VBS - Day 2 - Esther
- 180 days - shows off kingdom, which extends from India to Ethiopia.
(Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this [is] Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] an hundred and seven and twenty provinces. (1:1))
- come on out so these guys can lust after you.
(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. (1:17))
The wise men of Ahasuerus state, 'If this is allowed and undealt with, then women everywhere won't respect their husbands!' King Ahasuerus agrees and kicks out Queen Vashti from his kingdom.
Someone now needs to replace the ex-queen. A beauty pageant is then held. This wasn't an ordinary pageant - the contestants were required to go through beauty treatments for 6 months and then perfume treatments for 6 months. A full year later, the pageant was held.
(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]: (2:3))
(Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, [to wit], six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with [other] things for the purifying of the women; (2:12))
Esther was one of the contestants. Her cousin Mordecai was in the king's court, and he was a devout believer in God.
One of the king's trusted assistants named Haman wanted people to bow to him. Since Mordecai only bows to God, he refused to bow to Haman. Haman is told of this by some of his friends, and he's furious about it.
He notices also that Mordecai was a Jew. Haman was an Agagite, a people of ancient rivalry with the Jews. It was similar to the Samaritan/Jew rivalry in Jesus' time.
Haman decides to sneak in his hate to the king. He goes up to King Ahasuerus and says, 'There's a people in your kingdom with different and rebellious views! We should get rid of them, don't you think? I will give you ten thousand talents (375 tons!) of silver if you agree.' Ahasuerus agrees and signs an agreement with the seal of his ring.
So in expectation of Mordecai's hanging, Haman gladly celebrates with his family and friends and builds a massive gallows on which to hang Mordecai and his people.
However, Mordecai warned the king that two of his chamberlains - Bigthan and Teresh - wanted to assassinate the king. He would be rewarded by the king by being exalted to prince status (while Haman expected to receive the award of 'he to whom honor is given by the king'). Haman had to lead the horse caravan carrying Mordecai! How ironic!
Haman wanted Mordecai to be hung, and yet he's now an exalted prince?
Mordecai warns Esther that she better speak up and tell the king about the deceit of Haman. If she doesn't speak up, her people will be obliterated! Esther also wants to show the deceit of Haman and rescue her people, so she arranges a dinner with Haman, the King, and herself. Esther tells Mordecai to fast (refrain from food/drink) for 3 days [and seek the LORD] (implied).
Esther asks the king to spare her life as well as the lives of her people. The king wonders what is going on. Esther was a Jew, as well. She had yet to reveal that to the king since it could be construed as a negative in the Medean/Persian culture. Thus, at 'such a time as this,' as Mordecai states, she could be in the perfect position to save her people.
Esther told the king that Haman tricked the king into accepting the extermination of the Jews. King Ahasuerus was very mad at Haman, and he went out of the room furious. He came back, only to see Haman pleading for his life...but it didn't look that way to the king. Haman apparently was sprawled all over the queen, and the king figured that Haman was trying to rape the queen. He then heard that there were gallows by Haman's house, so in the end, the King decided that Haman should be hung on his own gallows (cf. 7:10) - the same gallows that he built especially for Mordecai.
Mordecai was then given Haman's ring. The King made Mordecai second-in-command (cf. 10:3), and since the decree already out couldn't be negated, it was merely replaced and then sealed with the king's ring. The replacement gave freedom to the Jews against their enemies, and protected them by law.
The festival commemorating this event is called Purim, which is the plural (since more than one day) in Hebrew for the 'lot' that Haman cast in trying to bring the Jews into demise.
Should this book be called Mordecai? Possibly, but it was Esther's move of courage that preserved the Jewish people. Esther also doesn't mention the word 'God' anywhere in the text, but God is actively at work throughout. His people under Esther are saved from death and protected by law, even in a Medean/Persian kingdom.