Prejudice and discrimination are serious problems within every society.
The attempt by Haman, a man filled with extreme prejudice and
bitter hatred toward the Jewish race, to exterminate the Jews is the basic plot of the book of Esther.
This event is recorded in the Bible for all generations to remember and guard against.
Prejudice and discrimination are serious problems within every society. The attempt by Haman, a man filled with extreme prejudice and bitter hatred toward the Jewish race, to exterminate the Jews is the basic plot of the book of Esther. This event is recorded in the Bible for all generations to remember and guard against. Three facts are mentioned about Haman’s background. First, he is identified as “the Agagite,” which probably means that he was a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag. Down through the centuries the Amalekites and Jews had been bitter enemies.
This enmity between the two peoples stretched all the way back to the Exodus, when the Israelites were first formed into a nation. Second, Haman was promoted by King Xerxes to be prime minister of the Persian Empire (v.1). Haman was the second highest-ranking official in the government, second only to the king himself. Third, Haman was honoured by all the royal officials of the empire (v.2). By order of the king himself, all the officials were to bow in honour and reverence before Haman when he passed by.
But in defiance, Mordecai, Esther’s guardian, cousin, and a government official, refused to bow before the prime minister (v.2). When Haman observed for himself Mordecai’s bold refusal to honour him, he made a deliberate decision to take revenge not only on Mordecai but also on the Jewish people as a whole (vv.5-6). After making the personal decision to exterminate the Jews, Haman immediately began to plan just how to carry out his devious plot (vv. 7-15). First, Haman chose the day when the holocaust against the Jews was to be launched (v.7). Second, after the date had been determined, Haman took his plan of extermination to King Xerxes.
He falsely charged the Jews with a very serious offense, that of rebellion, breaking the king’s laws (v.8). After presenting the false charge of rebellion, Haman asked the king for a decree to exterminate the Jews (vv.9-11). Having received the king’s permission, Haman set about to formulate the decree to exterminate the entire Jewish race from the face of the earth (vv.12-14). Summoning the royal secretaries, Haman dictated the decree to all the leaders of every district in all the necessary languages. Once the decree was finished, he sealed it with the king’s royal ring. Haman then sent the decree by courier to all the provinces throughout the empire.
The message of the decree was stunning, savage and brutal. The Persian population was to destroy—totally annihilate—all the Jews, both young and old, men, women, children, and babies. Having issued the decree to exterminate a whole race of people, the two men-the King and Haman- sat down to drink. They were totally callous, insensitive, and uncaring about the action just taken. Haman is the epitome of wickedness. He shows the depth of evil to which the human heart can sink.
God’s Holy Word says that the human heart is sinful, filled with wicked imaginations and thoughts. God’s Holy Word also says that the human heart must be converted, changed, made new. Guarding ourselves against extreme prejudice and bitter hatred is the lesson for us. Discriminating against other people because of their race, colour, appearance, ability or beliefs is wrong. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not to open our hearts to prejudice or bitter hatred.
When people do wrong and commit atrocities, we are to legally execute justice and hold them accountable. No person is ever to be degraded, reacted against, falsely charged, or given fewer rights because he or she differs from the rest of us. We are never to treat others as though they are of less value and worth than we are. We have all been created by the hand of God, and God considers every human being to be of equal value and worth.