that I please the king. I hope that the king will want to grant my request. I invite the king and Haman tomorrow to a meal that I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.’
Verses 6-8 At the meal, the king again promised to give Esther almost anything that she wanted. But she still did not tell him what she wanted. Instead, Esther invited the king and Haman to another meal the next day. Then she would tell the king what she wanted. Now the king would realise that she wanted to say something very important.
The writer now tells us what happened to each of the guests after the first meal.
v9 And Haman went out that day happy and he was in a cheerful mood. But then he saw Mordecai in the king’s gate. Mordecai did not stand up, nor did he give honour to Haman. This made Haman very angry against Mordecai. v10 However Haman controlled himself and he went home.
Haman called together his friends and his wife, Zeresh. v11 He told them about his great riches and his many sons. He told them how the king had given him honour. And he told them how the king had made him more important than all the king’s other officials and servants. v12 ‘Also’, said Haman, ‘Esther the queen had prepared a meal. She did not invite anyone except me to go with the king to the meal. She has invited the king and me tomorrow. v13 But I cannot be content as long as I see Mordecai the *Jew. He is still sitting at the king’s gate.’
Verses 9-13 That day, as Haman went home, he was very happy and proud. He was the special guest of the king and the queen. And he would be their special guest again, on the next day. He would hear what the queen wanted to say to the king. He was so proud that he told his wife and his friends about all this. He told them how important he was. He told them things that they already knew.
On his way home, he saw Mordecai. As usual, Mordecai did not give him honour. This made Haman very angry. Although he already had plans to kill Mordecai and all the *Jews, this spoiled his happiness.
Haman had many good things in his life but he was still not happy.
v14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, ‘Order your workmen to build *gallows, 25 metres high. Tomorrow morning, ask the king to hang Mordecai on it. Then you can be happy when you go with the king to the meal.’ This idea pleased Haman, so he ordered his workmen to build the *gallows.
Verse 14 Haman’s wife and friends encouraged him to be proud. They advised him to build *gallows. They advised him to ask for the king’s authority to hang Mordecai. People used *gallows to hang criminals or enemies in order to kill them. The word for ‘gallows’ actually means ‘tree’ or ‘wood’.
The *gallows were extremely high. This would mean that everyone in Susa would see the dead body. This would bring shame as well as death to Mordecai. Then Haman could enjoy his meal with the king and queen.