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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Esther

(I) INTRODUCTION

  • The book of Esther occurred when the children of Israel were under the control of the Persian kingdom.

  • The King of Persia was named “Xerxes” (Esther 1).

  • He had a very big kingdom that stretched over 127 provinces.

  • Provinces were lands such as the states within the United States of America.

  • So, provinces and states really mean basically same thing.

  • So, his country was larger than the United States today when it comes to how many provinces he controlled (Esther 1).

  • His capital was a place called “Susa” that contained his royal throne (Esther 1:1-2).

  • One day, King Xerxes gave a banquet for many guests (Esther 1:3-21).

  • His banquet was filled with men while his wife, Vashti, was also having a separate banquet with her female guests.

  • Unfortunately, King Xerxes was drunk and sent messengers to bring Queen Vashti out to the male banquet to show her off to the guests there.

  • She was very pretty to look upon; so he wanted to show her off.

  • She did not want to go and King Xerxes’ messengers told him that she refused to come to his banquet.

  • Obviously, King Xerxes would have been embarrassed due to his wife’s disobedience to him.

  • So, he asked his wise men what should he do since she disobeyed him.

  • They told him that all women in the kingdom would start disrespecting their husbands like Queen Vashti did.

  • So, they said he should put her away and she should never be able to come into the king’s presence again.

  • They also told him that she should be replaced with a new queen.

  • He did so and made it a strict law that all wives should obey their husbands in the Persian kingdom.

(II) ESTHER IS SELECTED AS QUEEN

  • Later on in our Bible story, we find King Xerxes searching for a new wife (Esther 2:1-18).

  • So, he ordered that beautiful, virgin women would be brought to the palace so that he could choose the next queen.

  • Mordecai was a Jewish man who lived in the Persian kingdom.

  • He was a very kind, loving man, because he adopted his cousin who was an orphan.

  • He raised this young woman as his own daughter.

  • She was very beautiful and her name was “Esther.”

  • The Bible says that many women were brought to the palace for the king to select from.

  • These women had to go through 12 months of beauty treatments each.

  • Eventually, King Xerxes fell in love with Esther over all other women that had been brought to him.

  • As a result, he made her queen instead of Vashti.

(III) MORDECAI STOPS THE ASSASSINATION OF THE KING

  • An interesting part of the story is that Mordecai, who was Esther’s cousin, found out that 2 men were planning to assassinate King Xerxes (Esther 2:19-23).

  • So, Mordecai told Esther.

  • Esther reported the bad news to the king.

  • She told him that Mordecai had given her this information.

  • The king found out in time enough to have the 2 men executed.

  • Their names were “Bigthana” and “Teresh” and they were 2 of the kings officers.

  • All of this time, Esther obeyed Mordecai’s wishes to not reveal to the king that she was Jewish.

(IV) HAMAN'S HATRED OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

  • Haman was an officer for King Xerxes and he hated the Jewish people (Esther 3).

  • Everyone in the kingdom would bow to Haman except Mordecai.

  • The king commanded that all people should bow down to Haman, but Mordecai refused.

  • Mordecai was a Jewish person and this meant that he would only worship God and no man.

  • Haman did not like this and took the matter to King Xerxes.

  • So Haman convinced the king to make it a law to destroy all the Jewish people and gave the king a bribe to get the law passed.

  • The king approved the law, but did not take the bribe.

  • Remember, the king did not know that his wife Esther was Jewish; so, this new law would cause a lot of problems for the king in the future including his own wife being killed!

  • The new law would allow everyone in the kingdom to kill the Jewish people on the 13th day of the month Adar.

  • This would be nearly a year after the king put the new law to kill the Jewish people in place.

(V) THE MOURNING OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE

  • After hearing of the king’s order to kill the Jewish people, the children of Israel mourned greatly (Esther 4).

  • This included Mordecai.

  • Esther heard about Mordecai’s mourning and sent a messenger named “Hathak” to find out what was wrong.

  • He told Hathak about the king’s order to kill the children of Israel and how Haman also tried to bribe the king to make this happen.

  • Mordecai also sent a message back by Hathak to tell Queen Esther to beg the king for mercy in order to keep the Jewish people from being killed (Esther 4:6-8).

  • Esther sent back a message to Mordecai that it was against the law to approach the king without being called first.

  • The only exception is that the king can put out his golden scepter, which is a rod, and that would allow her to approach the king without being killed.

  • Mordecai sent a message back to Esther that if the Jewish people would be killed, then she would too.

  • He also said that if she and her family are killed, God will find a way to deliver the Jewish people from this death wish anyway.

  • He also said that maybe God put her in this position to help her people.

  • In other words, God made her queen so that she could make a difference.

  • The last message Esther sent back was to have Mordecai and all the Jewish people in Susa fast for her and she and her people within the palace would do the same.

  • Fasting is to go without food for awhile so that God can see you are making a sacrifice to get something you want.

  • The fast was to last for 3 days.

(VI) ESTHER RISKS HER LIFE FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND PREPARES A BANQUET FOR HAMAN AND THE KING

  • Thanks be to God that Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people (Esther 5).

  • The Bible tells us that she approached the king without permission, which means she could have been killed even though she was the queen!

  • He raised the golden scepter, which gave her permission to approach the king safely.

  • He asked her what she wanted and said that up to half the kingdom would be given to her, because he was very pleased with her.

  • She told the king that she prepared a banquet for Haman and wanted the king to attend.

  • Both the king and Haman went to the banquet as Esther asked.

  • At the banquet, the king asked her again what she wanted and would grant her up to half the kingdom.

  • She stated that she wanted the king and Haman to come to another banquet she would prepare for them the next day (Esther 5:1-8).

  • Unfortunately, after the first banquet, we see the evil in the heart of Haman.

  • The Bible says he left the banquet a very happy man, but his mood changed when he saw Mordecai.

  • Mordecai still would not act in a manner of worship toward Mordecai.

  • As a result, Haman left in a rage.

  • His wife told him to have a gallows made that Mordecai could be hung upon until his death (Ester 5:14 King James Version).
    Haman listened to his wife, Zeresh, and had one constructed to be used to kill Mordecai.

(VII) SLEEPLESS KING XERVES DISCOVERS A RECORD OF MORDECAI SAVING HIS LIFE

  • The Bible says that one night, King Xerxes could not sleep and he ordered that the royal records be brought to him (Esther 6).

  • In the records, he read where Mordecai had saved him from being killed by 2 traitors named Bigthana and Teresh.

  • The king wanted Mordecai honored for his good deed, because nothing had been done to celebrate this good deed in the past.

  • Now, Haman was standing outside of the room and did not hear any of this conversation.

  • He was waiting to have a moment with the king to reveal his secret plan of having Mordecai hanged and killed.

  • The king commanded that Mordecai be brought to speak to him.

  • The king asked Haman what should be done to honor a person who the king was delighted in (Esther 6:6-9)?

  • Haman mistakenly thought that the king wanted to honor him.

  • So, he said that the king should put one of the king’s royal robes on the man he wants to honor and a horse be brought.

  • He also suggested that one of the king’s most trusted officials should lead the horse around while the honored man rode it.

  • Even more, he suggested that the trusted official should shout out, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” (Esther 6:9 New International Version).

  • Little did Haman know that the king would tell him to be the official to put the robe on Mordecai, parade him through the streets of the city on the horse, and shout out these words of honor for the man he hated!

  • So Haman did as he was commanded and was very upset that he had to pay honor to Mordecai!

(VII) HAMAN IS HANGED

  • In Esther 7, we see Haman, the king, and Esther at the second banquet she prepared for them (Esther 7).

  • The king asked Esther what she wanted and he would grant her wish up to half of his kingdom (Esther 7:1-2)?

  • She asked that she and her people not be killed by an enemy in the kingdom that was plotting to kill them.

  • The king asked who this villain was?

  • She answered that Haman was plotting to have her and her people killed (Esther 7:3-6).

  • The king left the room in extreme anger.

  • Now, Haman was begging Queen Esther to save his life (Esther 7:6-7).

  • Haman’s begging did not work. 

  • The king had him hanged on the same gallows he made instead of Mordecai (Esther 7:8-10)!

  • As you can see, Haman’s plan backfired and had him killed instead of Mordecai!

  • What do we learn from Haman’s evil life?

  • We learn about the principle the Bible calls “reaping what we sow” (Galatians 6:7-10).

  • In other words, our bad deeds can come back to hurt or kill us in the end.

  • Haman’s hatred became his own death.

  • This is why we love our enemies and treat every one right (Matthew 5:44-45).

  • If not, the same trap we set for others may be the trap that hurts us instead.

  • Besides, if we are hateful and evil toward others and never change before we die, we will not see heaven as our home (1 John 3:15).

  • On the same day that Haman was hanged, Esther returned to King Xerxes to beg him to stop the plan that would have killed all the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 8).

  • She pleaded with the king to send out a law that would reverse the first one.

  • She also revealed that the Jewish people were her people and that if the Jewish people would be destroyed, then her family would be destroyed as well.

  • Mordecai wrote the new law that was sealed with the imprint of the king’s ring.

  • The law gave the Jewish people the right to defend themselves if they were attacked by anyone and if they won the battle, they could keep the spoils of war.

  • This means that if the dead had any valuable things, they could take them and keep them as their own.

(VIII) THE ENEMIES OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED

  • In Esther 9, we see the Jewish people fighting their enemies that were determined to destroy them (Esther 9).

  • However, God made them more powerful fighters and their swords defeated all of their enemies.

  • However, they decided not to take any of the plunder, which means they did not take the material things of their dead enemies.

  • After all of their enemies were defeated, Mordecai made a holiday among the Jewish people called “Purim” that they were to celebrate every year.

  • This was a day to remember their deliverance from their enemies in Persia, feast together, give presents to each other, and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:22).

  • This would be a celebration lasting 2 days out of every year (Esther 9:27).

  • This 2 day celebration would be held on the 14th and 15th day of the Jewish month of Adar.

  • The month of Adar would be our month of March (Butler, 1991).

  • Mordecai’s story also has a very happy ending as King Xerxes promoted him to second in authority in the entire kingdom (Esther 10).
     

 

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