In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.” – Esther 3:7-11 ESV
Having been snubbed by Mordecai, a Jew, Haman plots his revenge. He is not one to suffer a slight easily. So he comes up with a plan by which he can eliminate not only Mordecai, but every single Jew living in the lands of Persia. Because his strategy was going to require proper planning and resources, Haman determined to utilize the casting of lots (Pur) to come up the exact day on which to schedule his mass extinction of the Jews. It was customary in his day to make significant decisions with what was essentially the “roll of the dice.” We see this as nothing more than decision-making based on random chance. But in the ancient near east, they saw it as a means by which God revealed His will. Even the Jews practiced the casting of lots. In fact, when Judas killed himself, after having betrayed Jesus, the disciples chose his replacement by casting lots (Acts 1:26). Proverbs 16:33 reveals the Hebrew mindset behind the casting of lots: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
A better rendering of verse seven is found in the NET Bible. “In the first month (that is, the month of Nisan), in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus’ reign, pur (that is, the lot) was cast before Haman in order to determine a day and a month. It turned out to be the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar).” It was customary to cast lots in the first month of the year. That is why the month of Nisan is mentioned. And as a result of the casting of lots, Haman arrived at the twelfth month of Adar. So nearly a year would pass before Haman’s heinous plan could be enacted. But having determined a date, he wasted no time in laying the ground work for his pogrom of the Jews. He knew that a plan of this magnitude was going to require the approval and power of the king. But he also knew the Achilles’ heel of any king was a threat to his kingdom. So he came to King Xerxes with a cleverly crafted story about a “people” who lived throughout the kingdom who refused to keep the king’s laws. They were rebels. They were a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode and wreak havoc on something near and dear to the king’s heart: his sovereignty. Interestingly, like Esther, Haman hides from the king the identity of the people he is trying to eliminate. This could have been because the Jews were looked upon with favor by the king. Two of his predecessors, King Darius and King Cyrus, had issued favorable edicts on behalf of the Jews, allowing many of them to return to their land and even funding the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. But while Haman hid the identity of the Jews, he was more than forthright in his recommendation for what to do about them: He was recommending their destruction. And he was willing to help fund the cost, offering the king an exorbitant gift of 10,000 talents of silver. It is estimated that this would have amounted to two-thirds of the entire kingdom’s annual income. How Haman was going to come up with that kind of money is not clear. Perhaps his plan included the confiscation of Jewish lands and property. He had obviously calculated the potential financial rewards of his plan and knew that he was going to benefit greatly from the elimination of the Jews.
But his request, greased with the offer of financial reward, was acceptable to the king. So unwittingly, the king “took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10 ESV). The king gave Haman carte blanche to accomplish his plan. With the casting of lots, a little clever coercion and a great deal of unbridled hatred, Haman plotted his revenge on Mordecai and the people of God. Things were about to get ugly. And this unexpected twist in the story begs the question: Where is God in all of this? It is natural to want to know how God could allow something this devastating to happen. Why had he not stepped in and prevented any of this from taking place? And the truth is, God could have stopped it all. He could have brought a timely end to both Haman and his plot. But to assume that God was silent and inactive would be wrong. Just because God is not responding the way we think He should and according to the timing we have established, does not mean He is not at work. His ways are not our ways. His plans are beyond our capacity to know or understand. He does not have to explain Himself to us or defend His motives or methods. We will see soon enough that God was at work. Esther’s meteoric rise to fame and fortune was part of His plan. Mordecai’s fortuitous discovery of the plot on the king’s life was divinely ordained. Even Haman’s promotion was sovereignly ordained by God Himself. None of this was case of luck, fortune, fate, or a simple roll of the dice. God was in control of it all and for reasons He had not yet disclosed. Yes, the king could say to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you” (Esther 3:11 ESV), but Haman would only be able to do what God allowed him to do. We may not understand God’s methods, but we must never question His motives. We may not approve of how He accomplishes His will, but we must never doubt that His will is always holy, righteous and just.
He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! – Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT
The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. – Psalm 145:17 NLT
Listen to me, you who have understanding. Everyone knows that God doesn’t sin! The Almighty can do no wrong. – Job 34:10 NLT