EP 128: A Young Girl Who Won A Beauty Pageant: Esther

Diana WinklerPhysical Violence, sexual abuse

Imagine being taken from your home as a young girl to the harem of a cruel King to become the next queen of Persia. That’s what happened to Hadassah, a godly Jew raised by her uncle. Discover the twists and turns of the story of Esther, her faith, bravery, and even craftiness in order to save her people.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to the Wounds of the Faithful Podcast. Brought to you by DSW Ministries. Your host is singer songwriter, speaker and domestic violence advocate, Diana Winkler. She is passionate about helping survivors in the church heal from domestic violence and abuse and trauma. This podcast is not a substitute for professional counseling or qualified medical help.

[00:00:26] Now here is Diana.

[00:00:33] Hello everyone. Come on in. Welcome.

[00:00:37] How are you doing? It is definitely spring here as I’m recording. Got some new rose bushes for my garden and they are starting to bloom. That’s exciting. It is time for my spring planting of vegetables. I do have to finish that today.

[00:00:58] Now, I did [00:01:00] have a couple of guests that I was supposed to interview this week. But they have rescheduled, due to family illness. And so we’re going to continue with our character study on some prominent people in the Bible, some that have experienced abuse or some major trauma.

[00:01:21] And today we’re going to talk about Hadassah, also known as Esther. And we’re gonna look into her story and who this King Xerxes was and the nuances in that story. I have seen a couple movies on Queen Esther, and they’re kind of irritating because the movies depict the marriage between Esther and Xerxes as a love story.

[00:01:57] And I totally disagree with that. [00:02:00] Maybe they’re trying to keep the movie family friendly or they don’t like the reality of this story. But I’m going to give you the honest truth here, history of what’s going on in the book of Esther, and this is an important book. Now, it gets a lot of flack because the name God is not mentioned in the book.

[00:02:24] But as you will see by reading the book, that God is in the background. He’s doing some amazing things. He is trying to protect his people, and he is using Queen Esther to do that. And so let’s get out our Bibles if you wanna follow along in that. Of course. We’re gonna start in Esther chapter one, verse one.

[00:02:52] And

[00:02:52] as always, I’m reading out of the E S V, the English standard version. That is my [00:03:00] choice. And you may have a different choice. That’s okay. You’re still gonna come to the same conclusion that I did in our exploration of Esther. Let’s start in verse one.

[00:03:13] Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India, Ethiopia, over 127 provinces in those days, when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the Citadel, in the third year of his reign, he gave a feast for all of his officials and servants, the army of Persia and media, and the nobles and governors of the provinces were beforehand while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days.

[00:03:55] And when these days were completed, the King gave for all [00:04:00] people present in Susa, the Citadel, both great and small. A feast lasting for seven days. In the court of the Garden of the King’s Palace, there were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of periphery, marble, mother pearl and precious stones.

[00:04:35] Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king, and drinking was according to this edict, there is no compulsion where the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. Vashti also gave a feast for [00:05:00] the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus.

[00:05:05] Now Ahasuerus is just another name for Xerxes. So let’s talk a little bit about who this man was. Where’s this taking place? Remember Susa? If you remember our study in the book of Daniel, that was in the same area because he’s a Persian king and King Darius was a Persian king as well. So this was in the same area.

[00:05:34] Xerxes succeeded his father, Darius, the first as king. He’s known for his, vast offensive against the Grecian Empire. Now he was defeated, but. This banquet that is being put on in these passages I read was around that time where he was trying to invade Greece.

[00:05:57] And so he was [00:06:00] really big into building things. He built buildings and bridges and,

[00:06:06] but he would use the assets of the empire for his lavish lifestyle and building projects. As you can see, he likes to show off his wealth. He was also known for his cruel punishments, womanizing. He was not a nice man. He was not a good king.

[00:06:27] An example of Xerxes cruelty. Pythius, a Lydian governor, requested that his eldest son be allowed to remain as his heir. Xerxes took offense believing that Pythius doubted the success of the invasion. He reportedly had Pythius’ son cut in half, displayed the corpse on either side of the road and march the army between the grizzly markers.

[00:06:56] This has taken place at [00:07:00] Dardanelles Straight in Turkey during the Jewish Feast of Purim and a place called Hellespont. Oh, I’m saying that right. You might remember Homer’s Illiad and, you know, the invasion of Troy with, the big, huge, giant horse with a bunch of soldiers in it. And another thing that Xerxes did that really shows his temper in his, maybe he was mad, I don’t know, but to cross the straight, he had to build two bridges, and so his engineers put the bridges together and a storm came and wiped out the bridges.

[00:07:48] I mean, it’s nobody’s fault. But Xerxes was so angry with the storm that he killed his [00:08:00] engineers, the people that built the bridges, beheaded them. And then, this is really bizarre, but he had the remaining people flog the sea and brand it. I mean, how does that even work? Flogging the sea, that sounds really bonkers.

[00:08:20] And branding. Branding’s with a hot iron, right? How do you brand the sea? Soon as you put it in the water, it um, it’s not hot anymore. So I don’t know how that works, but that is the history of who Xerxes was and what kind of a man he was. He is not a good man.

[00:08:43] Okay, so he’s giving this feast, he’s showing off his wealth. He’s trying to gain support for his, invasion of Greece. Now enters Queen Vashti that also was giving a feast for the women in the [00:09:00] palace.

[00:09:00] She could have her own tea party as well. I don’t know who’s included in the women’s feast, but apparently she was allowed to have social events in the palace. And Xerxes his appetites are quite famous.

[00:09:22] There is no compulsion, so that means there weren’t any limits to how much alcohol you could have or food. And so we’re gonna talk about Queen Vashti, and she is a victim too in this story because women didn’t have any kind of choice when it came to who they married, who they had sex with. They did not have any agency of their own.

[00:09:52] And so they’re having this party in the palace with Xerxes friends [00:10:00] and political allies and whoever else was invited. And Queens were married, usually for political reasons. They were paired up to make kingdom stronger and build alliances. So I’m assuming that’s what happened here. Queen Vashti,

[00:10:23] probably was a political pawn. So let’s read in verse 10. On the seventh day when the heart of the king was merry with wine,

[00:10:32] He commanded the seven Eunich who served in the presence of King to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, where she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come. The King’s command delivered by the eunichs. At this, the king became [00:11:00] enraged and his anger burned with in.

[00:11:03] Now, at first you’re kinda like, why wouldn’t she come? Well, this was not a kind of situation that, oh, hey honey, come and meet my friends and the princes of the area and my political, allies. I’d like you to meet them all. And everybody, here’s my wonderful wife and Queen Vashti. That was not what was going down here. According to scholars and most of the commentaries I was reading, um,

[00:11:38] I mean, the king was a polygamist. He already had many wives in concubines in his harem, and she pretty much lived in the harem, but she was a special wife and she occupied a favorite position. Again, it’s a political position, strengthening maybe two families that [00:12:00] join together makes their kingdom stronger.

[00:12:03] She was just another part of his harem. This was not a relationship of trust and love and mutual respect. Uh, and in most commentaries and, and scholars, they all agree that it was not just her coming out to greet them.

[00:12:27] It was she would be naked or almost naked. With her crown on. And these were drunk people. The king was drunk. The people at the banquet were drunk. And that kind of goes along with, let’s see, a naked lady, and they decide to make her the sport of this. And she says, no, I am not parading myself in front of those people, buck naked or nearly naked.[00:13:00] [00:13:00] And good for her. Oh, but it did come at a price. The king was enraged and his anger burned within him. So let’s read what else comes. Verse 13, then the king said to the wise men who knew the times for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment. The men next to him the seven princes of Persia and media who saw the king’s face and sat first in the kingdom. According to the law,

[00:13:32] what is to be done to Queen Vashti? Because she has not performed the command of king, Ahasuerus delivered by the eunichs. Then Ma can said, in the presence of the king and the officials, not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King [00:14:00] Ahasuerus.

[00:14:00] For the Queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt. Since they will say King commanded, queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come. This very day the noble women of Persia in media who have heard of the Queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials.

[00:14:25] And there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king let a royal order go out before him and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Meads. So that may not be repealed. That Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.

[00:14:50] So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is fast, all women will give [00:15:00] honor to their husbands high and low alike. He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script, and to every people in its own language. That every man be master in his household and speak according to the language of the people.

[00:15:19] So a lot going on here. The king was offended and the party guests were offended that she didn’t come and parade herself in front of them. And they did not want it to get out, that she had turned him down because that would’ve created, uh, a precedence for the other women in the area to disobey their husbands.

[00:15:42] Well, I don’t think it would’ve really come to that. I don’t think that most husbands would want to parade their wives around buck naked in front of their friends or coworkers. That’s just not normal. This guy was a mad man.

[00:15:59] I [00:16:00] remember my ex-husband, who of course was an abusive man, he was up for his high school reunion, and he told me that, oh, you have to dress hot.

[00:16:13] You have to wear something really hot. You know, when we go to this reunion, And, I’m a pretty modest dresser. I don’t dress to bring attention to myself, especially in those days. And I, frankly, I told him, I am not going to dress hot for your goon friends from high school. I am gonna get a nice dress and dress as I always do, like a lady.

[00:16:39] And we started arguing about that because he wanted to show me off to his friends, like some trophy. And I told him, no, I’m not going to your high school reunion if that’s what’s going to take place. You forcing me to wear something I’m not comfortable wearing in [00:17:00] order for you to

[00:17:00] show me off in front of your high school friends who don’t really care about you.

[00:17:06] So I kind of know what Vashti was feeling. I wouldn’t have done it either.

[00:17:12] And so this decree comes out to make sure that these women are bowing to their husbands and obeying.

[00:17:20] And so let’s go on to chapter two. This is when they have the beauty pageant to pick the next queen because she was going to be kicked out.

[00:17:33] Chapter two verse one, after these things, when the anger of the king had abated, he remembered Vashti what she had done and what had been decreed against her.

[00:17:44] Then the king’s young man who attended him said, let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king, and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to [00:18:00] the harem in Susa, the citadel under custody of Hagai, the king’s eunich who is in charge of the women, let their cosmetics be given them, and let the young woman who pleased the king be queen instead of Vashti.

[00:18:17] Let’s please the king, and he did so.

[00:18:20] So, Hey, let’s put on a beauty pageant. And it was pretty much, who was the prettiest one in the group. And he already had a harem. He already had wives. He already had concubines. Why he couldn’t he choose from his already full herem? I don’t know.

[00:18:39] He’s just a narcissist. He’s again a mad man. He just wants more.

[00:18:44] verse five. Now there was a Jew, in Susa, the Citadel, whose name was Mordecai who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives, whom Nebucanezzar King of Babylon had carried away.

[00:18:57] Verse seven, he was bringing up [00:19:00] Hadassah. That is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, where she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at. And when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the King’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa, the Citadel in custody of Hagai Esther, was also taken into the King’s Palace.

[00:19:32] Put in custody of Hagai who had charge of the women.

[00:19:36] So let’s, let’s stop there and mention that Hadasseh, she was an orphan and Mordecai took her into his home to take care of her. but they were some of the Babylonian captives, just like in the book of Daniel, when Daniel and his friends were taken, [00:20:00] Mordecai and, his family were taken as well.

[00:20:03] Esther is very beautiful and it mentions her figure, which I don’t remember anywhere else in the Bible where it talks about a woman’s figure, but she was apparently, Extraordinarily beautiful. And this was not optional to be in the beauty pageant. It wasn’t they put some flyers up, Hey, enter the beauty pageant and become a queen.

[00:20:27] No, these girls were taken from their homes, probably teenagers, very young. They didn’t want anybody, um, that wasn’t a virgin. Pretty typical.

[00:20:42] And they were brought into the King’s Harem,

[00:20:45] verse nine. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. This is the head eunuch of the herem. Really liked Esther. They quickly provided her with the cosmetics and her [00:21:00] portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the King’s Palace in advanced her young women to the best place in the harem.

[00:21:09] Esther had not made known her people or Kindred for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. And every day, Mordecai walked in front of the court of the Harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. So here we are, we’re in the finals of the Beauty Pageant,

[00:21:28] which we got seven runners up, and we have Esther who, that is her new name, her Persian name.

[00:21:36] So they get moved up to the, I guess the presidential suite. They’re in the poshest place in the palace for the harem. And so the king is going to choose from one of those seven ladies or eight ladies. And up to this point, it has [00:22:00] shown that

[00:22:00] Esther had not told anybody what her ethnicity was. She did not tell anybody she was a Jew. And Mordecai was walking around out, near where the court of the herem was to make sure that she was okay, that nobody had, discovered her. That she was safe. Uh, for men, it’s easier to identify a Jew in those days because all Jews were circumcised.

[00:22:28] For women it wasn’t as easy, most likely. Maybe your clothing might betray you or your hairstyle perhaps, because Gentiles and Jews dressed a little differently. So I don’t think anybody found out that she was a Jew because as soon as they’re taken into the harem, they’re given different clothing to wear.

[00:22:51] And they’re going through the spa treatments and they’re getting their hair done and they’re taking baths and putting on ointments and [00:23:00] smell real good. And so everybody looked the same. So let’s talk more about this beauty pageant verse 12. Now, when the turn came for each woman to go into King Ahasuerus after being 12 months under the regulations for the women, since this was a regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women, when the young women went into the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace.

[00:23:39] In the evening, she would go in and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of

[00:23:46] The King’s eunich who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go into the king again unless the king delighted in her, and she was summoned by name.

[00:23:56] So in a lot of the movies that [00:24:00] are about Esther, they leave out the part that these women are having sex with the king. That might be obvious to you. It’s a harem. But they not only had to be beautiful, but apparently he wanted to check out her body and see if she pleased him sexually. So they don’t give us any details of what happens, thank God.

[00:24:29] But, uh, a lot of these Esther movies, they kind of gloss over it. And I’ve seen one that, that the king wanted somebody intelligent and cultured and that had a brain. And, you know, supposedly Esther, she read some literature that he would’ve liked. It doesn’t say that in here. There was nothing about that

[00:24:55] he wanted some cultured queen. He wanted a beautiful [00:25:00] queen. That’s it. Those, were the requirements. You’re beautiful. And you please the king. That’s it. So just wanted to make that very clear. You see those, movies, it’s bunk.

[00:25:12] Verse 15, when the turn came for Esther, to go into the king. She asked for nothing except what Hagai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women advised now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.

[00:25:27] And when Esther was taken to the king, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins. So that he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.

[00:25:44] Then the king gave a great feast for all of his officials and servants. It was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with real generosity. Okay?

[00:25:58] So she spent [00:26:00] the night with the king. She slept with him as all the other virgins did, and she won the beauty contest. And do not mistake that this word loved has anything to do with a love based on respect and, kindness and, trust. This was just Hey, you’re beautiful and your body is gorgeous and I’m sexually attracted to you.

[00:26:28] That’s pretty much what it was. Now, the Harem and the eunichs, she had a relationship with those people.

[00:26:37] So when the eunuch say that she won favor in their eyes. She had spent a year with them and they knew her personality. And she probably got along with them really well. She won the favor of everyone because apparently she was, A great person.

[00:26:56] But this king, she didn’t have any relationship [00:27:00] with him. He didn’t try to get to know her as a person. The other virgins, now, not virgins, went back to the harem and she, was crowned queen.

[00:27:12] So of course, the king held a feast. And that’s what he does best is hold feast to show off his new queen and also his great wealth. Guess he was in a really good mood. He gave everybody a tax break and he handed out some gifts at the party.

[00:27:32] So after their night together, back to the harem and wouldn’t see the king again unless the king called for her. She stayed in the harem.

[00:27:43] And even though she’s queen, she is not gonna be his exclusive wife or sexual partner. Duh. Right? A woman, whom Xerxes never called again, would live her life in the Harem as a pampered prisoner with no [00:28:00] possibility for a real marriage or family of her own.

[00:28:04] So if you’ve ever seen the King and I with Yul Brenner, that would probably be a good example of maybe what Xerxes was like.

[00:28:12] He had all these wives and all these children and, Anna came from England to take care of the children of the king and educate them. And Anna was very, offended by all of the concubines and, all the wives. And he would just pick one each night, whatever his heart desires. Apparently during the movie, if you remember, this young girl arrives fresh from her home and the king pats her on the head.

[00:28:47] Supposedly that’s the signal that, okay, you’re gonna be with me tonight. And she apparently fell in love with the man that brought her to the king. [00:29:00] They fell in love. And if you’ve seen the movie, they wind up killing the man because they were forbidden to be together. And yes, it’s terrible. And of course, Anna was very offended that this young girl was treated that way.

[00:29:17] And the head wife is like, are you not happy in the palace of the King? You get to live in the Palace of the King, you’re not poor and starving to death on outside of the palace.

[00:29:29] Of course, they’re singing of songs and dancing.

[00:29:33] There’s a whole lot of other stuff going on.

[00:29:37] So there’s a plot against the king. Mordecai discovers a plot. This is in verse 19. Now, when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s gate, Esther had not made known her Kindred or her people as Mordecai had commanded her,

[00:29:58] where Esther obeyed [00:30:00] Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the King’s gate, and two of the king’s eunichs guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther.

[00:30:20] And Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai when the affair was investigated and found to be so. The men were both hanged on the gallows and it was recorded in the book of the Chronicles and the presence of the king. So, good job, Mordecai, but Mordecai gets, uh, in really hot water here.

[00:30:45] Chapter three, verse one. After these things, king Ahasuerus promoted Haman, advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him and all the king servants who were at the King’s gate [00:31:00] bowed down and paid homage to Haman. The king had so commanded concerning him, but Mordecai did not bow down nor pay homage.

[00:31:11] Then the king servants who were at the king’s gates and Mordecai, why do you transgress the king’s command? And when they spoke to him day after day, he would not listen to them. And they told Haman in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand for, he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down, nor pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury, but he disdain to lay hands on alone.

[00:31:45] So as they had made known to him, the people of Mordecai sought to destroy all of the Jews, the people of Mordecai throughout the whole kingdom of a Ahasuerus.

[00:31:57] In the first month, which is the month of [00:32:00] Nissan, in the 12th year of kings, they cast pure. That is, they cast lots before Haman, day after day, and they cast it month after month until the 12th month, which is the month of Adar then Haman said to King, there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples and all the provinces of your kingdom.

[00:32:28] Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws so that it is not to the king’s profitt to tolerate them. If it please the king let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver. Into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the King’s treasuries.

[00:32:55] Verse 10. So the king took his cignet ring from [00:33:00] his hand and give it to Haman, the enemy of the Jews, and the king said to Haman, the money is given to you, the people also to do with them as it seems good to you. I don’t know if the king really knew what kind of person Haman was.

[00:33:20] Obviously he’s evil and maybe the king was just foolish or just was drunk or didn’t really care, but he, took his cignet and gave it to him. That’s pretty much giving somebody your social security number to do with what they want. Or your American Express gold card or something. You could do anything you wanted with that ring, because that was the king’s signature, his authority.

[00:33:49] So the Jews are now in great danger.

[00:33:52] So in verse 13, the letters were sent by carriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to [00:34:00] destroy, to kill, and annihilate all Jews, young and old women and children in one day, the 13th day of the 12th month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.

[00:34:13] 14, a copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by a proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa, the Citadel and the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.

[00:34:39] So, it begins, right?

[00:34:41] Esther is going to have a choice here, what to do. Chapter four we’re in now. Let’s read verse one. When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sack cloth and ashes and went out into the midst of the city, and he [00:35:00] cried out with a loud and bitter cry.

[00:35:02] He went up to the entrance of the king’s gate for Nolan was allowed to enter the king’s gate cloth and sack cloth. And in every province, whether wherever the King’s command and his decree reached, there was a great mourning among the Jews with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sack cloth and ashes.

[00:35:25] Verse four, when Esther’s young women and her eunichs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed, she sent garments to clothe Mordecai so that he might take off his sackcloth. But he would not accept them. Then Esther called for one of the king’s eunichs, who had been appointed to attend her in, ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. You just didn’t wear sackcloth and Ashes for fun.

[00:35:58] It was [00:36:00] very good reason that you mourned and lamented in public. And so she’s about to find out why.

[00:36:06] So verse six went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city, in front of the King’s Gate, and Mordecai told him all that it happened to him, and the exact sum. That Haman had promised to pay into the King’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on the behalf of her people.

[00:36:42] So this is insinuating that, queen Esther could not read. She was not educated, in order to read a document, and so somebody had to read it and explain it to her. Verse nine, in Hathach that went and told Esther what Mordecai had [00:37:00] said. Then Esther spoke to Hathatch and commended him to go to Mordecai and say, All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is one law to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live.

[00:37:29] But as for me, I have not been called to come to the king in these 30 days.

[00:37:35] So they do have, at the British Museum, a carving of some sort. I don’t know what you would call it, but it was, a picture of the king with the scepter. It’s this big, long, stick sort of a thing.

[00:37:52] And the king had to hold out the scepter when you came to be seen. And if he did not hold out the scepter [00:38:00] for you, you know, off with thy head. That’s pretty scary. And another reason why I don’t think that this was a love story at all, because she hadn’t seen him in 30 days. If he loved her, he would spend every night with her.

[00:38:16] If he loved her, she wouldn’t have to live in the harem with the other girls. If he loved her, she wouldn’t have to wait in the court and wait for him to,

[00:38:27] Put out the scepter. So yeah, some of this is cultural and that’s the way it was. The king could change the laws if he wanted. As you can tell, the king does what he wants. He can change laws. So if he loved her, then he would’ve changed it. So she could come to him at any time. Hey, you wanna have breakfast with me?

[00:38:52] Sure. That wasn’t what kind of relationship they have. And so this is a scary thing because we all know it [00:39:00] happened to Vashti. And so that could have happened to Esther, or worse.

[00:39:06] So let’s continue here.

[00:39:07] Verse 12. And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther.

[00:39:15] Do not think to yourself that in the King’s palace, you will escape anymore than all the other Jews. Or if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.

[00:39:34] And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, go gather all the Jews to be found in Susa and hold a fast on my behalf. And do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do.[00:40:00] [00:40:00] Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.

[00:40:08] Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. So this is kind of an example of, God is not mentioned here, but

[00:40:17] Fasting is you are not eating or drinking because you’re praying to God. You are seeking his blessing. You are begging for something, you want God to answer you, and you’re trying to get God’s attention by fasting. And so that’s what’s going on here and. She’s asked all the women in Mordecai’s neighborhood and her women that serve her they are all going to fast as well.

[00:40:44] This is terrifying. Cuz now she realizes if I don’t say anything, my people are gonna perish and I’m gonna perish with them when they find out who I am. And so she’s taking a chance here, a terrifying chance that she has to [00:41:00] go and beg for her people. But she does it in a roundabout way and you don’t think of Esther as being sneaky, but um, she is. you know, When you want something for your spouse, you know, you messed up, or you want something from your spouse, what do you do? You make a really nice dinner, you take them out to dinner, right? We still do that.

[00:41:22] So that’s part of our culture is food. And so that’s what she does is she is going to, have a banquet and she is going to ask him after he’s had his tummy full and after, he’s probably a little tipsy from the alcohol and she is gonna have some very interesting guests. So we’re in chapter five, verse one.

[00:41:51] On the third day, Esther puts on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was [00:42:00] sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther, the golden scepter that was in his hand.

[00:42:18] Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. So yeah, she probably gussied herself up, made herself really pretty, put on her a really nice outfit, sit out there in the court and, pray to God that he would hold out the scepter to her. Verse three. And the king said to her, what is it, queen Esther, what is your request?

[00:42:41] It shall be given you even to half of my kingdom. And Esther said, if it please the king, let the king in Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king. Then the king said, bring Haman quickly. So that we may do is Esther has asked. [00:43:00] So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared, and as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, what is your wish?

[00:43:12] It shall be granted to you and what is your request? Even to half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled. I guess he was in a good mood there. And where have we seen that phrase before? Up to half of my kingdom. We hear that the New Testament. King Herod puts on a feast and Herodias’ daughter does this dance and her mother asks her to ask for the head of the Baptist after she does her very erotic dance for the king and his guests.

[00:43:49] So apparently Xerxes does that too because he’s smitten with all the beauty of his queen.

[00:43:56] verse four. And Esther said, if it please the king, [00:44:00] let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king. Then the king said, bring Haman quickly so that we may do, as Esther has asked. So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared, and as they were drinking one, after the feast, the king said to Esther, what is your wish?

[00:44:21] It shall be granted to you, and what is your request? Even to half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled. Verse seven. Then Esther answered My wish in my request is if I have found favor in the sight of the king. If it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request. Let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them.

[00:44:46] And tomorrow I will do as the king has said.

[00:44:49] So she didn’t ask what she wanted for yet. She’s gonna bring Haman into the picture. This is where it gets sneaky cuz [00:45:00] Haman has no clue, what’s going to happen at this dinner. Haman is planning to hang Mordecai. so let’s look at that.

[00:45:09] Verse nine. Haman went out that day, joyful and glad of heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the King’s gate that he had neither rose nor troubled before him, he was filled with the wrath against Mordecai.

[00:45:24] Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. And he sent and brought his friends and his wife, Zerish and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king.

[00:45:48] Verse 12, then Haman said, even Queen Esther, let no one but me come with the king to the feast she has prepared, and tomorrow I am also invited [00:46:00] by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me. So as long as I see Mordecai The Jew sitting at the King’s gate. Then his wife, Zerish, and all of his friends said to him, let a gallows 50 cubits high be made, and in the morning,

[00:46:17] tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it, then go joyfully with the king to the feast. This idea pleased Haman and he had the gallows made.

[00:46:27] Yes, the plot thickens. So Haman has no clue that Mordecai is her uncle. And so he’s going to go and ask for Mordecai to be hanged on these gallows at this feast. So

[00:46:44] what else is gonna happen?

[00:46:46] In chapter six?

[00:46:47] The king is going to honor Mordecai. So verse one, on that night, the king could not sleep and he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the Chronicles, and [00:47:00] they were read before the King, and it was found written how Mordecai had told two of the king’s eunichs, who guarded the threshold, who had sought to lay hands on Ahasuerus.

[00:47:13] And the king said, what honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this? The king young men who attended him said, nothing has been done for him. And the king said, who is in the court now? Heman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him.

[00:47:40] And the king’s young men told him, Haman is there standing in the court. And the king said, let him come in. So Haman came in and the king said to him, what should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor? And Haman said to himself, whom would the king delight

[00:47:59] [00:48:00] to honor more than me? So Haman’s thinking that he’s gonna be the one that’s gonna be honored, but it’s gonna be Mordecai. Verse seven. And Haman said to the king, for the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden in. On his head

[00:48:23] a royal crown is set and let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor. Let them lead him on a horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, those shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.

[00:48:46] Verse 10, then the king said to Haman, hurry, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai, the Jew who sits at the king’s gate,[00:49:00] leave out nothing that you have mentioned.

[00:49:05] The irony, I mean, he just like, he’s thinking it’s gonna be him, man. Oh, he was angry there, but he had no choice. He had to do what the king said.

[00:49:20] Verse 11. So Haman took the robes in the horse and he dressed Mordecai and let him through the square, proclaiming before him. Shall be done to the man who the king delights to honor.

[00:49:32] Verse 12, then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, but Heman hurried to his house mourning and with his head covered,

[00:49:40] and so he is going into mourning because he wasn’t the one up on the horse. That’s ridiculous. Verse 13, and Haman told his wife and all of his friends, everything that had happened to him, then his wise men and his wife, Zarish said to him, if Mordecai before, who you have begun to fall [00:50:00] is of the Jewish people, he will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.

[00:50:06] So even the people around him, his friends and his wife, know what’s going to go down. Know what kind of a person, Haman is.

[00:50:15] So Esther is going to reveal Haman’s plot here in a very sneaky way, as we have already mentioned. Verse 14. While they were yet talking with him, the king’s eunichs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.

[00:50:32] We are in chapter seven now. So the king and Haman went into feast with Queen Esther, and on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said, Esther, what is your wish? Queen Esther, it shall be granted to you and what is your request? Even to half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.

[00:50:55] So he is on day two of this feast and day two of [00:51:00] drinking.

[00:51:00] Timing is everything right? You wanna ask at the right time. And so she decides, this is the time I am going to ask him to spare my people. Verse three, then Queen Esther answered, if I have found favor in your sight, O King. And if it pleased the king, let my life be granted me for my wish and my people for my request.

[00:51:25] For we have been sold. I have my people to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been merely sold as slaves, men and women, I would’ve been silent for our infliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king. Verse five, then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, who is he and where is he who has dared to do this?

[00:51:53] And Esther said, A foe and an enemy. This wicked Haman!

[00:51:59] And [00:52:00] she’s probably pointing to him. Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen, rightly so. It must have been a terrifying thing to stand there and tell the king, I am one of the Jewish people and my people are suffering. And hey, you wanna put us into slavery again?

[00:52:23] That’s okay, but please don’t destroy us. Uh, That’s a pretty humble request. Let’s see what happens to Haman verse 7. And the king arose in his wrath from the wine drinking and went to the palace garden. But Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king.

[00:52:46] Yep. And the king returned from the palace garden and to the place where they were drinking wine as Heman was falling on the couch where Esther was, and I think this was groveling. Um, if you look at [00:53:00] Middle Eastern Persian, they laid on like pillows, rugs. They didn’t have like tables and chairs like we did.

[00:53:10] They mostly reclined while they ate. And that was true of Israel as well, is that they, weren’t sitting in tables and chairs. They were Laying down kind of on their side. So Queen, the queen was on the couch and Haman was probably, um, right up next to her where her couch was groveling and, and begging.

[00:53:32] And that was not allowed. You did not approach the queen in that way. he was too close to her and he probably got his hands on her couch that she was reclining on. So here comes the king, and the king said, Will, he even assault the queen in my presence in my own house?

[00:53:53] As the word left, the mouth of the king, they covered haman’s face. Then Har Bonna, [00:54:00] one of the eunichs in attendance. On the king said, moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king is standing at Haman’s house, 50 cubits high. And the king said, hang him on that. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.

[00:54:22] Then the wrath of the king abated.

[00:54:25] So here we go. Haman’s out of the picture,

[00:54:29] or Haman will be out of the picture shortly. So we’re in chapter eight. On that day, king Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther, the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, and Mordecai King before the king, where Esther had told him what he was to her. And the king took off his cignet ring, which he had taken from Haman and gave it to Mordecai.

[00:54:51] And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. So, okay, this is my uncle [00:55:00] Mordecai, and he’s taken care of me, and he’s an innocent man, and,

[00:55:04] Mordecai gets a promotion in the King’s palace. Not too shabby. Three. Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to overt the evil plan of Haman, and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king.

[00:55:27] So all this happened twice. She’s waiting for him to hold out that scepter, and she said, if it plea the king, and if I found favor in his sight, if the thing seems right before the king and then am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by him which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are all in the provinces of the king.

[00:55:53] Or how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to [00:56:00] see the destruction of my kindred? Verse seven, then King Ahasuerus to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew. Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he intended to lay hands on the Jews.

[00:56:16] But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews in the name of the king and seal it with the king’s ring for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.

[00:56:30] So he’s telling her that I can’t really revoke the previous edict that I gave, but you can write a new edict alongside of the old one, whatever you wanna do.

[00:56:43] And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s cignet ring. Then he sent letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the King service, bred from the Royals stud, [00:57:00] saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city together and defend their lives to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. And the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews for fear the Jews had fallen on them.

[00:57:37] Okay? A lot going on here. So they can’t stop the edict that Haman’s goons, were going to kill all of the Jew. They couldn’t reverse that, which is kind of dumb because I think, well, the king can do anything he wants, but apparently they didn’t feel that way.

[00:57:57] What Mordecai did was [00:58:00] send out a decree that, okay, they’re gonna try and destroy us, but the Jews can do anything, they can defend themselves with any means necessary. So they’re gonna get prepared to fight and defend themselves. So they raised up an army and I found it very interesting. Many peoples of the country

[00:58:21] they faked, um, being a Jew so they wouldn’t get slaughtered. And, uh, during the Holocaust, during World War II

[00:58:32] Some of the Jews were in hiding, in Catholic schools or convents

[00:58:38] and they pretended to be Catholic in order to survive.

[00:58:41] Hey, how public is your faith gonna be when your life’s in danger? And so, like Esther here, she did not tell anybody that she was a Jew, but I am sure that it did not affect her faith in any sense of the word. She still had great faith in the Lord.[00:59:00] [00:59:01] So let’s, continue the story. We’re in chapter nine. The Jews get to destroy their enemies.

[00:59:10] The Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

[00:59:13] And you’re all thinking, well, what about turn the other cheek and love your enemies and you know, I don’t have an answer here, but they were given permission to defend themselves and that’s what’s going on here. Their enemies are trying to kill them, and this is all going on during one day.

[00:59:33] Okay?

[00:59:33] So,

[00:59:34] The other thing that happens is that Esther asks if the 10 sons of Haman be hanged on the Gallos. So the king commanded this to be done.

[00:59:47] So we saw this in Daniel as well, that remember, the men who accused Daniel of breaking the law of the king, and he was thrown into the lion’s [01:00:00] den when he came out and he was okay, the king took the men that accused Daniel and threw them into the lion’s den with their families.

[01:00:12] Haman was hanged and his family was hanged with him. That was how they did it in that particular region.

[01:00:21] The Feast of Purim was inaugurated.

[01:00:24] So they have a feast.

[01:00:26] So we’re in chapter 10 here, and story is coming to a close.

[01:00:33] Verse, one king aeros imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea in all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai to which the king advanced him or they not written in the book of the Chronicles of the King of Media and Persia. For Mordecai, the Jew was second in rank to the king, and he was great among the [01:01:00] Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers where he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all of his people.

[01:01:09] So that is the end of the book of Esther. so you kinda wonder what happened to, King Xerxes. History tells us that he was beheaded by one of, his enemies eventually. So that’s how he would die. And that’s usually how kings die, is that somebody else wants to take your throne, they have to kill you for it.

[01:01:33] And so then you’re thinking, well, then what happens to Queen Esther and Mordecai? Well, we don’t really have any answer for that, but in most cases, when the

[01:01:46] king was killed, usually they would also kill the high leaders in the palace. So, queen Esther may have been executed and Mordecai may have been executed, [01:02:00] or they might have escaped, and, hid from whoever took over the throne.

[01:02:06] Those are two options. But the important thing is that God was there with Esther, and even though they don’t see the word God, he was with her, with Mordecai and they were trying to save their people. And so yes, Esther had suffered quite a bit and been taken from her family or still be in a harem and under go a beauty pageant for a mad man.

[01:02:41] And you didn’t know what your fate was going to be. You have to give a lot of credit to Esther, who was extremely brave and very tough lady, very tough that she was brave enough to do the right. And hopefully that gives us [01:03:00] courage to rise up and, and do the right thing. When it’s difficult, it’s scary and we don’t know what the outcome is going to be.

[01:03:09] So I hope that you enjoyed this study on Esther. Maybe you learned some new things that you didn’t know. I was like on Twitter this week and watching a thread that the question was, what would you like to be included in a women’s retreat? What don’t you want in a retreat?

[01:03:32] And so there were a lot of different answers, which I won’t go into. But one that stood out to me was, we want bible studies. We want deep Bible studies. We don’t just wanna do Bible study about submitting to our husbands and taking care of our kids. Uh, we want bible studies that have nothing to do with me being a wife or a mother.

[01:03:57] And so I really took that to heart, [01:04:00] that yes, we need to study the Bible and learn the truths of the Bible for ourself as women. And we can dig into the deep theological things in scripture. We’re totally able to do that. And so, I’m gonna try and provide that to you when we do these studies. And I do the best that I can to bring, a truthful study, something valuable that you can use in your everyday life, to encourage you to dig into the Bible yourself.

[01:04:35] Don’t be afraid to read some of these stories in the Old Testament.

[01:04:41] And I’m always available if you have questions or you can reach out to another trusted Bible teacher that you know. We’ve done a series on how to study the Bible back around episode 100. And that, that general vicinity, those [01:05:00] 10, episodes around that all talk about how you do a Bible study, especially for abuse survivors.

[01:05:08] And as always, I recommend highly, um, Wayne Stiles, who has been on the show in the first season, and.

[01:05:18] Wayne is one of one of the great Bible teachers that I listen to. His podcast is called Live the Bible, and I highly recommend you follow him and listen to his teachings.

[01:05:32] I have his links in the show notes for you if you wanna check him out.

[01:05:37] So I know I’ve talked a long time today, but hopefully next week I will have, one of my guests on the show. I hope that you have a great week. God bless you. Bye for now.

[01:05:51] Thank you for listening to the Wounds of the Faithful Podcast. If this episode has been helpful to you, please hit the [01:06:00] subscribe button and tell a friend. You could connect with us at DSW Ministries dot org where you’ll find our blog, along with our Facebook, Twitter, and our YouTube channel Lakes. Hope to see you next week.