Esther Chapter 4 (a narrative commentary)
“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 4:4 When 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.
Rev. Dr. Jstark