Holy Mothers: Queen Esther of Persia
Beautiful, brave, and a wonderful hostess, Queen Esther saves her people from destruction.

Holy Mothers (and One Unholy Grandmother) -

Queen Esther of Persia

Esther, Part 1

Part 2:
Esther 5, Queen Esther’s counter-plot.
Esther 6:1-7:10, Haman pays the price.
Esther 8, About that Law …
Esther 9:1-16,  The battle.
Esther 9:17-10:3, The victory.

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Esther 5, Queen Esther’s counter-plot. (7/3/2008)

The king agrees to see Esther, and he doesn't execute her.  Whew!  She has overcome the first hurdle.  Notice how clever she is.  She doesn't say to the the king, "Your rotten friend Haman wants to kill me and my people."  Oh, no!  She invites the king and Haman to dinner.  When King Ahasuerus is mellow, he says, "I'll give you anything you want."  She replies sweetly, "You know, King Hubby, what I want more than anything else in the world is for you and Haman to come to dinner again tomorrow."  Well, is Haman proud or what??  On the way home, that Jew Mordecai still won't bow down to him, which is a sore point, but his wife and friends give him a wonderful idea of what to do about that.  All in all, it's been a great day for Haman.  
Esther 6:1-7:10, Haman pays the price. (7/4/2008)

Mordecai is honored. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.

I read in bed just about every night before I go to sleep.  Novels:  one hour, and lights out.  Theology:  15 minutes, and I'm out.  King Ahasuerus was having trouble going to sleep after the feast that Queen Esther had prepared for him, so he has someone read to him.  Uh oh!  Mordecai saved his life, and nothing has been done for the man.  He asks his top advisor, Haman, how to honor someone. Haman thinks he's the one to be honored, so he makes an extravagant suggestion.  He's mortified when Mordecai gets the honor.  Then things get a lot worse for old Haman.  King Ahasuerus and Haman are having dinner with the most beautiful and gracious woman in the whole country - the king's own Queen Esther - and he asks her for a third time what she wants.  This time she lays it on the line:  she wants her life, and those of her people.  Things get bad for Haman very suddenly, and then they get worse. 

Esther 8, About that Law … (7/7/2008)

Jean J., one of your fellow readers, commented this morning in Sunday School that she recently met a group of Jews (I believe in England) who seemed to feel that they are persecuted.  Right now I'm writing a genealogy for two boys who will be celebrating their bar mitzvah next month.  The genealogy is hampered by the fact that their maternal grandparents, who are living, do not know even the names of their own grandparents - the great-great grandparents of the boys.  They don't know their names because their grandparents were Polish and Russian Jews who were murdered by the Nazis - for being Jews.  You and I might feel a little persecuted under those circumstances, too. 
Haman is hanged and dead, but Mordecai and Queen Esther are still feeling persecuted.  We learned in Esther 1:19 that a Persian law, once passed, could never be repealed.  The king gives all Haman's property to Esther, but what good does that do?  The law still says that people can kill the Jews and take their property on thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar (roughly speaking, March).  Now what? 

King Ahasuerus gives his ring to Mordecai and Esther and tells them to sort it out.  They write an additional law that allows the Jews to gather and defend themselves and to kill their enemies and plunder their property, also on the thirteenth day of Adar.  It was shaping up to be quite a bloodbath, and many Persians took the opportunity to convert to Judaism.  Apparently they thought the odds were better on that side.
Esther 9:1-16,  The battle. (7/8/2008)

There's a big battle throughout the kingdom.  The Jews are victorious.  Esther shows her bloodthirsty side.  I have no idea why it says twice that the Jews took no plunder. 
We learned before that the book of Esther never mentions God.  That is true in the Hebrew and Protestant Bibles.  The Greek Old Testament, called the Septuagint, was translated between 300 and 400 B.C. by a group of rabbis who added about 100 verses to Esther.  Apparently they couldn't abide a book that didn't mention God, so the added verses mention God frequently.  The Catholic Bible includes all the verses in the Greek version; usually the added verses are set in italics.  In the "for what it's worth" department, the footnotes of the Jerusalem Bible says that the number of enemies killed is exaggerated and points out that the Septuagint says 15,000, not 75,000.  Possibly the rabbis knew the numbers in the Hebrew version were exaggerated, and possibly they just couldn't abide the large numbers.  No doubt you will make up your own mind what you think about that.

Esther 9:17-10:3, The victory. (7/9/2008)

After the Jews won their battle against their enemies, the whole kingdom had a giant party.  This feast is kept even now, and it is called Purim, after the lots that Haman used to decide when to move against the Jews.  At the Feast of Purim (which, you recall, is typically sometime in March by our calendar), the book of Esther is read out loud.  Whenever the name of "Haman" is read, the party-goers use noisemakers to drown it out.  As we have seen, Haman's name is mentioned many times, so the party is pretty loud.  In addition to the reading, there are presents (typically food and drink), charitable gifts to the poor, costumes, and of course, a feast.   It is the most festive of the Jewish holidays.

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Copyright 2008, 2009, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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