Esther 5:4 (ESV)

4 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.”

Esther answered not by pleading for her and her people’s lives but by inviting Ahasuerus and Haman to a banquet! Three reasons can be given for this seemingly strange request:

  1. For the sake of privacy and of her royal dignity, Esther wished to discuss the matter away from the eyes and ears of the dignitaries who surrounded the king in his hall.

  2. In the ancient Near East it was customary to communicate without haste or directness, especially when it came to sensitive negotiations and requests. The king would understand that Esther was not inviting him to a banquet for no reason. He would expect to hear her real request, in the more intimate setting of her banquet.

  3. In this way, Esther gained a strategic advantage over Haman. If she had presented her request in the royal hall, the news of the request might have reached Haman’s ears, giving him the opportunity to safeguard his plans. Furthermore, by inviting Haman to the banquet, Esther ensured that he would not be able to influence the king, as he had done before, through a private conversation (Esther 3:8–11). The king would have to choose between Haman and her, while both of them were present.