The King Incensed Against Haman; Haman Hanged upon His Own Gallows.
B. C. 510.
7 And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. 8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.
Here, I. The king retires in anger. He rose from table in a great passion, and went into the palace garden to cool himself and to consider what was to be done, v. 7. He sent not for his seven wise counsellors who knew the times, being ashamed to consult them about the undoing of that which he had rashly done without their knowledge or advice; but he went to walk in the garden awhile, to compare in his thoughts what Esther had now informed him of with what had formerly passed between him and Haman. And we may suppose him,
1. Vexed at himself, that he should be such a fool as to doom a guiltless nation to destruction, and his own queen among the rest, upon the base suggestions of a self-seeking man, without examining the truth of his allegations. Those that do things with self-will reflect upon them afterwards with self-reproach.
2. Vexed at Haman whom he had laid in his bosom, that he should be such a villain as to abuse his interest in him to draw him to consent to so wicked a measure. When he saw himself betrayed by one he had caressed he was full of indignation at him; yet he would say nothing till he had taken time for second thoughts, to see whether they would make the matter better or worse than it first appeared, that he might proceed accordingly. When we are angry we should pause awhile before we come to any resolution, as those that have a rule over our own spirits and are governed by reason.
II. Haman becomes a humble petitioner to the queen for his life. He might easily perceived by the king’s hastily flying out of the room that there was evil determined against him. For the wrath of a king, such a king, is as the roaring of a lion and as messengers of death; and now see,
1. How mean Haman looks, when he stands up first and then falls down at Esther’s feet, to beg she would save his life and take all he had. Those that are most haughty, insolent, and imperious, when they are in power and prosperity, are commonly the most abject and poor-spirited when the wheel turns upon them. Cowards, they say, are most cruel, and then consciousness of their cruelty makes them the more cowardly.
2. How great Esther looks, who of late had been neglected and doomed to the slaughter tanquam ovis–as a sheep; now her sworn enemy owns that he lies at her mercy, a d begs his life at her hand. Thus did God regard the low estate of his handmaiden and scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts, Luke 1:48, 51. Compare with this that promise made to the Philadelphian church (Rev. 3:9), I will make those of the synagogue of Satan to come and to worship before thy feet and to know that I have loved thee. The day is coming when those that hate and persecute God’s chosen ones would gladly be beholden to them. Give us of your oil. Father Abraham, send Lazarus. The upright shall have dominion in the morning.
III. The king returns yet more exasperated against Haman. The more he thinks of him the worse he thinks of him and of what he had done. It was but lately that every thing Haman said and did, even that which was most criminal, was taken well and construed to his advantage; now, on the contrary, what Haman did that was not only innocent, but a sign of repentance, is ill taken, and, without colour of reason, construed to his disadvantage. He lay in terror at Esther’s feet, to beg for his life. What! (says the king) will he force the queen also before me in the house? Not that he thought he had any such intention, but having been musing on Haman’s design to slay the queen, and finding him in this posture, he takes occasion from it thus to vent his passion against Haman, as a man that would not scruple at the greatest and most impudent piece of wickedness. “He designed to slay the queen, and to slay her wish me in the house; will he in like manner force her? What! ravish her first and then murder her? He that had a design upon her life may well be suspected to have a design upon her chastity.”
IV. Those about him were ready to be the instruments of his wrath. The courtiers that adored Haman when he was the rising sun set themselves as much against him now that he is a falling star, and are even glad of an occasion to run him down: so little sure can proud men be of the interest they think they have.
1. As soon as the king spoke an angry word they covered Haman’s face, as a condemned man, not worthy any more either to see the king or to be seen by him; they marked him for execution. Those that are hanged commonly have their faces covered. See how ready the servants were to take the first hint of the king’s mind in this matter. Turba Romae sequitur fortunam, et semper et odit damnatos–The Roman populace change as the aspects of fortune do, and always oppress the fallen. If Haman be going down, they all cry, “Down with him.”
2. One of those that had been lately sent to Haman’s house, to fetch him to the banquet, informed the king of the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordecai, v. 9. Now that Mordecai is the favourite the chamberlain applauds him–he spoke good for the king; and, Haman being in disgrace, every thing is taken notice of that might make against him, incense the king against him, and fill up the measure of his iniquity.
V. The king gave orders that he should be hanged upon his own gallows, which was done accordingly, nor was he so much as asked what he had to say why this judgment should not be passed upon him and execution awarded. The sentence is short–Hang him thereon; and the execution speedy–So they hanged Haman on the gallows, v. 10. See here,
1. Pride brought down. He that expected every one to do him homage is now made an ignominious spectacle to the world, and he himself sacrificed to his revenge. God resists the proud; and those whom he resists will find him irresistible.
2. Persecution punished. Haman was upon many accounts a wicked man, but his enmity to God’s church was his most provoking crime, and for that the God to whom vengeance belongs here reckons with him, and, though his plot was defeated, gives him according to the wickedness of his endeavours, Ps. 28:4.
3. Mischief returned upon the person himself that contrived it, the wicked snared in the work of his own hands, Ps. 7:15, 16; Ps. 9:15, 16. Haman was justly hanged on the very gallows he had unjustly prepared for Mordecai. If he had not set up that gallows, perhaps the king would not have thought of ordering him to be hanged; but, if he rear a gallows for the man whom the king delights to honour, the thought is very natural that he should be ordered to try it himself, and see how it fits him, see how he likes it. The enemies of God’s church have often been thus taken in their own craftiness. In the morning Haman was designing himself for the robes and Mordecai for the gallows; but the tables are turned: Mordecai has the crown, Haman the cross. The Lord is known by such judgments. See Prov. 11:8; Prov. 21:18.
Lastly, The satisfaction which the king had in this execution. Then was the king’s wrath pacified, and not till then. He was as well pleased in ordering Haman to be hanged as in ordering Mordecai to be honoured. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to take vengeance on. God saith of wicked men (Ezek. 5:13), I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted.
– Matthew Henry Commentary