So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” 5Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” 6Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
7The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. 8When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. 9Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” 10So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Through the king’s stomach, Queen Esther orchestrates the ultimate reversal and saves her people. For a King, another decant meal and copious wine is a usual Thursday and for Haman, it’s the ultimate meal of perceived triumph. Just days earlier, Haman has orchestrated the call for Mordecai’s death and a decree to kill all the Jews. He sees this meal as a celebration of his courtly out-maneuvering and outwitting, an outsider, a Jew, Mordecai. The king listens to him and soon he will be trusted with even more. This young woman, must be just recognizing his power too and to share a meal together is the beginning of their working together, right?
What courage Queen Esther must have held inside, as she asked the king and even Mordecai to her table? Did her hands shake as she offered to pour the wine? A gathering meal in her presence a feast was to be one of celebration but she knew what Haman had planned for her people, her own uncle. I wonder if she also was one that needed to eat the food before her to keep herself busy. To not speak too soon. It’s two days of feasting before the King is ready to hear her petition. Two days of seeing Haman’s face across her table. Then she speaks, and the world shifts. What would have been the end of her people instead is a now and forever more a celebration, Purim.
Holy One, we acknowledge your wonderful deeds, and continue to ask your sustaining presence as we share meals with loved ones and ones we need to repair fences with; in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.