Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.
This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from scripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.
Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.
Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!
– Dr. J
Bible Devotions or Bible Study?
Bible Devotions can be like paying the minimum amount due on ones credit card debt. One seldom gains ground. Bible study is like paying the monthly balance in full plus something extra. We gain ground quickly!
How quickly might things can change in life. Esther, Mordecai and the Israelites (mostly Judeans and Benjamites) experienced this. They are among the tens of thousands who remained in Medo-Persia after the King Cyrus’s release decree. Those freed but didn’t leave, are now in a reversed situation: Here today gone tomorrow was Haman’s plan for these people he hated. After chapter 8 of Esther, it was now “feared today, promoted tomorrow.”
Esther 8:1&2 would seem to the logical mind a happy ending and a great place to end the Book of Esther…and they all lived happily ever after. One would be wrong. There remains chapter 8, 9, and 10. We will cover these in narrative detail in our two remaining chapter commentaries of the Book of Esther, along with some surprising educational aha-moments.
There is a minor detail that needs to be addressed in this recorded history. Go back to Esther 3:8-10. There was and remained the decree issued earlier by Haman and sealed with the signet ring of the King. The decree stated on a specific date and day all Jews carried a bounty for their death and were to be eliminated on THAT DAY. This brings us five chapters forward to Esther 8:3.
Esther 8:3 (ASV) “And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and the destruction that he had devised against the Jews.” Remember that a decree written according to Medo-Persian law could not be retracted or redacted. Not even by the king himself. Now what?
Esther 8:5 & 6 Esther is pleading for the king to reverse the death sentence of all her people within the Persiab empire. A death sentence already in the hands of all Persia. SInce the lands Israel and those who returned home were both within the Persian Empire, Haman’s decree included the Jews who returned several years earlier. The king was in a difficult situation. He could not simply issue a new decree for a recall. To do so violated Medo-Persian rule of law. King Ahasuerus responds in a rather avoidance manner knowing he could not reverse the already issued and signet ring sealed order.
Verses *7 and 8 find the King proclaiming all he had already done for Esther and Mordecai. He also points out that he had Haman hung from the gallows intended for Mordecai. Ahasuerus is basically saying…I have done what I can.
*Oddity: Ahasuerus says he did all of this because Haman intended to destroy (NKJV: lay hands on the Jews” within his kingdom. Ahasuerus actually had Haman hanged for his deceit and an appearance of cajoling Esther at banquet number two. Chapter 7 says nothing about his execution being for the sake of the Jewish populations in his empire.
What is Ahasuerus’ escape clause? He tells Esther and Mordecai to write a decree within the laws of the Medes and Persians that will counter Haman’s decree. Then he hands them his signet ring, the seal of authority.
What a task. The decree would be written and given to all people in the empire, in their own language(s), 127 provinces covering a huge territory (all hand delivered) between India and Ethiopia, and, to the scattered Jews, in their native tongue. A little over 100 years since the Judean’s original captivity by the Babylonians, it is probable many Judeans now spoke a Babylonian-Hebrew or the dialect of the Persians.
The Book of Daniel tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken the cream of the Judean elite from Jerusalem (Judea) to train them in Babylonian customs and to speak their language. This language switch was forced upon the captives. There is a probability the children born in captivity may no longer speak their parent’s Hebrew.
Esther 8:10 [NKJV] “And he (Mordecai) wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds.” There was an obvious urgency to get the new decree out. By this time those with a grudge against any Jew(s) were willing to take as bounty Jewish lands and possessions. Some who were simply bounty hunters had time to make plans to kill off these people. Verse 11 tells us how Mordecai addressed the decree originally peddled by Haman. He wrote that all Jews now had a right to defend themselves without punishment for murder or insurrection.
There would be no long-lasting affects of the Haman decree. It specified ONE specific day to slaughter the Jews. All that was needed was a new decree to get the Jews of Persia past this assigned 24-hour time to bounty hunt them. In the next chapter [chapter 9] we find a plea for allowance. More on this in our next chapter commentary.
Esther 8:11 “By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives—to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions,…”
Esther 8:12 “…on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”
JIV NOTE: The month of Adar is roughly the month we often call March in our Gregorian calendar. Sometime within February-March is when the Festival of Purim is celebrated to this day by Jews.
Verses 13 and 14 show the haste at which this new decree was delivered throughout the Persian empire. Now those who were once in fear of losing their life were now prepared to not only defend, but to seek out in the entire empire any who begrudged the Jews. How quickly the tables were turned. In a real way, Jews were given license. This alone should give insight to the pre-existing strife within the kingdom when it came to the Jews versus other citizens. No love loss was present. This is the eternal history of the selected people of Jehovah-God. It will remain so until the end of the Tribulation.
Esther 8:15 is especially significant. We find Mordecai, the one who prevented an assassination attempt on the king, the one to whose death was planned so carefully by Haman, the one who was paraded through Shushan on the king’s royal steed lead by Haman on foot, the one who commanded the scribes to write a new decree to protect the Jews of that land, the one to whom the king’s signet ring was given to authenticate that decree, now exiting the palace wearing royal garments and promoted to second in command of the kingdom. This is precisely what had happened to Daniel about 50 years earlier under the temporary Mede king (Darius) over Babylon. He too was sought out to be killed, found favor in the eyes of King Darius, became second in command of the kingdom empire – Persia. NOTE: Died and buried in Shushan. This is the same place the Book of Esther is located.
Esther 8:17 explains the origins of the Jewish festival Purim. We use the Jewish Publication Bible [JPB] for this quote…
“And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews [followers of Judaism]; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.” (emphasis mine)
One additional clarification is needed per this last verse in Esther. To read it as written would suggest that one can choose to become a DNA Jew. Not so. It reads: And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews. The words became Jews means they converted to Judaism. There is much to be said about these two words, but it is not the principle of this commentary.
JIV: We often confuse the scriptures by interchanging as synonyms the names Judeans of Judah, Judaism, and Jews as one and the same thing. This is not accurate. Each has its own designation. They have become synonymous now days but are not so in actuality.
As Haman unknowingly walks into his final moments in life, he has been totally humiliated. The man he wished to hang for giving him no respect ends up on a royal horse, dressed in royal garments, and lead through town with Haman shouting his praises. He had also written a decree for all Judean captives in Persia to be slaughter. He put a price on each of their heads.
JIV thought: Had Esther not informed the King of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews (Israelites mostly of the Tribes of Benjamin and Judah), and since Haman did not know that Queen Esther was a Benjamite, King Ahasuerus would have discovered Haman’s vengeance after the fact. Haman would be a dead man in the end but only after a Persian holocaust. (PS: next article we once again find the tables get turned)
Esther 7:1 Haman is hurried from his home to the second banquet provided by Esther for him and the king. He had been delayed by his confessions to his wife and associates that he had failed in his plot against Mordecai. Instead, he had to run in front of him with Mordecai on a royal horse. Haman was ordered to shout the king’s praises. Recall this idea of a reward was Haman’s. In his ego and pride, he thought it would be he who would be on the royal steed.
Esther 7:2 This banquet, contrary to the previous day’s banquet, included fine dining and wine, not just wine and discussion. It is highly probable that Haman no longer had the slightest appetite but was required to make his attendance. He still did not know what the “proverbial sleeve” of Esther had in it. The king wasted no time in again asking Esther what it was that she desired. She answers in verse 3 and 4 of this narrative commentary chapter 7. She asks the king for mercy even though he did not consider her needing any. “She and her people?” Who are these with whom she identifies and why does she identify with them? These thoughts musthave come to the mind of the King. Haman may have by now begun to pull pieces together as his appetite for dinner fades.
This probably put great concern and quickening terror in the heart of Haman. He was about to learn that Queen Esther was a Jew; a Benjamite.
This passage reads somewhat like Esther was turning the knife now embedded in Haman. Not in his his back but right in front of him. His eyes growing larger by the second.
Esther 7:4. Esther explains in protracted detail that she and her people had been listed and sold for destruction. Recall that Haman had offered 10,000 pieces of silver for the privilege of destroying his arch enemies that go as far back as to King Agag during the reign of King Saul. This is now close to 500 years after the reign of King Saul in Israel.
Esther 7:5 “And King Ahasuerus answered and said to Esther the queen, Who is he, this one? And where is this one, he who is filled with pride in his heart to do so?” We see in this verse that King Ahasuerus realized such a plot was due to someone’s PRIDE, self-esteem. By now Haman was wishing to anywhere but there. The intended (?) anxiety for Haman continues in the next verse. Rather than simply saying it is Haman, Esther identifies him as a man, a hating man, an enemy of her people (and unknowingly her). Then in verse 6 she says “HAMAN.”
Esther 7:7 “And the king, rising from the banquet of wine in his wrath, went into the palace garden. And Haman stood to beg for his life from Esther the queen, for he saw that evil was fulfilled against him by the king.” This had to be an absolute shock to King Ahasuerus. He departed to think this one through. His wife is a Jew? Haman had deceived him. The people he wanted to destroy, according to Haman were not a small group of previously unidentified rabble-rousers. These are law-abiding citizens of his empire. Haman? A man he had just made superior to all of the 127 satrap province rulers within his kingdom. Haman, a trusted confidant? How could this be? Haman was holding the same position similar to what Daniel held less than 40 years earlier.
In the meantime, while Ahasuerus was thinking it through in the palace garden, Haman through himself at the mercy of Esther. In fact, Esther as reclining on a couch with Haman leaning over her to beg. The king returns to the banquet chambers in verse 8 with some type of decision in his mind. Here is where something like the ‘final nail in one’s coffin’ makes sense. We do not know what the king had in mind upon his return, perhaps prison or clemency, but he finds Haman hanging over Queen Esther on the couch. It was too much of an insult.
“And the king said, Will he also ravish the queen with me in the house?” Whatever the king had in mind was no longer, if at all, a form of leniency. We read in the closing of verse 8: [LITV] “The word went from the king’s mouth and they covered Haman’s face.” Proverbs 5:22 states: ”The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them.” This defines Haman. “…the chords of their sins hold them fast.”
Harbonah (v9), one of the chamber body-guards who helped cover the face and head of Haman noted the there were gallows built by Haman, just outside Haman’s own house. The judgement was quick. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) had him taken to the gallows built for Mordecai. In place it was Haman who was hanged. This means all who tended to be around Haman’s house, including Haman’s household, witnessed this execution. This placated the anger of the King.
BUT, Esther and her people have a problem. In Persian law, once passed it could not be retracted. The law had been signed or sealed by using the King’s ring signate given to Haman as the authority to order all ‘Jews’ be killed in one day. This decree had been distributed throughout the entire empire of King Ahasuerus. Now what?
In our previous narrative commentary, Esther chapter 6, we explained how the saying of Pride goes before a fall is scriptural. Haman was walking too tall for his own good. Not according to King Ahasuerus but before God.
Charles Spurgeon puts it regarding the King in Esther 7: “Ahasuerus is master of one hundred and twenty and seven provinces, but not master of ten minutes’ sleep.”. God speaks through dreams and sometimes uses one’s sleeplessness to make him or her think through thoughts, plans, activities, life’s demands and plans. Ahasuerus was no exception.
Esther 6:1,2 [NKJV]
Est 6:1That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
Est 6:2 And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
Kings and rulers forever have kept journals or had inscribed their accomplishments and histories.
This practice of recording history even goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh Tablets discovered in Nineveh in the 1850’s. These tablets identify the Flood of Noah and appear to be records of previous rulers during the Genesis creation up to and including the time of Noah. We might call them autobiographies. Historians and archaeologists deduce facts of history by reading these written works be they biographic or autobiographic. These first two verses tell us two things. The king could not sleep, and he had something read to him to bring slumber his way. God had other plans even though God is not mentioned anywhere in the Book of Esther. This is a curiosity of canonization to include or exclude other documents.
Esther 6:4 takes us to the next day (after the first banquet provided by Queen Esther). We find Haman talking to the King. It is the next morning. Haman had not yet requested to have Mordecai hang from his customized gallows. King Ahasuerus had had little or no sleep from the previous night. However, the previous evening and during his time listening to the appointed reader of the chronicles or records of the official activities of the King’s court and rule, King Ahasuerus realized he had not rewarded Mordecai for preventing an assassination plan by two of his eunuchs [Esther 2:22].
According to the chronicles being read to King Ahasuerus, he was reminded that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, doorkeepers to the King’s gate (doors) who planned to “lay hands-on King Ahasuerus”. Here is where pride goes before a fall. Ahasuerus asks Haman his thoughts of how to reward a person of a superior noble act. Haman is convinced it is him to whom the king is referring as the one of such noble character. Now Esther 6 lays out a sequence of events.
Esther 6:3 King Ahasuerus asks his servants if he had rewarded Mordecai for his great deed of stopping the king’s assassination at the hands of those who guarded the entrance to his own palace house. They replied that they do not recall of any reward being given. No wonder in the reading of the Kingdom chronicles the previous night there was no record of reward or honor of recognition given to Mordecai. However, the records did identify Mordecai as central to disclosing to the king through his wife Esther this assassination plan.
Esther 6:4Haman had just entered the outer area of the king’s palace. He had come to ask the king to hang Mordecai on the hanging post Haman had commanded to be built. The king said, “Who just came into the courtyard?” Haman was immediately summoned to advise the king. The king is direct. He quickly seeks Haman’s advice before any additional conversation. What kind of a regards should the king give to a person of such great valor, honesty, awareness…
This passage now finds the king explaining to Haman what was on his mind but left the identity of the one to be rewarded anonymous. Haman’s pride will lead him up to having to eat crow then choke to death. Haman thought: how could things get any better. Not only was he recently promoted, honored to drink wine with the King alone, now in his deluded thoughts would be paraded in public due to his new-found status within the kingdom and royal court.
Verses 6 is the question presented to Haman. “Haman, what should be done for a man the king wants to honor?” Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would want to honor more than me? I’m sure that the king is talking about honoring me.” Haman must have thought, how could things get any better. Now the KING is asking me how to reward such a great one as myself. I will be able to advise him to the greatest extent of my mind. An assumption about to go very wrong.
Esther 6:7-9 is Haman’s advice; an opportunity afforded him and him alone. Put on him royal robes worn by the king (so others will recognize the significance of the one wearing them). Have him ride one of the royal steeds of the king. Have the horse accordingly identified as a royal steed. Have one of the king’s high officials “anoint this person” by publicly putting the royal robes on this honored man. Let this high official, one who will be recognized by the Shushan citizens, run in front of the honored one announcing that this is what the king does for those few the King honors.
Now FOR the crow!!!
Esther 6:10“Go quickly,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew. He is sitting near the king’s gate. Do everything that you suggested.” How can this be thought Haman? This is Haman’s mortal enemy including the fact he was a Jew he planned to hang that very day before that evening’s banquet at Queen Esther’s. This is the very same people Haman had written a decree to destroy in one day throughout Ahasuerus’ empire. Haman’s own servants had pointed out that Mordecai refused to bow before Haman when he entered the King’s gate. These servants of Haman would see this humiliation. He is painted into a corner and there is no way out. This is amplified in the next couple verses.
Esther 6:12,13 Haman does as commanded. To not would mean he defied the order by the king. That would demand his life. Mordecai then returns to his usual spot at the outer court gates. Haman in utter shame and obvious disgrace hides his head and flees to his own house. Such devastation can not be hidden in one’s face or body gestures. He is questioned by his wife and those around him. What happened they ask? V13a “And Haman told his wife Zeresh and his friends everything that had [just] happened to him”.V13b “If Mordecai is of the seed of the Jews, before whom you have begun to fall, you shall not prevail against him, but [your] falling shall come before his”.(emphasis mine)
The final verse in Esther 6 is dynamic. Haman still had that appointment along with the king to have a banquet at the Queen’s place. This time however, servants of the King had to go get him. He lost track of time explaining his great humiliation to his wife and those around him. We see this in two words of verse 14…they hurried to bring Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared. In a sense this tardiness probably had the king on edge. How dare one of his subjects keep HIM waiting. The proverbial hook is in Haman’s mouth. Now Esther will set it in chapter 7.
Esther (Part 8) Chapter 5 (a narrative commentary)
Esther 5:1“and after three days Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the king”. This is where we left off in our previous narrative commentary on Esther in chapter 4.
“And it happened on the third day that Esther put on royal clothing and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, before the king’s inner house. And the king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal house, in front of the gate of the house”. [LITV; 5:1]
Why the author of Esther (we suggest it was Mordecai) would include such detail is interesting. There are rare occasions, if any, when something of little or no value is added to scripture for the sake of verbiage. The king was sitting in his royal home giving him the vantage point of looking out the open gate or doors into the inner court or yard of his “office”. Esther is not inside the royal house but standing outside in the inner court of the royal house (palace?).
Esther 5:2,3 The King sees her and immediately offers for her to come forward and approach the throne. The greeting the King offers is more of a formality than an actual offer. He says to her: “What shall be done to you,O Queen Esther, and what is your wish? It will be given to you also, even to half of the kingdom” [LITV]. King Ahasuerus is not offering her part of his kingdom. It is a general greeting showing great favor to whomever is approaching the throne. This gives Esther an open field. She is about to disclose much but first needs to set the stage. Similarly, today one might say to another who is in grief… “If there anything I can do to help, just ask.”
Esther 5:4,5 is the initial reason Esther gives to the king for her unannounced visit. She basically offers dinner to him AND Haman. No grounds for suspicion here on either the part of the King or Haman. We do not know of the timing of the offered dinner (banquet), but it was that evening. Time was running short for the edict written by Haman to destroy a rabble-group (Jews). The king still did not know the origins of who these people were. Haman had kept that a secret when obtaining the king’s permission to eliminate them. Haman did not know that Esther was an offspring of a family of Benjamites removed from Jerusalem some 100 years earlier by Nebuchadnezzar of the now conquered Babylon.
Esther 5:6 explains much when read carefully. The king still figures Esther had a reason for this unusual invitation. It was a banquet of wine, not a full meal. She invited the king and Haman alone. This did much for Haman’s ego. We find him later bragging about his promotion in the kingdom and sitting around for a few rounds of wine with the king all at the queen’s invitation.
Esther 5:8 finds the king inquiring once again as to what might be the concern or wish of his queen. Good strategy on her behalf. She basically says, in our modern cultural norms to sit back, enjoy the wine and conversation. Tomorrow at another banquet, one of food and wine, I (Esther) will tell the king her wish or desire. All that this does is inflate the ego of Haman. The king did not need to inflate his ego. He was called the King of kings in his empire. This is different than what we know per Christ being the King of kings [once in I Timothy; four times in Revelation]. Ahasuerus (Xerxes) had appointed many sub-kings called satraps to rule over his vast empire. Christ will be declared the King of a global kingdom. We find this in the opening of the *Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.
*Contrary to church practices, the verses BEFORE the Lord’s Prayer specify that one is to go into his or her prayer closet, close the door, kick out the cat, then petition the Lord Jehovah in prayer. To quote this prayer as a group prayer is not how we are instructed to pray. Just a couple of verses before Jesus demonstrates an example of praying to his three disciples he specifically points out this is personal even though it begins with the word “our”.
Esther 5:9 is the turning point. Has the reader of this commentary ever had a high point in his or her life when almost immediately life’s actualities are once again upon us? This is Haman’s situation as he leaves the first banquet of wine at Esther’s place on cloud 9. Haman finds Mordecai, as usual, hanging around the King’s gate. With his ego well inflated Haman observes that Mordecai still does not bow or even tip a hat at the presence of Haman leaving the King’s palace. BANG! His anger goes off the chart in hate. Haman is now in another plotting mode. He wants total revenge on Mordecai and wishes to give an example of his power to the citizens over which he welds newly appointed powers.
Esther 5:10-12 amplifies his self-indulgence, perhaps best said, his self-delusion. He with excessive pride and self-accolades calls together his family, friends, and close associates to announce his pleasures with the King of Persia. Only HE had been invited to a banquet offered by the Queen herself. He will celebrate in festive style tomorrow as stated in verse 8 and 11. This is a prime example of Proverbs 16:18…pride goes before a fall. For a well-written and easy to follow article on Proverbs 16, go to: https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/what-christians-should-know-about-pride-goes-before-the-fall.html [Amanda Idleman].
How should we deal with pride? Read James 4:10. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up. Do we get this? It is not a command to just humble one’s self before the Lord. When we do, God will lift us up. That is a conditional promise. Like all bible based promises from God, they are conditional. “If you— then will I.”
After Haman’s self-accolades to family and friends, he discloses his issues and hate for Mordecai. Then as often happens in societies and group settings, others will offer their advice per dealing with another’s issues, problems, or trouble. Haman is no different. In the final two verses of Esther 5 we read:
Esther 5:13Yet all this is no gain to me as long as I am seeing Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. His hate has blinded him of his appointed duties being distracted by the simple presents of Mordecai.
Esther 5:14And his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, Make a wooden gallows fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak to the king and let them hang Mordecai on it; and go rejoicing in with the king to the banquet. And the thing was good in Haman’s eyes. And he caused the wooden gallows to be made [that very day; Emphasis mine].
Aha moment: From this verse and statement we get the phrase “hang um’ high.”
In chapter 6 the plot thickens. One might describe it as the point of impact in a perfect storm.
“You have been wishing for another position [in life] where you could do something for Jesus: do not wish anything of the kind but serve him where you are.” (Charles Spurgeon)
This is Esther chapter 4 in one line. Spurgeon makes a good point. Not inclusive but certainly a strong exclusive statement of our own thoughts and misguided ambitions. Chapter 4 describes the history or segment of this Esther history and God’s hand in it.
Esther 4:1 (ESV) “When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put-on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry.” Why the sackcloth and ashes? It was possible, even most likely, it was more about the fact it all begins with Mordecai’s refusal to pay any homage to the duly appointed, second in command ruler of Persia [perhaps only in Shushan]: Haman. Mordecai feels he has brought demise upon his people within the Persian Empire. Most or all of us have had a moment in life when what we did or said had a bad impact upon our family. In Mordecai’s situation, the consequence was to be the quick death of all remaining Israelites within the borders of Mede-Persia. Haman even had finances to encourage this bounty hunting.
Why did he tear his clothes? He will be guilty of the death of tens of thousands of his kindred.
Esther 4:2,3 demonstrates that Haman was very proficient or gifted, if simply not driven by hate, to spread the news of King Xerxes’ orders, albeit solicited by Haman, to slay all the troublemakers of this, as he inferred to the king, only a small group of rabble-rousers. So small that the King Ahasuerus had until then known nothing of them. However, he also did not know that Haman was talking about the significant population of Judeans/Benjamites within his kingdom. In our previous chapter 3 narrative commentary, we pointed out how eternal was this hate for the Jews by the Amalekites. One of their sub-clans and direct descendants of King Agag were the Agagites now living within Persia. King Saul of Israel was told by God to eliminate the evil Amalekites including their king, King Agag. King Saul [950 B.C.] was a Benjamite. Mordecai [480 B.C.] was also a Benjamite. Haman was an AmalekiteH-Agagite. This is the age old and eternal battle between Isaac and Ishmael; Esau and Jacob.
Est 4:4When Esther’s young women and her eunuchs 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.
The obvious question from verse 4 is why Esther’s concern about Mordecai being in sackcloth. She does not learn of the sackcloth purpose until v9. Back one verse (v8) Mordecai had instructed Esther’s messenger to tell, command, instruct, besiege her to go to the king and plead the case for the Jews. This would include her life as she too was from the Tribe of Benjamin; aka Benjamite.
Esther 4:11 is critical to this book.
First it explains that any who approach the King in his inner court without being summoned is likely to face an immediate death penalty.
Second the ONLY EXCEPTION was if the king extends his royal scepter to the uninvited to enter his inner court. The subject would thank the king by kneeling, bowing of head and touching the top of his scepter and express his gratitude by saying “Long live the king.”.
Third: Esther had not been in the presence of her husband-king for 30 days. Ahasuerus may have chosen her from 400 want-to-be queens of Persia, and she “won” but their intimacy was by now less than frequent…30 days since he last called her.
Esther 4:12,13 is a continuation of message exchanges by carrier-messenger-express (of sorts). It is a bit curious, and may matter not, but we go from Esther’s messenger Hatach (v5) to “they” told in verse 12. The word used in Hebrew for “told” is nâgad. It indicates in its simplest definition that the messenger(s) concluded this was the end of the matter. This was not the end of it. By this time there was a sense of urgency in Mordecai’s words to the messenger(s) of Esther. They originally figured it was over since no one dared to walk, trot, or sneak into the King’s inner court.
Mordecai laid it out to the messengers with a strong sense of even her life being in danger. This of course got the attention of her chamber aids. They heeded what he had to say and with haste brought his message back to Queen Esther. “She must go to the king. If not, her kinfolk, family and she herself would die due to the decree Haman had so inclusively written. There was no (game of monopoly) “collect $200 and continue playing”.
Esther 4:14 (Mordecai speaking) “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”.
This is the second time in the Book of Esther where there is a hint of God’s involvement. G-D will raise up protection from another source if you (Esther) do not confront the King with or without invitation. Again, and without ever mentioning God, we have the third indication in the Book of Esther that has some Judaism, canonization, or G-d fearing value. Esther says to the messengers, tell Mordecai along with all the other Jews he could find in Shushan (Susa) to fast for three days. She and her handmaids will do the same. Only then will she approach the King [4:16].
NOTE & REMINDER: Shushan was one of the administrative locations of Daniel. It is also where many believe he was buried.
Esther 4:16b After three days of group fasting: [ESV] “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai suggested to Esther, his cousin who he had raised, that perhaps this moment is why she was even born into this world. It seems a little short in purpose for life but long in the survival of her kin and some of God’s chosen people. This reminds us of Revelation 7:1 [four angels on the four corners of the earth] and *Revelation 9:13-16 [Four angels solely appointed to hold back the waters of the Euphrates] angels created of God for one purpose, to hold back until end times elements of the earth’s judgment on sinful man at or near the end of the Tribulation.
*v15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind [NIV].
JIV NOTE: This is not directly Esther related, but Revelation 9:13-16 involves massive deaths; 1/3 of the earth’s population. This suggests the angels at the head of the Euphrates may be fallen angels ready to do Satan’s bidding, with God’s permission, of trying to destroy mankind since he cannot have them for himself. It is possible that these are fallen angels. Scripture tells us they are BOUND THERE, not assigned to be there at such and such a time…but bound there.
We conclude this about the angles in Ahabiblemoments.com for what it says in Jude 1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate [heaven], but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” [KJV]
We Teach – You Decide
Back to Esther…
The final verse in Esther 4 is number 17. Esther and Mordecai come to an agreement and went their separate ways to fast for three days and nights. Then Esther will then do the almost unpardonable sin per the laws of the Medes and Persians. She will walk into the presence of the king without invitation i.e. into his inner court. This would be akin to an uninvited or authorized person or personnel walking into the White House Situation Room while it is in secret session.
Esther 5:1“and after three days Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the king”. We pick up on this in our narrative commentary on Esther 5.
Esther 3:1After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and raised him setting his seat above all the rulers with him. For the sake of education, this is the same position to which Daniel was promoted some 40 to 50 years earlier by King Darius. Haman was a distant descendant of Esau. Idumeans or Edomites (Esau) were and remain enemies of Israel. H. J. Wolf identifies their hate as “vehement” (Exodus17:14-16). The Middle East saying of a thousand years is like a day when it comes to vengeance or revenge. The difference between Haman and Daniel are many but per their in-common political position, Haman demanded reverence where Daniel simply did his job. This is evidenced in Esther 3:2 [LITV]
“And all the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate were bowing and worshiping Haman, for the king had so commanded for him. But Mordecai did not bow nor worship”
AHA NOTE: An Agagite is to reference an Amalekite sub-tribe. Amalek was a grandson of Esau. In 1 Samuel 15:1–9, Samuel identifies Amalek as the enemy of Israelites, saying “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt”. God then commands Saul to destroy the Amalekites from which the Agagites descended. According to 1 Samuel 15 [a must-read chapter], King Agag, King of the Amalekites was defeated by King Saul. Descendants of King Agag became the Agagites. The time of Esther is over 500 years after King Saul defeated the Amalekites but saved the life of King Agag. Agag thereby became the progenitor of the Agagites, thus descended Haman.
Esther 3:4-6 demonstrates Haman’s ancestral hate for the Hebrew Israelites. Another Aha moment: Haman being of Agagite lineage through King Agag, a bible student should consider the extremely deep hate of Esau for those of Jacob’s lineage. Why?
AHA MOMENT: King Saul was a Benjamite. Mordecai and Esther were also Benjamites! Haman knew their connection!
Esther 3:4 shows the pious of Haman. He seems to have been so self-centered he did not even notice when he entered the King’s gates that Mordecai refused to bow. Verse 4 tells us that it is Haman’s servants who pointed out this issue to Him.
Esther 3:6a explains he immediately had it in mind to destroy all the Jews in Shushan and the empire over which King Ahasuerus ruled. The Modern King James expresses this well.
“And he scorned to lay hands [not] only on Mordecai, for they had revealed to him the people of Mordecai.And Haman sought to destroy all the Jews In the Kingdom”.
Haman found out that Mordecai was a Jew at the same time as he was told that Mordecai refused to bow at his presence. There is nothing evident in all of scripture that counters or commands a person to not offer a courtesy bow to authority, just not to an idol. It is customary in many cultures and countries to offer a slight bow as a greeting.
Esther 3:7 is from where the Jews get or customarily have a holiday called Purim. The word Pur in Hebrew is pûrı̂ym. It means a casting of lots or sometimes simply ‘lots’. *Jews write it as Purim. It is a significant Jewish holiday, giving of gifts, drinking wine, celebrating, dressing up in costumes, and parties. We would call it the casting of dice. This fun holiday of joy and celebration includes the reading of the Book of Esther. Like all Judaism holidays the dates shift when compared to our current calendar. In 2021 (depending upon when this article is published on the web of ahamoments.com) it is or was February 25-27.
*Keep it in mind that those in Babylon were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin plus a few stragglers from the ten Israeli tribes in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. All Jews are Israelites but not all Israelites are Jews.
Esther 3:8 is revealing in how Haman defines or choses the words he uses to seek King Ahasuerus’ permission to kill off the Jews (Judeans and Benjamites) within his kingdom.
And Haman said to King Ahasuerus, there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people, in all the provinces of your kingdom. And their laws are different from all people, neither do they keep the king’s laws. And it is not for the king’s gain to allow them to live. [MKJV]
” …a certain people…”. The word Haman used made it sound like it was a small group of rabble-rousers scattered throughout the Kingdom. The king must have accepted this. Probable reason? He had not previously known of these Haman defined few troublemakers. Within the deceiving words so carefully chosen by Haman. He left the impression that somehow these people did not keep the laws of the Kingdom. This is a false implication. Most Jews kept the laws of the land, mostly to not draw attention to themselves. Within Judaism there are laws of worship that have no conflict with the laws of the Medes and Persians. Haman left that detail out of his plea to the King.
NOTE: The name Haman and Hitler had similar intention. This intention of both evil men is common amongst the Muslim nations and Hamas.
Esther 3:9 If it pleases the king, let it be written to destroy them; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.
Add this to one’s thoughts of Esther, Haman, the Jews, Mordecai, etc. This is not an offer by Haman to pay a bribe out of his own pockets. He knew that much wealth had been obtained by the business-minded character of the Jewish people. The ancient saying of “follow the money trail” applies here. In most situation throughout history, the Israelites have been and continue to be blessed with financial success. Much if not most of Hollywood is run by Jews. Banks and financial institutions, newspaper, magazine and electronic publications are operated by if not owned by Jews. Haman expected to collect the ten thousand talents of silver by *taking the properties and assets of the Jews he planned to slaughter.
NOTE: *It is estimated that 30% of Hitler’s war machine was financed by confiscated properties of the Jews in Germany. There is little reason to consider elsewise per Haman’s anticipated windfall of wealth. His portion would far exceed King Xerxes’ wealth. AKA: Ahasuerus.
Esther 3:11 Joseph Benson in his commentary on this verse puts it this way:
[King Ahasuerus) The silver is given to thee [Haman] — Keep it for thy own use, I do not desire it. I accept thy offer for the deed.
King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) probably had no clue of the financial bonanza awaiting Haman once he confiscates Jewish properties. One should consider that Haman knew it well. Note that in verse 12 Haman was very inclusive in all legal wording and matters considering the destruction of these “rabble-rousers” he suggested to be destroyed. The identities of these people to who Haman wished to destroy never came up in his conversation with the King.
Esther 3:13…a summary of Haman’s completeness of their destruction and elimination.
sent by the runners
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,
This evil man of Esau lineage wanted to be as complete as possible, all in one day. He left little ground, if any, uncovered for their elimination. Instead, the opposite happened (keep reading in our next few chapter narrative commentaries).
Esther 315b “And the king and Haman sat down to drink. But the city, Shushan, was perplexed”. This casual approach by King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) showed how little he knew or understood about the designs of Haman. The city of Susa (Shushan) was perplexed. This confused the citizens of Susa. Why is this simple thought of perplexation in all of their minds? Perhaps the people remembered Daniel. He administered out of the city of Susa only a few years earlier.
Next narrative commentary: Esther 4. Queen Esther comes back into the events once again.
Here is a look at the issue of Esther in Persia through the eyes of Rabbi Menachem Posner. Do not take this as our recommendation of the truth but it is interesting to read. Undoubtedly there is much truth weaved into Rabbi Posner’s take but it includes his Judaism filters of truth. One brief example is the reason Mordechai refused to bow before Haman. Rabbi Posner says that Haman wore a necklace of which Mordechai observed as an idol. He refused to bow before an idol. His conjecture is a bit far-fetched. Haman was a sworn enemy of Jacob’s offspring. He was an Amalekite (Esau). Mordechai as was Haman were aware of the ancient division between Jacob and Esau as was Haman. Haman is of Esau’s lineage and Mordechai of is Jacob’s ancestry. Click the following link to read Rabbi Posner’s comments on the history of Queen Esther.
Esther 2:1 & 2 may suggest that King Ahasuerus had some after-the-fact regret for his actions per expelling of Vashti. Since her banishment was according to the laws of the Medes and Persians, there could not be a reversal of the decree. The king had his haram but did not have a queen to be by his side in public events.
Esther 2:3 & 4 set the stage. The order went out to the providences over which King Ahasuerus ruled. These young women were gathered in the King’s harem in Susa (Shushan). Since this city was the seat of the government, and the Bible mentions Daniel being in Susa meaning Nehemiah and Ezra came from the same place. At minimum they resided there. The king’s eunuch Hegal (ESV) oversaw the King’s haram.
JIV: There are speculative thoughts, some with a basis for believing. The span between when Ahasuerus’s decree went out and the collection of young women to *candidate for the position of Queen was up to four years. During this time King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) invaded Greece. He was defeated but later King Philip of Macedonia taught his son, Alexander (soon to be called the Great) of this Persian invasion. 150 years later Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian empire.
*We say “candidate” but these women were not given a choice. This was a kingdom of many races, languages, and cultures. None of this mattered to Ahasuerus. The ancient historian Josephus says Ahasuerus had as many as 400 women selected.
The ESV states in Esther 2:4a, “the young woman who pleases the king”. Cultural norms of today often put up a hurdle to understanding or excepting the term “pleases”. The king had a haram of any woman he pleased for whatever purpose he desired. He was looking for the one that would complement his status as a king, one of great beauty. After all this was his desired reasoning for Vashti to parade in royalty in front of his banquet hall nobles and prince audience. It was to magnify himself, not her. Even the Bible reflects upon this in Proverbs 12:4. [NASB] “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones”. Secular or Christian there is something of value to this that too many wives have lost. Esther 2:4b explains Vashti to the proverbial “T”.
Esther 2:5 gives us the locality, Shushan. Today the city is considered the cultural and political center of the regional Azerbaijani population, while for Armenians, Shusha also has a religious significance and claim to it. Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis have fought for decades for control of this area.
JIV NOTE: This town and area over the centuries has gone by multiple versions of the name Susa. Examples: Susa, Susi, Shushan, Shushi, etc. may be of interest to some, many of the ancient stone reliefs of Elamites show a dark-skinned people as the ruling class in this area of Susa. Perhaps this is a DNA trait of some of the descendants of Shem through his grandson Elam. A serious consideration: [Jeremiah 49:36] “And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.” Try to find a nation in which there are not dark-skinned races present. Elamites are Hebrew descended from Shem, but all Hebrew are not Israelites. True Arabs are also Hebrew [line of Shem].
Esther 2:5 reiterates that these are Judean kingdom exiles who remained in this area of Persia, modern day Iran/Iraq. Most of the exiled were from either the Tribe of Judah or the Tribe of Benjamin. There may be a God-reason that so many Benjamites and Judean (Jews) remained in Persia and its surrounding region after their release from their 70 year captivity. Archeologists and historians have traced remnants of Beni-Israel (Benjamites) to India. Those who populate India are darker skinned but not Negro.
Verse 5 also identifies Mordechai. He is a Benjamites, who descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, that were Babylonian exiled captives from Judah many years earlier but did not return to Jerusalem. Keep in mind we are now talking about 480 B.C. About 140 years later Alexander the Great did exact revenge for the attacks on and in Greece from King Ahasuerus. Some commentaries wish to make Mordechai one of the original captives from Judah. This is questionable. He would be well over 100 years old at this time even if exiled as an infant. The exile dates recorded are 603, 597, and 587 B.C. The historic event of the Book of Esther was over 100 years afterwards.
Mordechai was an older cousin of Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah). Since she had been orphaned as a child she was taken in and reared by Mordechai. How or when her parents died is not a matter of any known record. One of her father’s siblings was a brother to the father of Mordechai. We know this as we are given the lineage of Mordechai in verse 5.
Esther 2:8 is very telling how this gathering of young virgins was accomplished. It was NOT by choice such as might be a Persian Beauty Pageant.
(YLT) “And it cometh to pass, in the word of the king, even his law, being heard, and in many young women being gathered unto Shushan the palace…” Look at the words LAW and GATHERED. These are not invitations. The word law is obvious. The word gathered is not so obvious. In the Hebrew, the word gathered is qâbats. It means to take hold of, grasp, collect. This is not a choice of the women but of those seeking to gather them.
Esther 2:8 & 9 The Greek historian Herodotus mentions Hegai as being an officer of king Ahasuerus. Hadassah aka Esther won the favor of Hegai. Like the history of Daniel winning favor with Potiphar, the Egyptian jailer, and later the Pharaoh himself, Esther over a thousand years later, won favor with her overlord; in a real sense, watchdog. Esther was given maids to help or assist her every need plus moved to a better location in the king’s palace to await her training. All on the orders of Hegai. It is not mentioned in scripture, but this did not make her popular with the other young maidens who were “taken” to be with the king to see if she would win the crown of the queen.
Esther 2:10 “Esther had not revealed her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her that she should not reveal it” [LITV]. This raises questions about how the captive Judeans were viewed by the local populous. Mordechai “warned Esther” by command to not reveal she was of Israeli descent, a Jew of Judah; Benjamite DNA. Verse 11 tells us that Mordechai daily “walked in front of the gate” of the court or house where these maidens were kept.
NOTE: The word Jew does not represent all Israelites. It originated as a derogatory word used by the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel [II Kings 16:6] when he planned to attack his cousins in the southern kingdom of Judah (Jew-dah).
The next two verses (Esther 2:12 & 13) tell us something few think of or wish not to admit. The maidens were not brought in as groups but one at a time. Before jumping to one’s preconceived cultural norms or personal conclusions, even Isaac’s wife was a selection process. It was under different circumstances but not a proposal and choice of Rebekah. She was destined to be Isaac’s wife according to God’s hand. Who is to say, other than Mordechai, Esther was not born for this very purpose as reads Esther 4:14. Exodus 9:16 is another proclamation of the same sort. [MKJV] “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Add to this Romans 9:13. Esther may well have been born for this sole purpose in life, to save her people from annihilation in Persian controlled territories.
Esther2:14 “She goes in the evening of, and on the morning, she returns to the second house of the women, into the hand of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She does not come into the king anymore, unless the king delights in her, and she is called by name”. Hello world!!! The maiden goes into the King’s chambers in the evening and returns to the Harem in the morning? This is the reason many Rabbi say she was raped. The culture back then would say otherwise.
Esther 1:10 – 22 explain the sequence of events leading up to Vashti’s refusal, removal, and ruling. She refused to do as the king asked probably with encouragement from somewhat intoxicated “noble wives,” she raised concerns of this becoming a universal problem with other husbands and families, and the king issuing a ruling throughout his mixed empire that married women are to be subject, as has been the culture since forever, to their husbands.
Vashti must have been a woman of extreme beauty. It is probably her opinion of herself. We cannot comment much on these circumstances as there is little to which we can deduce otherwise. The word in “refused” in Verse 12 may add insight. It is mâ’ên in the Hebrew. This means it was not a simple “no thank you oh king”. As Strong’s Dictionary defines it…X-utterly. A NO; not a no thanks. Who knows how things may have turned out had she simply said, “no thank you, oh King?” This request for her to wear the royal crown is why some daring Bible commentators suggest she was asked to appear wearing only the royal crown. This is a stretch.
Jewish commentaries state that she was willing to do so but was smit by God with Leprosy as she prepared to parade in front of the king and nobles of Persia and Media. This too is a stretch as nothing suggests this in the content or context of the Book of Esther.
Esther 1:13“Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times” [NKJV]. Where also have we read this statement “who understood the times”? Daniel was one who understood the times. The Christmas Maji were also identified as people who understood the times. I Chronicles 12:32 identifies the men of the Tribe of Issachar as having this ability. Might these wisemen of the King’s court be somehow connected by DNA to these who are identified as blessed with this gift? The Bible does not identify these wise men as folks who THINK or CLAIM to understand the times. It is stated in verse 13 as a foregone fact. Something to toss around in our minds. We Teach – You Decide.
Esther 1:14 seems to address this thought. The Tribe of Issachar, those who understood the times, had been dispersed by the Assyrians along with the other nine northern Tribes of Israel back in 722 B.C. This is some 250 years later. If this was a God-given ability to the men of Issachar, they had multiplied many times over since the Assyrian dispersion. We do not know this “know the times ability” went with them, but it is a dot that might be connected. Do some personal research and see what you find. This area is included to being where some of the ten tribes of Israel were dispersed, i.e. amongst the Medes and into the Zagros Mountains, it has grounds for consideration.
Esther 1:16 – 18 explains the case in front of the wise men who knew the times and the laws of the Medes and Persians.
According to the Brenton translation:And Muchaeus said to the king and to the princes, [the] Queen has not wronged the king only, but also all the king’s rulers and princes: for he has told them the words of the queen, and how she disobeyed the king. As then, said he, she refused to obey king Artaxerxes,
so this day shall the other ladies of the chiefs of the Persians and Medes, having heard what she said to the king, dare in the same way to dishonor their husbands.
The results of the impromptu conference in the King’s banquet hall that day were simple. Return by law of the Medes and Persians what was assumed to be customary up to this event. In these territories of the Middle East and in many Asian countries, this is still the custom. This issue did not completely go away though, that being women (wives) demanding not equal justice but a change in customs. The Apostle Paul had to address it again around 50 A.D.
Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”. [Apostle Paul; KJV] What is the crux of seeming to be disobedient or argumentative? [Read James 4]
What has Daniel 9:1 have to do with understanding history and the Book of Esther? Look at the following graphic illustration. There is much confusion and contradictory statements even in Bible commentaries about rulers in Babylon, Media, Persia and who was what and when was Esther.
Daniel 9:1 states “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” [NASB]
Secularist often refuse to allow for similar names to be distinctly different rulers. If Ahasuerus was a Mede and his son Darius a ruler in Babylon (Chaldeans), where does Esther fit? Assume the larger circle is the Persian-Median Empire. King Herrod of the New Testament was called a king, but he was not the ONLY king within the Roman Empire; only one of four King Herrod.
Here is a brief of the situations at, around or near the time of Esther. Hebrew name: Hadassah.
50,000 plus captives from Judah returned to Jerusalem, Judah under Cyrus II (the Great)
Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, Esther, Mordecai, all part of the same lifespan
Three kingdoms in one: Persia, Babylon, Media all to eventually fall under Cyrus II of Persia
The Medes and the Persians are the two arms in Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Statue Dream [Daniel 2].
Medes were the weaker group as mentioned by Daniel; the left hand
Medes were actually more of a confederacy of six tribes of people: The six Median tribes resided in Media proper, the triangular area between Rhagae, Aspadana and Ecbatana In present-day Iran, that is the area between Tehran, Isfahan and Hamadan, respectively. Of the Mede tribes, the Magi resided in Rhagae, modern Tehran.
The Maji were a tribe descended from the Northern Kingdom of Israel exiles. The Tribe of Issachar: Sun, moon and stars (1 Chronicles 12:32)
The Three Maji Kings of Christmas celebrity status were from a Tribe of people called Maji, Zoroastrians. Likely from the Tribe of Issachar who were star gazers. It was them to whom the Bethlehem star was revealed.
Hmmm? To an Israelite group the Star of Bethlehem Messiah appeared?
The Two horns of Daniel’s ram vision in Daniel 8 are the Medes and Persians.
Assyria disperses the Kingdom of Israel, the Northern ten Tribes of Israel [722 B.C.]
Assyria defeated by Medes and Babylonians [around 610 B.C.]
Lydians defeated by the Medes (around 547 B.C.]
Babylonians defeated by the Medes and Persians [539 B.C.]
Persians conquered Medes. (the last king of Mede, Astyages, was the grandfather of the Persian king Cyrus II) [549 B.C.]
Cyrus II takes control of former Babylon moving one of Persia’s three capitals to Susa (aka: Shushan) Originally established by a grandson of Shem [Elam]. It became a Persian capital around 539 B.C.
Daniel and Esther’s tombs are claimed to be in Susa.
Daniel is held in great esteem by Jews, Muslims, & Christians just as is Abraham. Order of their origination: Jews – Christians – Islam
ESTHER CHAPTER 1
Esther 1:1 “Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia)
1:2in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel”. Ahasuerus was a bitter enemy of the Greeks for which Persia paid a great price 150 years later when Alexander the Great [337 B.C.] marched on Persia in revenge for the previous attacks by Ahasuerus-Xerxes in Greece/Macedonia. Shushan or Susa is to this very day the legendary tomb sites of Daniel, Esther, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. Susa (Shusha) is in the Zagros Mountains. This is where the bible and historians tell us large populations of ten Northern Kingdom of Israelis were exiled by the Assyrian.
JIV NOTE: Babylon was no longer the capital of this territory of former Babylon. It was primarily Shusha/Susa. Ahasuerus fought the Greeks in the Battle at Thermopylae [480 B.C.] The last days of Daniel’s life was in Susa.
Esther 1:3in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants—the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him
This is uncanny in that is precisely how the Medes three years earlier conquered the Babylonians killing co-regent king Belteshazzar…with a great feast, royal wines, and golden goblets. This similarity includes verse 4 when the riches of his kingdom were displayed to all who were present. The difference is obvious in verses 5-8 of Esther. For seven days it included the population, not just the royalty and nobles.
Another difference was Belteshazzar expected his guests to drink heavily. Verse 1:8 says drinking was an option of everyone by rule of Ahasuerus.
ENTER QUEEN VASHTI – Est 1:9Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus.
There are controversies over exactly what King Xerxes had ordered Vashti to do. She was to adorn the royal crown of the Queen but here is where things are subject to unfounded translation interpretations and guess work. She was without doubt a beautiful woman. Her origin is not mentioned but guess work makes her of Persian descent. Without listing all the lacking evidence speculations per her appearance, what we do know is she refused to come before the guests of Ahasuerus per his request.
Since she too was holding a banquet for the wives of the king’s royal guests, these too had been drinking something other than river water or sparkling lemonade [humor intended]. Excess drinking can make one unusually bold, sometimes stupid in actions and verbalized opinions. She was with a great multitude of other wives who all share one thing common this time in history. These wives were supposedly subject to their husbands’ wishes. It would not take much imagination to conclude Vashti did not come to a refusal on her own. There had to be many women who did not enjoy being subject to husbands yet alone male domination. Why is this an easy consideration? Look at the 19th and 20 centuries around the world and in America. DIDDO! The word used for Queen Vashti’s feast in Hebrew is mishteh. It means to drink as in festivity.
What could make a bolder revolutionary statement than the Queen of Persia standing up to her husband’s wishes. The wise guys in the other banquet had good reason to fear this disobedience spreading throughout the empire. It did not just occur to them at this juncture. Their home lives behind closed doors likely gave them grounds for fear of a women’s united revolution. We will not discuss the pros and cons of our current century political hot potato. Let the Bible stand on its own merits. Ephesians 5:2 would not be written for another 500 years. We often forget the last four words of Ephesians 5:2…”as unto the Lord.”
Question: How well do men AND women submit unto the Lord today?
Studying Esther without the “how it got there” or what is its influence and application today. Let us take a moment and look at some interesting facts that lead up to and followed the time of Queen Esther.
To the right is a look at where Shushan is located. Here it is called SUSA. None-the-less it is just another name for Shushan. It I said that the tomb of Daniel is in this city. Other places claim his tomb but this one is the most likely because scriptures tell us Daniel spent time there as a government official under Darius (appointed ruler over Babylonian territory captured by the Persians and Medes. One may wish to examine the secular history around Daniel and Susa (Shushan). Go to http://www.biblesearchers.com/prophecy/daniel/daniel8-1.shtml for one good website for so doing.
We disagree with some of this website’s conclusions, but it is mind tickling and an educational moment or two to read. It began as the capital of Elam. Elam was in the line of Shem (Noah’s son). Esther is from a line of Benjamites taken captive along with Judah. The time of Esther is about 140 years after Nebuchadnezzar dispersed and took captive the Judeans of Judah. Judah was dominated by many Benjamites and a significant population Judeans [Tribe of Judah] with a smattering of members from the other Tribes of Israel.
(Jeremiah 49:34-39) I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who want to kill them; I will bring disaster on them, even my fierce anger,” declares the Lord. “I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. I will set my throne in Elam and destroy her king and officials,” declares the Lord. Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,” declares the Lord. Remember that one of the capitals of Persia was Susa of Elam.
Alexander the Great died in Babylon “city”. The Babylonian Empire had a second capital in Susa/Shushan. This is the setting of the Book of Esther. The Israelis who were originally Babylonian captives from Judah, but did not return to Judah when released, by choice remained in Babylon and later Persia. This was a significant population of mostly Benjamites and Judeans with some Levites.
AHA MOMENT: The two main Benjamite characters of the Book of Esther are Esther and Mordecai. Their names are corruptions of the Babylonian gods Isthar and Marduk. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah which interestingly means Myrtle as in the myrtle tree of Zechariah’s vision in his book, chapter 1:1-17.
A 2nd Aha: Go back just a few years, maybe 60 years when Cyrus the Great released the Judean captives in his conquered lands, this included multiple tens-of-thousands of dispersed Northern Kingdom Israelites originally exiled by the Assyrians and living within the other conquered lands of Cyrus.
Why is history before, during, and after the Book of Esther so significant. Why is it even included in the Old Testament? We borrow from Robert Mock’s MD article The Festival of Purim his insightful questions.
“What if Esther did not exist, or she did not respond to the calling of God and be willing to give up her life for her people. Within eight years, Ahasuerus was assassinated by a courtier, Artabanus. No doubt, Ezra, the lawyer and scribe, was alive at the time of Esther. Fifteen years later, under the rule of Artaxerxes I, Ezra leads the second group of Jews back to the Holy Land in 458 BC. Was Artaxerxes I, the son of Esther and Ahasueras (Xerxes I)? Without Esther, would Ezra have been killed in the genocide? Without Ezra, would the compilation of the Tanach, the Old Testament, been completed? Without Esther, would Nehemiah, the governor, have been killed? Would the third migration back to Israel have never occurred? Maybe there would not have been enough Jews to migrate back to the Land”.
Esther and the Book of Esther may be the common denominator for each of the above scenarios offered by Dr. Robert Mock. There were many Persian kings but only a few have any role in God’s expressed interest in Israelites during the time up to and after Esther. It may be little more than a technicality in our review of whose who in this article but read on. This was a combined empire of the Medes and the Persians when it all began. Eventually the Persians conquered the Medes. When one runs across the name of Astyages, son of Cyaxares, he is NOT a king of the Medo-Persian Empire. He is the last king of the independent Medes in the Mede and Persian alliance. He ruled on his half of the empire 100 years after the time of Esther. This would be the far eastern borders of today’s Iran.
AHA MOMENT: The brother-in-law of Astyages was none other than Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Daniel’s time. It was his sister who was the queen for which Nebuchadnezzar built the “Hanging Gardens” of Babylon. Talk about family in-fighting, Astyages was dethroned by Cyrus of Persia, his grandson. He lived out his life in Persia.
Another point of aha in the Book of Esther is the villain Haman. He is an Amalekite. He is in the line and Tribe of Amalec the grandson of Esau. A reading of the Book of Esther might leave one thinking that the dispute between Mordecai and Haman was simply personal. If that is so, then why would Haman seek the execution of all “Jews” in Persia even though there is doubt Haman knew Queen Esther was a Jewess? It goes much deeper. It goes all the way back to the feud between Isaac and Esau. They were then and remain today bitter enemies. It was the Amalekites of the Negev north of Egypt that refused Moses and the Israelites from Egyptian captivity of 400+years to pass through their lands in route to the lands of the Canaanites, Israel’s Promised Land.
The author of the Book of Esther is not identified. Most knowledgeable history buffs of the Bible conclude it must have been Mordecai who penned this Bible history. It is logical to conclude that one who was an eyewitness might be the author of greatest knowledge. Besides, Mordecai was significant to this book. His part was as important as was Esther if not a bit more so.
The events in the pages of Esther began around the 3rd year of Xerxes’ reign putting it around 583 B.C. They continued at least up to and after the twelfth year of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) most likely up to 573 B.C. Xerxes was assassinated assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard. (Hmmm? Some bodyguard).
Let us close this part 2 of Esther with a quote from Charles Spurgeon.
“Oh! That you studied your Bibles more! Oh! That we all did! How we could plead the promises! How often we should prevail with God when we could hold him to his word, and say, ‘Fulfill this word unto thy servant, whereon thou hast caused me to hope.’ Oh! It is grand praying when our mouth is full of God’s word, for there is no word that can prevail with him like his own.” (Spurgeon)
JIV: This includes seeking wisdom and understanding [Colossians 1:9; NASB]
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”