Hathach, Trusted Go-Between

HathachBible Reference: Esther chapter 4

Heart of the Story: Without the trust that both Queen Esther and Mordechai had in Hathach most of the Jews in the Persian Empire would have been killed.

Back Story

This story occurred during Esther’s fourth or early fifth year as Queen of Persia. Clearly, she was not King Xerxes confident, nor was she in the gossip loop in the Persian court. Haman, an Amalek, was King Xerxes chief advisor. Haman’s family and the Jews were enemies from the time the Israelites left Egypt. The Amalekites wouldn’t give the Israelites permission to pass through their land on the way to the Promise Land. King Saul waged a successful war on the Amalekites and slaughtered many of them.

Haman persuaded King Xerxes to allow him to plan the murder of the Jews living in the Persian Empire. When Haman made these plants, he didn’t know that Queen Esther was a Jew or that Esther was a cousin of the Jew Mordechai, whom Hamon hated. Mordechai was a valued civil servant in the Persian court in Susa. It was Mordechai who heard about Haman’s plot and Xerxes agreement that the Jews in the Persian Empire be killed on a special date.
In response to the devastating news, Mordechai dressed in sack clothes and went through Susa wailing loudly. When he got to the King’s gate he sat down outside the gate. No one in sack clothes was permitted to enter the King’s compound. When Esther learned Mordechai’s distress, she sent clothes for him to put on. Mordechai refused to accept the clothes and remained in his sack clothes.

Hathach’s role

Hathach was a eunuch in the Persian court. King Xerxes assigned Hathach to attend Queen Esther. Esther ordered Hathach to find out what was troubling Mordechai. Mordechai told Hathach about the agreement between King Xerxes and Hamon to kill the Jews, even showing Hathach the published edict for annihilation. Mordechai urged Hathach to have Queen Esther go into King Xerxes presence and beg for mercy for her people.

Hathach took Mordechai’s message to Esther. Esther gave Hathach a message for Mordechai in which she reminded her cousin that she could be killed if she approached King Xerxes in the inner court. Esther had no expectation that King Xerxes would allow her to approach him; he had not call Esther to him for 30 days. Further, in the 4-5 years that Esther was married to Xerxes she bore the king no children.

Hathach took Esther’s message to Mordechai. Rather than backing away from urging Queen Esther to go to the King, Mordechai reiterated that Esther plead with the King to spare the Jews. Esther agreed to approach King Xerxes, but sent another message back to Mordechai through Hathach that the Jews fast for three days. Although the Bible doesn’t say, more than likely when the Jew’s fasted they prayed that Mordechai’s plan would work and the Jews in the Persian Empire would be spared.

Pondering Relationships

After relaying Queen Esther’s final message to Mordechai, the Bible never mentions Hathach again. Yet, by acting as the intermediary between Esther and Mordechai, Hathach was pivotal in saving the lives of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. There is no indication that Esther and Mordechai sent each other written messages. The entire back and forth communication was oral with Hathach carrying messages back and forth between the Queen and her cousin, Mordechai. The question is: why did Hathach agree to carry these messages between Esther and Mordechai?
One possible answer is that Hathach was a Jew. Mordechai didn’t hide that he was a Jew. Hathach wanted to assist Mordechai because they had a common national origin. A second reason for Hathach’s actions was: if he was a Jew, even if he was a eunuch in the king’s court, he would be killed in the annihilation of all Jews in the Empire. In this view, Hathach’s decision to transmit messages between Queen Esther and Mordechai was self-preservation.

A third reason Hathach acted as he did could have been his opinion of Queen Esther. Early in the book of Esther, the writer noted that Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:15). When King Xerxes assigned Hathach to attend Esther, Hathach came to admire and favor her. By the time of this event, 4-5 years after Esther was crowned queen—Esther and Hathach knew each other well. Clearly, Esther trusted Hathach.

Whatever the reasos for Hathach’s actions, they contributed to the lives of Jews in the Roman Empire being saved. Hathach’s intervention is celebrated annual in the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Reflection: Remember Mordechai’s words to Queen Esther that perhaps she came to her royal position “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Perhaps, God put Hathach in his position for “such as time as this.”

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