Esther hesitates but Mordecai isn’t so easily put off. Perhaps she’s thinking, ″I’m the queen and safely tucked away in this palace. Anyway, if I keep my Jewish identity secret I’ll be safe from Haman’s decree.″
About Peter Lau
Peter Lau has been lecturing at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia since 2010. He is a trained medical doctor, and also holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament. He has published on Ruth, Ezekiel, and Psalms. Peter is married to Kathryn and they have three children.
Entries by Peter Lau
The next scene shows the effect that the edict has on Mordecai and the Jews. Mordecai tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, then wails loudly and bitterly in the middle of the city (Esther 4:1). But something seems to be missing in Mordecai’s response. It also seems to be missing in the response of the Jews across the Persian Empire (v. 3): prayer.
Haman cast lots for the most auspicious month to carry out his scheme (Esther 3:7). It was to ″destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews-young and old, women and children-on a single day″ (v. 13). Even as we read it today, the ruthlessness sends a chill down our spines.
As the scene opens we see Haman casting lots (or pur). He is superstitious and wants to find the most auspicious date for his scheme (Esther 3:7). With the date set, Haman approaches the king with his request.
Mordecai just foiled an assassination plot, but we don’t find Mordecai promoted as we might have expected. Haman is promoted instead (Esther 3:1). All this takes place about five years (v. 7) after Mordecai saved the king’s life.
In this scene we find more unrest in King Xerxes’ kingdom. On the surface there may be banquets and drinking, silver, and sparkling jewels, but there is a darker underbelly. Not everyone living under the king is happy. Two eunuchs have murder on their minds (Esther 2:21).
We’ve reached an exciting point in the story: it is Esther’s turn to go to the king (Esther 2:15). It is now the seventh year of King Xerxes’ reign (v. 16); that is, four years after Queen Vashti has been deposed. In those four years, most historians think that King Xerxes went to wage an unsuccessful war against Greece.
Sometimes the competition to select a new queen for King Xerxes is presented as a beauty pageant. But it’s nothing of the sort. No, before a ″contestant″ even goes to the king, her beauty treatments last a whole year. She is prepared for six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics (Esther 2:12).
As the curtain is raised on the next scene, we find King Xerxes sobered up and calmed down. He then remembers that he banished his queen and needs to find a replacement (Esther 2:1). Does he come up with a plan himself?
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