Est 3:1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.
Haman…the Agagite – ‘The name Agag recalls the reign of Saul the son of Kish (1 Sa. 9:1-2), who failed to fight this Amalekite king to the death, so incurring condemnation by the prophet Samuel (1 Sa. 15). Jewish readers would see a recapitulation of this battle in the confrontation between Mordecai (also a ‘son of Kish’) and Haman the Agagite.’ (NBC)
Est 3:2 All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
For the king had commanded this – ‘Since King Xerxes, who does not seem to have been a good judge of character, had to command his nobles to bow down to Haman, it appears that he was not highly thought of by his fellow courtiers.’ (NBC)
Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honour – He must have known that this would invite trouble. ‘The fact that Mordecai was a Jew would not have prevented him from honouring those in authority, but adherence to the law of God gave Jews an allegiance higher than mere human jurisdiction, and tended to develop independence of judgment. This was interpreted as insubordination by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 3:12-23) and by officials of King Darius (Dan. 6:5-9). ‘ (NBC)
Est 3:3 Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?”
Est 3:4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.
Est 3:5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.
Est 3:6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
Est 3:7 In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, they cast the pur (that is, the lot) in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.
The court diary of Persia was drawn up in the first month of each year with the help of dice which indicated the propitious dates for various events.
Est 3:8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.
“A certain people” – ‘In his approach to the king, Haman carefully avoided naming the Jews, implying instead some obscure but dissident racial group, intent on ignoring Persian law. It was true that the Jews had their own customs, but they had been expressly commanded by Jeremiah to live peaceably in the lands of exile (Je. 29:7) and they did so. ‘ (NBC)
Est 3:9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”
“A decree…to destroy them” – ‘Life in Persia under the rule of King Xerxes was oppressive for minority groups like the Jews and, according to the writer of Esther, perilous. It may seem unlikely that a ruler would decree at a whim the execution of a whole people, as Xerxes did (3:9-11), but Herodotus, the contemporary historian, confirms that Xerxes was cruel and despotic towards his own household, not to mention foreigners.’ (NBC)
Ten thousand talents of silver – A huge fortune.
Est 3:10 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.
Signet ring – by handing over his signet ring declared Haman’s executive authority to do whatever he saw fit.
Est 3:11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
The king is indifferent both to the offer of money and to the fate of the (unnamed people).
Est 3:12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring.
Est 3:13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews–young and old, women and little children–on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
Dispatches were sent by couriers – The communication system set up by Cyrus is mentioned by Herodotus and involved relays of horses, stationed throughout the empire.
Est 3:14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.
Est 3:15 Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.