GOOD MORNING, SIBLINGS!!!!
Today we begin the book of Esther!
Our readings are Esther 1-5
This is a pretty short book compared to what we’ve been reading and there are a lot of unique things about it.
•YHWH (God) is not mentioned anywhere in this book.
•There are no directives from YHWH in this book (see the previous point). There is also no examination of His law or any new revelations from Him. It is very much a narrative, well written and designed to inspire Believers.
•The author also does not mention Abraham or the covenant.
•The book of Esther is not quoted anywhere in the New Testament.
•Esther is the only “Old Testament” book that was not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. (None of this is meant to discredit Esther in any way, I love that book and it teaches us a lot about faith, just sharing interesting facts with ya. So if you’re an Esther devotee, know that I love it, too and don’t feel this is an attack on the book in any way)
•Esther has two names, as was the custom of Hebrews living among another culture (such as Paul’s two names, one Hebrew and one Roman). Her Hebrew name was Hadassah. Her Persian name was Esther. Esther is actually the English translation. The original version of her Persian name is shared with a well known and worshipped-at-the-time goddess of love and fertility known as Ishtar. That’s a whole other rabbit trail.
•Different Bibles may feature different texts, some more verses and some less, depending on which scroll they were translated from. There are many scrolls of Esther and variances among them. Most of the translations we use in this group will likely be the same text, though.
•The earliest copies of Esther date back to the 11th century AD, around the time of the first Crusade.
•Some of the later scrolls found have additions of prayers offered to YHWH added in but many are missing it. Again, it is still a story clearly shared to inspire Believers and variances among scrolls are not an uncommon occurrence.
Primary themes in the story of Esther:
•The invisible hand of YHWH is always at work.
•The Father raises up people from ordinary or even difficult circumstances to lofty heights in order to accomplish His purpose. (Pattern of Moses)
•The Pattern of an irrational hatred of the Jews is repeated yet again – as we still see it repeated in our near past and present as well.
•The self destruction brought about by pride.
Why did Vashti not come when summoned
The King had been inebriated for quite some time and this appears to be his habit at this point in his life. In a drunken state, he sent for his wife to come in order to show off her beauty. Notice that the women were feasting separately from the men. In this time in society, modesty was very important and so men and women were often entertained separately and even quartered separately in order to preserve this. It was actually Persian law that women were not allowed to be around men when they were drinking. We are not clearly told exactly why she wouldn’t come but my personal opinion is that she was not the spiteful wife that she is often made out to be.
At the beginning of Chapter 2, when the manuscript says that the King remembered Vashti (Esther 2:1). This is an expression of regret. Now, he had put himself in a bind by making such a big deal of ordering her to appear and then his people had put him in a bigger bind by saying he should enact such an un-retractable law as to never let Vashti appear before him again. Once the king started regretting it, they needed to remedy this right quick like before the king became angry with them and so the search for a beautiful wife began.
Mordechai’s genealogy – In Esther 2:5 we are actually being told that Mordecai is of royal genealogy. He is of the line of Kish, who was King Saul’s father.
Note that time and again that Esther is shown favor in the eyes of those she interacts with. It can be safely assumed this is the favor of the Father placed upon her but additional theme in this is that inner beauty: kindness, grace, etc, sets us apart.
In Chapter four the cards start to fall in place where we witness a culmination of events that leaves the spotlight on Esther and her bravery.
Mordechai reminds her that she is still a Jew and still accountable to the Father and able to be killed just as her kinsman are. Being in the palace holds no protection should she wish to remain silent and hope for the best (Esther 4:12-14).
When the Father gives us a voice, we are required to use it for His will.
Esther responded by requesting that all of the Jews gather to fast and pray in preparation of her confrontation with the king. This is a wonderful response! (Esther 4:15-16)
These passages are where we read the infamous line: “Who knows whether or not you have come to the kingdom for a time such as this?” Esther 4:14
In that one moment, the entire purpose of her life has reached a culmination point and while YHWH is not mentioned in this book, we can clearly see His hand in the orchestration of events therein.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!