Esther – Chapter 5

Ahasuerus Would Do Anything For Love (But He Won't Do That)

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

And so, after three days of fasting, Esther put on her best royal clothes and went to see Ahasuerus. Happily, when he saw her, he extended his scepter, sparing her life. He asked what Esther wanted and told her that she could have it, up to half his empire. (The Temple, whose reconstruction had been halted during the reign of Ahasuerus’ predecessor Cyrus, was at the halfway point of the kingdom. Ahasuerus was not prepared to resume construction.) Esther invited the king to a banquet she had prepared, and she requested that he bring Haman as well. Ahasuerus sent for Haman.

At Esther’s banquet, Ahasuerus again asked Esther what she desired. She replied that she wanted nothing more than for the king and Haman to attend another banquet on the following day. This really fed Haman’s ego and he left Esther’s party swelling with pride. When he exited the palace gates, however, he passed Mordechai, who didn’t acknowledge Haman at all, let alone rise. This infuriated Haman, but he restrained himself. When he got home, he gathered his friends and Zeresh, his wife. Haman bragged about his riches, his power, his large number of sons, and the fact that no one but he had been invited to join the king at the queen’s banquet. “But all this means nothing to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting in the palace gates!” he complained.

Zeresh and the friends had a suggestion: build a gallows fifty cubits high and ask the king for permission to hang Mordechai on it. (Fifty cubits is about 75 feet. Why so high? So that it could be seen from all over the city. That’s a deterrent!) This struck Haman as a good idea, so he ordered the gallows constructed.

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