Adar 14, 5783, March 7, 2023
This is the most awesome Cinderella story and even better, it is true. The story (Megillat) of Esther begins around 478BC in Persia. Around 605BC the Jews were being taken into captivity because of their severe disobedience to God. In 586, King Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and the Temple. In 538, King Cyrus gives an edict to allow the Jews to return to their land and begin to rebuild, however, not all of them did return.
Esther was a orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai, living in Persia as part of the Jewish community that did not return to Jerusalem. In this account, God’s Name is never mentioned, yet His fingerprints are all over it, a clear example of recognizing His presence in every day circumstances. As this young beautiful woman grows up, she has no idea, how God is going to use her in this intriguing chain of events.
The king is Xerxes (Ahasuerus), the queen is Vashti. There is a banquet and the king calls upon his wife to be presented to his friends and attendees. Normally there were separate banquets for men and for women. She refused to come, and the humiliated king banished her from the kingdom. After some time alone, he needed a new queen. It was advised that there be a beauty contest of sorts. Beautiful women from all around, among whom was Esther, were rounded up and brought into the palace to prepare for their chance to impress the king.
Mordecai encouraged Esther whose Jewish name was Hadassah to hide her Jewishness and do her best. She gained favor from Hegai, the palace eunuch in charge of the women, who helped her in her persuit. Esther pleased the king more than all the other virgins and he made her queen.
Now what story would be complete without villains? Mordecai, who sat at the kings gate, became aware of an evil plot to kill King Xerxes. Esther made it known to the king on behalf of Mordecai and the conspirators were hanged.
Now enters the real villain, Haman the Agagite, such a cunning deceiver that he worked his way up to be a most trusted adviser to the king. Haman hated the Jews and through his urging, he convinced the king that they were worthless enemies who needed to be exterminated. A decree sealed by the king went out among the provinces setting the date for the destruction of all Jews, men, women and children.
Mordecai made an appeal to Esther to use her influence to persuade the king of the error. She had not been summoned by the king in more than thirty days and coming without first being called required a death sentence. Mordecai reminded her that she, being a Jew would eventually and surely not escape the call of the decree and that perhaps Esther had come into the kingdom “for such a time as this.” She fasted for three days and built up her courage, saying, “if I perish, I perish.”
As she appeared in the kings court, Esther obtained the kings favor and was not put to death but allowed to make her request honorably. Now Esther was aware of the danger of Haman yet he was not aware of her true identity. She had to play her hand carefully, so she requested a private banquet for herself, the king and Haman. Pride got the best of Haman as he bragged to his family and friends of his great honor. He was advised to construct a gallows for the hanging of Mordecai, whom he viciously hated, because Mordecai did not bow down to him.
After a sleepless night, the king remembered that Mordecai had not been properly rewarded for his discovery and warning of the planned coup against Xerxes. So as Haman came to tell Xerxes of his plan to hang Mordecai, the king interrupted and asked, “what shall be done for the man the king delights to honor?”. Of course Haman thought it was for himself so he described a pomp and circumstance parade through the streets, royal robes, horseback and all which was all done, much to the shame and horror of Haman, for Mordecai. Oh, does God have a sense of humor or what?
So, back to the private banquet. On the second day Esther revealed to the king that it was her people, the Jews, that were to be destroyed by decree and that the true enemy was the evil Haman. The king left for a moment to quell his anger and returned to find Haman fallen upon the couch of his wife, the queen, pleading for his life ever so inappropriately. Haman was hung on the gallows that were meant for Mordecai.
Mordecai was given Hamans house, his position as advisor to the king, and his signet ring. As the first decree could not be recalled, another one was given that gave the Jews permission to defend their lives with the sword. Five hundred men were slain and Hamans sons were hung. An annual feast was decreed to celebrate this overcoming of the casting of Lot (Pur), which is celebrated to this day. Cheers for poetic justice!!!
Celebration includes wearing character costumes, reading the story, cheering for the heroes, booing the villains and eating Hamantashen, sweet fruit filled cookies shaped like Haman’s hat.
Queen Esther: The Untold Truth of the Bible Hero – Grace Digital Network