Esther was an extremely beautiful Hebrew girl of very fair complexion and relatively straight hair (2A). She was an orphaned child raised by her cousin Mordecai, a descendant of Benjamin and a devoted servant of Yahweh, who raised her to observe and obey the laws of the Almighty. Mordecai and his brethren were taken out of Jerusalem as captives and he lost most of his relatives to the hardship of their captivity, except his uncle’s daughter -Esther- whom he raised as his own child.
Chapter one of the book of Esther details the deposition of Queen Vashti owing to her refusal to make an appearance to the king’s celebration. It was a time when King Ahasuerus, ruler of 127 provinces spanning India; Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, held a 180 days long celebration to show off the magnificence of his kingdom and wealth. The Persian king summoned his wife-Queen Vashti-in an effort to show her off to the nobles and wealthy men that were gathered at his event but she refused. Vashti’s defiance greatly embarrassed the King. His advisers and province leaders agrued that if she was not disciplined other women within the kingdom may also dishonour their men, which led to the decision to strip the queen of her title and position and to choose a new queen.
When Mordecai heard that the king sought young virgins to vie for the position of queen, he hurriedly brought Esther and entered her into the pool of women from which the king would choose his new queen. He instructed Esther not to disclose she was a Jew. He knew her ethnicity would not be easily detected given her racial ambiguity, she could pass for a darker skinned Persian girl. Hegai, the Custodian of the women, was very satisfied with Esther’s attributes and gave her the purification items – women had to be purified for twelve months to be royally wedded.
When it was Esther’s turn to meet with the king, she did not take any heathen ornament with her as all the other women did. Her choice baffled all the other women, and Hegai. Her presence had the king completely enamoured, to the point where he placed a crown on her head in that very moment. This spectacle infuriated two of the king’s men, who suspected that Esther was not of their people, to the point where they were planning to kill the king. The Holy Spirit showed their plan to Mordecai, who made Esther aware. Esther went before the king and told him about the men and the threat they posed to his life, giving credit of the information to Mordecai. The king made an inquiry into the accusation of the two men and had them killed when it was found to be true.
The death of the two men lead to the promotion of Haman, a man who hated the Jews, to the position of King’s Hand. Shortly after being promoted Haman made plans and proposals to the king to get rid of the Jews living in his 127 provinces. He proposed to the king that he pay 10,000 talents of silver – $3.48 billion today – to soldiers for their service in killing all the Jews. He told the king that his treasuries will be greatly enriched by the spoils/belongings of the Jews.
Esther was crowned in October. The January following her crowning Haman crafted and passed a law to have all Jews killed and their belongings brought to the king’s treasury by December thirteenth of that same year. This news worried Mordecai and caused him to petition the lord through fasting and praying. He asked Esther to intercede, but she was fearful for her life upon learning of what Haman had set into motion. Mordecai, through a messenger, told her that God may have brought her there for that very reason, and encouraged her to think of her people and not of herself.
Esther fasted and prayed for three days, and instructed her cousin that he and all the Jews should do the same, for she was about to petition the king about the issue despite what may become of her life. I’m thinking the Holy Spirit came upon Esther during her fasting and praying sessions owing to the level of wisdom that was employed before finally asking the king to liberate her people.
During the days of Esther’s fasting, Haman also was pre-occupied. He boasted to his family of all the great things he had accomplished in the very short period of time, and of all the power he possessed. Despite all the good things happening in his life he said it were all for nothing if he did not get rid of Mordecai, remembering Mordecai would not bow to him. His wife suggested he built gallows, which he did, to hang Mordecai on.
The Holy God of Israel through the Holy Spirit troubled the king after the initiation of Esther’s Feast of wine – day one of two- so that he could not sleep. Owing to sleeplesness and agitation he requested the reading of the Royal Chronicles and reminisce while his servants read. The chronicle of the recent treason, in which Mordecai saved the king’s life, was being read while Haman transported the gallows to the king’s court. The king enquired what became of Mordecai just as Haman walked in. The king said to Haman “What shall be done unto the man whom the king is overjoyed to honour”? Haman thought the king was speaking of him –Haman, and therefore he made some lavished suggestions. The king then, in agreement to the suggestions, commanded Haman do all the things for the Jew Mordecai and ensure it is nothing less than he described. Haman had to adorn Mordecai in royal attire and parade him throughout the city of Shushan – Modern day Iran – on horseback to ensure people knew of his status.
Haman and the king attended day two of Esther’s feast of wine where the king asked her what her desire was. She said “if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. We had been sold as male and female slaves”. She also pointed at Haman as the source of her discomfort and that of her people. The king gave her the authority to do unto Haman as she wished and to write into law what she wanted regarding her people. Mordecai was elevated to next in line to the king and all the Jews were empowered to defend themselves, backed by the king’s army. Over three hundred thousand people who retaliated against the Jews were killed and the Jews were free and safe to live in the kingdom
This account points out some very important things to me:
- Mordecai and Esther served God and kept his commandants which made them available vessels for God to use. They are our anscestors and we should also serve God, keep his commandents and make ourselves available for him to use.
- Fasting and praying while faced with difficulties shows God that we do not rely on ourselves, but rely solely on him and have all faith in him. It is also an act that purifies us so we can be closer to God.
- God will at times use the enemy’s plans to our advantage – everything works for good to those who trust in God and keep his laws.
- We should always have the best interests of our brethren at the forefront of our minds and hearts and not just our interests.
- The book of Esther should encourage us to completely rely on God’s providence. He made a way for Esther to win the king’s heart and for Mordecai to find favour with the king. He also provided a willing servant to bring information between Esther and Mordecai and turned the enemy’s device against him instead of us.
- When we honour God the people around us benefit.
Mordecai Amon Israel