historical book telling of God's preservation when a threat of extermination
of the Jews arises in the period of their exile.
written : probably about
Gets its name from the heroine, Esther
who becomes queen and eventual saviour of the Jews
Cousin Mordecai hears of a plot against
the king (it is recorded – see later)
Senior court official, Haman, plans to
have all the Jews killed
Mordecai informs Esther of this asking
her to intervene
Using her diplomatic skills she reveals
to the king the plot to kill her people
Haman is hanged, Mordecai promoted and
the Jews saved
The Feasts of Xerxes
Esther Made Queen
The Feasts of Esther
Mordecai Uncovers a Plot
Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
Esther's First Banquet: Her Request to the King
A Sleepless Night with interesting results
Esther's Second Banquet: Haman Hanged
The Feasts of Purim
The King's Edict in Behalf of the Jews
The Institution of Purim
The Promotion of Mordecai
setting – during exile
is what happened during the time of Xerxes , the Xerxes
who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush : At that
time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa
there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named
Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of
Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because
she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as
Esther , was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai
had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women,
and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.
So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,
elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all
the other nobles….. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down
or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai's
people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman
looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout
the whole kingdom of Xerxes .
difficulty of approaching the king
told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount
of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction
of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their
annihilation, which had been published in Susa , to show to Esther and
explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's
presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people….. she instructed
him to say to Mordecai, "All the king's officials and the people
of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches
the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but
one law: that he be put to death…. he sent back this answer: "Do
not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all
the Jews will escape….. who knows but that you have come to royal position
for such a time as this?" ….. Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:
"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa , and fast for
me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids
will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even
though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
uses diplomatic wisdom
the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request?
Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you." "If it
pleases the king," replied Esther, "let the king, together
with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him." …..
"My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with
favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my
request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will
prepare for them. Then I will answer the king's question."
king is “accidentally” reminded of Mordecai's help
night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles,
the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found
recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of
the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate
King Xerxes. "What honor and recognition has Mordecai received
for this?" the king asked.
reveals the plot and Haman is hanged
king again asked, "Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will
be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it
will be granted." Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found
favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my
life--this is my petition. And spare my people--this is my request.
For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and
annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves,
I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing
the king." …… So
they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then
the king's fury subsided.
wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king's
signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses
especially bred for the king. The king's edict granted the Jews in every
city the right to assemble and protect themselves.
The story is a simple one of potential
genocide of the Jews.
Through the faithfulness of two Jews in
exile the Jews were saved from a plot to exterminate them. The difficulty
was dealing with a powerful despot and scheming plotter and catching
the king at the right moment.
Although God is not mentioned in the book,
one wonders if it were He who kept the king awake at night so he would
check the records and end thinking well of Mordecai.
This is the origin of the feast of Purim.
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