Coincidence is Not a Kosher Word

If any chapter in the Bible demonstrates that pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18) it is chapter 6 of the book of Esther. We will see here that this is true but God chooses the timing of the tumble.
At the end of chapter 5 we see Haman having a gallows built  so he can gleefully have Mordecai hung on it. As Haman is on the way to arrange that with the King, the King is suffering from a bout of insomnia. In order to combat it and bore himself to sleep he orders the kingdom record brought to be read to him. I’m sure he expected these accounts of daily kingdom life to lull him to sleep. But God has other plans.
The records picked just happened to be of Mordecai’s actions that saved the King from an assassination attempt. That I assume woke the King up! He asked, “what was done for Mordecai to reward him?” The answer was “nothing”. Haman had just entered the outer court in his quest to be rid of Mordecai, what timing!
Haman hasn’t a clue what is about to happen. He was way too much into his plans and purposes to see what was coming. The King says to him “What should be done for the man whom the King delights to honor?” Of course being self centered he assumes that the King wants to honor him. Boy, is he in for a surprise. It seems to be that his answer reveals a whole lot about his ambition. “Bring royal robes that the King has worn, the horse the King has ridden and a royal crown to put on him and have the most noble official come and lead the man through the city streets proclaiming “This shall be done for the man whom the King delights to honor. The King agreed but told him to go and do all of that for Mordecai!
Whoa, Haman’s face must have been a sight to see.
Haman did all he was told and returned home with his head covered in mourning and humiliation to tell his wife and friends what had happened. He knew couldn’t hide such a public event.
His “wise men” and wife said, “Since Mordecai, before whom you have BEGUN to fall is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him. Makes me wonder, where were these “wise men” before all this happened? Maybe they just knew that to counter Haman while he was “flying high” might mean punishment for them. Yes men don’t provide much protection. Just a thought. While they were talking the King sent the court eunuchs to bring him to the banquet Esther had prepared for the King and him. Was there any hope for Haman? The next chapter will soon tell.

Egos Inflated and Deflated While You Wait

Chapter 4 left Esther with a tough decision but she decides to do the right thing with the words “if I perish, I perish”.

After fasting and having many others fast with her (code word for prayer). Chapter 5 opens with “On the third day”… This is the third day of the fast. Esther acts. She puts on her royal robes and stands where Xerxes can see her. Remember if she finds favor she will live and he will hear her plea. If not she could be exiled like Vasti, the former queen or worse lose her life. Thankfully she finds favor and he holds the scepter out to her, the sign that she is accepted there. She reaches out to touch it. He offers acceptance but she must accept the offer. This reminds me of what the Lord does for us with the exception that we are not in royal robes but tattered and filthy rags – our sin. That’s how he views them according to Isaiah 64:6. I wrote a story portraying our “garments”, see Accusations of the Usurper, here is the link-

http://www.servantprincessproductions.blogspot.com/2009/03/accusations-of-usurper.html

Jesus holds out the cross and His finished work there for us but we must reach out and accept. Have you done that? Please do.

Esther’s husband is willing to grant her request without even knowing what she wanted. He knows his wife well enough to know that she would not come to him unless it was necessary. She had proven herself to be sensible. Since all her needs were met, food, clothes, shelter — and the best to boot. She has no reason to come just to visit. His interest is piqued.

We are expecting her to come out and accuse Haman of his dastardly deed but she doesn’t.  What happened? Did she lose her nerve or did her unmentioned God hold her back? It seems like a part of the plan because the banquet had been prepared. She invites Xerxes and Haman ( the enemy of her people and of her) to a banquet prepared for them. Xerxes is ready, he calls for Haman to be brought at once.

So the banquet proceeds and the king is eager to know what is on his queen’s mind and after drinking some wine brings up the subject again. Her request? Come to a banquet I will prepare for the King and Haman again tomorrow and I will make my request.

Well, Haman is flying high. He is being honored by the King and the Queen. As far as he is concerned his “star is rising”. He leaves the palace to go home and there he sees the one thing that ruins his whole mood. Mordecai. Once again Mordecai will not bow and this more than ruins Haman’s day. We are told Haman is filled with RAGE!

He arrives home and calls together his closest friends and family and boasts of his good fortune. Wealth, power and prestige! Yet he admits he can’t enjoy it because of “that Jew”Mordecai.

His wife has an idea she figures will satisfies her husband. Build a gallows, 75 feet high! Tomorrow ask the king to hang Mordecai on it. This not only please Haman. The Bible says it delighted him. Haman is flying high once again. Little does he know his huge ego is about to take a huge fall.

Come back for a delicious turn of events. Our God has a sense of humor and no screenwriter could write a better scene.

Dangerous Times call for Dangerous Actions

Chapter 4 opens with 15 million Jews fasting, weeping and lamenting. Mordecai is one of them. Many of them were in sackcloth and ashes, the common response to distress in the Bible. Mordecai was also dressed this way. It is also a hint that prayer was going on. Prayer, God and any statement of religion is not found in the book of Esther but hints like these are found throughout the book. The Jews had a year to prepare for this devastating event. All of this came about due to Hateful Haman’s ability to manipulate a clueless and careless King.
Mordecai had to get a message to Queen Esther. I believe he was wise enough in the ways of the court to know that Esther was probably unaware of what was going on in the kingdom due to the fact she was tucked away comfortable in the Harem. He also knew that his attire would prevent him from entering the King’s gate. Royalty didn’t like to be reminded of any unpleasantness that the people had to endure. Mordecai made enough of a fuss to be noticed by the Queen’s maids and eunuchs and they let her know of the spectacle he was making near the King’s gate. Esther sent him the proper attire to change into but he refused to change. She must have sensed the seriousness of the situations and sent Hatach the King’s Eunuch assigned to her to speak to Mordacai. Mordacai provided Hatach with all the information he needed including a copy of the edict and a command to the Queen to go to the King and plead for her people. Some scholars believe that Hatach was a Jew himself and that is why Mordecai trusted him not only with this information but with the knowledge that Esther herself was a Jew. I imagine this shakes Esther to the core. Perhaps she doesn’t believe it is as serious as Mordacai makes it out to be. She certainly knows that Vashti was exiled for disobedience and here is Mordecai is commanding her to disobey the law. A law that could get her killed. She sends a message back to him explaining her situation a little more clearly. The fact she hadn’t been called for over 30 days could mean the King was tired of her and wouldn’t appreciate her coming before him without being called. She wanted to stay in her comfy cage. After all there was no guarantee that this would work. Well, her guardian sent a “reality check” back to her in which is the now famous “for such a time as this” speech. Read it for yourself in verses 13-14. It is his call to her to “step up to the plate”. She relents and sends him the request to gather all the Jews in Susa to fast for 3 days and nights. Even though it is not spelled out in Scripture this is no doubt a call to prayer. Then she add’s that “I and my maids will do the same. Then I will go to the King and if I perish, I perish. Is this a faith statement or a fear statement of resignation? I believe due to her kind and faithful nature it is a faith statement. Now the plot thickens. It almost feels like a “Soap Opera”. What will she do? What is the outcome? Will we turn the page and find her head on a stake? Check in to the next chapter and find out. Who said the Bible was boring?!

A Blood Feud Heats Up

A Blood Feud Heats Up

Chapter two ends with a conspiracy foiled, the conspirators punished quite severely and the hero unrewarded. Chapter three open with the words “after these things”. When you see that phrase it is a good idea to look back and see what the author is trying to highlight. The importance of Esther 2:23b will become evident in chapter 6.

There is more to the background of Mordecai and Haman than revealed in the black and white words on these pages. Chapter 2 verse 5 gives a brief genealogy of Mordecai. We will zero in on one name “Shimei”. These men were in the same family as the first King of Israel, Saul. In 2 Samuel 16:5-14 is the record of Shimei’s not so nice encounter with David. He cursed David, pelted David and his men with rocks and David’s “mighty men” wanted to kill him. David wouldn’t let them. Mordecai was of this lineage of Shimei and Saul. What would have happened if David hadn’t spared Shimei? How would that have affected Esther? I suppose God would have found another to help save His chosen people but it is interesting to me that David’s mercy possibly saved Mordecai, Esther and even the Jews.

But wait! There’s more. Haman is a Agagite. So what, you say? So way back when Saul fought the Amalekites he was told by God through Samuel to kill ALL of them. Saul didn’t. For background on why God would order such a thing read the following verses; Deuteronomy 25:17-18;Judges 6:3 and 1Samuel 30:1-4. These are short passages that will give you an idea on the nature of the Amalekites. Saul took King Agag captive and even though Samuel eventually killed Agag it is obvious that some of these doomed by God escaped resulting in a Haman. Read it for yourself in 1 Samuel 15. Would there have been a decree against the Jews if the hatred of the Amalekites toward the Jews hadn’t continued to simmer? Satan may have found another Haman to do his dirty deed. History has proven that there are many “Hamans” waiting in the wings to do Satan’s will which is always against God’s people.

This is a long lead into Chapter 3 I know but it does add some understanding to the rivalry between Mordecai and Haman, Jew and Amalekite.

It is strange to me that nothing was done for the hero, Mordecai when he saved the hide of Xerxes but at least it was recorded. Trust me that will be an important little detail later on. A delicious twist in my opinion.

Read through chapter 3 with all this in mind. Note the over-the-top hatred of Haman and the extreme he goes to. This was demonic no doubt. I believe anti-semitism always is.
I am especially taken by his extreme. Haman wasn’t satisfied with just Mordecai’s death, he wanted the death of all the Jews. He wanted not just death but to “destroy, kill, & annihilate” them. Overkill I would say. Kind of like how I feel about spiders. I came across one just today and I sprayed it with bug killer, then I got a shoe and pounded it into the place where I found it. I HATE SPIDERS! It would be a joy to me if they disappeared off the face of the earth. To have that kind of attitude toward another human being is unbelievable. Haman did.

It was fortunate for the Jews that the Persians were a very superstitious people. The Pur (dice) were cast to plan this demented schedule and the Jews had a year to prepare for it. Reminds me of Proverbs 16:33 where it says the results of the lot cast is in God’s hands.

Xerxes puzzles me. He was so willing to hand power over to this maniac. He, in my opinion was not a very good king, not a compassionate one anyway. How could he allow a decree to totally wipe out a whole race of people without even looking into the truth of Haman’s accusations? I wasn’t the only one who was puzzled. After the decree was written and sent off to every corner of the kingdom, Haman and Xerxes sat down to drink and the whole of the kingdom was perplexed. Have you ever felt that way about something your leaders have done? I know I have.

Chapter four records Mordecai’s reaction and the request he made of Esther.
I’ve given you enough to chew on for now. I would love to see your response.
Blessings til next time.

Contests and Conspiracies

As chapter 2 opens we see a calmer, perhaps less drunk Xerxes regretting his decision and missing his wife. It had been four years and in that time he had a disastrous military defeat. Perhaps he tried every trick in the book to ease his pain. He did after all have a whole harem if sex was all he needed. He was in a snit and his attendants were worried. This king was rash and maybe they were afraid in his state of mind that one of them might suffer the fate of Vashti. They needed to fix this before it escalated. The law he had signed was not reversible so bringing back Vashti was not an option. Their solution? A beauty contest! Can you imagine how they sold this one to Xerxes? “Your majesty, bring ALL the beautiful virgins from the whole kingdom and try them out”. What red blooded flesh driven man wouldn’t respond to that! Sadly each one of these girls would preen and prep and after one night with the king would be put into the harem and perhaps forgotten. Her life would be over. Any hopes of home and family gone. It is interesting in view of the tradition that usually high born women were the only ones picked for queen that this is how Xerxes would choose his new queen. Perhaps that was the problem with Vashti, she was too high born. Maybe she thought she was “all that” and too good to obey her husband and Xerxes was taking no more chances. Before the story goes on with the contest we are introduced to Mordechai. We get a quick bio–a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, son of Jair, son of Shimei and son of Kish. This might not seem all that interesting but when we meet Haman in the next chapter I’ll share a few tidbits that make it very interesting.

We are told Mordechai has a cousin, a girl now orphaned and adopted by him. He is in essence her Dad. Her name in the Hebrew was Hadasseh which means fragrance. Her Persian name Esther means star. She will soon live up to this name and become to that culture what American Idol is to this one. We will find this girl has it all together. She is beautiful and lovable. Well liked by all she meets. Not only well liked but finds favor with everyone including the king. The beauty treatments the girls were subject to took a year so we fast forward to the contest and the crowning of Esther as queen. A happy ending? Not yet. There are some “hinky” situations to go through first.

The chapter ends with Mordechai sitting in the city gates, a phrase that means he had some standing in the government. He overhears a plot. Gets word to Esther who in turn tells the king and saves the day. He is credited in written record and it is forgotten, until later when it becomes a very interesting twist in our story. This chapter ends with a CSI moment. The plot is investigated and the guilty punished. Impaled. It says “hung on a gallows” in the NIV but it was actually an impaling and the bodies were left hung up as a warning to others.

Next post we meet Haman and things start to get exciting.

Till then, blessings

The Whole Megillah

Have you ever heard the idiom “the whole megillah”? I was surprised to find that it comes from the fact that the book of Esther is called the Megillah and at the festival of Purim the whole scroll or book of Esther is read hence the congregation is given the “whole megillah”. So the next time a friend who has given you the whole story of their life to make one small point you will know why you might say to them “did you have to give me the whole megillah”? That is a small insignificant tidbit I know but I love fun details like this.

A little background on Esther may give us a little extra flavor to the book. The book doesn’t include any longing for Jerusalem, there is no mention of God or prayer, just some hints that the Jewish people living in Susa may still have some faith. It seems like the Jews are simply living day to day well assimilated into the Persian Empire. But as you will see later all is not ideal for the Jews. At this point in their history the Babylonian exile has ended and Jews that were so inclined have return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and their temple. This account gives us a peek into those that stayed behind. I found it interesting that there are two books in the Protestant Bibles that are named after women Ruth and Esther. Ruth is about a Pagan woman who marries a Jew and Esther is about a Jewish woman who marries a Pagan. Both women are highly praised. Ruth for her faithfulness and kindness to her mother in law Naomi and Esther for her beauty and her gentle way of finding favor with all she met.

The major players in this drama are; King Ahasuerus aka Xerxes, Vashti (a small but not insignificant part), Mordechai (Yay), Haddassah aka Esther and Haman (boo, hiss). When the book of Esther is read at Purim it is tradition to boo and hiss at the name of Haman and to cheer at the name of Mordechai. You will soon find out why.

The book opens with the account of a very lavish party thrown by King Xerxes for the nobles and princes of his provinces said to last 180 days. Herodotus, a famous Greek historian, said that the 180 days were for planning a military campaign and at the end of this time a seven day drinking feast was held-men only. Meanwhile Vashti, the current queen whose name means “one desired, beloved” held her own feast for the women. The King’s party was a drinking free for all where the men drank as much and as often as they wanted so you can imagine the condition of this crowd. At the end of this time the King ordered the eunuchs to bring Vashti to the party “wearing the royal crown”. The King became enraged when she refused. It is not reported why she refused. It is believed she was of royal blood herself. Perhaps she felt it beneath her dignity to appear before a crowd of drunken men. Another thought was that she was ordered to come wearing NOTHING but her crown. Whatever the reason her decision didn’t set well with her drunk husband and after hearing the advice of his advisors he issued an edict banning her from his presence FOREVER. It is important to the rest of the story to remember that in ancient Persia once the king signs onto an edict and makes it official it can not be revoked even by him. If you read the Biblical account you might also come to the conclusion that the ulterior motive for the advice to the king is the fear that the women of the city would follow suit and do whatever they pleased. Part of the edict was that men would rule over their households. Can you imagine how the women of the empire felt?

Chapter one ends with the edict being issued and Vashti being exiled. Next post-Chapter two and the beginning of some very interesting developments. Keep watch for the next installment.

Greetings in the name of the Lord!

Welcome to my blog and this first posting. Please visit “About me and this blog” to get some background information on me and why  I started this blog. I hope that you will visit often and make comments to help me make this effort the best that it can be.

As I’ve already mentioned in the “About” tab I love to study the Bible and am currently working my way through the book of Esther with the assistance of a study guide by Beth Moore entitled “Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman”. It’s an excellent book and I’m also viewing her video series as I go. I hope to share this with a group of women possibly this summer. I have never been disappointed going through a Bible study with a Beth Moore resource. I highly recommend her.

I have become so intrigued with the book of Esther that I have expanded my search to other resources as well.

While I don’t consider myself an expert on the Bible just a seeker of the truth. I thought it might be a good idea to give you some indication of my experience in the study of the Bible. I’ve been studying the Bible for about 35 years. I’ve lead groups in Community Bible Study for the majority of those years and held independant group studies of my own. I also did the five year study with Bible Study Fellowship. I am a fan of Chuck Missler’s resources and have many of his commentaries. In fact I attribute my most of my “training” in observation to those resources of his. I have learned a lot from his tapes and videos. But I must give all the credit to the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Without faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to illuminate my study it would be just a mental exercise not the life changing experience it has been.

The book of Esther is an unusual book of the Bible. It never mentions God or prayer but God’s fingerprints are all over it. If you have ever felt that God is absent from you life, or that it seems He is just not working in your life than this is the book for you. If you are a Christian and so inclined I would appreciate you prayers for me and this effort. I consider it a ministry. I will be praying for all those you choose to drop in and share my passion for His Word. Please return soon.

Blessings

Linda