The book of Esther contains lots of extremes. Haman had extreme hate; the Jews faced extreme danger; Esther faced extreme rejection and death to save her people, the Jews, from total annihilation. Esther, a Jew earlier known as Hadassah (2:7), was an orphan of captive ancestry. She was named the new Queen of Persia. Her story is an inspiring testimony. By God’s grace Esther was placed in a position of authority. Even though God’s name is not mentioned in this book that bears her name, we can see that His hand was with Esther as she met life-threatening situations. Also this story illustrates how self-destructive hatred can become.
Esther’s story occurred during the time of King Ahasuerus who reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. In chapter 1, in his third year of reign, he threw a party for his officials that lasted 180 days. This was six months of great merrymaking. The second party lasted only one week. At the same time, Queen Vashti made a feast in the royal palace for the women. Because Queen Vashti did not want to show her beauty as demanded by the King (Esther 1:10-11) she was immediately dethroned before her behavior influenced other women (Esther 1:16-20) as the King and his advisors feared.
Vashti’s refusal paved the way for Esther to become Queen. Keep reading to discover Esther’s plans and strategies to forget the pleasures, comforts and luxuries of the palace as she watched Mordecai’s misery and intense worry. Is it good to forget some of our benefits as we try to live for others? Queen Esther’s main goal was to save her people not just herself. Mordecai warned Esther (4:13-14) of what might happen if she did not speak up at this time. How was Esther made Queen? Chapter 2 explains many more details of Esther being elevated as the next queen.
Working as a teammate with Mordecai, her close relative, Esther had not revealed her family’s background as he had advised her. In these days, Mordecai sat within the King’s gate and overheard two of the King’s eunuchs or sometimes called doorkeepers as they became furious and organized a plot Mordecai unveiled an assassination against the King. . He “spilled the beans,” and told Esther who informed the King in Mordecai’s name. After much investigation both men were hanged and Haman was promoted! Everyone bowed to Haman except Mordecai (Chapter 3). Haman, the prime minister who tried to rid the empire of all Jews became angry and sought to destroy them immediately because King Ahaseurus’ laws were not obeyed. When the King probably jumped to his feet in rage after learning of Haman’s plot, all of Esther’s worries soon ended (Chapter 3). The King later understood Esther’s concerns about her people.
Teamwork manifested as Esther agreed to help the Jews after the pleading of Mordecai as he mourned the destruction of their people (Chapter 4). How did teamwork help Esther? More confidence was gained by Esther as she was visibly disturbed and prepared to petition the King, to expose her nationality and risk the loss of her life to save her people! Esther found favor with the King as she made her request and prevented the death of the Jews. Plans for failure can exist, but God, our master planner, can change everything as it pleases Him. Gallows were built for Mordecai but Haman was hanged instead (Chapter7). The Jews destroyed their enemies (Chapter 9) without looting and Mordecai became famous throughout all the King’s provinces. Esther even asked that Haman’s ten sons be hanged (Esther 9:13) and by verse twenty-five she included Haman’s death too in her next request.
Notice how Esther secured the promotion of Mordecai, her cousin. In the end, because of Queen Esther’s teamwork, Mordecai was second in command to King Ahasuerus and was great among the Jews. Think how this story can encourage us as women to face challenges with less fear knowing that hatred solves no problems. The courage of Queen Esther to face the King “at such a time as this” became the dominating factor in the saving of her people. As these ten chapters are searched to learn how teamwork shaped this nation, we see God’s help guiding the Jews in critical situations.
How has Esther been honored? Are women today still learning from Esther’s story? The book of Esther shows how a woman organized a viable plan that conquered evil against an entire nation of people. The Jews celebrate their deliverance with the Purim (9:28) Festival all over the world (March 14-15). Esther is remembered because she is served fearlessly, intelligently and with patient insight. Artists still showcase the greatness of Esther in literature, music, paintings and tapestries.
As leading citizens of our time, let us make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Mrs. Gladys McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.