Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and separated 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 appropriate for the king to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, so that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” - Esther 3:8-9 (NRSV)
An adviser to the country’s leader has an ax to grind about a certain people who reside within their borders. (The back story is one of “them” refused to bow to his power.) These people, he tells the leader, are scattered all over the country. They’ve infiltrated every province. They’re taking over.
But at the same time (has the leader noticed?), they refuse to assimilate. They keep their own customs. Their own language. They do their own thing.
And they’re lawless, the adviser says. They don’t follow the rules of this nation. They are criminals.
So, the adviser concludes, they should not be tolerated. They should be rounded up. Killed.
And it would be in the leader’s financial interest to do so. All through back channels of course, nothing direct. (The adviser will make it back and more in plunder.)
If you read on, you’ll see they do it all properly. The leader’s cabinet is consulted. A law is passed. Copies are made and distributed. All very official. Legal. Above board.
That’s how the story goes.
God of Esther, may we read and learn.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.