Esther Six: Irony

So Haman is building gallows, Esther is wining and dining, and Ahasuerus is having a bad night’s sleep. He needs some bedtime reading, so he has someone read the chronicles of the kingdom to him. “And it was found that Mordechai had reported about Bigthan and Teresh, two chamberlains of the king, of the guards of the threshold, who had sought to lay a hand on King Ahasuerus (Esther 6:2).” This was Mordechai’s earlier heroic act, but he was never rewarded for it. The king is upset, so he calls the nearest advisor, who is Haman, because ironically, he is waiting to talk to the king about hanging Mordechai on the freshly built gallows. So the king calls Haman in, and awkwardly asks him what he thinks should be done for the man the king wants to honor.

Haman, self-centered jerk that he is, thinks that the king is speaking about honoring him, and has clearly been thinking about this, because he has an immediate (and elaborate) response. It involves wearing the king’s crown, and his robes, riding his horse, and being paraded through the city by a prince. “And the king said to Haman, ‘Hurry, take the raiment and the horse as you have spoken and do so to Morechai the Jew, who sits in the king’s gate; let nothing fail of all that you have spoken (Esther 6:10).'” I can’t imagine how crestfallen his face must have looked when he realizes that the guy he’s actively trying to kill is now someone he has to submit to. But Haman follows orders, and then races home to keep complaining to Zeresh, his wife. This whole chapter is just full of irony, and seems to point to a true dichotomy between Haman and Mordechai, as when one’s star rises, the other falls, and vice versa.

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