Good day readers! This month ( March 20-21 2019) the Israelites celebrate Purim (see Esther 3:7 below for the feast’s meaning), celebrating Queen Esther’s obedience and courage leading the Jews in triumph over wicked Haman. My Bible readings are in Esther this week and want to share with you some of the pertinent parts I saw in this book.
Esther 3:7 In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman [a]to determine the day and the [b]month, [c]until it fell on the twelfth month,which is the month of Adar.
The book of Esther is staged in Shushan Province, contemporary to the book of Nehemiah’s account of the refugees in Jerusalem rebuilding the walls. This story begins with King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) having a drunken feast with all his princes & servants as well as nobles and princes of all 127 provinces he ruled over from Shushan palace. This feast lasted 7 days after having spent 180 days showing them all the glories of his kingdom. In the midst of this drunken orgie, he called for his queen to come before them with her royal crown on. One commentator believes the drunken king was ordering his queen to appear nude with only her crown on so they could ALL see her beauty! Well, this makes many of us very sad about the way the king treated her.
Last week I made note from Nehemiah that King Artaxerxes is the son of Xerxes (Ahasuerus) and believed by many to be the son of Esther. (Nehemiah 2:1) Esther was daughter of Mordecai’s uncle, which made him her cousin. After her parents died, he adopted the fair young maiden and treated her as his own daughter. In Esther chapter two we see God’s favor on her. Hegai was pleased with her and she obtained kindness from him.
Esther 2:9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides [j]her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.
It took twelve months to prepare a maiden to go in to the king. To purify the women it took six months of oil of myrrh and six months with “perfumes and preparations for beautifying women”. Esther took the suggestions of Hegai, showing great humility. The women were allowed to take anything they wanted from the women’s quarters when it was their turn to go in to the King. Esther chose to take.
Esther 2:15 Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.
It has been noted that God is not mentioned at all in this book, but His favor and plans are evident throughout. Interesting to me: Mordecai & Esther (also known as Hadassa) were of the tribe and lineage of Benjamin. Haman was a descendant of Agag whom God had ordered King Saul to utterly destroy:
1 Samuel 15:2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack[a] Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”
BUT…King Saul disobeyed the LORD!
1Samuel 158 He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
This is when God rejected Saul as king. SO…Saul’s disobedience came back to bite his people in later generations. In contrast, Esther’s obedience saved her people!
Notice how evil did not prevail; Mordecai was exalted by Haman’s own prideful words (Esther chapter 6) and Haman was hung on the 70 foot high gallows he’d erected for Mordecai (Esther 7:10). The edict to slaughter the Jews sent out to all the provinces by Haman in King Artaxerxes’ name could not be cancelled or withdrawn, but the king was able to send out another edict allowing the Jews to take up arms and defend themselves.
This book shows how the LORD never changes, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This should give us hope that obedience is better than sacrifice and disobedience will not go unpunished.