Now we come to the dramatic scene in which Esther reveals her identity and makes her plea for her people before Xerxes. I’m guessing that by this time, most of her fears are gone, as Xerxes has by this point shown her great favor. Still, perhaps there was a little doubt in her heart whether he would side with Haman or with her.
It must have warmed her heart to see the concern Xerxes showed when she told him that she and her people were in great danger. Xerxes answered hotly,
Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing? (7:5)
Haman must have been stunned to hear himself named, and in the next instant must have realized that Esther was a Jew. Xerxes made the same realization at the same time, and was so upset that he walked out of the room to clear his mind.
Haman knew he was in deep trouble and so he went to Esther to plead for his life. Esther meanwhile, must have been terrified, thinking that Haman was coming to attack her, and it was at this point, that Xerxes came back into the room. And when he saw Haman near Esther (a serious breach of Persian protocol; no man was to ever come within 7 steps of the queen), and perhaps seeing a look of terror on her face, he immediately exclaimed,
Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house? (7:8)
One of Xerxes’ servants spoke up at that moment, telling the king about how Haman had built gallows to hang Mordecai, who had saved Xerxes’ life. At which point, Xerxes said, “Hang him on it.”
Esther then brought Mordecai before Xerxes and he made Mordecai prime minister in Haman’s place. Once again Esther pleaded for her people, and though Xerxes couldn’t repeal the law he had made (he was not above the law), nevertheless, he gave Mordecai and Esther the authority to at least nullify its effects.
Mordecai and Esther made a new law that said that the Jews had the right to defend themselves. Some people have interpreted this law to mean that the Jews also had the right to exterminate the women and children of those who tried to destroy them, but it likely means (as the NIV reflects) that the Jews could defend themselves against those who tried to attack them, their wives, and their children.
The right to take plunder was also probably added as an extra deterrent to those who would think about trying to attack the Jews. Despite this provision, it should be noted that none of the Jews actually did plunder their enemies.
Some people have also criticized the hanging of Haman’s sons. I should point out however, that they were actually killed while trying to destroy the Jews (9:5-10). Their dead bodies were then hung as an example to all those who would try the atrocities they had tried to commit.
What can we get from all this? Two things.
First, just as Xerxes rose up to defend his wife and her people, so God rises up to defend us. When the Enemy comes up against us to destroy us, God doesn’t leave us helpless. Instead he fights for us and he will cast down the enemy. Such is the great love God has for us.
Second, although Xerxes was on their side, the Jews still had to fight. In the same way, though God is on our side, we still have a spiritual battle to fight. Because of this, God calls us to arm ourselves with his armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).
So when we’re under spiritual attack, let us take heart. God is with us. So let us gird ourselves with his armor and fight the good fight of the faith (I Timothy 6:12), knowing that because of him, we have already won the victory.