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Courageous Queen Esther
A Queen Deposed
It is the third year of the reign of Xerxes (Ahasuerus), ruler of all Persia, and a great banquet has been given for all of the king's nobles and officials in Susa, one of three capitals in the Persian Empire. Food is in plentiful supply, as are the drinks. It is a very lavish affair indeed. And while the king is entertaining his male guests, his queen, Queen Vashti, is entertaining the wives and ladies of the nobles and officials. In the whole of his kingdom, there is no one more striking or beautiful as this queen.
Towards the end of his lavish party, Xerxes summons Queen Vashti to come before him in order that all of his kingdom might also take in her stunning beauty and splendor. Queen Vashti refuses.
In his great anger, Xerxes ponders the ramifications of Queen Vashti's refusal. It is determined that because the queen would dare to disobey her king, other women might learn to disobey those they should not disobey. So it is decreed that Queen Vashti must be deposed of never to enter again into the king's presence. A further decree is made that Vashti's position as queen is to be given to someone else who would be more respectful of the position and title of queen, and the king.
The Search for a New Queen
Some time later, Xerxes feels something akin to an emptiness in his life as he spends some time remembering his beloved Vashti; however, a decree had been made which cannot be repealed, so Vashti is to be lost forever to Xerxes. Xerxes' advisors give him some semblance of hope in starting a search for another beautiful woman who might so please him.
In a garrisoned area of Susa, lives a man, a Jew, an exile from Jerusalem, by the name of Mordecai. In Mordecai's care is a young woman, his cousin, Hadassah, better known as Esther. Esther is a strikingly beautiful young lady, and when the king's edict for the gathering of beautiful woman is sent out, Esther also goes to the king's palace. She is placed in the care of Hegai, the king's eunuch for training and preparation, and, eventually finds favor with the eunuch. Hegai is so pleased with Esther that he provides her with the best foods, additional maids and moves Esther into the best rooms within the women's quarters of the palace.
At this time, one needs to note that Esther has kept hidden her Jewish heritage just as Mordecai instructed her to do.
King Xerxes is now in his seventh year of reign and Esther is summoned into his presence. Of all the young women that pass before Xerxes, Esther gains his favor for her beauty, grace, modesty and humility. Esther is given the crown and becomes Xerxes' new queen, and a banquet is given in Queen Esther's honor.
Meanwhile, an assassination conspiracy against the life of the king is overheard by Mordecai who reports this to Queen Esther. Queen Esther, in turn, relays the assassination plot to Xerxes, giving credit to Mordecai for learning of the plot. The conspiracy is investigated, found to be true and the two co-conspirators hang on the gallows. Mordecai's name is recorded in the Book of the Kings in the presence of Xerxes.
An Un-Wise Prime Minister
The king needs advisors and council members and nobles, men who will help him lead and rule his vast empire, and so he appoints as his Prime Minister a man named Haman. Due to his high station in the king's court, Haman is to be revered and honored; yet, one man does not bow his knees to worship Haman...Mordecai. In learning of Mordecai's Israelite heritage, Haman sets out to destroy, not only Mordecai, but all the Israelites in the whole kingdom of Xerxes.
Haman seeks an audience with Xerxes to tell Xerxes that there are people (Israelites) in the Persian Empire who do not heed the king's commands, who do not follow the king's laws. According to Haman, these Israelites need to be destroyed. The king agrees and decrees the destruction of all Israelites within his kingdom, and, having cast lots to select the month and day of the coming destruction, the date is set for the thirteenth day of Adar. On this date, all Jews (Israelites) will be killed and annihilated, including men, women, children and the elderly.
Again, once an edict, or decree, has been given, it cannot be ungiven, or repealed.
Esther Becomes Mordecai's Courage
When Mordecai hears of this evil plot against him and his people, he goes into a season of mourning and fasting, as do Israelites everywhere. At some point in time, Esther learns of Mordecai's peculiar behavior and sends a messenger to Mordecai to learn what the trouble is. Mordecai sends word of Haman's destruction to Esther with a plead for her to beg the king for his mercy.
Esther reminds Mordecai what awaits the man or woman who dares to enter the king's presence without first being sent for...death. Mordecai reminds Esther that the king's decree of Jewish annihilation is for all Jews, including her; she is not exempt from the death sentence place on Jews everywhere in Persia.
Esther then gives her own set of instructions to Mordecai; Mordecai is to gather all Jews in Susa and fast and pray for Esther for three days, as she herself will do, and when the three days are over she will go to the king.
The Scepter is Put Forth
At the end of the three days, as promised, Esther dresses for her meeting with the king. She puts on her finest royal garments, brushes her hair to perfection and applies a generous amount of the perfume that is available to her.
Queen Esther walks into the throne room of the king, and right away Xerxes is pleased to see her. To show his pleasure with Queen Esther, Xerxes holds out his royal scepter, giving his permission to continue to him without fear or punishment of death.
Xerxes offers her half of his kingdom in provision of whatever request it is that Queen Esther has of him. Queen Esther has but one request, that he and Haman come to a place where she has prepared for them a banquet. The request is granted, and Xerxes and Haman attend Queen Esther's banquet.
Xerxes, being a wise ruler, knows that Queen Esther has a request to make him of, though he knows not what the request is so he asks her again what she has want of and promises half of his kingdom in provision of whatever her request is. Queen Esther, with the courage she has gained from her season of prayer and fasting asks the king to return again with Haman the next day for another banquet she plans to prepare, with the promise that her actual request will be made at that time.
In the time between this first banquet and the one to follow, Haman, in his pride, meets Mordecai and his anger against Mordecai and the Jews surfaced again; but, in spite of this, Haman returns to his home. At home, Haman relates to his wife his anger with Mordecai. His wife, Zeresh, tells him to build a gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
It is during the night, while Haman is preparing the gallows that he hopes to hang Mordecai on, that Xerxes is wide awake with a case of insomnia. Appealing to the king's pride, a court reporter is brought into the king's chambers to read from the Book of the Kings in regards to Xerxes reign from his beginning to that time. It is in the reading of the word that mention of Mordecai's report of an assassination conspiracy is heard by Xerxes, and Xerxes then ponders how best to reward and honor Mordecai since no earlier recognition was given to Mordecai.
Enters Haman. But, Haman did not come into the king's presence to advise the king on how best to honor Mordecai, Haman came into the king's presence to gain permission to hang Mordecai as soon as possible. When Haman learns that there is a man in Xerxes' kingdom that Xerxes wishes to honor, he immediately thinks this man to be honored is himself. Haman advises the king to honor such a man with royal clothes and be placed on a royal horse to be paraded throughout the city.
Haman's jaw drops when Xerxes tells Haman to do exactly as what was described for Mordecai! By order of the king, Haman has no choice but to parade Mordecai throughout the city on the king's horse and dressed in kingly robes.
At home, Haman complains to his wife, Zeresh; but, Zeresh tells Haman that he is at the start of his own downfall. The eunuchs from the king's palace arrive at Haman's house to escort Haman to the banquet that Queen Esther has once again prepared.
A Revealed Request
The king and Haman go a second time to a banquet prepared for them by Queen Esther. Again, the king offers Queen Esther half of his kingdom in provision to a request she has for the king but has yet to reveal. Today, however, the queen is ready to make her request known; today, her courage has been multiplied.
Queen Esther's request: Her life, and the lives of her people be spared from destruction and slaughter and annihilation.
Two separate issues have now been set before the king; Queen Esther is an Israelite and Haman is behind the death sentence passed to Xerxes' beautiful Queen Esther and her people. The king is so enraged that he leaves the banqueting hall, leaving Haman to beg the queen for his life for Haman knows the king has already decided his fate.
It just so happens that, as Haman had been drinking wine, Haman started to fall on the couch where Queen Esther had been sitting. When Xerxes walks back into the room and witnesses Haman's fall, he fears that Haman is trying to assault his queen. Xerxes does not control his anger any longer, and Haman is taken outside to be hanged on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai.
In Self Defense
Mordecai is given Haman's position as Prime Minister for all of Persia, and keeping in mind that once a king has issued a decree it cannot be revoked, the king further issues a decree that when the massacre against the Jewish people starts, the Jews may take up arms and defend themselves against such a slaughter.
The day arrives when the king's original edict is to be carried out and which the king's second decree grants the Jews permission for self defense.
In Susa, on the 13th day of Adar, 500 men plus Haman's ten sons are put to the sword. The Jews, however, did not take any of the plunder for themselves. The next day, the 14th day of Adar, the Jews killed another 300 men; but, once again the plunder was left untouched. Elsewhere, in the remaining provinces of the Persian Empire, a total of 75,000 men were killed at the hands of the Jews with no plunder taken.
On the 15th of Adar, the Jews in Susa celebrated with feasting in observance of their victory over their enemies. This Purim (root from pur meaning to cast lots) celebration was to be celebrated from generation to generation by every family in every province in every city.
**Purim for the year 2015 will be on March 5, 2015.**
Mordecai becomes second on to King Xerxes himself and is held in high esteem by his fellow Jews. He worked for the good of his people first by taking in the orphaned daughter of his aunt and uncle to raise as one of his own children. Then he presents Esther for the gathering of beautiful young ladies from which the king to choose his next queen. Mordecai keeps his ears open to all manner of talk concerning the king and reports an assassination plot which puts Mordecai into a position where the king owes a favor in kind. Upon hearing that there is an evil plot against him and his people, Mordecai leads the Jews in a season of fasting in preparation for Queen Esther to enter the king's presence unannounced. As Queen Esther gains admittance into the king's throne room, she is able to lay the necessary ground work for the revealing of Haman's evil plot against her people, and against her. Through Mordecai's courage and faith, a nation is saved and a queen is forever commemorated.
The parallel to Queen Esther saving her people through Mordecai's courage is God sending His Son, Jesus, the Christ, to save all of mankind from death and destruction.
Satan has devised an evil plan to pull mankind into an oblivion of death and eternal separation from God. Revelation 12:9--"The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."
God has revealed His plan for the saving of mankind. John 3:16--"'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.'"
In Job, He is the Timeless Redeemer...
The book of Job deals with an ageless question; human suffering and the affliction of the righteous. In this book, we read about a man named Job and an argument which has ensued between him and his friends because of the sufferings that he has had to face. Is all suffering the result of sin in the sufferer's life?