LOCKDOWN: “IN THE PALACE”: ESTHER
The Book of Esther opens with a picture of the power and wealth of King Xerxes. He ruled over 127 Provinces that stretched from India to Cush, from his Royal Throne in the Citadel of Susa.
In the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all the nobles, officials, military leaders and Princes of Persia and Media, for 180 days. Throughout these days King Xerxes displayed his vast wealth, the splendour, glory, and majesty of his Kingdom. When those days were over, he held another 7-day banquet “for all the people from the least to the greatest in Susa. This shows the public relations side of King Xerxes. He was seeking to keep the locals happy.
During that feast he ordered his Queen, Vashti, to “wear her Royal Crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.” “She refused to come!” The King consulted his experts in the Law and Justice. They decided that Vashti should never again enter the presence of the King and that her Royal Position should be given to someone else, “who is better than her.” This decision was made so that respect for the King and between husbands and wives would be maintained.
At the beginning of Chapter 2 the King’s Personal Attendants suggested that, “a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the King.” (v2) “Let the young woman who pleases the King be Queen instead of Vashti.” (v4)
Esther was taken into the Harem. Her heritage is Jewish. She was brought up by her cousin, Mordecai, who is hugely influential in her life. Her parents had both died. (2:5-7) Esther’s Jewish name is, Hadassah, meaning myrtles. An evergreen that can be a tree or a shrub. It has beautiful white flowers and white berries that turn black. She was known as Esther. That name was taken from the name of the star Venus.
For 12 months Esther was in Lockdown taking beauty treatments in preparation to meet the King – 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 months with perfumes and cosmetics. She won the favour of Hegai, who had charge of the Harem. He looked after Esther. In fact, “Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.” (v15) Including the King who, “set a royal crown on her head and made her Queen.” (2:17). They celebrated with a public holiday, a banquet, and the distribution of gifts.
Mordecai had told Esther to keep her heritage secret for now. He overheard two of the Kings Officers plotting an assassination attempt. He told Queen Esther who passed on the information to the King. When he investigated the accusation, it was proven. The details were recorded in the Book of Annals of the King, with Mordecai getting the credit. However, it was Haman who was promoted soon after. The power went to his head. He commanded everyone to bow the knee. Mordecai refused to do so and that upset and angered Haman, who decided to kill Mordecai and the entire Jewish population throughout the kingdom of Xerxes. Haman persuaded the King to sign a decree and seal it with his signet ring. This meant that the decree could never be rescinded.
“The King and Haman sat down to drink, but the City of Susa was bewildered. (3:15b)
“In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” (4:3). Mordecai put on sackcloth and went through the City of Susa wailing loudly and bitterly.
Locked Down in her Bubble Queen Esther did not know what was going on outside of the Palace. She asked the King’s Eunuchs to find out why Mordecai was so troubled. She sent Mordecai clothes. No doubt made of the best materials. But external coverings were not going to cover over Mordecai’s troubled soul.
Mordecai produced the evidence that Haman had promised to pay a huge sum into the Royal Treasury for the death of the Jews.
Mordecai then instructed Queen Esther to go into the Kings presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. (4:8) Esther knew, as did all the Kings Officials, that to enter his presence without an invitation was punishable by death, unless, he stretched out his gold sceptre to them and spares their lives. She was worried that she had not seen the King for 30 days.
Mordecai’s response is straightforward to Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the King’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to Royal Position for such a time as this?” (4:12-14)
IN LOCKDOWN: IN THE PALACE: ESTHER
- ESTHER MAKES PREPARATION
- Personal (Soul) Decision – Esther decided to go into the presence of the King
- Personal Pampering – She knew how to prepare! The clothes and perfume to wear
- Personal Prayer – Nowhere in the Book of Esther is God’s Name mentioned but He is Very Present! Esther knew that her life was in His Hands.
- Plan of Attack – To petition the King, in the presence of Haman, at the second banquet.
- ESTHER MAKES PETITION
- To: The Living God. (4:15-17) Prayer & Fasting.
- The King (5:1-8)
Esther walked into the Court. Uninvited and Unannounced. Not knowing the response of the King beforehand. There were no guarantees! She quickly learned that she had the favour of the king – he stretched out his golden sceptre. You could have probably cut the atmosphere with a knife! Esther requested that he, and Haman, attend a banquet that she has prepared for them. At the end of the first banquet Esther does not make her petition, simply requesting that they come to another banquet the next day. They agree. Haman raged at Mordecai when he saw him at the king’s gate. His wife and children told Haman to build a 75 feet/23 metre pole on which to impale Mordecai. (5:11-14) But that night the King could not sleep and ordered that the Book of the Annals of the king be read to him. He listens to the story of Mordecai saving his life from two conspirators. He is told that Mordecai was never rewarded for this. Mordecai did not do this for a reward! The King asks Haman what should be done for someone that the King wants to honour. Thinking that the King is going to confer on him great recognition he says that they should be dressed in a royal robe that the King has worn, riding a Kings horse, one with a royal crest placed on its head. One of the King’s noble princes to lead him through the city streets proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the King delights to honour!” Haman is told to go and do this to Mordecai the Jew. ((6:7-14)
Queen Esther petitions the King. (7:1-10) Pleading for her people to be saved. Saying that Haman is responsible for wanting her, and their destruction. Haman is judged, found guilty. He is impaled on the pole.
Esther is given Haman’s estate. She gets Mordecai to manage it. He was also given the Kings signet ring, that Haman has been wearing.
- ESTHER MAKES PROCLAMATION
“Now write another decree in The King’s Name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the King’s signet ring – for no document written in the King’s Name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.” (8:8). “The King’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble to protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality and province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.” Read: (8:11-14) for the full story. The Jews Triumphed!! It was a Mighty Deliverance!! From then onwards, each year, The Annual Feast of Purim has been celebrated, to remember God’s Deliverance. A Day of Celebration. Because mourning was turned into great joy. A feast, giving of food to one another and the giving of gifts to the poor. (9:20-22)
- “You (and I) Were Brought To Royal Position For Such A Time As This!”
- “You (and I) Can Walk Into The Presence Of The King of kings At Any Time!”
- “You (and I) Need To Remember, and Celebrate, God’s Victories Throughout Our Lives!”