Skip to content

Breezin’ Through the Bible, #20, Esther, Gods Handmaid

March 6, 2014

Esther, God’s Handmaid

The book of Esther never mentions God, but God does not sit this story out. He stays behind the scene, carefully orchestrating the parts. God controls the roll of the dice (the Pur) and the hands of the players.

Xerxes reigned over 127 provinces, from India to Cush, from 486 to 465 BC. In the third year of his reign he invited his nobles and officials to a banquet. He invited his wife, Queen Vashti, to impress his guests with her beauty. When she refused to parade before the drunken spectators, Xerxes banished her from the kingdom, presumably so that other women would not get the idea they could disobey their husbands. The king’s attendants searched the lands for another beautiful woman to become Queen.

Hadassah, called Esther in our story, was the niece and ward of Mordecai, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, whose ancestors had been carried into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Esther, a beautiful girl, was taken to the king’s harem. The king was attracted to Esther and made her his queen. Mordecai told Esther not to reveal she was a Jewess; but he continued to watch her from afar to be sure she was safe. Then Esther and Mordecai foiled a plot against the king’s life.

When Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, he overheard Haman, a noble and chancellor of the king’s court, plotting to kill all the Jews. Haman was a descendant of the enemies of the Israelites, and, when Mordecai refused to pay homage by bowing before him, Haman wanted to wreak vengeance on Mordecai and the entire Jewish race. Haman persuaded the king to decree certain death to people who refused to obey his laws, meaning Jews. They rolled the dice (the pur) to determine the date of the first anti-semetic pogram in history, the extermination of the Jews.

In the first month of the year, dispatches were sent to all the people, saying those who would not bow to the king would be killed in the twelfth month. The timing gave Mordecai, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, time to alert Esther. Esther could not go to the king without a summons, for she might be killed; but casting aside her fears, she went before the king with a plan. She invited the king and Haman to a feast she would prepare for them. Haman was busy, preparing a pole on which to impale Mordecai, but he could not refuse the king’s request to accompany his majesty to Esther’s banquet.

After they had feasted, the king asked for Esther’s request, and she replied with an invitation to another feast the next night, when she would dine them sumptuously and make her petition. The king went to bed that night unable to sleep. (Was it a need for bicarbonate of soda or amusement at his diverting queen, or God’s plan?) He called for his attendants to bring him the chronicles of his reign. He read an account of how Mordecai had foiled a plot to assasinate him. What had been done to reward Mordecai, he asked, and he was told ,”Nothing.” He decided that must be corrected and he called Haman.

“What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” he asked Haman. 

“Who is there the king would rather honor than me,” Haman thought. He quickly gave the king a long list of rewards and honors. The king agreed, and Haman smiled until the king told him to give these reward to Mordecai.

Haman and the king attended Rachel’s second banquet. The king, still not realizing she was a Jewess, asked for her petition, and she gravely said, “Grant me my life.” Then she explained how Haman was going to kill all the Jews and she would die. The king was angry, and demanded Haman be impaled on the pole Haman had built for Mordecai, and the king rescinded the order for Jewish persecution. He gave Haman’s estate to Queen Esther, and gave her people the right to assemble and protect themselves. The Jews killed many of their enemies.

Purim is an annual festival that keeps the memory of the Jewish deliverance alive. The God driven efforts of Esther and her guardian, Mordecai, even in exile in a foreign land, was successful, and reminds us all that, with the help of God and a little courage, anything is possible. 

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: