Women of the Bible: ESTHER
Esther was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin who grew up as an exile in Persia. Esther was an orphan who was brought up by her older cousin, Mordecai.
In Chapter one of the book of Esther we are introduced to King Ahasuerus who decided to display his abundant wealth for 180 days (a man who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia). As if not enough, it is followed by a seven day feast. A lavish display of his power indeed. On the seventh day of the seven day feast, King Xerxes summons Queen Vashti in order to display her beauty to all the people. She refuses to come and is eventually banished from the kings presence as a punishment. A new Queen is sought.
In chapter two Esther is chosen to be Queen. She goes through twelve months of beauty treatments before meeting the King which sounds quite extraordinary (six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women). Chapter two also records the good deed of her older cousin, Mordecai in saving the Kings life by alerting him of an assassination attempt on his life. This deed is recorded in the record books and later serves as a blessing for Mordecai in the future.
Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it. (Esther 2:10)
In Chapter three Haman (the son of Hammedatha the Agagite) is honoured by the King and given a high position in the kingdom. Haman is annoyed with Mordecai because Mordecai refused to kneel down to him. Haman's anger leads him to plot the execution of all the Jews in the kingdom.
And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. (Esther 3:13)
In order to prevent the execution of all the Jews, Mordecai calls on Esther to intercede to the King. The only problem here is that the King does not know that Esther is a Jew. Esther has no idea of how the King will respond to this news. Although God is never mentioned in the book of Esther we can see His acts in the background. Nothing takes God unaware.
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15)
In Chapter five Esther approaches the King and invites him and Haman to a banquet. This is an attempt to get the timing right before she informs the king about Haman's plot to kill the Jews of which she is one. At the same time Hamas was plotting to kill Mordecai. Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made. (Esther 5:14)
Chapter six God moves to save the Jews. The King cannot sleep and asks for the record books to be read aloud to him. The deeds of Mordecai in saving the king in the past are read out.
In chapter seven Esther reveals to the king that she is a Jew and that Haman has plotted to kill them all. Events now take a drastic turn for Haman who ends up getting hanged on the gallows he erected for the death of Mordecai. In Chapter eight, nine and ten all the Jews are saved and Haman's children are killed.
Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.” (Esther 9:13)
What can we learn from Esther:
* Esther knew how to be submissive and obedient to Mordecai, even when she was a young woman. She trusted his judgement and was willing to follow his instructions.
* Even though her life wasn’t going smoothly when Haram was threatening to kill all the Jews, she showed great wisdom and prudences in her attitude, for she carefully weighed up the risks of acting against doing nothing. She wasn’t a woman that acted on impulse.
* She shows real sympathy and care for her people (just as Abigail does with her household). Her heart went out to all her people and she knew that she was willing to die in order to save them.
* She shows great courage to go before the Kind not knowing his reaction. The Queen took her life in her hands by coming without being invited. A very brave and strong woman and the one the king listened to.
* Esther showed patience and wisdom in the way she made her request to the King. She didn’t blurt it out, she was calm in her approach, took her time and behaved with great care. Surely she was guided by God’s unseen hand. Many women, when upset or cross tend to blurt things out to their husbands and their husbands find this difficult — we too need to remember to remain calm when discussing issues that we are passionate about.
* She wasn’t greedy, she could have taken anything she desired as she waited for the King, instead she required nothing.
And remember—Your background does not hinder your future with God. Esther was an orphan. God still exalted her and used her. Some of Jesus' disciples were fishermen, tax collectors and one was a doctor. Your background does not determine what God can do with you. Your faith does.
We will also be faced with obstacles and problems that will need solving and at times we will need to make decisions on our own. We need to be brave like Esther, have her courage and calmness, her patiences and wisdom (later on we will read about Abigail wisdom and her courage). We also mustn't be afraid of talking with our husbands and sharing our plans and ideas, submission doesn't mean keeping quiet— we need to be more like Esther.