Esther - Her Life on the Line
Read Time: 8 Minutes
God is willing and able to take care of His people. He has the power to thwart the attacks of the adversary. In the rest of the book of Esther we learn of an attack upon God's people that could have potentially wiped out all of the Children of Israel. But God steps in and works with those who take a stand to make a difference.
Mordecai worked for the king in the palace. We are never specifically told what he did but his placement was advantageous. Ahasuerus (the venerable king Astyages) probably considered the Judeans just another conquered people-nothing special. He had not been influenced by Daniel as of yet. God inspires Mordecai to be in the right place at the right time to overhear a conspiracy, much to the profit of the king.
:21 In those days,
while Mordecai sat in the king's gate,
two of the king's chamberlains,
Bigthan and Teresh,
of those which kept the door,
and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
:22 And the thing was known to Mordecai,
who told it unto Esther the queen;
and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.
:23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out;
therefore they were both hanged on a tree:
and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.
We see several points here. Mordecai is loyal to his master/employer and works to ensure that no hurt comes to him. Esther is in the right place to pass on this vital information-not everyone has the king's ear. One more thing, which initially puzzled me, why wasn't Mordecai rewarded? Usually they are given great gifts and a prominent position yet the next thing we learn about is Haman being promoted and set in a position above all of the princes-the king's right hand man (chapter 3). The incident of Mordecai revealing the conspirators is recorded in the Babylonian book of chronicles and that is all we hear of it for a while. God's timing is perfect, we see that over and over and this situation will be no exception.
In chapter 3 of Esther we learn of the promotion of Haman the son of Hammadatha the Agagite a descendant of the Amalekite kings. Josephus-a Jewish Historian who lived from 37/38 A.D. through the early 2nd century--calls him an Amalekite also. There was perpetual war declared on the Amelekites because they attacked the children of Israel during their journeys in the wilderness (Exodus 17). This explains why Mordecai will not bow before Haman when he passes by (which all are supposed to do). Also in verse 3:10 Haman is called the Jews' enemy.
Haman so hated and despised the Judeans that he plotted against them to destroy them all.
:5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not,
nor did him reverence,
then was Haman full of wrath.
:6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone;
for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai:
wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews
that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus,
even the people of Mordecai.
[His hatred was so extensive just destroying Mordecai would not be enough]
:7 In the first month, that is, the month Nisan,
in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus,
they cast Pur,
that is, the lot,
before Haman from day to day,
and from month to month, to the twelfth month,
that is, the month Adar. [practically an entire year]
:8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus,
There is a certain people scattered abroad
and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom;
and their laws are diverse from all people;
neither keep they the king's laws:
therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.
:9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed:
and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business,
to bring it into the king's treasuries.
[notice he didn't name the people]
:10 And the king took his ring from his hand,
and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite,
the Jews' enemy.
:11 And the king said unto Haman,
The silver is given to thee,
the people also,
to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.
:12 Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month,
and there was written
according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants,
and to the governors that were over every province,
and to the rulers of every people
of every province
according to the writing thereof,
and to every people after their language;
in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written,
and sealed with the king's ring.
:13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces,
and to cause to perish,
both young and old,
in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month,
which is the month Adar,
and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
Oh, this is incredibly not good. The Children of Israel have a bounty on their heads. The commandment was to wipe out every single one of them, keep none alive. This would end the Christline because the Babylonian empire covered the entire area that the Judeans had been scattered to. God is not going to sit by and let this attack wipe out His people.
Esther has now been queen a little over 5 years. She became queen in the 7th year and 10th month of Astyages (2:16) and the decree was sealed at the end of the his 12th year
When Shushan the palace heard the news they where perplexed. When the Jews heard the news they were devastated-there was weeping and wailing and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Mordecai also rent his clothes and wore sackcloth and ashes. When Esther heard of it she sent a change of clothes for him but he refused them. She sent one of the king's chamberlains (a eunuch) to inquire why and Mordecai sent back the decree charging her to go into the king and ask for mercy for her people.
Esther's reply to Mordecai explains the dire predicament she is in:
:11 All the king's servants,
and the people of the king's provinces,
do know, that whosoever,
whether man or woman,
shall come unto the king into the inner court,
who is not called,
there is one law of his to put him to death,
except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre,
that he may live:
but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.
To my mind this just doesn't seem like such a big deal. Esther was favored above all others. Why wouldn't the king hold his scepter out to her. There must be a reason for her trepidation. She has probably seen this law in action. Whatever the reason, it is a threat to her life if she walks in there without being called.
:12 And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.
:13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther,
Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house,
more than all the Jews.
:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time,
then shall there enlargement
arise to the Jews from another place;
but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed:
and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Mordecai knows that God will not let His people be utterly destroyed. But Esther shouldn't think that just because they work and live in the palace (and her identity is still unknown) that they are going to be exempt from this decree. Her life is in peril regardless. Besides, this is probably why God had made a way for her to be there.
:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan,
and fast ye for me,
and neither eat nor drink three days,
night or day:
I also and my maidens will fast likewise;
and so will I go in unto the king,
which is not according to the law:
and if I perish,
:17 So Mordecai went his way,
and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Esther has decided to risk her life for her people. Her first course of action is to go to God. She probably doesn't know why this decree was signed condemning her people and ultimately her. Her nationality is still not known, she could remain hidden and save her life but she chooses to step forward. After all, this is probably why she is in the palace and why Mordecai had instructed her to not tell anyone she was Judean.
Now her question is how is she going to ask the king to strike from the law of the Medes and Persians this decree that once sealed cannot be changed. It will have to be God. She went to God with patience and believing for her answer.
Next week we will see what God does for Esther and has her do.