The Book of Ester
an Interpretation by Paul W. Draper
When you die your family chooses a grave for you. To stand all time, and remind the world of who you were and all of the things you had accomplished. Chalk and board as visual aid, a grave. May I have a victim ...sorry.... a volunteer? Thank you. This is your grave. Name, Date of birth, lets put death on March second 2255. (Medicine is improving every day. ) Daughter, sister, wife, mother.
Now lets go over what we have learned, did you choose your name? No. Lets cross that off. How about you date of birth, no? Most of us don't chose our final date of departure. Did you choose to be a daughter or a sister. Hummmm some choice in wife and mother but do they sum up everything you are and all you have done and will eventually do? Finally the headstone... you must have had some say in your headstone, no? Well what's left. What defines your life? This little dash between birth and death. That's your life!
And I'm going to make the best dash I possibly can!
In order to make a better dash or even live forever (past this life) Many of us fall / find ourselves in religion, faith. Now I'm not trying to convert anyone or even tell you what or how to think. I would just like to take the next fifteen minutes and give you an inside look at a piece of my world view and commemorate an event that arguably took place in the year 5 BCE. An event recorded in the Bible of the western world under the scroll of Ester.
Why did I start with a story of life and death? because as is often the case in the Bible.... it tries to record thousands of years of history within a few pages so just like our modern day history texts, it's riddled with war and battles, kings, rulers, countries, continents, choices, life and death.
I would like to commemorate the strength of a woman. Her dash. As well as that of her family and people in the face of one of their greatest oppressors. You might be happy to know this speech will have no talk of god or gods for the book of Esther is the only book in the bible that never mentions God.
Why doesn't this detailed account of biblical history name god where all others do. Scholars believe it is because this book was originally sent out in letter form to all outlying sectors of the kingdom in the language of the people and taking out all reference to god saved the fear that the letter might be improperly handled or desecrated.
The time? 5 BCE. The Place: Persia lands ruled by king Ahasuerus who ruled one hundred and twenty seven provinces from India to Nubia and Ethiopia. The kings court in the fortress at Shushan
Jewish morale was at an all time low. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, the nation conquered, and for almost 70 years, the Jews had been dispersed in foreign lands. The prophesied end of exile had not materialized, and the blight of assimilation had set in.
Just then an enemy arose to carry out his evil plans. His name was Haman.
Now let me stop here and interject. Jewish tradition states that he was so evil, as hopefully I can help to show, that we want to blot out his name by noise makers or pounding our hands and feet so please whenever I say his name pound and make noise..... lets give it a whirl... HAMAN...... ohh you can do better than that..... one more time Haman. Great ... Continuing.
And now the characters.
Background on Haman: He was the king's head and favorite advisor. As such he saw himself as chosen by the gods and was worthy of having all of the people of the kingdom bow down to him. However the Jews refused to bow down to a man, for as it is written in exodus, more specifically the ten commandments, don't bow down to man or idol only I the lord your God.
Background on the king: Ahasuerus is shown over and over as a week king who followed his advisors to the letter with out questioning why and acted in order to better his reputation at any cost.
One day he was holding a great feast with leaders in attendance from all of his and neighboring lands. At one point in the evening he bid his beautiful wife to come to the feast and she refused. Though king Ahasuerus loved her deeply his advisors told him that if he did not act against this outrage others would see him as weak, so he sent his wife off and banned her from his sight. Soon the king started a search across his great kingdom for a new wife. He sent letters out to every outlying district stating in the language of the people of each province that they should bring their most beautiful women to greet the king.
Background on Mordichi and Esther: Mordichi cousin to Esther (his uncles daughter) was taking care of her. And he brought her to meet the king for she was as beautiful as she was wise. But Mordichi warned her that if she is chosen she should never identify their Jewish heritage. The king inspected the line up and chose Esther to become his new wife, soon she became his favorite.
And now the story!
It will play as a channel changer between the lives of our characters. Haman, king Ahasuerus, Mordichi and Esther
Haman. was outraged that there was a people living in the kings land that followed different laws and don't obey the kings rules. Haman tells the king that he will donate 10,000 silver pieces to the king's treasury if he can have the kings insignia to "solve the Jewish problem" by annihilating every Jew, men, women and children in a single day. The king didn't question his advisor but only said, "do with the people and the treasury as you please".
Mordichi visited Esther every day to see how she was and the life she was living. One day as he was walking past the king's gates, Mordichi overheard the plan of two Royal eunuchs who were plotting to kill the king. Mordichi rushed to Esthers window and told her all of what he heard. So the next time she was called before the king Esther told him the story in her cousin Mordichi's name. The case was looked into and was found to be true, the eunuchs were impaled on giant spikes in the courtyard and Mordichi was placed in the book of records to be rewarded.
Weeks later Haman came across Mordichi and was outraged that he didn't bow, so Haman decided that that evening he would set up a stake to impale Mordichi on, but he needed the kings approval before the execution could take place. He went to meet the king.
King Ahasuerus couldn't sleep, so he had one of his servants bring him some of the tome of records to read. as he looked over the story of Mordichi saving his life, the king asked how Mordichi had been repaid. The servant said that no reward had been given to him as of yet.... soon after.... King Ahasuerus saw Haman walking through the courtyard and bid him come to answer a question. The king asked Haman "What should be done for someone whom the king wishes to honor?" Haman said to himself "Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?" so Haman said to the king "For the man whom the king desires to honor let royal garb which the king has worn be brought and a horse on which the king has ridden and on whose head a royal diadem has been set, and let the attire and the horse be put in the charge of one of the king's noble courtiers, and let the man for whom the king desires to honor be dressed in attire and paraded on the horse around the city square while they proclaim around him, this is what is done for whom the king desires to honor.
And so the king told Haman to go find Mordichi the Jew and carry this deed out. And that evening set up spikes fifty cubits high to impale Mordichi and other Jews on. Fifty cubits high is a tall spike, seeing how Noah's arc was forty cubits by forty cubits and carried two of every animal. After doing so Haman returned home and casts lots to determine the day on which he would proclaim with the kings seal to banish all of the Jews.
The proclamation was carried out and posted in public forums stating that on the lotted day anyone could kill any Jew and take all of their property and possessions for themselves, with no punishment.
There was great sorrow and weeping among the Jewish people of the kingdom.
Mordichi went to tell Esther of the horrid proclamation the king had sent out (remember the seal).
And Esther cried to her cousin telling him that she was not allowed to see the king without being sent for, and that she hasn't been sent for in 30 days. She went on to say that going before the king without his calling her was punishable by death, if he doesn't lower his golden septer to her.
Modichi explained to her that maybe her life purpose in becoming queen was to save her people and that when the proclamation was carried out she wouldn't be saved. Esther drew up her strength and prayed. She decided to go. But first she insisted that all of the people Israel fast with no food nor water for three days. Esther did the same as did her servants. After the third day she went before the king, he...... lowered his septer and said, "What do you wish you can have anything, even half the kingdom if you desire it."
Esther told the king that she had a request for him, but first she wanted a wine feast with the guests to be only him, herself and Haman. At the party the king said again, "What do you want if it be for half the kingdom it will belong to you". She replied a feast again tomorrow for myself, you and Haman....... At the feast Esther finally had the courage to tell the king what she wanted. "Let my life be granted me as my wish and the life of my people, for we have been sold. Had we been sold into slavery I would not have troubled you but we have been sold into death." Who is this fiend who would do such a thing asked the king. (At the feasts she had found who devised the real plan) The evil Haman!!
I see the pounding has died down..... this is the climax! I'll try again.
The Evil Haman!!
And the king left the feast in a rage. Haman falls prostrate on Esthers, who was sitting on a couch and begs for forgiveness. The king returns and sees Haman lying on Esther and says "To ravish the queen in my own palace?"
At that moment, as it is written...... how biblical, one of the eunuchs comes in and tells the king about a fifty cubit high stake which was set up in Hamans yard to impale Mordichi on - a man whose words had saved the king - and the king..... ordered that Haman be impaled upon it.
The Jews were saved. Mordichi was given Hamans property and job title and from that day to this Jews all over the word celebrate there deliverance by the courage and self sacrifice of Queen Ester and Mordichi and thank them for using their dash to save all of us.