Growing up there was a reality show called “Queen for the Day.” Basically, it took normal women, many being homemakers and put them through an elimination process, to get the final contestant and she would be crowned Queen for the Day. In our passage this week, we have the young maiden-virgin Esther who would be crowned “Queen for the Season.” As we will read later, Mordecai, her cousin will make the famous statement – “Who knows but for such a time as this, you are queen.” [paraphrase of Esther 4:14]
I find that many times looking back at my own life, wondering why now, why here? Of all the places and times I could have been born and lived – I find it both challenging and mysterious that people were born at the exact right time – Galatians 4:4 tells us that Jesus was born in the fullness of time. When the timing was right, God sent forth Jesus born of a virgin. This tells me that there had to be a particular environment for Jesus to be born. Investigating this we find that the world was under “Pax Roman” – peace of Rome and the roman road system built; also the language was Greek, and the unrest within Judaism. People were looking for a Messiah figure, several imposters have been documented in istory.
Back to Esther; in the first two chapters we find King Ahasuerus reigning over 127 provinces and living in Susa. This is also during the Babylonian Exile period. During a “look at Me” gathering the King having drank a bit too much, commanded the Queen at that time to present herself – I have no idea why Queen Vashti refused, other than not wanting to be a spectacle. If we look at this story, we find that both King and Queen were feeling their oats so to speak. Well, the King didn’t take the rejection lightly and held a court counsel to determine what to do. Basically, Queen Vashti lost her title. The problem then if the episode was let stand without any action, would that the women would look upon their husbands with contempt. This issue in itself is worthy of future study beyond this blog. Basically, to prevent the empire to have marital upheaveal – Queen Vashti was expelled.
Well, you can’t have an empire without a Queen, so the plan was to have a “Beauty pageant. At this point, I’m sure many of the readers are saying “How sexist and demeaning!” I’m just telling the story, okay. So all throughout the empire, beautiful virgins were sought and put under the care of Eunuch Hegai “and cosmetics were given them.” Yes even back then women adorned themselves with cosmetics. This is when Mordecai suggests that Esther [aka Hadassah] participate. Esther must have been something to behold, for every one who sees her is taken back with her beauty. For a year, the ladies were doted on with all beautification spices and cosmetics. Each lady had one night to influence the King enough to be slected. This almost sounds like the “Bachelor” reality show. ANyway, Esther is called to the King for the evening – I won’t speculate on what happened at this point. Anyway Ether finds great pleasure and favor from the King. The favor would result in Esther being crowned Queen – “yet Esther had not yet revealed who here kindred people were.” An incident involving a spoiled plot against the king is thwarted by Mordecai and written in the annals of the Empire history.
The plot thickens when Haman, an Agagite; [ancestor of Esau, and an Amalekite, Agag and Amalek have always been against the Jews “Jacob’s offspring” – we find that this fight has been on-going for centuries; Herod the Great was an Idumean and a relative of Esau – so the war rages on] is advanced to a great position of authority and given the King’s signet ring. All were to pay homage and bow down before Haman – except Mordecai refused. Haman filled with rage tries to get King Ahasuerus to enforce an edict that anyone who did not bow, would be killed. Haman indicted all the Jews – saying they were against the king and needed to be destoryed. So the edict was released to all 127 provinces and the people are terrified. Chapter 3:15, while drinking with Haman in Susa, the rest of the city was in confusion. This is usually our state of mind when we don’t understand why thinking happen as they do. Too often we react rather than respond to life situations and usually then it is an emotional one. Just like Covid-19, this story of Esther must be seen in its entirety before we can get some semblance of understanding. Next week the rest of the story and why each episode is important to the end of the story – which plays out during our own life time.