Working Wisely

Day 23 – Esther 8:3-10

The archenemy of the Jews is dead, but the jaws of death are still open. How is Haman’s edict going to be dealt with?

Again we see Esther’s wisdom in the way she approaches the king with her request. She first appeals to the king by humbly falling at his feet and pleading with tears (Esther 8:3). Wisely, she does not mention the king’s own role in Haman’s plot. It must have been risky to approach the king uninvited for the second time, for we see that he has to extend his sceptre yet again (v. 4). Next, she asks the king to reverse the ″dispatches″ of Haman (v. 5). Again she starts her request with a show of submission, ″If it pleases the king″ (v. 5). This phrase is commonly used by those who make requests of the king (1:19; 3:9), including Esther previously (5:4). But now she also draws on her personal relationship with the king, ″if he regards me with favour . . . if he is pleased with me″ (8:5; cf. 7:3).

Esther’s use of words is instructive. By describing Haman’s edict against the Jews by using the word ″dispatches″ or ″letters″ instead of ″edicts″ (as used previously in Esther 1:20; 2:8; 3:14-15; 4:3, 8) she subtly suggests that they may be reversible (although they are not; see Esther 1:19; 8:8).3 What she asks of the king is against Persian custom, and she is aware of this because she adds the phrase ″if he . . . thinks it the right thing to do″ (8:5).

She then concludes her request by emphasising the effect of Haman’s decree on her: ″For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?″ (Esther 8:6). In other words, Esther says to the king, ″If you care about me, you must do something to save my people!″ In these ways, Esther’s request to the king again reveals her wisdom and her courage in identifying with her people.

Also notice what she does not do. The official edict is unjust. But she does not rebel against the edict behind the king’s back. She asks him directly. Her submissive and subtle approach ensures she does not antagonise the king by challenging his authority. In short, she does not try to undermine the Persian system. She works within the system to achieve her goal.

So Mordecai writes another edict to counteract Haman’s edict (Esther 8:8-9). It is dispatched by express post to every corner of the Persian Empire (v. 10).

3See Debra Reid, Esther: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 133.

Think Through:

What is your attitude towards governing authorities? Is it consistent with Romans 13:1-7?

Sometimes governing authorities will abuse their powers and we, Christians, will be persecuted (Matthew 10:16-23). How can we speak and act with wisdom in these circumstances?

Taken from Journey Through Esther: 30 Devotional Insights by Peter Lau.