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Speaking Up

Updated: Feb 3

1/30/2022: Over the past few weeks, I created articles about the Babylonian Exile (aka Babylonian) as outlined below:

While discussing the importance of sin and backsliding, staying righteous to God, and trusting in God is important, so is speaking up. Today, we are going to explore the story of a Jewish woman that remained in the Persian Empire after the Jews returned home to their promised land. Her name was Hadassah and she lived from 492-460 b.c. in the citadel of Shushan (or Susa, now modern-day Iran). Her parents had died, but she had an uncle that was raising her named Mordecai.

A Queen Defies her King

At the time, King Ahasuerus was reigning over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, and his throne was in Shushan. In the third year of his reign, he made a feast for his officials and servants the nobles, the powers of Persia and Media, and the princes of the provinces within his kingdom. At the same time, Queen Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus, made a feast for the women, and according to the Holy Bible, she was beautiful. The king’s feast lasted seven days within Shushan.

On the seventh day of the feast, the king was drunk and asked his seven eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti so she may show her beauty amongst the men at the feast. When the eunuchs requested her presence on the command of the king, she refused. The king then asked to those closest to him what should be done to the Queen because she did not obey the command of King Ahasuerus. One man named Memucan answered him and suggested that:

Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. 17 For the queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come.’ 18 This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media will say to all the king’s officials that they have heard of the behavior of the queen. Thus there will be excessive contempt and wrath. 19 If it pleases the king, let a royal decree go out from him, and let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered, that Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. 20 When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small. (Esther 1:16-20).

The response pleased the king, but the memory of what she had done still made him angry. The king’s servants than suggested that all beautiful, young, virgin women be brought to the women’s quarters under the custody of the king’s eunuch Hegai where beauty preparations would be given. The servants also said to let whichever woman that the king chooses be queen instead of Vashti. The king commanded this and sent out a decree and young women were gathered and brought to the woman’s quarters as the servants recommended. Among them was Hadassah, a “lovely and beautiful woman.” (Esther 2:7), but she would become known as Esther. There is no information in the Holy Bible about why or when her name was changed, though verse ten seems to suggest that this was Mordecai’s doing, “Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charge her not to reveal it.”

The women were given a year of beauty preparations. At the end of these beauty preparations, the women were given time with King Ahasuerus, and were allowed to take anything from the woman’s quarters. When it was Esther’s turn, she requested nothing from the woman’s quarters except as Hegai advised. Esther then won the favor of the king and the king loved her. Thus, a Jewish woman became a queen within the Persian Empire. It was the biggest empire of the time.

Mordecai and Haman

Mordecai had been raising Esther, and he would pace outside the women’s quarters before the king chose her. He would then sit at the king’s gate after she became queen. One day, he overheard two of the king’s gatekeepers speaking. They had been angry and wanted to do harm to the king. Their names were Bigthan and Teresh. Mordecai reported this to Queen Esther who informed the king in Mordecai’s name. When an investigation occurred and it was confirmed that these men conspired against the king, they were hung. Mordecai’s actions were recorded in the book of chronicles of the king (note that this is different from the Books of Chronicles in the Holy Bible).

Now what about Haman? After these events, Haman was promoted by the king, and his seat was set above the princes who were with him. King Ahasuerus commanded that his servants within the king’s gate should bow down before Haman and they did, except for Mordecai. When asked why he transgressed against the king’s command, Mordecai said he was a Jew. Haman was angered that Mordecai would not bow down or pay homage. He wanted to hurt Mordecai but having heard about the Jewish people he sought instead to destroy all the Jews within the king’s provinces.

Haman then convinced the king that there was a group of people living within the provinces that have different laws and that they do not keep the king’s laws, and that “it is not fitting for the king to let them remain” (Esther 3:8). In addition, Haman suggested that a decree be written to allow these people to be destroyed, and that he will pay well into the hands of the people that do the work.

This convinced the king, and he allowed Haman to write the decree. Scribes were called and the decree was written to allow the Jews (including women and children) to be destroyed, killed, or annihilated, and to plunder their belongings on one day which was to be the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. The decree was sent to all governors and provinces and to officials. (Esther, Chapter 3).

Mordecai Intercedes for the Jews

When Mordecai learned of the decree, he tore his clothes and mourned and through her maidservants, Esther asked what was bothering him. Mordecai told her maidservants about the decree and gave a copy of it to be given to Esther. He asked Queen Esther to make supplication to the king and plead before him. However, she tried to get out of it saying that she has not been called by the king for a month, and that it was against the law to enter the inner court when you have not been called by the king. Queen Esther explained that only when he holds out the golden scepter to an uninvited person would their petition be heard. If the king does not extend his scepter, the law is to kill the uninvited person.

Mordecai saw through Queen Esther’s statements, and God must have sent the spirit of wisdom. How do I know this? Look at what Mordecai says to Esther:

13Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:13-14

When God stirs your spirit, and tells you to go somewhere, or to speak with someone what do you? Do you go? Do you speak up? If not, ask for mercy and forgiveness and learn from the book of Esther. If Mordecai had not said everything to her and did not say that last line “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” Esther would not have done what she did. After Mordecai says these things, Esther agrees to help her people.

Esther’s Actions

From that conversation, Esther dresses in her royal robes and goes into the inner court of the king. He holds out the scepter to her, and she accepts it. She asks the king and Haman to attend a banquet that she will prepare the next day. Haman was thrilled that Queen Esther had invited him to a banquet, and he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate. Mordecai again did not bow down or pay homage to Haman. The Holy Bible says that Haman was filled with indignation against Mordecai (Esther 5:9). Haman went home and told his wife of his promotion, his riches, and the trouble with Mordecai. His wife recommended that gallows be constructed, and Haman should suggest to the king in the morning to hang Mordecai.

However, Hamon does not get the chance to ask. The king was unable to sleep the prior night and had the chronicles read to him. The king realized that Mordecai was never honored for what he did for the king. So, the next morning, the king asked Hamon to honor Mordecai for telling him of the gatekeepers’ plot (Bigthan and Teresh). After the honor to Mordecai, Haman went back to his home, and his wife said, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him” (Esther 6:14). The king’s eunuchs came to bring Haman to Queen Esther’s banquet.

At the banquet, Esther told the king that evil was brought unto her people, and word was sent to destroy, kill, and annihilate her people. Esther said that had her people been sold as slaves she would have held her tongue. King Ahasuerus asked who was responsible for this and Esther said that it was Haman. The king was livid, and he went to the palace garden. Haman begged for his life from Queen Esther, and as King Ahasuerus was returning from the garden, he found Haman laying across the couch where Queen Esther was.

Coffee, dates, Middle east
Photo Credit: Wix Media

King Ahasuerus’s and Queen Esther’s Actions

The King was furious, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” One of the eunuchs, Harbonah, saw the gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai and told the king these things (Esther 7:9). The king said to hang him on it. Haman was hung and the wrath of the king subsided.

King Ahasuerus then gave Haman’s house to Queen Esther. She appointed Mordecai as the ruler of the house. The queen told the king how she was related to Mordecai. The king called Mordecai and gave him the king’s signet ring that was Haman’s. Queen Esther then implored the king to revoke the decree that Haman had issued. The king gave Mordecai and Queen Esther permission to issue a new decree.

Scribes were called and a decree was written to allow the Jewish people within the king’s provinces to band together and defend themselves on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. This was the same day that Haman had allowed other people to attack the Jewish within the provinces. In chapter nine of Esther, the Holy Bible says that the Jews overpowered their enemies because fear fell upon them, and the enemies could not withstand them (verse 2). The governors and all those doing the king’s work feared Mordecai and were helping the Jews. Mordecai was great before the king, and his reputation was known throughout all the provinces.

In Shushan, the Jewish killed and destroyed five hundred men. The ten sons of Haman were hanged the next day and the Jews were allowed to continue fighting on this day through the king’s word. Three hundred more men were killed in Shushan. In the rest of the provinces, the Jewish people killed 75, 000 of their enemies. You can read all of this in chapter 9 of Esther.

Lessons Learned and Tying Scripture to Jesus Christ

It is important to listen to God, and while the book of Esther does not speak to this directly, you see evidence in it with Mordecai’s wisdom by refusing to bow down or pay homage to Haman, and in his manner of his speech. At the same time, while Esther pushed back to Mordecai’s request to help her people, God eventually softened her heart to her cause.

We see God, and Jesus in King Ahasuerus’s action to hand over the golden scepter to Queen Esther. Think about it for a moment and let this sink in: Queen Esther trespassed against the law that prohibited uninvited guests from entering in the king’s inner court. They could lose their life for such an action. By handing her the golden scepter, the king forgives this trespass, and allows her to state her petition. God loved the world so much that he sent His only begotten Son to forgive us of our sins (trespasses). By entering our chosen place to pray, Jesus Christ is given to us by God. This allows us to seek forgiveness and be forgiven of our sins.

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