Series: Thru the Bible
Mordecai’s faith & Esther’s faithfulness
Tonight we are going to begin the book of Esther, but before we do I want to help clarify the timeline here.
I have done a lot of mentioning of Ezra and Nehemiah in both their separate and cooperative work in rebuilding both the temple AND Jerusalem. Yet, if you remember, I told you a few weeks ago that the story of Esther occurs in a 60 year gap of time between the events mentioned in chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra’s book.
Yet the life story of Esther actually happens BEFORE either Ezra or Nehemiah’s ministries.
So you might wonder why did we read Ezra first… why not just start with Esther?
Well the reason is because the BOOK of Ezra, begins its first 6 chapters with events which predate not only Ezra himself by 80 years but they also predate Esther by 20 years.
So in order to attempt to follow a cohesive timeline I decided to begin with Ezra and since by the 6th chapter we were already into the book of Ezra I decided to finish it and then circle back to catch us up to speed with Esther.
All of this is DIRECTLY connected to the timeline for Messiah given to Daniel by Gabriel. As no doubt you remember, the beginning of the countdown was at the issuing of the decree to rebuild and restore JERUSALEM.
You also no doubt remember that in total, there were FOUR decrees to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild, but the first 3 were ONLY focused upon the temple.
Ezra begins with the first of those decrees which was given by King Cyrus who was in power somewhere between 550-530B.C.
The second decree was made by Darius in 517 BC which is recorded in Ezra 6:1-15.
As I have said, between the end of Ezra 6 and the beginning of Ezra 7 was a 60 year time span before the issuing of the third decree to rebuild the temple.
It was during this 60 year period that the events of the life story of Esther takes place.
Also between this time was the reign of Darius and the reign of Xerxes. Xerxes being the Persian king to whom Esther was married.
When we got to Ezra 7, the third decree was given in 458 BC by Artaxerxes, who was King Xerxes’ son.
As we will see in Nehemiah, the fourth and final decree will be given by this same King Artaxerxes to Nehemiah but will be focused upon the city of Jerusalem and it’s wall.
Unlike Ezra and Nehemiah, the book of Esther does not focus upon the restoration of Jerusalem, but on treacherous events occurring in Persia when Xerxes was king (485-465 BC).
While the sovereign work and hand of God are CLEARLY seen in the book of Esther, curiously enough, God is actually never specifically mentioned.
Esther’s name means star. There are those who, in an attempt to make more of her name, attribute her with the meaning “morning star” but that is not accurate.
“(1) The following events happened in the days of Ahasuerus. (I am referring to that Ahasuerus who used to rule over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces extending all the way from India to Ethiopia.)”
This King Ahasuerus is well known to history, though more commonly under the name Xerxes.
His father Darius, who we read about in Daniel and Ezra and WILL read about in Haggai, passed on the vast Persian Empire to his son.
The existence and circumstances of King Zerxes are very well documented and attested to, no doubt this is in part due to the sheer size and scope of his empire. It was the largest empire the world had ever seen up to this point. Using a modern map we would say it covered all of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel as well as parts of modern day Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Arabia.
Archaeology has provided irrefutable evidence of the ruins of his palace in Susa which is also mentioned in the book of Daniel.
The date was approximately 483 B.C. which according to Guzik was a time when King Ahasuerus, “was planning for a doomed invasion of Greece, which would take place several years later. At this time the city of Athens was in its classical glory and in Greece they were celebrating the 79th Olympic games.”
“(2) In those days, as King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa the citadel, (3) in the third year of his reign he provided a banquet for all his officials and his servants.
The army of Persia and Media was present, as well as the nobles and the officials of the provinces.
(4) He displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his majestic greatness for a lengthy period of time – a hundred and eighty days, to be exact!
(5) When those days were completed, the king then provided a seven-day banquet for all the people who were present in Susa the citadel, for those of highest standing to the most lowly.
It was held in the court located in the garden of the royal palace.
(6) The furnishings included white linen and blue curtains hung by cords of the finest linen and purple wool on silver rings, alabaster columns, gold and silver couches displayed on a floor made of valuable stones of alabaster, mother-of-pearl, and mineral stone.
(7) Drinks were served in golden containers, all of which differed from one another.
Royal wine was available in abundance at the king’s expense.
(8) There were no restrictions on the drinking, for the king had instructed all of his supervisors that they should do as everyone so desired.
(9) Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in King Ahasuerus’ royal palace.
(10) On the seventh day, as King Ahasuerus was feeling the effects of the wine, he ordered Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs who attended him, (11) to bring Queen Vashti into the king’s presence wearing her royal high turban. He wanted to show the people and the officials her beauty, for she was very attractive.
(12) But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s bidding conveyed through the eunuchs.
Then the king became extremely angry, and his rage consumed him. (13) The king then inquired of the wise men who were discerners of the times – for it was the royal custom to confer with all those who were proficient in laws and legalities.
(14) Those who were closest to him were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. These men were the seven officials of Persia and Media who saw the king on a regular basis and had the most prominent offices in the kingdom.
(15) The king asked, “By law, what should be done to Queen Vashti in light of the fact that she has not obeyed the instructions of King Ahasuerus conveyed through the eunuchs?”
(16) Memucan then replied to the king and the officials, “The wrong of Queen Vashti is not against the king alone, but against all the officials and all the people who are throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. (17) For the matter concerning the queen will spread to all the women, leading them to treat their husbands with contempt, saying,
‘When King Ahasuerus gave orders to bring Queen Vashti into his presence, she would not come.’
(18) And this very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard the matter concerning the queen will respond in the same way to all the royal officials, and there will be more than enough contempt and anger!
(19) If the king is so inclined, let a royal edict go forth from him, and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media that cannot be repealed, that Vashti may not come into the presence of King Ahasuerus, and let the king convey her royalty to another who is more deserving than she. (20) And let the king’s decision which he will enact be disseminated throughout all his kingdom, vast though it is.
Then all the women will give honor to their husbands, from the most prominent to the lowly.”
(21) The matter seemed appropriate to the king and the officials. So the king acted on the advice of Memucan. (22) He sent letters throughout all the royal provinces, to each province according to its own script and to each people according to its own language, that every man should be ruling his family and should be speaking the language of his own people.”
“(1) When these things had been accomplished and the rage of King Ahasuerus had diminished, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decided against her.
(2) The king’s servants who attended him said,
“Let a search be conducted on the king’s behalf for attractive young women. (3) And let the king appoint officers throughout all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the attractive young women to Susa the citadel, to the harem under the authority of Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women, and let him provide whatever cosmetics they desire.
(4) Let the young woman whom the king finds most attractive become queen in place of Vashti.”
This seemed like a good idea to the king, so he acted accordingly.
(5) Now there happened to be a Jewish man in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai. He was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite, (6) who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the captives who had been carried into exile with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile.
(7) Now he was acting as the guardian of Hadassah (that is, Esther), the daughter of his uncle, for neither her father nor her mother was alive.
This young woman was very attractive and had a beautiful figure.
When her father and mother died, Mordecai had raised her as if she were his own daughter.
(8) It so happened that when the king’s edict and his law became known many young women were taken to Susa the citadel to be placed under the authority of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the royal palace to be under the authority of Hegai, who was overseeing the women.
(9) This young woman pleased him, and she found favor with him.
He quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her rations; he also provided her with the seven specially chosen young women who were from the palace.
He then transferred her and her young women to the best quarters in the harem.
(10) Now Esther had not disclosed her people or her lineage, for Mordecai had instructed her not to do so. (11) And day after day Mordecai used to walk back and forth in front of the court of the harem in order to learn how Esther was doing and what might happen to her.
(12) At the end of the twelve months that were required for the women, when the turn of each young woman arrived to go to King Ahasuerus – for in this way they had to fulfill their time of cosmetic treatment:
- six months with oil of myrrh, and
- six months with perfume and various ointments used by women –
(13) the woman would go to the king in the following way:
Whatever she asked for would be provided for her to take with her from the harem to the royal palace.
(14) In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to a separate part of the harem, to the authority of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who was overseeing the concubines.
She would not go back to the king unless the king was pleased with her and she was requested by name.
(15) When it became the turn of Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai (who had raised her as if she were his own daughter) to go to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who was overseer of the women, had recommended. Yet Esther met with the approval of all who saw her.
(16) Then Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus at his royal residence in the tenth month (that is, the month of Tebeth) in the seventh year of his reign.
(17) And the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she met with his loving approval more than all the other young women. So he placed the royal high turban on her head and appointed her queen in place of Vashti.
(18) Then the king prepared a large banquet for all his officials and his servants – it was actually Esther’s banquet.
He also set aside a holiday for the provinces, and he provided for offerings at the king’s expense.
(19) Now when the young women were being gathered again, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. (20) Esther was still not divulging her lineage or her people, just as Mordecai had instructed her.
Esther continued to do whatever Mordecai said, just as she had done when he was raising her.
(21) In those days while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who protected the entrance, became angry and plotted to assassinate King Ahasuerus.
(22) When Mordecai learned of the conspiracy, he informed Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in Mordecai’s name.
(23) The king then had the matter investigated and, finding it to be so, had the two conspirators hanged on a gallows. It was then recorded in the daily chronicles in the king’s presence.”
“(1) Some time later King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, exalting him and setting his position above that of all the officials who were with him.
(2) As a result, all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate were bowing and paying homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded.
However, Mordecai did not bow, nor did he pay him homage.
(3) Then the servants of the king who were at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you violating the king’s commandment?”
(4) And after they had spoken to him day after day without his paying any attention to them, they informed Haman to see whether this attitude on Mordecai’s part would be permitted.
Furthermore, he had disclosed to them that he was a Jew.
(5) When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing or paying homage to him, he was filled with rage. (6) But the thought of striking out against Mordecai alone was repugnant to him, for he had been informed of the identity of Mordecai’s people. So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (that is, the people of Mordecai) who were in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus.
(7) In the first month (that is, the month of Nisan), in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus’ reign, pur (that is, the lot) was cast before Haman in order to determine a day and a month. It turned out to be the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar).
(8) Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus,
“There is a particular people that is dispersed and spread among the inhabitants throughout all the provinces of your kingdom whose laws differ from those of all other peoples. Furthermore, they do not observe the king’s laws.
It is not appropriate for the king to provide a haven for them.
(9) If the king is so inclined, let an edict be issued to destroy them.
I will pay 10,000 talents of silver to be conveyed to the king’s treasuries for the officials who carry out this business.”
(10) So the king removed his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, who was hostile toward the Jews.
(11) The king replied to Haman, “Keep your money, and do with those people whatever you wish.”
(12) So the royal scribes were summoned in the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month.
Everything Haman commanded was written to the king’s satraps and governors who were in every province and to the officials of every people, province by province according to its script and people by people according to its language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written and sealed with the king’s signet ring.
(13) Letters were sent by the runners to all the king’s provinces stating that they should destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, from youth to elderly, both women and children, on a particular day, namely the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), and to loot and plunder their possessions.
(14) A copy of this edict was to be presented as law throughout every province; it was to be made known to all the inhabitants, so that they would be prepared for this day.
(15) The messengers scurried forth with the king’s order.
The edict was issued in Susa the citadel. While the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in an uproar!”
“(1) Now when Mordecai became aware of all that had been done, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. He went out into the city, crying out in a loud and bitter voice. (2) But he went no further than the king’s gate, for no one was permitted to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth.
(3) Throughout each and every province where the king’s edict and law were announced there was considerable mourning among the Jews, along with fasting, weeping, and sorrow. Sackcloth and ashes were characteristic of many.
(4) When Esther’s female attendants and her eunuchs came and informed her about Mordecai’s behavior, the queen was overcome with anguish.
Although she sent garments for Mordecai to put on so that he could remove his sackcloth, he would not accept them.
(5) So Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been placed at her service, and instructed him to find out the cause and reason for Mordecai’s behavior.
(6) So Hathach went to Mordecai at the plaza of the city in front of the king’s gate.
(7) Then Mordecai related to him everything that had happened to him, even the specific amount of money that Haman had offered to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews to be destroyed.
(8) He also gave him a written copy of the law that had been disseminated in Susa for their destruction so that he could show it to Esther and talk to her about it.
He also gave instructions that she should go to the king to implore him and petition him on behalf of her people.
(9) So Hathach returned and related Mordecai’s instructions to Esther.
(10) Then Esther replied to Hathach with instructions for Mordecai:
(11) “All the servants of the king and the people of the king’s provinces know that there is only one law applicable to any man or woman who comes uninvited to the king in the inner court – that person will be put to death, unless the king extends to him the gold scepter, permitting him to be spared.
Now I have not been invited to come to the king for some thirty days!”
(12) When Esther’s reply was conveyed to Mordecai, (13) he said to take back this answer to Esther:
“Don’t imagine that because you are part of the king’s household you will be the one Jew who will escape. (14) If you keep quiet at this time, liberation and protection for the Jews will appear from another source, while you and your father’s household perish.
It may very well be that you have achieved royal status for such a time as this!”
(15) Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:
(16) “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa and fast in my behalf. Don’t eat and don’t drink for three days, night or day.
My female attendants and I will also fast in the same way.
Afterward I will go to the king, even though it violates the law. If I perish, I perish!”
(17) So Mordecai set out to do everything that Esther had instructed him.”
“(1) It so happened that on the third day Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, opposite the king’s quarters.
The king was sitting on his royal throne in the palace, opposite the entrance.
(2) When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she met with his approval.
The king extended to Esther the gold scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.
(3) The king said to her,
“What is on your mind, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even as much as half the kingdom will be given to you!”
(4) Esther replied, “If the king is so inclined, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
(5) The king replied, “Find Haman quickly so that we can do as Esther requests.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
(6) While at the banquet of wine, the king said to Esther,
“What is your request? It shall be given to you. What is your petition? Ask for as much as half the kingdom, and it shall be done!”
(7) Esther responded,
“My request and my petition is this: (8) If I have found favor in the king’s sight and if the king is inclined to grant my request and perform my petition, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them. At that time I will do as the king wishes.”
(9) Now Haman went forth that day pleased and very much encouraged. But when Haman saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, and he did not rise nor tremble in his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. (10) But Haman restrained himself and went on to his home.
He then sent for his friends to join him, along with his wife Zeresh.
(11) Haman then recounted to them his fabulous wealth, his many sons, and how the king had magnified him and exalted him over the king’s other officials and servants.
(12) Haman said, “Furthermore, Queen Esther invited only me to accompany the king to the banquet that she prepared! And also tomorrow I am invited along with the king.
(13) Yet all of this fails to satisfy me so long as I have to see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”
(14) Haman’s wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him,
“Have a gallows seventy-five feet high built, and in the morning tell the king that Mordecai should be hanged on it. Then go with the king to the banquet contented.”
It seemed like a good idea to Haman, so he had the gallows built.”
… and with that cliffhanger, we will end tonight’s teaching.