Pat’s Praise: Heroes and Heroines
Published 9:19 pm Thursday, March 17, 2022
The setting was Persia when the empire was at its peak.
The cast of characters was:
• King Xerxes (Ahasuerus)
• Queen Vashti
• Haman, the Prime Minister
• Mordecai, a Jew
• Esther, Mordecai’s cousin, also a Jew
The scene opens with King Xerxes holding a celebration that lasted about six months, displaying the vastness of his riches and most likely preparing for battle. Following this, he presented everyone with a lavish, boastful seven-day banquet.
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“For a full 180 days, he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. Wine was served in goblets of gold, each different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command, each guest was allowed to drink
in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.” Esther 1:4-5, 7-8 NIV
The court of the king’s palace garden was hung with fine cotton and fastened to marble pillars with ropes of fine linen with silver rings. Couches of gold and silver sprawled about the mosaic pavement. In a drunken state, King Xerxes sent for his wife, Queen Vashti, to come to the court, wearing her royal crown, to parade her beauty before the men. But the queen refused. One source indicates she may have been pregnant with her son and did not wish to be seen in public. Another source argues that King Xerxes wanted her to appear in her royal crown only and parade in the nude.
At any rate, to save face, the king dethroned Vashti, and she was banned from the king’s presence forever. Later, as the king’s anger subsided, he came to miss his queen, and he pondered on his decree that could not be rescinded, according to the law. Thus, the king sent an order in search of a new queen.
“At that time, there was a Jewish man in the fortress of Susa whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair.
This man had a very beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hadassah, also called Esther. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:5a, 7 NLT
The search led to Esther becoming one of many in the king’s harem. Eventually, she was chosen as queen over all the other concubines, giving her more freedom and authority than the others held. By now, Mordecai had secured a position at the gate to the palace, affording him access to many conversations and interactions that occurred there. Espionage, intrigue, romance, anarchy – the plot thickens.
One day Mordecai was on duty at the gate and overheard two of the king’s trusted eunuchs plotting to assassinate the king. He went straightaway to Queen Esther with this information; she passed it on to King Xerxes, giving Mordecai full credit. Naturally, the king had the eunuchs killed to save his own life.
Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, the kings’ prime minister, in the interim. That behavior fed his hatred to the point that Haman launched a plot to kill all the Jews. Little did Haman know that Queen Esther, too, had a plan.
“…The king asked her, ‘What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!’” Esther 5:3 NLT
What an intriguing story, this Book of Esther. You must read the entire book; it is only ten short chapters. Mordecai was honored in all the city, wearing the king’s robes and riding on the king’s horse, led by Haman. Insult upon insult.
“Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared.’” Esther 7:3 NLT
Haman was impaled on the same pole he provided on which he intended for Mordecai. Mordecai became Prime Minister. King Xerxes permitted the Jews to defend themselves.
The Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that you will not find the word, God. But be assured He was ever-present, putting players in place, setting up the circumstances for His chosen people to survive.
Esther, the heroine, and Mordecai, the hero, were very self-righteous people, sacrificing themselves to protect others. God worked through King Xerxes, too, even though he was an evil king, for it was the king’s decree that saved the Jews. But God saw that their battles were won.
God is working in our lives just like this, every moment.
LORD, give me a portion of Esther’s courage that I will ever stand up for others. Give me wisdom and insight in recognizing needs.
Please give me the tools that I need in adverse situations.
Thank YOU for YOUR saving grace. I love YOU, LORD. In JESUS name, I pray, Amen.
A retired nurse, published author and columnist whose work appears in many newspapers, Pat Throckmorton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org