There is much to be learned as we look at this dear lady of God and her example of obedience, courage and prudence. What a 'lady' to look to for being wisely discreet, devoted and obedient. This said, let's take a journey a bit to her beginning...her God-called destiny...and, her end. (Don't you just love happy endings!)
Esther, (her name means 'star') was a Jewish virgin maiden who, as queen of Persia, was used to deliver her people from massacre. Becoming the queen of Persia in 478 B.C., she saved the Jews. Except for her, Jerusalem might never have been rebuilt, and there might have been a different story to tell to all future ages. For, this beautiful Jewish girl of long ago, though she herself may not have known it, played her part in paving the way for the coming of the world's Saviour.
Nonetheless, it is only befitting to look at the lady she replaced as queen and why ~ queen Vashti. She, was married to King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), who ruled Persia 485-465 B.C., one of the most illustrious monarchs of the ancient world. In Chapter 1 of the Book of Esther, in the third year of his reign, (vs.3) he made a feast unto all his princes and servants; the powers that be and the nobles and princes of the provinces. He and they .... drank their booze for 7 days together, as was suitable to each and, :
Esther 1: 9 ~ 21
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:
What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.
For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.
Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.
If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:......
Throughout my lifetime, I've never heard preached or brought to the forefront, how queen Vashti must have felt as to why she declined to heed her husband's wishes. I speak as a lady of God here, and for many a 'lady' I'm sure, when I bring forth speculation of her decision. One of which being the moral issue, along with the effect on her from being around a bunch of drunk and smelly men, since that is most repulsive to a lady.
In the historical Book of Josephus, it says that he requested her (the most beautiful lady in the land) to appear before he and the men at his feast, naked. Whoa! He wanted to show off his wife to the other men in his company. (definitely a violation of the marital contract between a husband and his wife) It states there, that she declined because of the moral aspect according to the law of the Persians. Either way, any lady/wife would see it as out of the question and to say the least, a shocking revelation of the kind of man she's married to.
I wish to point out here that it is ludicrous, under any circumstance, for a spouse to request and/or require such a thing. I can't help but wonder here if HE would have been up to the request to streak before a room full of women....Hmmmm. Golden rule? At any rate, it was totally unjust for him to remove her as his wife and queen of Persia, to get himself a younger lady, a virgin....at that. And, what does.........a virgin want for a man? What did Esther deserve for a 'husband'? Surely, male ego and pride was at play here in their fleshly appetites. A control issue. And, what about the 'men' in his kingdom following his....example? This sort of things conveys a message to men and women in any land. i.e. If your wife doesn't do what you require, shuck her!
Shouldn't a husband be the covering, protecter of his wife, nurturing her in his tender and compassionate love? Shouldn't he view...and treat her...with dignity and respect? And, shouldn't he be supportive of his wife, upholding her? (Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3, see)
I've often thought in reading this that 'Love works no harm to another.' Not to their feelings, not by words to them, and not by deed. It is just like that. And although this travesty of justice happened, God did something awesome out of the whole thing. It took a number of years and a chain of events, but God used His lady, Esther, to deliver the Jewish nation that still exists today. Hallelujah! 'For such a time as this' was she queen over the kingdom.
This is the groundwork that laid the foundation for Vashti's exit and Esther's entrance into the king's life. Vashti, what a way to go! Esther, what an entry. That is enough to call anyone to their knees in prayer unto God. Whew!
Esther 2: 1 ~ 11
After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:
And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:
And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;
Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.
Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.
And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
Paraphrasing most of the rest of Esther's story, I encourage you to study the Book of Esther in deep thought. We see in this, another Book in the Bible, how things turn out as people are willing hearted and call upon God in faith for guidance and help. We see where they did what they could, praying and fasting in unison of purpose, depending upon God's Divine intervention on their behalf and the queen's when she came before her husband without being first summoned by him.
After Esther had been his wife/queen for five years, Haman was placed in a seat of authority above all the princes with him. All who came before him bowed and reverenced him except one man, a Jew, Mordecai (Esther's 1st cousin that had raised her). In Chapter 3:8 we see how angry Haman became as he repeatedly witnessed Mordecai's irreverence of him outside the king's gate of the castle. His prideful ego was crushed and he was furious. He retaliated. Thus, he sought to destroy all the Jews, inclusive of Mordecai and his kin. This, would become his own downfall. (as yet no one knew that queen Esther herself was a Jew, for Mordecai had told her not to let that be known as yet, upon her marrying the king)
So Haman went to the king accusing 'a certain people' (sneaky serpent) of his kingdom 'whose laws are diverse (different) from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to tolerate them.' In vs. 11 we see the king giving Haman his royal ring to seal such documents to be sent throughout the land, saying that Haman would execute it with full authority from him. The king obviously didn't see Haman's problem, not having seen his own. Could Haman handle being the big boss over all? What would Haman do with the king's ring?
Esther 3: 13, 14
And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.
When Mordecai found out what was being done, he tore his clothes in great grieving of spirit and cried aloud in the center of the city; he also came in attire (sackcloth) before the king's gate that was not allowed. There was great grief throughout every province of the Jews, with fasting, prayer and weeping. Esther hearing of all this, questioned Mordecai and had the entire reason for it all explained to her by him. Seeing that she was included in Haman's death plot of the Jewish people, Mordecai called her and her maids to join them in prayer, and for her to go to the king in a stand to spare her people. She and her maids did so, and although her husband had not called for her, she was trusting God that he would not kill her for so doing, but would instead hold out his sceptre to her. He did so.
Asking her request, she replied that she wanted to give a feast and asked that only he and Haman be present. (some feast? aha!)
Haman went home so puffed up that the queen had asked for him and only him to join her in a banquet. His wife encouraged him in it. He was so deluded in mind and heart because of his hatred for Mordecai, that he had a gallows built to hang Mordecai in the city square. But GOD!....Divine intervention. How? The king had a night he could not sleep and being awake, requested the book of the records. Reading there, he saw where Mordecai, had in the past, protected him from being killed by two of his guards. He was unaware of this. Upon inquiring what was done for Mordecai for this loving act and finding out nothing had been done, he was shocked further. At that same time, Haman was coming in to speak to him about hanging that troubling man of God that wouldn't bow down to anyone but God. Instead, the king asked Haman what he thought should be done to a man who the king wants to honor. AHA! Thinking it to be himself, he laid it on thick with lots of hoop-lah and public exalting of himself, only in grief, to find out that he had to have all of what he had said to the king....done for Mordecai. YES!
In Chapter 7,: 3 ~ 10 Esther, with the king and Haman at her 2nd banquet,
Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:
For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.
Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.
And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified. (See 9:25)
In Chapter 8, Esther revealed to the king her heritage and Mordecai's relationship to her. Having the ring he took from Haman, the king presented it and all authority to Mordecai in his kingdom. Esther, falling at the king's feet in tears, plead for him to wipe out the law against her people that Haman had devised. It was all reversed, the Jewish nation being spared by God, through these two people, and the prayers of all Jews in the land. God sees; God cares; God answers!
A yearly feast was ordered for them to observe as well as their descendents, to all generations.
In Chapter 9, this yearly feast to observe is called The Feast of Purim, vs. 21, 22 ~ Remembering how God had spared the Jewish people from annihilation. What a love story of God for His chosen people, the Jewish nation. And look at the unity of the 'brethren'. We see whether Haman thought of or believed in the golden rule, he was reaping such just the same. What we sow, we reap. Jesus said in His 2nd Great Commandment, 'What you would that men should do unto 'you', do that unto them.'
When things look fruitless, and all seems lost, remember that God knows His children. He responds to those who hope in His mercy and approach Him in contrite heart and prayer. Divine intervention and a happy ending. God's will done.
Jeremiah 32: 27
Behold, I AM The Lord, The God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?
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