Esther 3:13
And the letters were sent by couriers to each of the royal provinces with the order to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews--young and old, women and children--and to plunder their possessions on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.
Sermons
A Wicked MassacreG. Lawson.Esther 3:13
Superstition and CynicismW. Dinwiddle Esther 3:7-15
Fruitless PreparationsW. Burrows, B. A.Esther 3:12-15
Persian Postal FacilitiesW. M. Taylor, D. D.Esther 3:12-15
The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. One man alone was instrumental in placing the Jews in danger of complete extermination. This happened during the period of their subjection. To supply the record of their wondrous deliverance the Book of Esther, primarily, was written. The man who wrought this danger was Haman, the grand vizier to the king of Persia. He was second only to the king. Through flattering he had attained the coveted position. He was an astute politician, and apparently as unscrupulous as he was cunning. The king heaped riches upon his favourite. He would have Haman's means adequate to his position. Many houses and much land confiscated, often on the slightest excuse, would be handed over to him. The post of grand vizier would afford ample opportunities of self-enrichment. We read of the conspiracy of Bigthan and Teresh against the king, and of its discovery. To whom would fall the large possessions of these hitherto influential men? What more probable than that the next favourite should receive a great share of their forfeited property?

I. IT IS TO THE MATERIAL REWARDS OF OFFICE THAT SUCH MEN AS HAMAN TURN AN EAGER EYE. He well understood the ways of court, so as to secure the tangible results of favouritism. Conceptions of higher honour expand in proportion to elevation. A thought enters his mind to which if he gave utterance his immediate deposition and death would ensue. This thought will leak out by and by. It only needs a fitting opportunity. Nay, it will seize and make an opportunity out of the flimsiest pretext. Meanwhile he is as contented as an ambitious man ever can be. Under an outward calm he is hiding a flame of impatient expectancy. See him going forth from Shushan the palace. The gates are scarcely high enough for the proud-hearted man. Mark that smile on his countenance. Haman is "exceedingly glad of heart." Some further honour has been put upon him, and he goes to his home to reveal it to his friends. Why, may not a man of his calibre be proud? Can his honour ever be eclipsed? Can his glory ever be overshadowed? Can his name, handed down by his many children, ever die? Who can supplant him in the king's favour, seeing that he knows so well the arts of courtiers, and exercises his office apparently only with respect to the pleasure of the king? Do not all the rest of the courtiers and place-seekers look to him for advancement? Is not his favour, in turn, the sun that "gilds the noble troops waiting upon his smile"? "If ever man may flatter himself in the greatness and security of his glory," thinks Haman, "surely I may do so." Ah, Haman! thy pride is dangerous; it is like a high-heeled shoe, fitting thee only for a fall. Take care, the least stone may cause thee to stumble. Be not over-sure of thy position. Pitfalls are around. Ambition and pride are like heavy, widely-spread canvas on a ship, and need much ballast. Great is thy risk. Thou art like one standing on the narrow apex of a mountain. One false step will set thee rolling to the very abyss.

II. WORLDLY POSSESSIONS OR POSITIONS CAN NEVER GIVE FULL SATISFACTION. If they could, the result would have been injurious to man's moral nature. No thought of higher things entering man's mind, he would soon be degraded to the level of the brute creation. True pleasure arises from the attainment of some possession or object, but not full satisfaction. It is pleasant to have wealth wherewith to gratify desire, to be able to confer benefits on others; but if we make these things the one aim in life we are sure to reap but little joy. The drawbacks and counter-balancings are great. Much wealth, much furniture, many servants, a large house, and great popularity are only extra anxieties. The pleasure soon passes, the possession soon palls. Still, a man without any passion or aim is simply like "a speaking stone." Yet as a horse, too restive and fiery, puts his rider in danger, so do our passions. Ambition in moderation is an advantage, and few men become very useful who have none; but if give we the reins to our ambition we may be sure that such a fiery charger will dash-away over rocks or into floods to our great hazard. A man when at sea, cares neither for calm nor for a hurricane, but he enjoys a stiff breeze which helps the vessel along and braces his nerves. We suggest, therefore, not the banishment of all ambition, but its moderation; not the despising of all possessions, but that we should not be disappointed if we do not receive so much joy therefrom as we expected. Nay, we may thank God that we cannot live on stones, nor satisfy our hunger with husks; that in us has been cultivated the longing for those things which really afford satisfaction, viz., righteousness, peace, faith, and love. - H.







To kill, and to cause to perish.
The wickedness of the intended massacre does not rest with Ahasuerus and Haman. Great multitudes of the king's subjects must participate in the guilt. The governors and rulers of every province, and the people under their command, have letters written to them, sealed with the king's seal, to contribute their part to the massacre. Let the great consider what they do. If they are wicked, they are not wicked alone. We ought to bless God that no man hath power to require us to do anything but according to the known laws of the land. And yet men of true virtue will not comply with the will of the most absolute monarchs when it is not consistent with the laws of justice and of mercy. At the famous Bartholomew massacre, when the King of France sent his orders to the commanders in the different provinces to massacre the Huguenots, one of them returned him this answer: "In my district your Majesty has many brave soldiers, but no butchers." That virtuous governor never felt any effects of the royal resentment. It is to be feared that few of the Persian governors would have given such proofs of virtuous courage if the king's edict had not been reversed.

(G. Lawson.)

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