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Chapter 3:1-6 (ESV)

Posted on November 25, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:1-6 (ESV) - After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king's servants who were at the king's gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king's command?” And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai's words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Question to consider: Why did Mordecai refuse to pay homage to Haman?

The time reference “after these things” is in reference to sometime after Esther informs king Ahasuerus about the plot against him, and the organizers are hanged. In verse 7 we learn that the promotion of Haman the Agagite occurred during the 12th year of the king’s reign which makes it five years later.

We aren’t given information about how or why Haman was promoted, but he was given enough power that the king commanded everyone to bow down and pay homage to him. I’ve seen different theories on the meaning of the name Haman, but the most common seem to either mean “noisy” (considered as a Hebrew spelling based on the word hama) or from a Persian word homam meaning magnificent or illustrious. I could see either since a noisy person tends to push their way ahead, or a man who was considered magnificent or illustrious could have impressed the king enough to gain power so quickly.

While it may have been commonplace for Persians to bow down to someone considered greater than themselves, it was certainly not a common practice among the Jews. From God’s curse of the serpent in Genesis 3:15, the world was divided up into two kinds of people: the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and God proclaimed that the two would be enemies of one another. While the seed of the woman was ultimately fulfilled in Christ, the Jews believed all of Israel was of the woman and all Gentiles were of the serpent. The thought of bowing down to another man, let alone the serpent’s seed, was blasphemous.

In God’s command to honor our father and mother, there is an implicit understanding that all authority under heaven has been ordained by God. Therefore, all who seek to follow God’s commands will honor and pray for the king and submit to worldly governments as long as they do not command us to sin. So Mordecai’s explanation for violating this ridiculous command to bow down to Haman was simply that he was a Jew. That was all that needed to be said.

As the seed of the serpent, it is not surprising that Haman went into a murderous rage when the seed of the woman, Mordecai, refused to bow to him. Even the serpent himself tried to get Jesus to bow down to him and convinced his brood of vipers to have Him murdered (bruise His heel), despite God’s curse that he would be crushed in the process. So Haman, assuming all Jews would follow Mordecai’s lead, sought to destroy them throughout the kingdom.


Dear heavenly Father, may we be like Mordecai, honoring and praying for those You have appointed over us regardless of whether we agree with their actions. May we also be willing to stand firm against any command which dishonors You, regardless of whether it infuriates the culture. In all things, may we point people to repentance and the forgiveness we have received in Christ. Amen.