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By Val Lee
Most every believer requires strengthening bestowments in the area of encouragement. Isaiah chapter 40 is the perfect place to turn for mind renewal and faith strengthening. It proclaims the omnipotence of an overseeing God—our God who watches over us. Verse 17 explains, “All the nations are nothing before Him; they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” Verse 22 reads, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
Verse 23f reveals God rules over all governmental authorities; He establishes rulers and judges and later, often votes them out of office. Christians are commanded to intercede for all in authority; 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Prayer is vital today as threatening leadership governs many sectors on our globe. Even in our nation, there are unjust laws, some which permit the removal of innocent young life. Heavenward petitions can produce hope and answers in troubling times such as ours. Prayer altered perilous times historically. Grim and hopeless data would be the substance of all history books if God never defeated wicked rulers, which He performs in His time, according to His will. He is a just God who hears the supplications of His people, which is why Nero, Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, etc., only ruled for a period in history. Prayer removed wicked Haman from the scene in the book of Esther.
The concluding verse of Isaiah 40 is completely apropos for the book of Esther, as it states, “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Esther prayerfully waited on the Lord and He granted her the power to walk in great strength in death’s face. At first, death reality struck Esther like a sword, piercing through her secure palace door. However, God provided her the fortitude to fulfill her predestined calling whatever the incurring cost. She was even willing to be annihilated for her people, the Jews—God’s chosen.
Many of us have had to face cruel world reality and it can hit unexpectedly and painfully. Death, disease, hardship and persecution are indubious. You may be hurting because world reality is shoving you this very moment. God’s grace and courage upheld Esther, may it faithfully uphold you.
We as believers have much to be grateful for as we are upheld by our Savior through it all. The unsaved own no eternal hope when reality pain strikes them. The Bible teaches that most of earth’s population walks about in spiritual deadness—people being dead in trespasses and sins; Ephesians 2:1-5. If we were to picture this world in accuracy, we would see it as a snatching flaming graveyard; Jude 23. This is why we must reach out, holding forward sincere concern and the Gospel hope. Esther reached out to deliver others in loving concern and God’s omnipotent miracle upholding hand, transformed events.
I will cite a slight overview of the Old Testament and bring us to the period of Esther sequentially with a compiled walk-through. In the book of Genesis, we note the conception of the Jewish race, which consists of God’s chosen people. The Jewish race began with Abraham and Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac. Isaac married Rebecca, and they conceived Jacob, who became the father of twelve sons who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel (Israel is also a designated name for Jacob). The Jews who came forth from these twelve sons produced a great people of God who formed the nation of Israel. The land of Israel was divided according to these twelve tribes for them to inhabit. Each tribe had a section of land allotted to them. Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, and Joseph’s descendants were provided a section of land, though not in his name. It was deeded in the name of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Through them, Joseph’s descendants received two portions of land as designed by God. God appointed the sons of the tribe of Levi to serve Him as priests; therefore, they did not require any bequeathed land placed in their tribal name. However, they could own land within any tribal area. Thus, we have the land of Israel divided twelve ways.
To aid your historical understanding further, it was during the time of Joseph’s stay in Egypt as a ruler equal to Pharaoh in power that the Jews located to Egypt. They were few in number at this time, consisting of Jacob’s sons, their wives and children. Pharaoh welcomed them warmly and provided land. Centuries later, the Jews became a people of multitude and their vast strength and numbers threatened Egyptian domain. To remedy the situation, the Jewish foreigners were subjected to slavery. They grievously labored in the production of bricks. The Hebrews continually cried out to God in their languishing toil and a man by the name of Moses arose to deliver, the ordained one. Moses, through the power of God, led the Jews to the promised land of Israel (the appointed property God decreed to the Jewish race). Moses did not enter the land, but under Joshua, the Jews did. In battle, the Hebrews defeated the land’s pagan inhabitants so they could become a great nation that feared and obeyed God. You can read of these happenings in the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch.
Following Joshua’s death, God appointed Judges to protect and deliver the Jews. By placing yourself before the book of Judges, you can read of the magistrates who presided during this period. These judges included the renowned—Samson, Gideon, and Deborah. Samuel was Israel’s last judge who anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. By reading 1 Samuel you can learn of Samuel’s life and be introduced to the epoch of the kings. The books that record the lives of the kings are 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Samuel also anointed David as Israel’s second king, who replaced godless Saul, who eventually perished in battle. Solomon, David‘s son, secured the throne through God’s predestined hand, following David’s death. Solomon erected the first temple of worship—a very elaborate feat of architecture, famous throughout the known world. Following Solomon’s rule, Rehoboam, Solomon’s wicked, godless son, ascended to the throne. Because Rehoboam was a vile taskmaster over Israel, this nation became divided. Jeroboam, a man who had rebelled against Solomon’s rule, gained kingship of northern Israel. This area consisted of ten tribal areas. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, ruled lower Israel—consisting of two tribal areas—Judah and Benjamin. This lower kingdom held the capital city of Jerusalem, where the elaborate temple and Solomon’s grand palace stood. The northern kingdom was called Israel and the southern was called Judah. Only those who descended from the line of David ruled the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kings were not related to David by direct descent. Remember Jesus Christ came through the line of David as the Old Testament proclaimed He would; therefore, He has right to the throne for eternity, through His earthly birth, and as God of all.
The Judah kingdom produced seven godly kings; Israel had only one. Israel became very worldly and forsook God’s ways so she could be styling with society. She did not desire to be a separated, peculiar, and an alienated people for God. As a result, God allowed her to be led away captive by the Assyrian Empire, which held the most successful and ingenious fighters of the ancient world. Eventually, Judah became extremely evil, allowing the world to influence her as well. During the time of the great and massive Babylonian Empire, King Nebuchadnezzar took Judah captive and destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple. It was during this period of Jerusalem’s destruction that Mordecai (Esther’s adoptive father) and Esther were removed as Babylon’s captives. As prisoners, they were relocated to the Media-Persian area of the Babylonian Empire. King Ahasuerus ruled Media-Persia under King Nebuchadnezzar; Esther 2:5-6. The story of Esther evolves around King Ahasuerus.
I believe the events of the book of Esther occurred within the time frame of the Babylonian Empire, not the Media-Persian World Empire as most believe. If they occurred during the Media-Persian World Empire, Mordecai would have been 100 years old or older. Mordecai was Esther’s cousin and his aunt would have been far past childbearing age when she bore Esther according to such calculations. In addition, the book of Esther states the events occurred after Mordecai and Esther were removed from Jerusalem under King Jeconiah; 2:5-7. King Jeconiah ruled Judah during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 7 states Mordecai “brought up” Esther. The word used in the original Hebrew text equates with, he “moved” her. Media-Persia was an ancient empire. King Nebuchadnezzar most likely trusted King Ahasuerus with 127 of the Media-Persian provinces.
Many subservient kings ruled under empire-owning kings in history. In 2 Kings 16:5-10, we see three kings mentioned as reigning over the northern kingdom of Israel. The Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, was the prominent king of the three and he ruled over a great deal of the known world before this nation succumbed to the Babylonian Empire. (When at the BritishMuseum, I viewed a large perfectly preserved black marble bust of Tiglath-Pileser III, along with large fragments of his dismantled palace that held artwork that depicted slavery. It was Tiglath-Pileser III, who placed the northern kingdom of Israel in slavery.)
After Mordecai, Esther, and King Jeconiah—AKA Jehoiachin—were removed from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, King Zedekiah ruled Judah under King Nebuchadnezzar; 2 Kings chapters 24 and 25. You see, this type of king-under-king rule was common.
To understand this governing of ancient kingdoms, it must be kept in mind that there were no vehicles or paved highways. Travel was difficult and slow. There were no telecommunications. A king of a vast kingdom had to own area kings, as history verifies.
King Herod the Great ruled under Caesar Augustus—the king of the dominating Roman Empire under which Christ was born. King Herod had a luxurious palace and held the reigning power over Israel, but under Caesar. King Herod exercised ruthless power when he massacred multitudes of babies, committing infanticide, in an attempt to kill the Christ child; Matthew chapter 2. He had been told the Christ baby was the King of the Jews. He envisioned this tiny baby boy as an intruding threat to his throne. Various children ruled as kings in history and Herod was well aware of this fact. (Someday Jesus Christ will rule as King of the Jews when He returns in glory. He will be the magistrate of the entire globe.)
Esther and Mordecai, after being forced from Jerusalem, became inhabitants the city of Susa, ruled by King Ahasuerus; Esther 1:1-2. The setting of all cited events in Esther occurred in Susa, close to the border of Iraq, close to Iran. Baghdad is currently the capital of Iraq and its largest city. It is one of the most highly culturalized cities in the Middle East. It rests northwest of ancient Susa. The land areas surrounding this region (the north end of the Persian Gulf) have recorded the highest temperatures in the world, so we know Susa was not an area of cool comfort. Through the war in Iraq, America has gained an idea of the climate and terrain of this nation. Soldiers have reported you breathe and eat sand.
With all this stated prehistory, I trust you are ready to delve into the remarkable book of Esther.
1. The Banquet
2. Rash Behavior
3. The Villain
4. “If I Perish, I Perish”
5. “Even to Half the Kingdom”
6. A Sleepless Night
7. Haman’s Demise
8. Mordecai Crowned
9. The Chime of Victory
10. The Facts Recorded
This little book will introduce you to a lovely, godly woman—Esther. She is one of the supreme, female historical figures of all time. Her feminine attributes stand out brilliantly in this day and age of selfish womanhood. Her genuineness should touch your life for change.
Esther was predestined to shelter God’s doomed people. Her walk of faith allowed her to experience the omnipotent, saving work of God in holocaustic circumstances.
To comprehend the content of this commentary, you need to read the Book of Esther, probing its pages for uplifting truth.
The Imperial Banquet
The curtain of the first act opens on this book and we witness an all-city generous celebration. The staging is magnificent as the glories of a wealthy kingdom are set before us. We behold an all-impressive palace. Both the poor and rich are banqueting in its massive elaborateness at the kingdom’s expense. This imperial feast will last 180 days. Wow, have you ever known a banquet to last this long?
It is only in this first chapter that we find the magnificence of this palace and garden area unmasked. We note hangings of fine white and violet linen are suspended by fine linen purple cords on silver rings. Now, this is not all that we get to glimpse. There are marble columns and couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement holding all sorts of precious stones. What a site to behold! No doubt, many people walked about with their mouths open. Most castles were not this elaborate.
The populace received drinks in golden vessels of various kinds and the wine was plentiful. But the host did not demand that the people drink the wine. He let the people act according to their own desires in the matter. The host is the king and he is completely cordial and sensitive to others. Yes, this has all been orchestrated by the king, who is showing off all his riches and splendor. Nothing but the best for the wealthy sovereign of this massive kingdom—the area of Media-Persia.
Though it appears this emperor was a boaster; actually, he was a giving man, not given to partiality, and everyone was able to partake of everything from the savory cuisine to the grandeur of the palace and grounds. Generosity was one of the king’s good attributes.
(I want to inject here that we must understand we are observing a pagan culture in this chapter. This celebration and most city celebrations emphasize having a good time. This is far different from what God ordained for His nation Israel that has become interwoven into this civilization and will take center stage in the storyline.
Before being captured and removed to Media-Persia, the Jews did gather in the capital city of Jerusalem for God’s decreed celebrations of thanksgiving—worshipping Him for all His provisions. Jewish celebrations were also a reflective time, as Israel’s inhabitants would remember their sin. Designated animals were sacrificed. Such sacrificial times enabled the people to understand how much God hated disobedience and that a price had to be paid. In the New Testament, Christ became the payment for sin as the perfect and final blood sacrifice. He died on a cross for everyone and three days later, arose from His grave. Anyone can place his or her faith in Jesus Christ; yet with the consideration of the rejection that accompanies following a God of holy innocence. You can choose right now to follow Christ. You can ask God the Father to save you through God the Son, Jesus Christ. When you do, you receive abundant life and eternal life; Romans 6:34 and Hebrews 10:8-11.)
You might think all ends well concerning this glorious, elaborate gathering of the kingdom. Well, … not so, something dramatic takes this merry-making king off guard and this setting scene becomes all disrupted. The Queen, Vashti, refuses to come in the presence of the king and display her beauty before the people as he commanded. He is infuriated! No one refuses the king, even the queen who wears a crown of authority. His advisors demand her discharge! They do not want a women’s lib upheaval. They do not want wives disrespecting their husbands.
We see in this chapter, women’s rebellion trying to raise its ugly head through the disobedience of Queen Vashti. Women are to honor their husbands as the New Testament commands; Ephesians 5:33. I find it interesting how this command of God was emphasized even during this pagan regime. In Romans chapter one, God reveals that He has placed in all men, including the unsaved, a knowledge of His attributes—His eternal power and divine nature. God, through His grace, has written His law on all men’s hearts (Romans 2:14-15) so some order is maintained in this fallen world including in the area of a man being the head of his household.
At the end of Esther chapter 1, verse 22, we take note of the fact that the king allows certain personal freedoms to abide in his kingdom such as a man having a right to speak his native language in his own home, not necessarily the Media-Persian national tongue. However, the native dialect of the wife, if different, could not be spoken. All had to be performed in respect to the honored husband.
The opening of the curtain of the second chapter arises and we behold King Ahasuerus coming to his senses and realizing what he had decreed concerning Vashti out of his rash behavior. He acted impulsively, exerting his power. At this moment, he misses her grievously. If he had thought about it more thoroughly, he could have saved his marriage, which God declared to be life long. He could have simply not allowed her into his presence until she apologized to him and the kingdom in total humility and repentance. He was an impulsive king and this led him to have to locate a means to correct himself on occasion. He certainly relied too much on his advisors. Of course, he simply may not have been very mentally gifted and therefore, cannot be faulted too much.
King Solomon requested wisdom from God, seeing he owned much inadequacy. Solomon insightfully knew he could not rule effectively apart from God. God, of course, knew his shortcomings and granted him wisdom, unsurpassed knowledge and understanding; however, sin still invaded his life and the kingdom. Shortsightedness exists in any monarchy rule and it still plagued Solomon though the wisest of the wisest.
If a king was not sharp and wise, he secured his kingdom’s downfall. Most kings inherited the role. Most were trained to rule within palace walls, not learning from experience. They generally would not listen to the people regarding their needs. Ivory palaces with their inward wealth left most kings entrapped in self-glory as witnessed with King Herod in Matthew chapter 2.
In 1 Samuel 8:10-17, God speaks through Samuel, to reveal the consequences Israel would face as she turned from a theocracy form of government to a monarchy (This was before Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king). In a theocracy, God rules not a man. That is why originally our American government was opposed to a monarchy and desired a theocracy. That is why all our original laws were Biblically enacted. That is why homosexuality, adultery, divorce, immodesty, etc., where illegal in this great land. It was to be a government by the people who feared God and acted accordingly.
Israel wanted to be trendy and styling, just like the nations that surrounded her. She suffered servitude travail as Samuel’s warnings came to fruition in future years regarding the demands of kings. Esther and her people suffered in Media-Persia because the Jewish kings faltered severely which led to this foreign captivity. The Jews were removed from Judah, the southern portion of the Holy Land, and were dispersed in the pagan land of Babylon.
Returning to chapter 2 of Esther and the plight of the king’s loneliness, it was suggested that many beautiful virgins be brought to the king so a new queen could be sought. Now this was a fleshly way to get his mind off Vashti. This sensual route pleased this pagan king and this is how Esther entered the palace grounds. Esther was brought as a captive to Persia from the land of Israel and now she is made a captive of the king. She and many other women were placed in custody or arrested and made the property of the king against any say of their own. Verse 8 speaks to this custody, “… and many young ladies were gathered to Susa the capital into the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s palace …”
It is assumed that Esther’s name was changed from Hadassah, verse 7, to the pagan goddess name Esther when she entered the palace. Hadassah means myrtle. Esther would not have changed her Jewess name so she could appear pagan. This changing of the name was a normal occurrence. We see this transpired in Daniel chapter 1, when the Jewish young men had their godly names withdrawn to be dealt pagan god titles, including Daniel. This occurred when they were made to serve King Nebuchadnezzar; they too were forcefully withdrawn from Judah.
No doubt, this union made under duress is not what Esther dreamed about concerning marriage. She desired to obey God and marry a godly Jew who loved and respected her. She desired to keep house, providing love and nurturing care for her husband and children; Titus 2:4-5.
A Jew was not allowed to marry a pagan just as Christians are not allowed to marry the unsaved today—2 Corinthians 6:14f. However, we know, Esther did not walk around in sorrow and weighed down with guilt in her plight. She knew God understood her heart and she recognized His blessings upon her. She, no doubt, remembered Joseph was assigned a pagan wife when in subjection to Pharaoh.
Esther and her adoptive father, Mordecai, were of the Jewish tribe of Benjamin. Her parents died and her cousin Mordecai took her as his daughter. If you go to the maps at the back of your Bible, you will see where this tribe dwelt within the land of Israel. It is closely related to the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was where Esther and Mordecai resided before their captivity. Jerusalem, the capital (today, it remains Israel’s capital), held the temple and king’s palaces and their tombs. It was also the main location of habitation. This was where Jews came to partake in the commanded festivals and offerings. Jerusalem was burned to the ground some years following Esther’s transportation.
Returning to chapter 2 of Esther, we take note of her being a godly woman of character—holding to modesty and femininity. She certainly stood out, allowing her to gain approval and a superior status in the harem; verse 9. She was so well-educated in the ways of the Media-Persians, no one suspected her of being of the slave race of Jews. She obviously spoke the language fluently and also wrote the language as revealed in 9:29. Not all women were illiterate in Bible times, as many would have you believe.
Mordecai, also being a man of character—very godly and obedient to God’s Word—cared very much about Esther and faithfully checked on her welfare; verses 11f.
Verse 12 discusses all the spa preparations made for virgins before joining with the king in a marital relationship. These preparations were a year in length. Esther certainly must have been at the peak of beauty and softness when brought before the king. Myrrh, which is often warmed to sooth, was one of Esther’s fragrant beauty aids. I personally enjoy wearing this unusual, but lovely Middle Eastern scent obtained from the Cammiphora shrub. This thorny flora can grow to be 30 feet tall and is identified by its knotted branches, musty smelling leaves and white flowers. This perfume also owns medicinal properties and is applied to alleviate ulcers, sores, wounds, athlete’s foot, chapped skin, ringworm, eczema and the spread of gangrene. Besides being located in the Middle East, it is also native to North Africa and India.
Historically, it was worth its weight in gold. And, if you remember, it was one of the valued gifts brought to Christ when a babe and aptly signified His death. Interestingly, when the Cammiphora branches are cut, they bleed a reddish-brown resin—myrrh (meaning bitter). The myrrh color and bleeding have come to symbolize the sacrificed blood of Jesus Christ. He endured a bitter death for us. Myrrh also represents comfort and healing which is also symbolic of the Savior.
In verse 13, we see a wedding gift was offered to every virgin before she was brought to the king. They could acquire any item they desired from the Harem. Obviously, it was a beautiful area that had to be kept well-stocked for all these wives-to-be.
We learn from verse 15, that Esther was not materialistic and desired wisdom above things when she went to the king. Her inward heart sought wise lasting counsel not riches that pass away. She did not desire to offend the king or others who were in the palace with negligent manners. (When we arrive at chapters 4 and 5, we will observe further the importance of knowing protocol.) This is Esther’s wedding day and she wants it perfect, as she seems to want to be queen. This would provide her with more advantages.
Esther was a godly, pure woman and went to the king as a modest rare gem. Her witness of wisdom and modesty caused her to be in favor with all those who saw her. (I believe Webster’s 1828 definition concerning modesty is absolutely perfect in regard to Esther: “Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of her honor.”) She was not one who would have engaged in dirty jokes or misguided behavior. Obviously, the king was very impressed by her. She was a wise, intelligent woman not given to silly talk or notions of fantasy. She was perfect for the role and later she would act as an ambassador and legislator for her people. The king knew she would not be a woman who would embarrass or make a mockery of him. She held a sensitive and gentle heart.
After seeing the king, the women of the virgin harem graduated to the second harem as they had now been united with the king in the marriage act. Since Esther was crowned queen, verse 17, she no longer had to live in a harem. She was placed in the palace, awarded a large section, as revealed in 4:13.
We see this is an event of powerful magnitude. The king, so enamored by Esther and so in love with her, provided a banquet, and even named it “Esther’s Feast;” 2:18. She had to be the most impressive woman in the kingdom to catch the heart of this powerful, presiding king. I am sure everyone at this banquet is taking in the godly loveliness of this uniquely gifted woman. I believe the castle seamstresses fashioned the perfect stunning gown that made her even more the stand out. No doubt, Esther’s impartial and gracious personality captured the hearts of those attending through regal invitation. I am sure she was the talk of the town and nation for teeming days to come.
In verse 20, we view again, the submissive and obedient heart of Esther, so taught to be by Mordecai. He certainly deserves a great deal of praise for this prize he raised and home-schooled. She submits to Mordecai in every way, including not revealing her people as he instructed. God reemphasizes her conformity for a reason. In 1 Peter 3:2-4, we see the type of woman God desires us to be, one obedient to God’s Word without rebellion. Verse 2 speaks to the chaste and respectful behavior of the godly married woman. Of course, this refers to outside the marriage bedroom. Verse 3 speaks of true adornment being internal and verse 4, the magnitude of a gentle and quiet spirit that resounds throughout the land in witness—being precious in the sight of God. Such a spirit reveals true femininity.
(Verse 20 of Esther emphasizes her submission. It does not state AND ESTHER PROTESTED MOSES’ LAWS CONCERNING WOMEN BY CARRYING A SIGN STATING “DOWN WITH MOSES, UP WITH WOMEN.” It does states she submitted to Mordecai in all that he told her, just as she did when in his care.
Women today speak evil of Paul, but under grace we have so much more freedom compared to the women under the law, such as Esther. I personally wonder why women today do not condemn Moses as a radical women-hater and male chauvinist. His writings were far, far stricter than Paul’s. Both Paul and Moses penned the words of God, not their own. The words of the Pentateuch, Moses’ five composed books, were delivered by the angels of God—Acts 7:53 and Hebrews 2:2. This reveals their God-ordained authority.)
In verses 21-23, back in Esther chapter 2, we witness God using Mordecai to prevent an overthrow of King Ahasuerus. It states two men desired to lay hands on the king. This means to kill. They certainly were not simply going to punch him a few times and let him go. They refused to show great respect for this highest of offices. King Ahasuerus held the highest office in the entire Media-Persian empire, consisting of 127 provinces; 1:1.
It was no accident that Mordecai overheard this plot of assassination. God did not want this kingdom in chaos at this time. If King Ahasuerus had been murdered, these men would have had to murder all those loyal to the king, including his royal family. They most likely would not have hesitated to kill Queen Esther. They would have brought in a complete new government with new heads of provinces, etc. It would not have been a pretty sight and God knew these men would have brought even more evil within this pagan plighted land. King Ahasuerus had ascended to the throne by birthright not murderous ways. God had worked in the lives of all the rulers placed over Israel since her captivity, completely by design. Romans 13:1 teaches, “There is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.”
Queen Esther acting as a knowing informant, verse 22, reveals the plot and exalts Mordecai’s name as a faithful and upright citizen who acted honorably by saving the king’s life. In this, the Queen reveals her faithfulness as well.
Romans 13:2 is excellent instruction, for it states, those who resist the governing authorities receive God’s condemnation. The judging result concerning these two convict culprits was lethal. They were hanged on the gallows; verse 23. These sentences to death for insurrection would have placed fear in many who might have attempted to steal the throne. The Bible further states in Romans 13:3-4 that rulers are a cause for good behavior; therefore, we must have a fear of doing right for governments do bear a sword.
Entering chapter 3, we are introduced to Haman, the villain of our story, who takes center stage in more ways than one. Where it seems King Ahasuerus should have promoted Mordecai for his loyalty, he decides to promote Haman as overseer of “all the princes that were with him;” 3:1.
As Haman now held this most important title, people were to bow down and pay homage to him, actually worship him like a god. There is no doubt this is what Haman desired. Mordecai, being a man of God, would not compromise even though he knew disobedience could cost him his life. He could never honor an Agagite and transgress God’s decrees. Haman’s people, the Agagites or Amalakites, had been the enemies of the Jews since Moses.
Obeying God was Mordecai’s first and only priority. I believe Mordecai’s story is recorded in history, due to the fact most people would think, “What’s the big deal? I want to live in peace.” He stands as one who is strong in his faith in God and His Holy Word which states emphatically, “We are to have no other gods before us;” Deuteronomy chapter 5. We must always obey God before men and their laws. This truth is set before us in Acts 5:29. In this text, we witness Peter and the apostles boldly stating to the Jewish authorities, “We must obey God rather than men.” However, this right we hold as believers, should never excuse self-centered government rebellion.
Haman was a sinister Agagite. God let us know Haman was of this decent, addressing him as an Agagite, placing this information before us in Esther 3:1.
The Agagites were Amalakites, as we learn from 1 Samuel 15:8. Haman was called an Agagite—after Agag, the king of the Amalekites as we read in this verse. These people were cursed of God for their Antisemitism. We read of this curse in Exodus 17:14. God demanded they all be destroyed in this text and He declared He would annihilate them completely. We rejoice here because the Jews fought against their enemies, the Amalekites, and were victorious. Amalek was the king of these people at this time, Exodus 17:13, before the time of King Agag.
In 1 Samuel chapter 15, the Israelites are once again battling the Amalekites (The Amalekites once occupied parts of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. King Amalek was the grandson of Essau—who fathered the Edomites; Gen. 36:12.) and God is demanding the death of every Amalekite. The Jewish army obeyed the LORD and all the Amalekites were destroyed that were present at the location of this battle. However, King Saul disobeyed God and allowed King Agag to live; whereby, the prophet Samuel had to hack him to death in obedience to God’s command.
I believe Haman, being a descendant of Agag, identified that the Jews had slaughtered his people in two main chronicled battles. This owing to the fact he was an educated man that earned an A+ in history to gain the position he owns in this kingdom. These deflating and humbling combative facts, no doubt, incited his furry to engulf the entire Jewish population. Mordecai’s insurrection of refusing to pay homage, 3:2, was just a spark that set off his fiery rage.
Mordecai was acting in obedience to God (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) and would never bow down to Haman—of Amalakite descent. It was not wrong to bow before authority, as we witness in 2 Samuel 24:20 where Araunah bowed his face to the ground before King David in respect and honor. In Genesis 23:7, Abraham bowed to the people of a pagan land. In 1 Samuel 24:8, we witness David bowing his face to the ground and prostrating himself before King Saul.
We read in Esther 3:6 that Haman did not desire to place his hands on Mordecai alone when he found out who his people were. It was at this time that he determined to destroy all the Jews. As we delve further into this chapter, we observe Haman coming into the presence of the king owning a complete knowledge of the Jews; verse 8. In verse 9, we observe Haman informing the king that the Jewish religion is contrary to the Media-Persian belief system; implementing it as an excuse to entirely annihilate the Jews in their 127 provinces. Verse 10 informs us that Haman is an enemy of all the Jews, not just Mordecai.
The Jews were commanded to always remember the Amalekites and what they did to them when they came out of Egypt. They were to blot out their memory and they were never to forget! I believe, the Agagites were eventually annihilated and blotted out as God stated in Exodus 17:14. It may have been through Queen Esther that God’s curse of death for the all Agagites (these antisemitists) was carried forth, removing their remnant completely.
Verse 7 reveals Esther has now been queen five years when all this begins to comes to pass. We know this by the fact she became queen in the seventh year of King Ahasuerus’ reign; 2:16. And verse 7 states the king has now reigned twelve years.
This new scene opens with Haman casting a lot in order to find the most appropriate time to talk to the king concerning the destruction of the Jews. He will not appear before the king unless he feels superstition is on his side. This casting of lots is referred to as Pur or Purim. (No one seems to totally understand this concept, though it seems to resemble the throwing of the dice, as a stone or other object was thrown that held markings. The displayed markings determined destiny or so thought.) approaches the king in verse 8. He must incite the king to believe the Jews must be destroyed—they being rebellious to the king’s ways. Haman knows he must put forth a good act to convince the king.
We witness here Haman even using money to bribe the king. However, King Ahasuerus tells Haman he can keep the money and the demise will be carried forth; verses 9-11. It is interesting the king didn’t even care to learn who these people were or their reputation within the kingdom. It certainly appears their nationality was not mentioned. As I stated before, this king trusts too much in man. Jeremiah 17:5 declares that if a man trusts in other men he is cursed. God and His Word must be our only stable trust.
The Israelites were to be completely abated in one day, including all women and children; verse 13. This would be accomplished a year from the enacted decree. It was time-appropriated in consideration of the transit interval needed for the death warrant declaration to reach every distant province.
(Daniel 6:4-13 holds a resemblance tale. Here, we see Daniel is hated for his faith and commitment—much like Mordecai. A plot is formed for Daniel’s demise. This king is also used as an evil pawn … as was King Ahasuerus. Here too we read of a death signed decree. In verses 6-9, we see King Darius being wrongly persuaded to destroy all who will not worship him only as god. If anyone disobeyed, they were to be cast into the lion’s dreadful den. These evildoers knew Daniel would not compromise nor turn away from God Almighty as a faithful Jew even if it meant death. They knew Daniel was no coward or compromiser.
Daniel had learned of the petition, but still he prayed with open windows, boldly and resolutely. He was willing to perish for God. He was a tremendous witness—not trying to please all, and not denying the Scriptural commands. He was thrown to the lions, but God shut the lions’ mouths. We know God was gracious at this time as many of the prophets were killed for not compromising. Of course, their eternal hope was well worth their suffering and execution.)
Mordecai would not compromise and did not fear death when he refused to bow down to Haman. God made sure, through His grace, that Mordecai and Daniel were both preserved through their circumstances.
We see the foolishness of this edict signing even further as verse 15 of chapter 3 states, while the king and Haman were eating and drinking, “the city of Susa was in confusion.” The people were abruptly informed they had to kill their Jewish neighbors and their children a year from today. Many of the Media-Persians, no doubt, had come to love these humble people and now they are told they have to murder them for no reason. It might be noted that some of these people possibly had some in-laws who were Jews. If one had a son or daughter who married a Jew, they would have to kill their son-in-law or daughter-in-law and their own grandchildren who held Jewish blood. What confusion indeed! Of course, intermarriage was a sin, but many Jews disobeyed.
The falling dead are what people are envisioning at this moment and it is on this dreadful scene that the curtain falls.
“If I Perish I Perish”
We have now arrived at Esther chapter 4; here, this factual drama heightens in intensity as it marches on in intrigue. Toward the closing of chapter 3, we witnessed the Jewish death decree announcement.
As we view the current scene in 4:1, Mordecai is in deep and grievous mourning. He displays his grief in a visual way as he wears socially unacceptable clothing—sackcloth. (Sackcloth was made of coarse dark goat’s hair, the substance of sacks. It was far from attractive. Often grievers would add ashes to their sackcloth or sat in them. This sackcloth and ash display often revealed a repentant heart toward God as well. And I do not think it is wrong to assume that the LORD used this tragic decreed situation to convict the Jewish populace of sin. God desired to draw His people closer to Himself and away from the cultural ways of the pagan Media-Persian Empire.)
Please note there was no rioting, simply a peaceful demonstration. The Jews calmly represented their woes. Haman painted them falsely before King Ahasuerus. God made sure the truth concerning their obedient citizenship was made known through their witness before men. 1 Corinthians 4:5 informs us that what is hidden in darkness will be brought to light by God and He will disclose the motives of men’s hearts. Every hidden desire and motive of Haman was eventually brought to light through God who hates every hidden evil thing.
Even though the king and Haman do not know of Mordecai’s blood connection with the queen, her maidens and eunuchs certainly do as they report to her concerning Mordecai’s grievous activities; verse 4.
Esther is queen and, no doubt, second in the land in importance as empress. She has multitudes of persons in her attendance and under her command. We know she is dearly loved by her servants as we observe through their respect—they are concerned by all that effects the queen. Many may have come to a belief in God due to her witness. Remember, Naomi in the book of Ruth, brought the woman Ruth of a pagan land to a saving knowledge of God through her righteous representation.
Esther has been queen six years now and possibly has as many as four children by the king. She may have bore a couple of sons; the elder would be heir to the throne if Vashti’s son or sons perished. The Bible does not state Esther was barren and for a queen to be in good standing with the king, she needed to produce princes. God has thoroughly blessed her; therefore, I personally believe He allowed her to reproduce. The king did not know that by signing Haman’s edict, he signed the queen’s and their royal offspring’s death decree.
Esther inquires into Mordecai’s mournful display, as her heart is broken for her adoptive father who is not acting within a normal state of mind. She wants him to retire his garment of mourning so she no longer has to worry. However, he totally refuses. He will not! He attempts to make her understand by thoroughly informing her of the looming holocaustic situation. He also orders her to plea for her people before the king. Yes, he is commanding the queen; verse 8.
In verse 11, we observe this pronounced massacre is naturally producing anguishing turmoil within Esther. She is in devastating shock! And not only does she have to endure the mournful news, but she must plan quickly a presentation before the king. She has not seen the king for thirty days and she is to address the issue of her death decree before him. It is interesting to note that Esther has kept a mental calendar—noting every passing day she has not been with her king and husband. She obviously has missed him. As far as she knows, he may be displeased with her as he was with Vashti. With his many concubines, he may have found a new love. You can imagine the thoughts that were running through her mind at such a time.
Traversing further into this stirring tale, we see more of the powerful character of Mordecai displayed before us. He now undertakes the commanding role as defender of his people. He is no longer simply Esther’s protector; he is now the one who must lead and encourage the deliverance of his people and Esther. As Barak was the encouraging force behind Deborah in the book of Judges so is Mordecai to Esther.
As Israel’s prophet for this time and setting, he foretells to Esther what God has disclosed to him. Though it does not say God, we know He is the one who has revealed His truth to Mordecai. Never once is God mentioned in this little book, but His providence, protection and guidance are completely distinguished. Mordecai dreadfully reveals Esther’s fate of death and her children if she does not respond to God’s calling to be Israel’s redeeming intercessor; verses 13-14. Today, Jesus Christ holds the position of redeeming intercessor for all believers in the heavenly realm.
Verse 14 also speaks to Esther’s family line. Mordecai reveals if she remains silent, she and her father’s house will perish. She and her children will die and God will allow it. Her silence will be a sentence of death placed upon her for shunning the LORD’S calling for her life. It seems obvious that she was made queen for such a time, to preserve God’s people alive. These were the most serious words Mordecai ever spoke to his adoptive daughter and Esther cannot run and hide from them; there is nowhere to go.
This brings us to greater exposure—more of Esther’s godly qualities set before us; verse 16. She is willing to die for her God. “If I perish, I perish.” (All believers today are called to die for their faith if necessary. Christ said people must consider the cost of following Him. Every Christian must be willing to lift up a cross and follow no matter the price, and many have followed unto death.)
We also witness further the ruling authority of Queen Esther in this verse. She, being one of the most powerful reginas on the earth, orders the Jews to pray and fast for her. She understands the power of fasting intercession. She will fast and will order her maidens to fast with her. She orders Mordecai to oversee her fasting commands. She is mindful of God’s omnipotence. She knows He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth who answers petitions in accordance to His divine will and purpose. She recognizes the preservation of God’s people is God’s predestined will!
We can envision the closing scene of this chapter with countless people on bended knees.
“Even to Half the Kingdom”
The curtain is now being drawn away to reveal the ultimate climaxing scene of this book. Here we view Esther displayed in all her queenly splendor; 5:1. She is in her royal robes and is possibly displaying her diadem which was ceremonially placed on her at her crowning debut; 2:17. It was probably protocol for the queen to wear her royal attire when in public rooms such as these. It is also a reminder to King Ahasuerus that she is empress and of utmost importance in the kingdom. (Some historians believe Queen Vashti was asked to be lewd in her conduct before the king and his guests and that is why she refused his invitation and was removed from her position. I, personally, do not see this. The queen was always to be properly attired in modest royal garments. Vashti, most likely, didn’t desire to leave her place as hostess, overseeing the stately women. She being queen thought she held the power to refuse.)
The first verse also speaks in regard to the king’s rooms and King Ahasuerus’ throne room where he is seated. I would imagine his throne was intricate in tapestry and gold design. We know all that surrounded Him spoke loudly of prominent regal wealth. (Through 1 Kings 10:18f we get to glimpse King Solomon’s ornate throne, it being made of ivory and overlaid with the most precious gold. It had six steps and there were twelve fashioned lions upon the steps, two per step, one on each end. This throne was world famous as there was none other that compared to its lavishness.)
King Ahasuerus was certainly wearing his royal robes and diadem, he being on display. I am sure he appeared as no one else in the kingdom could appear in presentation elegance. It could be a life-threatening thing for anyone to stand before this king who held complete judgmental power over the Media-Persian citizens. I am sure many shook in fear when meeting this sovereign face to face. We are commanded to fear and tremble before our sovereign King, the Creator of the heavens and the earth—Philippians 2:12.
(When my husband and I were in London, I received an awakening to the intricacies of monarchy rule. It certainly can be a glamorous realm in which to reside. Seeing Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard made me feel I was part of something I had never experienced before and was very naive in regard. Seeing the Parliament building and other historical areas tucked within Westminster kept me learning on the go. Scanning the intricacies of layers upon layers of imperial history widened my eyes, enabling me to enjoy better vision when studying the regal aspects of Scripture.)
We perceive Esther has to be in anguishing turmoil at this point, not knowing if this meeting could end her life. You can imagine her relief when the king graciously holds out the scepter and she touches its pinnacle in bowing humility (Now, it does not say she bowed, but we know this was proper protocol before a sovereign).
Holding forth a scepter revealed approval. You can picture this in a child’s fairytale setting; whereby, a little girl’s eyes become like saucers when a portrait of a beautiful palace with a king seated on his throne in all his royal grandeur is set before her in large storybook illustrated form. This leaf turns aside and a new is set before her, prompting her eyes to shimmer. Right there, in illuminating color, is the most beautiful queen in all the world. The child intensely examines her soft royal red robe, blue silk gown and glistening crown. This small girl ponders the splendor of the queen’s raiment. She images them on her—being all tailored just to her size, so she can pretend to be queen. The next sheet is positioned before her and she gazes at the queen bowing before the king. She can only see the queen’s eyelids—her eyes are bowing too. Another brightly painted scene emerges and she peers at this lovely queen, taking special note of her feminine perfect hands. One is placed on the king’s fine golden scepter. Tears now arise, fogging the child’s vision, as the next illustrated leaf exclaims exchanged love. This is when the eyes of the king and queen become united. This touching scene (Yes, a bit elaborated by me) can prick our hearts to tenderness and even more so, as we know this fairy-like tale actually maintains a place in global history.
(The British Crown Jewels are displayed at the Tower of London. When there, I took note of the imaged doves seated on the ends of a couple of the scepters. Doves represent peace and submission. They are symbolic of the Holy Spirit according to Christian and secular recordings.
Doves were the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice according to Mosaic Law—two were offered at Christ’s birth. The Holy Spirit appeared as a dove, descending and resting on Christ at His baptism. Doves secure a profile of Christ at His crucifixion, as He was beaten beyond recognition, yet never retaliated.
Doves also represent never departing faithfulness and affection—doves affectionately mate for life. Christ, out of His affectionate love, will never leave nor forsake believers.)
You can imagine the joy that filled Queen Esther’s heart when she recognized the prayers of her people had been answered, when the king lovingly received her. (It certainly is not wrong to pray for a renewed love to awaken a husband and wife. Such intercessions possibly ascended for this king and queen. Sometimes feelings can vanquish away, but God can renew hearts to tenderness. In marriage, we should always strive for the feelings of young, excited love through the grace and power of God who desires marriage for life. He can work beyond what we can ask for think.)
The king knows Esther had to be greatly troubled to approach him and attempts to sooth her with loving words, “Even to half the kingdom it shall be yours.” He meant it as he is well acquainted with her regina abilities. He speaks to her as the one who is queen, being powerfully significant in his eyes.
He distinguishes she sacrificed herself to come to him against what is normal protocol and immediately wants to know the unrest of her mind. It is obvious his love has not faded and lavishes comforting words upon her. She represented the attractive attributes of an appealing wife, being his graceful doe and loving hind; Proverbs 5:19. He would love to have her rule beside him, owning half of his kingdom.
Esther, as a wise and intelligent woman, does not fly into an emotional scene before the king at this point. She calmly invites the king to a banquet along with Haman that she has prepared; verse 4. The old adage that through a man’s stomach his heart can be obtained seems to be applied here. A prudent wife does not present a major problem or request to her husband before he is fed, rested and satisfied.
The king knows Esther has prepared a remarkable buffet, as she is not one to perform things half-heartedly. She has painstakingly worked to make it perfect. Wanting to be with his queen for this sumptuous meal, the king hastily grabs Haman and hurries to the banquet. He wants to eat, drink and be with the love of his life. Mainly, he wants to know what is on his wife’s heart. At the banquet Esther refuses to speak her mind and simply requests that they return the next day and promises the king that she will disclose everything; verses 5-8. The curtain closes.
The curtain reopens at verse 10, where we view a nearby setting. We see Haman at home glad of heart, rejoicing before his friends and family. He turns this time into a brag session and recounts his positioned glory, riches, influence, and his many sons. He relays that the queen had requested only him and the king attend her banquet. No one else in the kingdom has ever been so distinguished by the queen. He is even invited to a second banquet tomorrow hosted by the queen. Suddenly, his happy temperament changes to one of gloom as he remembers Mordecai’s lack of respect. Haman is very agitated and everyone around him can see it. He wants every national citizen to recognize his importance and act accordingly! His wicked family and friends sympathize and do not hesitate to advise him to build a gallows and hang Mordecai. Why should such a simple murder be troublesome? The queen and king are uplifting Haman in notable ways, therefore his clan believes he can do anything he desires. Haman simply has to attain the permission of the king and his troubles will be gone forever.
Haman, owning the support of family and friends, immediately sets to action. He commands the building of the gallows in all faith that his desire will be accomplished. Haman triumphantly closes the scene.
A Sleepless Night
Chapter 6 intervenes to add hope to this grim setting. As the curtain arises, we view a king unable to sleep—he may be worried about his queen. He seems to believe the best sleeping pill is to be read to. (We do know people are praying and this is an answer. God can work in the lives and hearts of the unsaved. I have seen it. I believe it is God who is keeping this man awake.) A servant reads to the king the chronicles of the Media-Persian government. The king so happens … No! It is through an act of God that this king listens intently to the account of Mordecai who had saved his life; 2:21-23.
King Ahasuerus assumes that surely something marvelous was performed for Mordecai—his savior. Obviously, the king forgot the occurrence and recording—a king has a lot to think about and important incidents can slip the mind. He learns none of his servants took note of Mordecai’s lifesaving report either. No one to that day had distinguished Mordecai as the king’s savior. Of course, who would act without the king’s permission?
The king is determined that something be done. He will not pass by this written account that strikes a note of accountability even in the middle of the night. (Here we witness another good attribute of this king, he believes he is to give honor to whom it is due.)
It just so happens (No! God has a great sense of humbling humor) that Haman desires an audience with the king. He wants to tell the king of his demise-scheme concerning Mordecai, this being presented in the most convincing of ways. (What timing! How this chapter makes us chuckle. This drama is turned into a comedy for a short duration. This is a reminder that God is on the throne and there is nothing outside His control; Psalm 50:10-12. Our God is an awesome God of wisdom and might. Psalm 59:8 tells us God laughs at His enemies and scoffs at all the nations.) Before Haman can present his request, he becomes sidetracked with the king who desires to honor a person. Haman holds no doubts, that it is he. Haman says to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me.” He knows he is the most highlighted man in the kingdom … very famous. He believes the king and queen can’t help, but love him to pieces. Why, he is going to the queen’s banquet today. No one else has been invited except for the king. (Can you imagine the bouncing excitement that is now present in Haman’s sinful, evil heart?)
Verses 7-9 reveal Haman’s sick mind, knowing he desires to be led around like the king, himself, on the king’s stately steed, in all the king’s arrayed splendor, including his crown. He held a tremendous affinity for ruling power. (I believe, Haman hoped to someday take the throne from the king. Why else does he want to be seen as a crowned king in the streets if this is not the goal of his heart? He does not want to be led humbly as the king’s servant, but as king, in all royal attire.)
Haman hears he must do all this for Mordecai. What? Haman must be standing totally dumbfounded. This is the name he hates and dreads the most. How can he comprehend the king is delighted in Mordecai? Haman must be asking himself, “How in the world could this king know this disgusting, obstinate Jew?” While still engulfed in his shock, he learns he must parade this dreadful man before all the rejoicing public. This will be performed in the exact way Haman described to the king. Mordecai will appear in all kingly splendor, just as Haman desired for himself. Haman, no doubt wonders, “How could this wonderful moment turn into such a living nightmare?”
From here, the setting moves to the street scene celebration. However, depressed Haman is not celebrating. He is not jumping up and down in glee as he parades Mordecai down the avenues. The last thing in the world he desires is to appear as a simple servant of Mordecai’s. Truth at times can be stranger than fiction. Haman’s harmonious loud proclamation of praises “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor” spoken before the world, certainly does not hold an inward enthusiastic note. Haman felt very embarrassed having Mordecai mounted above him in the grandest of ways.
You can envision this, Mordecai’s heyday … everyone is applauding as he passes by. Mordecai must have chuckled in his heart while being led by Haman—his guiding servant. He knows Haman is inwardly fuming mad, disgusted and defeated in heart. He also recognizes God is at work behind the scenes at this time, and he can’t help but rejoice as he sees prayer being answered.
Haman is passing by the people who know everything concerning his Jewish death decree. And many probably know of his personal hatred for Mordecai which led to his execution plans. We have to understand he built a monstrous gallows that reaches five stories—quite tall for that day and age. Everyone can see it and has surely asked about it … no one has kept quiet about it. An execution was big news. My, oh my, poor Haman.
We must view humble Mordecai here as one who is being very blessed of the LORD. He is being elevated above everyone in the kingdom. This is a time for the kingdom citizens to celebrate Mordecai. God says, he who humbles himself, shall be exalted; Luke 14:11. God knew Mordecai’s sacrificial heart and made the way for his crowning debut.
Mordecai possibly does not know about the gallows Haman built for him. He for sure knows he is being very blessed by God. He most likely understands God is answering prayer and this horse ride may be the first step in the deliverance of his people. It is by God’s marvelous intervention that Mordecai is not now swinging at the end of Haman’s noose.
The scene is now following only Haman. After all this excitement that is too much for him to bear, he quickly heads for home for comforting reassurance to get his mind off the tragic episode he just engaged in. Upon his arrival, he immediately tells his wife and friends what has happened. He is boggled and so are they. Not that long ago, they were rejoicing with him as he had ascended to new heights in his career. He had also confided in them concerning one depressing aspect in his life—Mordecai. They had empathized and encouraged him to build a tall gallows so he could hang this disrespectful Jew. Now, upon hearing of the Mordecai parade, his wife and friends prophecy, “If Mordecai, before whom you have began to fall is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.” They, who had honored him, now doom him. What friends! It certainly appears they are well aware of the protecting hand God has on His people as they promptly refer to Mordecai’s Jewish origin. However, they will soon discover the vengeance of God will also touch their individual lives.
As they continue to discuss this incident of disgrace, the king’s eunuchs arrive and hastily take Haman to the banquet. The king wanted Haman to be on time for both banquets. He has to know what is injuring his queen’s heart. The curtain is drawn.
The curtain is again withdrawn and we see the palace that holds center stage in the kingdom and in our story. It is where the great happenings are taking place and where all exquisiteness is displayed, as we took note of in the first chapter. We can imagine a very tastefully bejeweled room, holding all riches—precious and costly items of gold, silver and everything superior. All this is exhibited as well as delectable cuisine—the best in the world.
Queen Esther has thoughtfully prepared this second banquet for her verbal presentation. It is the perfect backdrop. King Ahasuerus opens the scene with the first lines, beckoning the queen to tell him the woes of her heart. “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom it shall be done.” Wow, how we are moved by his loving and sacrificial words that have been repeated in the past to ensure his elevated desire for his wife. This sincere and romantic language surpasses the ages of penned works. These wooing words lead to another climax in the story. Esther must now disclose everything, risking everything—her own power and her own life. She knows the king can still choose to stand with Haman, which will end her life. This touching, caring scene can be turned into a deadly plight. She proceeds anyway as she really has nothing to lose. She is as good as dead due to the decree.
Esther is not stupid and she has planned her words well. She knew just how to prick her husband’s heart, which she now believes she owns. She in boldness states in respectful honor of her sovereign, “If I have found favor in your sight, O King, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.” She wisely does not tell the king, she and her people were driven to this country as slaves. Through God’s intervening hand, they had became reputable, hard-working citizens. She wants him to view the Jews with the respect they deserve.
The king is greatly perplexed by all this; verse 5. He is in total shock. He cannot understand who would want to kill the woman he loves, let alone make her a slave. She is the most important and honored woman in his kingdom of 127 provinces! Even to think of her as a slave leaves his mind dumbfounded. He loves her with all his heart and he is angry! He demands to know who he is—“Who would presume to do this?”
Esther knows she is on level ground and can proceed in confidence. Her man is angry and nothing will stop him from taking revenge. Here is the most exciting line in this historical account: “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” What dramatic words spoken. How they must have pierced her husband’s trusting heart. Haman is his most faithful servant and above all the servants and princes in rank. He has been one of his dearest friends. This king is greatly perplexed and agitated. He goes to the palace garden to vent. When he feels he has finally gained a bit of composure, he returns to find Haman falling on Esther’s couch where she reclined. … Oh no, what a no, no! This is not proper protocol at all. (Now mind you, Haman wasn’t trying to take advantage of the queen in an inappropriate manner, he purely wanted her to plead for his life. He could see by the look on the king’s face that he was dead meat!) I am sure the queen felt very uneasy having her deadly enemy so close to her and touching her body. No doubt, the king saw the tremendous fear overtaking the queen with the man who desires her demise falling on her. No wonder he imagined “rape.” and asked disbelievingly, “Will he even assault the queen with me in the house!” The servants were not so sure what was going on until these angry wounded words fell from their king’s mouth. They were most likely dismayed over Haman’s strange behavior at this banquet. Now, when all is clear, they hastily remove Haman, covering his head to spare the king more embarrassing shame. These servants knew more than the king concerning the affairs of Haman. They reveal they don’t like Haman as they tell on him. They knew he was a pompous, untrustworthy man. As I wrote prior, the citizens of Susa all know what Haman is up to, including the palace servants. They disclose to the king that Haman has built a gallows for honorable Mordecai—the king’s savior. Without hesitation, the king tells his servants to hang Haman on his own gallows.
This may appear to be a great place to close the final curtain as the enemy has fallen and the king and queen appear secure; however, curtains still must move about as more scenes will come to stage and some not so pretty.
In chapter 6, King Ahasuerus pronounced Mordecai a hero. In chapter 7, the king learned Mordecai was facing death at the hand of Haman—a traitor. Haman was thus executed by order of the king. Now, is the ordained time for Queen Esther to make known her relationship to her cousin Mordecai, who adopted her when orphaned. With Mordecai now holding a prestigious place before the king, it was certainly God’s perfect timing for the revelation. Esther discloses all and the king is not disappointed; he eminently honors them both. Their victory day has come! They have been faithful to God in all things and now He uses the king to advance them even further. (When believers arrive in heaven and stand before their heavenly King, they will be rewarded for staying faithful and holding to His inerrant Word.)
Pressing forward, the set now moves to the grand home of Haman. This massive mansion with servants has been transferred to Esther as a present from the king. It is another symbol of her power and authority and the king’s love for her. It is as if the king said, “You now hold Haman’s noble place.” It is like a special kiss on her cheek. Mordecai also has a part in this scene, as Esther places him over this expansive estate as its manager. Not only this, but Mordecai is positioned in power directly under the king—given the king’s signet ring, which embossed the king’s emblem in clay or wax when placed face down. The king made sure it was returned to him, having been in Haman’s possession. Haman had held this most coveted imperial ring, which revealed he had been second in command under the king. This bestowing of the royal ring was equivalent to the king giving his signature to another.
It appears the king desires both Queen Esther and Mordecai maintain equal authority under him. He had offered to Esther part of his kingdom and now she is stationed above all others in its vastness. I am sure the inhabitants of Susa are taking note—none of this is escaping their desire to know. We witnessed previously that happenings are not kept hidden—word gets out to the people and even to the secluded palace staff. The public knew Haman had built a gallows for Mordecai and they had witnessed Haman hanging from it.
The curtain closes and rises again on a dramatic display of feeling. Esther is once again before the king—falling at his feet. Since she knows she owns the heart of the king, she emotionally asks for the lives of her people. She knows Haman can no longer harm her and the king will protect her from her antisemitic enemies. Yet, she still implores the king for her people, the Jews. She is a selfless Jewess who lives for God and His will. It has never been God’s will that the apple of His eye completely perish. He has always preserved the Jewish race and someday they will turn to Christ in belief and be exalted on the earth and in heaven.
We see in verses 9f that both Esther and Mordecai are very intelligent—being literate and educated in politics. They utilize their god-given intelligence by writing a decree stating the Jews can defend themselves against any antisemitists. The king’s signed decree could never be revoked according the law of the Media-Persians. The Jews were to be massacred on the twelfth month and the thirteenth day by order of the king. (You would think rash behavior’s consequences would cause kings to wisely consider every law and decree. You would think they would thoroughly investigate every detail of consideration before setting their ring’s insignia in clay or wax.)
Fortunately, the law could be altered and Queen Esther implores the king to add to the edict allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. The king ascribes Mordecai, who is second in command, over this task to pen the edict of defense. Verse 11 states the Jews had the right to assemble to defend themselves and to kill and annihilate an entire army or people, which might attack them. God has opened this door of salvation that will preserve His people alive. He has placed within Esther and Mordecai the wisdom to amend the decree.
Owing to Mordecai’s unfailing truthful and faithful ways, the king arrays him in royal robes of blue and white, and caps him with a large gold diadem. This royal gala scene is enriched by the fact the entire city of Susa is rejoicing and shouting. Wow, just think of the masses of citizens who are participating. Proverbs 29:2 states, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.” Haman, I don’t believe, was liked or respected—being very pompous and assuming. Contrastingly, Mordecai promotes life and liberty in godly humility. By maintaining a spotless reputation and a desire for justice, the majority of the Susa populace exclaim union with him.
In verse 16, we see the Jews enjoyed gladness, joy and light (Under Haman, they were doomed to death’s darkness). They also obtained honor—having Esther and Mordecai in power insured their respectability. This scene ends on a positive note—another happy chapter ending. Curtain closes.
The Chime of Victory
Chapter 9 verse 3 reopens the curtain of this unraveling tale that is not over. At this appointed scene, we witness further blessings of God, bestowed upon the Jews. Princes, satraps, governors, etc., assist the Hebrews in their defense against their enemies—the antisemitists. The dread of powerful Mordecai had fallen upon them evoking them to join the ranks of the king. Verse 4 states that Mordecai became famous and “greater and greater.” What more could a godly man request of his God? Of course, he didn’t ask or expect, which was why this humble man was exalted.
Because of sin in the world, we must observe a bloody scene of revenge, but held within the realm of a sovereign God; verse 5. It is a matter of self-defense. It is the pathway God provided to preserve His people alive. Queen Esther’s people have no choice but to kill their enemies; their adversaries are out for blood. If the Jews withhold the sword, the antisemitists will prevail! These enemies hold the same heart as Haman. Media-Persia does not need anarchy.
One thing that stands out in this particular chapter is the Jewish obedience to the Word of God—not laying hands on the plunder; verse 10. In other words, they kept themselves unadulterated by not seizing the possessions of those they killed. Self-centered objectives of personal gain were absent from this scene and all noticed. The Jews in Media-Persia are totally yielded to God, making sure all their enemies perish without touching their personal possessions. These wise Hebrews receive all the blessings that obedience brings. They had learned obedience from the evil consequential ways of Saul, as you read in chapter 3 of this commentary. They knew the Word of God.
The sin of greed is present in the heart of mankind. This war of the good guy versus the bad guy did not incite the normal sins of victory. In many battles, self-centered pursuits of pleasure interfere with orders when an enemy is deposed of. The Jews upheld a tremendous righteous witness through it all.
In verse 13, we see Esther once again boldly interceding for her people before the king. She requests another day of vengeance be granted for the Jews who dwell in Susa, the capital. The permanent destruction of the enemies of the Jews must be accomplished, and she will not fall short of her calling in the matter. She also requests Haman’s ten sons be hung on the gallows. King Ahasuerus seems to be in a bit of shock over all the deaths, but still grants the queen her requests. The Media-Persians must understand it is not profitable to follow the road of antisemitism!
Adding up the figures in this chapter, we see approximately 75,800 enemies were eliminated; verses 6, 15 and 16. This led to an exhilarating time of praising God for His grace and total deliverance! I know of no other time in history where the Jews were able to destroy all their adversaries. However, God will destroy all their enemies when the millennial rule of Reges Christ Jesus is ushered in.
God, throughout Scripture, calls us to praise Him for all His benefits and blessings. Verse 1 contains a powerful statement regarding this whole episode of blessed victory. It reveals God can easily overturn every event according to His divine will, “… On the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them.” This was the ultimate blessing for these Jews at this time. We receive countless bestowments daily because of our relationship to Christ. The New Testament testifies that we should see persecution as a blessing too, being worthy to suffer shame for His name; Acts 5:41. Esther and Mordecai both suffered for obedience, but in this chapter, they receive the rewards of peace and prosperity.
Two designated days of the month are given for this celebration of liberation, the thirteenth and fourteenth day of Adar. If you take the time to look at a Jewish calendar (can be located in some study Bibles and on the web), you observe its year holds twelve months as does ours; yet, this calendar does not correspond to our AD calendar. The month of Adar encompasses a portion of February and March. Today, Jews celebrate this holiday of deliverance on March 2-5, being called Purim according to the command in Esther; verse 26. If you will turn to Esther 3:7, you will see how Haman cast the lot called Pur, to determine when he should present his scheme to the king. It took a full year of casting this lot before Haman felt confident to approach the king as we read previously. This entitlement recognizes the time from the conspiracy to the deliverance.
Returning to verse 22, we note the Jews are to celebrate their Purim victory, through feasting, rejoicing and sending portions of food to the poor. (If you read James chapter 2, you will see how much God loves the poor—genuinely poor believers throughout the world. This does not refer to believers who are lazy or drunkards. God commands believers to be diligent workers and if they are not, we are not to associate with them. They are walking in disobedience and consequences are to arise; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-14. Through the James passage, we recognize the poor are precious to God and He has chosen them to be rich in faith. We are never to consider ourselves as superior to others. Being wealthy, beautiful, talented, or educated does not produce a better standing before God. God examines the heart and a righteous heart is precious before God and especially if it dwells in a poor person.)
In verse 25, which is Mordecai’s exhortation to celebrate Purim, he gives honor to the king who changed the edict so the Jews could be saved. He desires no vendetta be placed on the king for allowing Haman to persuade the destruction of the Israelite nation. God did intervene and He did not place a horrifying death judgment on King Ahasuerus—the LORD acted out of complete forgiveness. God knew the king saw the evil he had performed and withdrew from it and He continued to bless this king’s empire.
Because of verse 20 and those following, I believe Mordecai wrote the book of Esther as it states Mordecai recorded all these events and sent copies out to the Jews in every province. The Jews did obey Mordecai’s command and celebrated Purim on the two days legislated. Mordecai also stressed how it was always to be celebrated by every future generation.
The Jews have faithfully obeyed this and in today’s culture, they celebrate by starting with a fast in remembrance of Esther’s fast. She called for all the Jews to fast as well. This was all performed before she approached the king in order to change his decree of death.
In Synagogues on May 2, Jews read the story of Esther from a scroll. When Haman’s name is mentioned, it is a signal for a loud noise to erupt to stamp out his name, as he attempted to stamp out the Jews.
The Jews also send presents of food to each other as was required; Esther 9:22. They send two kinds of food as a minimum. They also give to two different charities to obey the command of giving portions to the poor.
On the afternoon of May 2, they hold a special feast and sometimes a parade. The holiday continues through May 5.
Mordecai referred to it as a custom, verse 27, as this was not included in the Law of Moses. These events occurred toward the end of Old Testament writings.
In verse 29, Queen Esther as a literate woman along with Mordecai, write the decree. They, holding pinnacle authority under the king, confirm Mordecai’s edict of remembrance. This declaration encouragement uplifted God’s saving power. His truth has rung loud and clear in this true tale. This all speaks to the certainty of the proud or pompous being defeated; Malachi 4:2.
We must note through it all, Esther did not harm the testimony of God; she was a woman of obedience and submission. She did not rebel in her role and never grew bitter. She chose godly femininity, which set her in a place of admiration.
If she had rebelled as a woman’s libber, she would not have been adored throughout the centuries. Seeking feminine godly attributes should be a continual goal in every woman’s life. I have compiled a list of the godly attributes and characteristics of Esther:
Quiet and gentle spirit
(desired wisdom before things—2:13-15)
Cared for all people
Subject to governing authorities
Proclaimer of peace and truth
Now it is time to lower the final curtain, this being the finale—a happy ending of rejoicing victory. God answered the prayers of these Jews beyond what they could have asked or thought; Ephesians 3:20.
What we find in chapter 10 is life returning to normal.
The Facts Recorded
Chapter 10 opens with King Ahasuerus bringing a tax to the land, possibly to aid the monarchy and military. This short closing chapter explains the previous events were recorded in the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia. The last verse informs us that Mordecai sought the welfare of the whole nation. He never acted out of sinful partiality. This Gentile nation greatly thrived under his godly, meek, and just leadership. This governing produced blessings that were placed upon all citizens. When Christ rules the earth from Israel during His millennial reign, He will bring justice to all nations, which will produce countless blessings.
It is certainly wonderful that we serve the God of Isaiah 40 who can turn all things around for His crowing glory. His book, the Bible, holds a happy ending just as the book of Esther.
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