Well, I wanted to do something new for a post, and I decided that I’m going to tell you one of my stories in the Bible- Esther. If you’ve looked through a Bible recently, you might have noticed that there’s an entire book about her! So, on to her story (which is completely true, by the way).
Esther lived in Persia, or an extended version of Persia, though she was Jewish. The Bible says that Ahasuerus (the king of that country; he could also be called Xerxes)’s kingdom stretched the whole way from India to Ethiopia, and was divided in 127 provinces. This king was pretty powerful and rich. He was also not to be messed with or disobeyed, as you’re about to see.
In the third year of his reign, Ahasuerus made a huge feast for all of his kingdom, and invited all of the princes and courtiers from all over his kingdom to come. His queen, Vashti, made a feast for all of the women.
When Ahasuerus was really intoxicated with wine, he sent some of his assistants to Vashti to tell her to come to him so that he could show off how beautiful she was to all of the other drunk men around. Vashti refused to come, and because the king did not want all of the other women in the kingdom to follow her example of not obeying her husband (he wasn’t in his right mind, remember) he sent Vashti away and decided that she wasn’t his wife or his queen anymore.
Once Ahasuerus came to his senses, he remembered what he and Vashti had done, and decided that he needed a new queen. So he told all of the virgins (beautiful virgins, of course) in his kingdom to come to a palace near his, and he would pick one of them to become his queen, after they went through twelve months of purification.
During this time, Esther (or Hadassah) was still a virgin. Her cousin Mordecai had raised her, since her parents had died, and she still lived with him. Esther was a very beautiful young maiden, and so of course she was taken with the other virgins. Mordecai had told her not to tell anyone that she was Jewish, since Jews weren’t very liked at that time.
While Esther was with the other virgins in the palace, she pleased everyone around her, and Hege, the man who Ahasuerus had put in charge of taking care of the maidens, gave her whatever she wanted. When it was Esther’s turn to be presented to the king, he liked her better than all of the other maidens and made her queen.
Soon after, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, plotted to kill Ahasuerus. Mordecai overheard their plans and told Esther, who went on to tell the king in Mordecai’s name. The two chamberlains were hanged, and the incident was recorded in Ahasuerus’ chronicles.
Around this time Ahasuerus set a new man above all of his princes- Haman, who Mordecai apparently really didn’t like or respect. When Haman passed the king’s gate (where Mordecai guarded), everyone bowed to him- except Mordecai. Haman began to hate Mordecai, and began to plot against him, but when he heard that Mordecai was a Jew, he started to make a plan against all of the Jews. He came to King Ahasuerus and said- (Esther 3:8-9) “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.”
The king agreed, not knowing that the people that Haman spoke of was the family of his queen. Haman sent letters to all the provinces in Ahasuerus’ kingdom, telling them to kill all of the Jews in that country and to steal all of their goods on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.
When Mordecai heard this, he tore his clothes and sat in sackcloth and ashes by the king’s gate. When Esther’s maids saw Mordecai, they told Esther that he was mourning and had sackcloth on. Esther sent some new clothes to him, but he refused them. Esther then sent a servant to find out what was wrong, and after telling him, Mordecai told him to tell Esther to plead with the king on the Jews behalf.
In those days, it was forbidden for anybody to go to the king without being summoned, and Ahasuerus had not sent for Esther. So, of course, Esther told Mordecai that she couldn’t go to the king. Mordecai told her that even in the king’s palace she would not escape the same fate as all the other Jews. Esther then told Mordecai “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
After fasting, Esther put on her best robes and went to the king. Ahasuerus asked her “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” Not wanting to ask him about the decree at that moment, Esther asked that Ahasuerus and Haman would come to a feast that she had prepared for them. The king accepted.
After the feast Ahasuerus again asked Esther what her request was, and she told him that if he came to another feast the next day she would tell him her request.
When Haman left the feast, he was very glad, but when he saw Mordecai sitting by the king’s gate, he became angry and said to his wife and friends at his home, after boasting about his riches for a while ““Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” His wife, Zeresh, said that he should have a gallows built 50 cubits (75 feet) high, and he should have Mordecai hung on them. This pleased Haman, and he ordered the gallows to be built.
That night Ahasuerus could not sleep, and he ordered the chronicles of his reign to be read aloud to him, probably because it would be so boring that it would put him to sleep. 🙂 The incident with the king’s chamberlains trying to kill Ahasuerus was read, and the king asked if anything had been done to reward Mordecai for discovering their plot, since he didn’t know that he had just decreed that all of Mordecai’s relatives should be killed. When Ahasuerus found that nothing had been done, he sent for Haman to ask him what he should do for Mordecai to repay him for what he did. To take the story out of the real Bible (Esther 6: 6-11), since it’s my favorite part-
So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
I find that to be funny! Anyway, after taking Mordecai through the city, Haman covered his head and mourned. Just as Haman had gotten back to his home, one of the king’s eunuch’s arrived to take Haman to Esther’s feast.
Again, Ahasuerus asked Esther what her request was after the feast. Esther said “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.”* The king was became angry, and asked who had dared to do this. Esther told Ahasuerus that Haman had tricked him, and had made a decree against her people. Ahasuerus wanted to kill Haman, and the king’s eunuch’s told the him that Haman had prepared a gallows to hang Mordecai on, which made Ahasuerus even madder, since he had just honored Mordecai, and he said that Haman should be hanged on the gallows that he had built. After Haman was hanged, the king was not angry anymore.
Esther still begged Ahasuerus to revoke his decree, and the king let Esther appoint Mordecai to Haman’s old position, but since his edict was the king’s word, which he could not take back, he had to order that all of the people who would try to kill the Jews to be killed themselves! After this was done in all of the king’s provinces, Esther asked the king to hang Haman’s ten sons. The king did so.
The Jews decided to make a holiday to celebrate when they were saved, and they called it Purim, which some still celebrate today. I think that it’s cool how God is not mentioned at all in this story, and yet you can see His hand in everything. If Esther hadn’t become the queen, all of the Jewish people in Ahasuerus’ kingdom might have not been saved, and it was against the law for Esther to go to the king without being summoned, and she could have been sentenced to death for that. I think that it’s great how God, even if He isn’t mentioned in a story, can always show His hand in the most unexpected ways!
*All quotes are taken from the Bible.