Esther Part Three

Esther Part Three

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

According to Herodotus, the Achaemenian Cyrus (II) the Great of Persia was King Astyages’ of Media grandson through his daughter Mandane.

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 1:1Now 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)

1:2 in 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 1:3 in 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 1:9 Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Beautiful Queen

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?

Rev. Dr. Jstark
 2020

Esther: Introduction Part 2

Study the Times of Esther: Before and After

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.

Click on either  Shushan, the capital in the Province of Elam and the River U’lai or Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerses are the same King of the Medes and the Persians according to the Seder Olam Rabbah. One may also wish to click on The Palace at Shushan or The Tomb of Daniel.

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”

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Introductory Comments to the Book of Esther

Something taken out of historical content, isolated from the surrounding histories, lacks in full understanding of any given context. It is awareness without much understanding. This is the reason for the following graphic. Scripture sometimes advances in years between chapters and sometimes between verse. This distorts the value of the in between events in history. The Book of Esther is one of these points of skipped years. Example: Esther 1:3 states “in the third year of Ahasuerus’s reign”. Esther 2:16 is four years later…”in the seventh year of his reign”. Esther 3:7 we read “in the twelfth year of his reign”. This is another four years later than Esther 2:16. In short, a minimum of 8 years of blank history passes between Esther 1:3 and Esther 3:7. It isn’t blank but not sometimes covered in the Bible.

What else surrounded Esther’s background in history? We cannot give a good mental awareness, knowledge, and understanding of histories that lead up to the Book of Esther unless we explain a few things in world and Bible history prior to, at the time of, and after the Book of Esther. This is where we will begin this study of Esther. The hollow orange section with the red “X” in the following chronology identifies a time-period for which we know Esther became wife of King Xerxes. It is likely she lived on as Queen Mother after his death, but for how long we do not know. We do understand that King Ahasuerus died in 465 B.C. The bold red rectangular box shows that Bible history is extended to the end of this chart. Charts can be discouraging when one tries to look at it in general. Read each item within its own context of history. This is how we define aha moments.

We do not like to inundate our articles with graphs and charts because so many spend zero time examining them even if for their own personal gain and added insight. Plus, we have a problem with Persian historians. We have multiple “historians” who juggle kingships and years to best fit his or her assumptions, perspectives, or motives. The following is as accurate as we have found. It comes from a worthy read:

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/persian-kings.html

JIV NOTE: Satraps of provinces within the Persian Empire were also called Kings. King Herod of the Christmas history in Judea was a Satrap of the Emperor of Rome but called a king.

2 Chronicles 36:23 – Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him and let him go up.

JIV NOTE: Cyrus the Great of Persia released the Jews of Babylon and elsewhere with his empire borders to return to Judah or specifically Jerusalem. Most opted to move elsewhere of to stay put.

This chart reveals the later demise of the Persian Empire (Achaemenid dynasty). The Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great who conquered Babylon in 536 BC. The Persian Empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire. It was Cyrus (King of Persia) who issued the famous decree for the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their Temple. [JIV NOTE: Darius was king of Babylon, not Persia) Under Darius the second Temple of Zerubbabel was completed; and under Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, the events recorded in the Book of Esther in the Bible happened. Under Artaxerxes I the Jewish state was reformed by Ezra, and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah. The capital of the Persian Empire was Shushan. The Empire lasted a little more than 200 years and came to an end in *330 BC.”

The 330 B.C. demise of the Persian Empire had much to do with Queen Esther’s king-husband Ahasuerus [aka Xerxes 130 years earlier]. JIV NOTE: Some translations confuse things even more by suggesting that Xerxes was aka Artaxerxes. Persian records are far from exacting.

Yes, this is too much history for some readers. Without this knowledge, how does one confirm its value in paralleling secular histories and Bible facts over the same time periods. There is NO CONFLICT since bible and secular histories are simultaneous or concurrent events. Bible and secular histories are not individual and different. They are both a common and often simultaneous history of our world through the eyes of their authors but often not connected by the dots. One is not fact and the other a religion. It is religion that puts a false spin on their disconnect by not connecting the dots. The same is TRUE of secular revisionist historians. Connecting some of these dots is our role at Ahabiblemoments.com. We make the connections because it all adds up to ONE HISTORY.

Following is an exert from excellent research done by Mary Jane Chaignot:

King Ahasuerus

By Mary Jane Chaignot

  • Scholars are uncertain which king is referred to by this name.
  • For a long time, they believed it was another name for Xerxes I, who reigned from 485-465 BCE.
  • He was the son of Darius I of Persia; his mother was the daughter of Cyrus the Great.
  • During his reign, he had to deal with revolts in Egypt and Babylon.
  • He was successful in both ventures, but highly unpopular in Babylon after melting down the revered statue of the idol Marduk. Some scholars think this might have been the cause of subsequent rebellions by the Babylonians.
  • He was also in command during the Battle at Thermopylae when 300 Spartans and 1000 Greeks stood up to the entire Persian army. Though the Spartans were ultimately defeated (by the treachery of a fellow countryman), their stand allowed the people of Athens time to vacate the city.
  • The city of Athens was destroyed (whether on purpose or by accident is a matter of debate), which led to high anti-Persian sentiment.
  • After unsuccessfully trying to defeat the Greeks on the sea, Xerxes had to return to Babylon to deal with further unrest in that area.
  • This is most likely due to his representation in the Book of Esther, and it surely didn’t hurt that he had destroyed the statue of Marduk.
  • According to Josephus, “after the death of Xerxes, the kingdom came to be transferred to his son, Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes.”
  • Josephus claims this king married a Jewish wife, who was responsible for saving the Jews.
  • He goes on to relate the story of Vashti, Esther, and Mordecai.
  • Daniel 9:1 also mentions Ahasuerus, who was supposedly the father of Darius, King of Media. Unfortunately, no such individual is given secular documentation. [JIV NOTE] Why? Perhaps because he may have been the son of the Jewess Queen Esther. *Leviticus Rabbah 13:5 states this Darius to be the son of Queen Esther. *Hebrew Midrash scholars.

https://biblewise.com/bible_study/characters/king-ahasuerus.php

This will help connect the elusive bible and secular history dots, give the reader points of reference, and eliminate confusion or give guidance in some true Bible student minds; those who wish to go beyond the “milk of the Word and the isolated stories within the Bible”.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

The Book of Esther

Introduction to Esther

How does one discuss or explain verses in a Bible book that does not even mention God, Jehovah, heaven, eternity, End Time, Prophets, or prophesies from the prophets or other books in the Old Testament? Since a verse-by-verse approach is not fitting for a book that constitutes an inclusive segment within history and being that the Book of Esther is the LAST book of history in the Bible, we need to take the surrounding events that played up to this event around 480 B.C. to perhaps 465 B.C.

Let’ begin with a timeline. Why? If it is the last historical book of the Old Testament that means historical event led up to it. It also means it has an influence on things that followed. This history of Esther and the Jews results from the hundreds of thousand if not millions of Jews (Judeans) including those from the kingdom of Judah who were also taken captive who did not return to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah or Ezra. But she undoubtedly knew of them and the return of 50,000 to 60,000 Judeans shortly before her birth.

STAY TUNE for the Timeline next week!!