DIG: What is a signet ring and what does it represent? What does this chapter add to your perception of King Ahasuerus? What half-truths does he agree with here? How did Joseph’s use of the signet ring compare to that of Haman?
REFLECT: Have you ever given your authority over to someone and later regretted it? What did you do to solve the problem? How was Joseph’s intent to use his signet ring different from Haman’s? What four things has God given believers to mark them as members of His Kingdom? Is there any way possible that we can lose our inheritance? Why or why not?
King Ahasuerus, as before, was easily influenced by his magi (1:16-22 and 2:2-4). He accepted Haman’s advice: If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy the Jews (3:9a). The king, assuming that the scattered people in question were distant aliens, hostile to him and his reign, handed over his royal authority to Haman. So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews (3:10). A document was made official by stamping the king’s ring in wax on the document itself. The wax seal served as the king’s signature, representing his authority throughout the empire (Esther 3:12, 8:2 and 8; Gen 41:42; Dan 6:17; Hag 2:23). By giving his signet ring to Haman, Ahasuerus was allowing the enemy of the Jews, as Haman was now called, to send out a proclamation to the empire in the king’s name.
When he was first introduced in 3:1, Haman is referred to as son of Hammedatha, the Agagite. That name is repeated here, but with the additional phrase, the enemy of the Jews. This was a blood chilling statement, because it meant that all the power and influence of the Persian Empire was about to come down on the Israelites because of Haman’s arrogant pride. Five times in the book of Esther, Haman is called the enemy of the Jews (here, 7:6, 8:1, 9:10 and 9:24). At this time, Haman’s powerful motive of personal revenge was hidden from the king.45
Just as Pharaoh gave Joseph his signet ring as prime minister, and second in command of Egypt (see my commentary on Genesis Jv – Joseph as Prime Minister), so Ahasuerus gave Haman his signet ring as prime minister, and second in command of the Medo-Persian Empire. The primary difference was that where Joseph used his power for good (see my commentary on Genesis Jw – The Seven Years of Abundance in Egypt Came to an End, and the Seven Years of Famine Began), Haman, on the other hand, planned to use it for evil.
Keep the money, literally the silver is given to you, the king said to Haman (3:11a). Ahasuerus seemingly turned down the money here, and 3:13 declares that the Persians would be allowed to plunder the property and their goods. However, 4:7 and 7:4 suggest that the king would receive at least some of the spoils. The king, without verifying the information or being concerned for his subjects, said: And do with the people as you please (3:11b). Sometimes rulers give authority to others without realizing the consequences. This seems to be the case here. Little did he know that Queen Esther was a Jewess and would be slaughtered like the others if Haman’s wicked plan succeeded.
The king did not take the time to find out more details. His delegation of authority was impossible to avoid with such a huge empire to rule over, but the key is knowing who you are delegating to. Whether Ahasuerus knew Haman all that well is not revealed. Nevertheless, the order was given and the life-changing events were set in motion. ADONAI's great reversal of the fortunes of Haman and the Jews given to us in 9:5 where we learn that the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them.
King Ahasuerus put his signet ring on the finger of Haman and, as a result, gave him all the power and influence of the Persian Empire. The signet ring proved that he was the authentic representative of the king. For believers today, it is God who establishes us in Christ, He has anointed us, sealed us, and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge (Second Corinthians 1:21-22 NASB). ADONAI signet ring, His seal of ownership as it were, the Holy Spirit, gives us all the power and influence of the Kingdom of God, and proves that we are authentic representatives of the KING of kings (Revelation 19:16).
As admirable as they might be, Paul's ultimate claim to authenticity as ADONAI's messenger was not his loyalty, honesty, reliability, or any other personal traits. It was what the Lord had done for him. Rabbi Sha'ul describes four eternal works that ADONAI, God had done in his life with four verbs: establishes, anointed, sealed and gave.
First, God establishes us in Christ at the moment of salvation. This is the work of saving grace that puts believers into union with Him (Romans 8:1, 16:11; First Corinthians 1:30, 3:1, 7:22; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:2 and 28, 4:7) and with each other. Paul’s authenticity was so interconnected with that of the church at Corinth, that to deny his relationship with them would have been to deny the reality of their own spiritual life. Because they were fellow believers, by attacking Paul’s authenticity, they were ripping the fabric of the church’s spiritual unity. Since Rabbi Sha'ul was their spiritual father (First Corinthians 4:15), to deny his authenticity was, figuratively, to saw off the branch on which they were sitting.
Secondly, ADONAI has anointed us. To anoint someone is to commission them for service (Exodus 28:41; Numbers 3:31; 1 Samuel 15:1, 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 2:4; First Kings 1:39, 5:1, 19:16; Psalm 89:20). The Greek verb chrio, meaning anointed, appears four times in the New Covenant, each time it refers to Yeshua (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27 and 10:38; Hebrews 1:9). The related noun chrisma describes the anointing all believers have when they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Bw – What God Does For Us at the Moment of Faith).
Thirdly, He sealed us. The word Greek word sphragizo, or sealed, refers to stamping an identifying mark on something. When Haman took the signet ring and pressed it into some soft wax on a document, he was sealing it with the mark of the king. This also refers to believers being stamped with the seal of the KING, which is the Holy Spirit, whose presence identifies them as His true and eternal possession, whom He will protect and keep. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13b-14a).
Fourthly, the Lord gave believers the Holy Spirit in their hearts as a pledge. The indwelling Holy Spirit is not only the anointing and seal but also the down payment or guarantee of believers’ eternal inheritance, the first installment of future glory. Praise be God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in keeping with His great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven (First Peter 1:3-4 CJB). Now it is God who has given us the Holy Spirit was a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).46
Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for your loving care. Thank you for caring about us even when we are not mindful of You; for loving us first and sending Your Son to die on our behalf. Your gifts are never ending, as is our praise for You. When we come to the end of ourselves and accept the great gift of your Son, thank You for sealing us with the mark of Your Kingdom, guaranteeing our inheritance.