Esther 1-2 When Life Turns Upside Down

WHEN LIFE TURNS UPSIDE DOWN
Esther 1:1-2:23        February 4 2007

A man is very poor if he can show all his glory and wealth in six months! It will take eternal ages for us to begin to fathom the riches of God’s grace and glory (Eph.1:18. Where’s is the glory of Xerxes today?
A man is poor if he must entertain his guests with “wine in abundance” (Esth.1:7). What began as a royal banquet degenerated into a drunken party (Prov.20:1;23:29-31). Queen Vawhti was wise to refuse to attend such a feast (Priv.23:20). she lost her crown. but she kept her integrity.
A man is poor if he lets his temper get the best of him (prov.14:17;16:32). Xerxes made some foolish decisions, which is what usually happens when anger takes over. But God was in control , working out His plan even through a proud pagan monarch (Prov.21:1).

1. Accept Unavoidable Changes (Esth.2:5-7)

Esth. 2:5   Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew
of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair,
the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 2:6   who had been
carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon, among those taken captive with
Jehoiachin king of Judah. 2:7   Mordecai had a cousin
named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she
had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also
known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and
Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her
father and mother died.

In the citadel of Susa a Jew. As far back as the fall of the northern kingdom in 722-721 B.C. Israelites had been exiled among the cities of the Medes (2Ki 17:6). After the conquest of Babylon by King Cyrus of Persia in 539, some of the Jewish population taken there by the Babylonians (605-586) probably moved eastward into the cities of Medo-persia. Only 50,000 returned to Israel in the restoration of 538 (Ezr 2:64-67). The presence of a large Jewish population in Medo-persia is confirmed by the discovery of an archive of texts in Nippur (southern Mesopotamia) from the period of Artaxerxes I (465-424) and Darius II (424-405). This archive contains the names of about 100 Jews who lived in that city. Some had attained positions of importance and wealth. Similar Jewish populations are probable in many other Medo-persian cities. Mordecai. The name is derived from that of the Babylonian deity Marduk. There are numerous examples in the Bible of Jews having double names —a Hebrew name and a “Gentile” name. Mordecai likely had a Hebrew name, as did Esther (v. 7), Daniel and his friends (Da 1:6-7), Joseph (Ge 41:45) and others, but the text does not mention Mordecai’s Hebrew name. A cuneiform tablet from Borsippa near Babylon mentions a scribe by the name of Mardukaya; he was an accountant or minister at the court of Susa in the early years of Xerxes. Many scholars identify him with Mordecai. Son of Jair, The Son of shimei, The Son of Kisk. The persons named could be immediate ancestors, in which case Mordecai would be the great-grandson of Kish, who was among the exiles with Jehoiachin in 597 B.C. It is more likely, however, that the names refer to remote ancestors in the tribe of Benjamin (see 2Sa 16:5-14 for Shimei, 1Sa 9:1 for Kish). This association with the tribe and family of King Saul sets the stage for the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Amalekites (see notes on 3:1-6). If the names are those of remote ancestors, the clause “who had been carried into exile” (v. 6) would not apply to Mordecai, who would have been over 100 years old in that case; rather, it would have to be taken as an elliptical construction in the sense “whose family had been carried into exile.”

2. Adjust To New Challenges (Esth. 2:8-10)

Esth. 2:8   When the king’s order and edict had been
proclaimed, many girls were brought to the citadel
of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also
was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai,
who had charge of the harem. 2:9   The girl pleased
him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her
with her beauty treatments and special food. He
assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s
palace and moved her and her maids into the best
place in the harem. 2:10   Esther had not revealed her
nationality and family background, because Mordecai
had forbidden her to do so.

Esther also was taken. Neither she nor Mordecai
would have had any choice in the matter (2Sa 11:4).
Special food. Lit. “her portions.” Unlike Daniel and
his friends (Da 1:5-10), Esther does not observe
the dietary laws, perhaps in part to conceal her
Jewish identity . Giving such portions is a sign of
special favor (1Sa 9:22-24; 2Ki 25:29-30;
Da 1:1-10; negatively, Jer 13:25); in the Joseph
narrative (Ge 43:34). The motif of giving portions
appears later as a practice in observing Purim
(9:19,22). The fact that Esther concealed her
identity is reported twice —here and in (Esth. 2:20).

3. Avail Yourself Of Opportunities (Esth. 2:16-17,
21-23)

Esth. 2:16   She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal
residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in
the seventh year of his reign. 2:17   Now the king was
attracted to Esther more than to any of the other
women, and she won his favor and approval more than
any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her
head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 2:21
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s
gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers
who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired
to assassinate King Xerxes. 2:22   But Mordecai found
out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn
reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 2:23
And when the report was investigated and found to be
true, the two officials were hanged on a gallows. All
this was recorded in the book of the annals in the
presence of the king.

Tenth month. . . Seventh year. December, 479 B.C.,
or January, 478 (Esth. 1:3-4; 2:1). Esther’s tenure
as queen continued through the events of the book,
through 473 (Esth. 8:9-13; 9:1). She may have died
or fallen from favor shortly thereafter . Holiday.
The Hebrew for this word, unique to this verse, may
imply a remission of taxes, an emancipation of
slaves, a cancellation of debts or a remission of
obligatory military service. Purpose, Themes and
Literary Features. The enlargement of the harem
apparently continued unabated. Perhaps there is a
causal connection between the second gathering of
women and the assassination plot (Esth.2: 21-23);
some have suggested that it reflects palace intrigue
in support of the deposed Vashti. King’s Gate. The
gate of an ancient city was its major commercial
and legal center. Markets were held in the gate; the
court sat there to transact its business (Dt 21:18-20;
Jos 20:4; Ru 4:1-11; Ps 69:12). A king might hold an
audience in the gate (2Sa 19:8; 1Ki 22:10). Daniel
was at the king’s gate as ruler over all Babylon
(Da 2:48-49). Mordecai’s sitting in the king’s gate
confirms his holding a high position in the civil
service of the empire . From this vantage point he
might overhear plans for the murder of the king.
(Esth.2:21-23) Another point of comparison with
the Joseph narrative is the involvement of two
chamberlains (Ge 40:1-3). Hanged.  Among the
Persians this form of execution was impalement,
as is confirmed in pictures and statues from the
ancient Near East and in the comments of the Greek
historian Herodotus . According to Herodotus Darius
impaled 3,000 Babylonians when he took Babylon,
an act that Darius himself recorded in his Behistun
(Bisitun) inscription. In Israelite and Canaanite
practice, hanging was an exhibition of the corpse
and not the means of execution itself (Dt 21:22-23;
Jos 8:29; 10:26; 1Sa 31:8-10; 2Sa 4:12; 21:9-10).
The execution of a chamberlain in the Joseph
narrative also appears to have been by impalement
(Ge 40:19). The sons of Haman were killed by the
sword, and then their corpses were displayed in this
way (Esth. 9:5-14). Annals. The concern of the author
of Esther with rhetorical symmetry is seen in the
fact that the annals are mentioned in the beginning
(here), middle (6:1) and end (10:2) of the narrative.
The episode dealing with the plot of Bigthana and
Teresh is a good example of the many “coincidences”
in the book that later take on crucial significance
for the story.

Summary:

The selection of Esther (Esth.1:1-18) and the detection of the plotter (Esth.1:19-13) may seem to be events that do not belong together, but they were both part of God’s plan to save His people. Esther’s coronation was a grand public affair, while Mordecai’s service to the king was rather private. But God would use Esther’s position and Mordecai’s service to fulfill His Purposes.
You may be prone to believe that God works only in the “important events” of life. All events are important if you are living in the will of God. Mordecai was not immediately rewarded for saving the king’s life, but God would take care of it at the right time (Chap. 6). Do your duty today, and let God take care of the consequences.