The life of Esther fascinates me. Although she was a Jewish orphan, God used her in an extraordinary way.
When my daughter was a little girl, she dressed up like Queen Esther for Halloween. Personally, I don’t care for Halloween. But, at least she was dressed up like a Heroine of the Bible!
Christina loved the idea of dressing up like a queen, so I made her a gown of pale blue satin, trimmed with gold. Like Queen Esther, she was beautiful.
Esther was a little Jewish orphan girl, adopted by her older cousin Mordecai (sometime between 486 and 465 B.C.). He brought her up like his own daughter. She admired and respected him. Esther grew up to be beautiful and loved.
At that time, Xerxes was king over the great Persian Empire. His official title was Shahanshah. Interestingly, it means King of Kings.
Angry because Queen Vashti’s did not appear when summoned, King Xerxes got rid of her and was advised to search for a new queen. He appointed commissioners to search his vast empire for the most beautiful women and bring them to his harem. Esther was one of those chosen.
The beautiful Esther dazzled King Xerxes more than any of the others, and he made her his queen. He was enthralled with her loveliness.
This story gets even better when you know a little about King Xerxes and the Persian Empire. Although not in the Bible, history reveals the kind of man he was.
Xerxes was a king of war. He assembled the largest and most well equipped fighting force ever put into the field up to that time in history. He had to deal with the insurrection of Babylon and the revolts against Persian rule in Egypt. He subjugated the city of Babylon, and he amassed an army of over two million men and four thousand ships to invade Greece.
Herodotus tells the story of Pythias the Lydian whose five sons were among those conscripted for battle. Pythias asked if his eldest son could be released from the army so that he would have at least one son to care for him in his old age. Xerxes became enraged at this request as it meant that Pythias doubted his chances of success. He had the eldest son removed from the ranks, cut him in half, placed the two sections of the corpse on either side of the road, and marched his troops away between them.¹
Xerxes was not a man to be trifled with.
One day, Mordecai overheard some men plotting to kill the King. He informed Esther and she warned the King, giving credit to Mordecai. Unknown to anyone, including the King, evil was about to encroach the palace and all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire.
This evil sprang from the boastful pride, jealousy, and rage of an anti-semitic man named Haman. Mordecai, knowing that Haman was evil, refused to bow down to him and honor him even though the king had ordered it.
This infuriated Haman and he hated Mordecai and the Jews with a vengeance. He searched for a way to murder Mordecai and slaughter the Jews.
Haman tricked the king into issuing a decree to all 127 provinces with the order to destroy and kill all the Jews – young and old, women and children.
When Mordecai uncovered Haman’s conspiracy, he urged Esther to approach the king and beg for mercy. He said, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Esther had never told the king that she was a Jew. She also knew that the law commanded that if anyone approached the king without being summoned, they would be put to death. The only exception was if the king extended his scepter.
Knowing this would put her life in grave danger, Esther sent word to Mordecai and asked that all the Jews of the city would fast and pray for three days and nights.
On the third day, Esther adorned herself in her royal robes and approached the king in his inner court. When he saw her, he was pleased and held out his golden scepter. He asked her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”
Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come to the banquet I have prepared.”
While they were at the banquet, the king asked her again, “What is your request?”
I don’t know if she was too frightened to ask the king for mercy and admit that she was a Jew, but she didn’t answer him then. The Bible doesn’t explain why, but she asked the king and Haman to come back for another banquet the next day.
On his way home Haman passed Mordecai, and again Mordecai would not bow down to him. Enraged, Haman went home and boasted to his friends about his vast wealth and all that he had. “And that’s not all,” bragged Haman. “I am the only one Queen Esther invited to attend the banquet tomorrow for the king. But this brings me no pleasure as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
At his friends’ urging, Haman built a gallows and conspired to hang Mordecai there. Haman didn’t know it, but his evil pride would soon bring him down.
That night, the King was reminded that nothing had ever been done to honor Mordecai for saving the King from a murderous plot. Haman had entered the King’s palace to speak to the King about hanging Mordecai, but before Haman could speak, the king asked Haman, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Haman thought to himself, “Who would the king possibly want to honor more than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Let the princes robe the man and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’ ”
“Go at once,”the king commanded Haman. “Do just as you suggested for Mordecai the Jew!”
I wish I could have seen his face! Talk about shock! Things are looking bad for Haman, but they are going to get even worse!
At the second banquet for the king and Haman, the king asked Esther again what she desired.
She said, “Grant me my life and spare my people. For I and my people have been sold for destruction, slaughter, and annihilation.”
King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”
The king stormed out in a rage. Haman was terrified. He threw himself upon the Queen’s couch and begged for his life. Then, the king walked back in and found Haman falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
“The king cried, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” Haman was immediately taken away and hanged on the Gallows he had built for Mordecai.
King Xerxes gave Esther Haman’s estate. He also gave Mordecai his signet ring and told him to write a decree on behalf of all the Jews and seal it with his ring. The Jews got relief from their enemies and celebrated with joy and feasting. They called it the Feast of Purim.
The Feast of Purim is celebrated, to this day, among the Jewish people. Most recently, The Feast of Purim was celebrated on March 1, 2018.
Perhaps, like Esther, you have also been brought to your position for such a time as this.
This is My Journey Unscripted.
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¹Cartwright, Mark. “Persian Wars.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 06 Apr 2016. Web. 27 Oct 2018.
Mark, Joshua J. “Xerxes I.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 14 Mar 2018. Web. 27 Oct 2018.