THE HISTORICAL RECORD of ESTHER PROVES GOD ALWAYS MAKES A WAY TO OVERCOME SOCIETY'S REJECTION OF OUR GOD.
The story of Esther were no doubt recorded in the history books of Media and Persia. Around 500 years before Christ came in His first coming, Ezra, the scribe, was the likely one to take this story and write this book for our Bible. He likely did it before he returned to Israel, for he needed to be near the history books that recorded it. Also, the fact that the name of God is not in the Book of Esther suggests that his writing of the story was done while in observance of heathen scribes who controlled his access to the historical records which he needed.
Jewish tradition attributes the book to Ezra. Augustine also credits it to him. The Talmud says it came from the Great Synagogue, and Ezra was its founder and president, and therein completed the Jewish Old Testament.
The theme of the Book of Esther is the great rescue of the Jews from extermination. The purpose of this book was to show by whom and how the great deliverance happened. This book therefore records the institution of the feast of Purim. The liberator of the Jews from captivity, the one that issued the decree that they could return to their homeland of Israel, was Cyrus, the son of Esther and Darius the Mede.
GOD’S NAME is not in the Book of Esther, but...
This is the 17th book of the Bible of our current canon. It has 10 chapters; 167 verses, 5,637 words. Yet, God’s name is not anywhere in the book. Many have tried to conjure an answer to this. Some have desperately tried to find somewhere hidden in it, the name of God. It has been observed that in these 167 verses of the book, the king is mentioned 195 times; his kingdom 28 times; and his title Ahasuerus is given 29 times.
Some have looked via methods of kaballah, or in acrostics to find hidden the name of God. In the ancient Hebrew language of the Book of Esther, there were 5 places where the name of God can be pointed out via acrostics (taking the first letter of words to make of them a word). In looking for words that spell out JHVH for Jehovah, there are four times, and once EHYEH (I Am that I Am).
The places where these letters occurred are:
1. "All the wives shall give."
Uttered by Memucan (Esther 1:20).
2. "Let the king and Haman come this day."
Uttered by Queen Esther (Esther 5:4).
3. "This availeth me nothing."
Uttered by Haman (Esther 5:13).
4. "That there was evil determined against him."
Uttered by the author of Esther (Esther 7:7).
5. "Who is he, and where is he" (Esther 7:5).
This is where EHYEH (OT:1961) was used.
If one takes a book, many acrostic words can be found. There are various forms of kaballah, the equa-distant-letters, or as in this case the ‘NOTARIKON’. This is the reconstructing of a word, using the first letters of consecutive words. They take the initial letter of each word of a sentence, and make a word from those initial letters. Using this method, many words could be formed. God is not hiding His name. This book glorifies God, glorifies His power, shows His wisdom and workings. Yet, though some heathen kept Ezra from using God’s name, there can be no denial that God is glorified in the story of Esther.
We do not need to search the word for hidden words, that is a method of Jewish mysticism. It is a waste of time, and allows one to miss the real truths that God is trying to get us to see.
THE CHARACTERS OF THE BOOK
The name Ahasuerus is not a name, but like the word ‘pharaoh’, ‘king’, caesar’, it is a title. Ahasuerus means "the Mighty or Venerable king," and was a title of certain Persian kings.
Esther 2:5-7 informs us that Mordecai was the cousin of Esther. She was his uncle's daughter. Mordecai had raised her because she had no father or mother. Mordecai had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar with Jehoiachin, king of Judah. This was 11 years before the final captivity of Judah (2 Kings 24:1-25:30; Jeremiah 25:1). The bondage to Babylon for 70 years began in the 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1,9-11).
If Mordecai was a young man around 20 at the time of his captivity 11 years after the beginning of the 70 years of servitude-about 627 B.C.-and Xerxes reigned 485-464 B.C., this would make Mordecai 162 years old in the 1st year of Xerxes. Esther would be an old woman by this time also. The fact is that Esther was the young and beautiful wife of Darius the Mede, of Daniel 5, and the mother of Cyrus, the commander of the Persian armies which took Babylon at the end of the 70 years of servitude. This Darius (the father of Cyrus) reigned 35 years, 33 of which were during the latter part of the 70 years of servitude of Israel to Babylon. This fits into all the historical facts about Mordecai being carried away captive with Jehoiachin as a very young man. It is possible that he lived throughout the entire captivity. He could have easily been the Mordecai of Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7. Some Jews did live through the 70 years of servitude and returned to see the foundation of the temple laid (Ezra 3:12).
This Ahasuerus ruled 127 provinces. Daniel 6:1 speaks of 120 princes, rather than the 127 provinces shown here. In Daniel 6:1, we find 120. Plato says that "when Darius (i.e. the Maintainer-Astyages) came to the throne, being one of seven, he divided the country into seven portions" (De Legibus III). These rulers were the 7 princes of Persia in Esther 6:13-14. When Babylon fell into the hands of this Ahasuerus, or Darius the Mede, he divided the kingdom into 120 parts (Daniel 9:1; steward. Daniel 6:1). The 127 provinces were likely the previous 7 parts and the newly-formed 120 (Esther 6:1; Esther 9:30).
If Mordecai went into captivity as a young man, and if Esther was born to his uncle while in captivity, she was now a virgin old enough to become the wife of the king. Mordecai was perhaps 48 to 58 years old when Esther married Astyages (Darius the Mede). Therefore, he was the Mordecai of Ezra 2:2 who returned from captivity, He would have been 80 to 92 years old at that time.
THE BEAUTY CONTEST
Esther was entered in the contest to decide who was the most attractive and gifted virgin in the empire (Esther 2:8). The winner of this contest was to marry the divorced Ahasuerus. Esther received favor from Hegai, steward of the women, who gave her all things for her purification, seven maidens to be her attendants and the best place in all the harem (Esther 2:9). If not for the actions of Esther and Mordecai, the devil would have destroyed of the Seed of the woman Who was predicted in Genesis 3:15 and by the prophets. God works, and He can carry out His plan.
Haman reasoned to the king, that the Jews were different from other people. He asserted that they did not keep the king's laws. He alleged that they did not profit the king. The king then granted 10,000 talents of silver to get rid of them.
The king, without thinking possible consequences, and having confidence in Haman, took off his ring and sealed a decree for the destruction of all the Jews in his kingdom (Esther 3:10-15). The king gave Haman the 10,000 talents and a decree to destroy the Jews.
The Answer of Mordecai to Esther
Mordecai sent word of all that had happened to him. He told of the money that Haman had promised to pay for the destruction of the Jews. He also sent her a copy of the decree. He counseled that she should go to the king, and make a plea for her people.
The king did not yet know that he had married a Jewess and that he had made a decree that would destroy her and her people.
Esther reminded Mordecai that it might cause her death even to approach the king, if he had not called her. He had not called her for thirty days. The law was very strict. To enter the king's presence without being called for was a capital crime. The trespasser was to be instantly killed by the guards, unless the king extended his golden scepter. To do as Mordecai asked was to risk her life.
Mordecai reminded Esther that it could mean her death, and all of Jewish people, if she did not go to the king and get him to cancel this decree. Mordecai suggests she may have come to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14).
Esther told Mordecai to have the Jews fast and pray for her, and she and her maidens would do likewise. This shows that Esther was having a significant influence on her maidens.
Esther then would go to the king, though it was against the law. She was willing to die if needed (Esther 4:15-16).
Mordecai's Faith and Principles
Mordecai was a man of principle and did what he thought was right even at the risk of life. He had faith in God that deliverance would come (Esther 4:14).
The Scriptures had declared that the Messiah would come from the Jewish people. They could not be exterminated, for God had promised to protect them for His purpose. Mordecai did not have fear of this Haman and his plot. Mordecai had fasted and prayed and knew that God would bring deliverance. With that faith, he refused to pay homage to Haman.
Haman could glory in the 10,000 talents ($75 million) to be used in destroying the Jews (Esther 3:9-11). He gloried in his promotion over all the princes and servants of the great king (Esther 3:1). He was emboldened further in the honor of being invited by the queen to a banquet where he would be the sole guest, except for the king (Esther 5:12). It was a rare privilege for anyone to be allowed to banquet with the king.
Haman was not aware of what the queen had in mind, or he would not have boasted about the great favor being paid him. He did not realize that he was soon to die in his own plot.
All his rejoicing proudly didn't satisfy him as long as Mordecai refused to bow to him in the king's gate. The statement, "all this availeth me nothing," shows how the exaltation he felt, was brought to nothing, by the one person who would not bow to him.
Haman built a gallows 75 feet tall. A gallows was a stake to which a criminal was secured until death, similar to the cross. Haman commanded the gallows to be built even before he spoke to the king. It never occurred to him that his request would be refused, since the king had allowed the request for the death of all the Jews. Still, while Haman plotted evil, God was intervening.
God always makes a way of escape for His people. The night before Haman was to request the life of Mordecai, God kept sleep from the king. The king had servants read from the record book of the kings. When Ahasuerus was reminded thereby that Mordecai had saved him from assassination, he asked what had been done to reward Mordecai. Since nothing had been done, Ahasuerus decided to reward Mordecai (Esther 6:1-3).
The Honor Suggested by Haman
Haman suggested that the royal apparel be brought-that which the king normally would wear. Also the king's horse was to be fetched. And the royal crown of the king was to be brought. This clothing and the horse were to be taken by a most noble prince, and he should array the man with the king's garment and crown. Then he would be paraded through the street of the city on the king’s horse. Greeters should proclaim before him: "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor."
What a shock it was for Haman to learn that he had suggested this for the man he most hated! Haman was constrained to humble himself before the man that he had plotted to destroy.
One can imagine how Mordecai felt with such honors. Moments before he was under the sentence of death with all his people. Suddenly, it was apparent that God was working. Salvation of the people was beginning to occur.
ESTHER ACCUSES HAMAN
When Esther accused Haman of plotting to kill her, Mordecai, and all the Jewish people, it did not take long for the king to sentence Haman to death on his own gallows, that were meant for Mordecai.
The king was angry. Those who act out of self-will, will find that eventually they will come to self-reproach. Whenever we become angry, we should hesitate before we come to harsh judgment. We need to rule our own spirits, and show that we are governed by the principles of the Word of God.
The prideful and impudent when in power, like Haman, are most often poor-spirited when defeated. Those who hate and oppress God's children will be shamed and overcome by God, for He protects His own.
The king became very angry. He realized the craftiness of Haman. The enemies of God's children are usually apprehended amidst their own cunning. The workers of wickedness should tremble, call upon the Lord, and seek forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, when they read the story of Haman.
THE FEAST OF PURIM
The Feast of Purim is not one of the seven feasts that God instituted at Mt. Sinai. The name “Purim” is derived from “the lots” which Haman cast concerning the Jews’ fate. The Jews initiated the ‘Feast of Purim’ after God delivered them from Haman’s extermination plot. Israel celebrates Purim on the 14th and 15th of Adar (March).
The Feast of Purim was one of triumph and gladness. Presents were exchanged, one could work, but the Book of Esther was to be read. Prayer was to be made. The curse upon Haman was to be recited. The blessings of Esther and of Mordecai were to be proclaimed to
Jesus celebrated the Feast of Purim.
John 5:1 (KJV)
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
The ‘feast of the Jews’ that Jesus was noting here, is most likely the Feast of Purim. Since this feast fits the time of year wherein Jesus is seen here in John 5, and that is not called a ‘Feast of the Lord’ but rather ‘of the Jews’ nearly settles any debate on the subject.
John 6:4 (KJV)
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
The Feast of Purim represents the principle of God’s protection and deliverance of His people. Israel was in bondage to sin and death under the Law of Moses and it was job of Jesus to deliver Israel from this death.
Galatians 4:3-5 (KJV)
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Paul proclaimed that:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (KJV)
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
As Mordecai, Esther, and the other Jewish people of that day and since have celebrated their deliverance from the plot of Haman, from the many other plots of the devil to exterminate them, we can and do rejoice daily in the deliverance of Jesus from the bondage of sin, from the threat of hell fire for sinners in that bondage. We have an eternal feast to celebrate.