“7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.’10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 ‘Keep the money,’ the king said to Haman, ‘and do with the people as you please.’NIV

I remember a conversation I had with a godly man from another nation. He was an intelligent guy, studying at a university. He told me frankly that in his country, the only way to get ahead was by bribery. So Christians (in fact anyone) who would not go along with this system were stymied within it. Well, they say ‘Money talks.’ Whether or not it was a form of bribery, Haman offered to pay for the killings out of his own personal fortune (9), so that it would cost the king nothing. As it happened, Xerxes showed no interest in having Haman’s money, and gave him the authority to go ahead (not realising that by doing so he was sentencing his own wife to death).

‘Prejudice is the dislike for all that is unlike’ said Israel Zangwill. I read once how some birds will attack and kill other birds of a different plumage. There is something about difference which can both attract and repel. People sometimes fear those who are different. Haman painted a picture of the Jews as a threat to the king’s ‘’best interest’’ (8). He also mixed lies together with truth in his portrait. It was true that the Jewish people lived a ‘’separate’’ life, and had ‘’different’’ customs. But it was false to portray them as bad citizens – those who ‘’do not obey the king’s laws’’. As God’s people in the world, Israel was called to live counter-culturally under the reign of God. The same is true for the church now, in all the places where we too are ‘’dispersed and scattered’’.

From earliest times, the Jews cast lots in order to discern God’s will. In Persia, the lot was called a ‘’pur’’. It’s plural form was ‘purim’. ‘Purim’ became the name of an annual Jewish festival that celebrated the Jews’ deliverance from Haman’s plot (see Esther 9:20-28). Tom Hale explains: ‘The day chosen was eleven months away; this would give Haman plenty of time to make preparations for the killing of the Jews. It would also give time for the Lord to carry out His plan to save them. Once again we see the Lord’s hand in every circumstance; it is He who alone controls the lot (Proverbs 16:33), and it was He alone who would determine the fate of the Jews.’ ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.772.

‘From Pharaoh to Hitler, every leader who tried to destroy the Jews has tasted the wrath of God. No race is perfect, including the Jews, but no race should be singled out for oppression as they have been. God’s covenant with Abraham still stands (Gen.12:1-3).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.274.

Wiersbe also points out that everything about Haman was hateful to God (Prov.6:16-19), but He did not interfere with his evil deeds. Effectively, he gave him enough rope to hang himself. ‘Haman’s sins would ultimately destroy him and be used by God for the good of Israel’ (pp.273/274).

PRAYER: Even when we can see little but evil in the headlines, help us to know Lord that you are always there, and ultimately your purposes will triumph.