Esther Part 4

NO

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]

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Acts 13

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

What a mix of persons who are believers in one location; Antioch, Syria (not Turkey). This is the continental divide of Acts; a time when Luke switches discussion from Peter to Saul/Paul. In a sense the water shed of Luke’s focus in the Book of Acts. Peter was to the Jews (Acts 1 – 12) what Paul became to the Greeks/Gentiles (Acts 13 to 28).  If this was quiz time as in a bible school, college or university, here is a set of Questions very likely to appear as an Acts 13 student challenge sometimes called a quiz or a test.

quiz time

Who separated Barnabus and Saul for the work of God’s ministry?
Acts 13:1-4.

How should we get involved in the ministry today? (essay question)

Is an academic qualification essential for ministry? (essay question)

Would you say Paul’s judgement on the sorcerer was harsh?
Acts 13:6-12

Do you think Paul’s own experience influenced his action in Acts 13:11?

How are we as Christians to discern the time to call for God’s judgement and the time for his mercy? (essay question)

When is Saul referred to as Paul? (essay question; see end of this article)

Was any reason given for John Mark’s departure? Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13, Acts 15:36-38

Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:13-41 shows his understanding and knowledge of the scriptures. Is the Old Testament still relevant to us today? (essay question)

What was the outcome of Paul’s preaching?- Acts 13:42-52

Back to this article: The above questions are offered for one purpose…to stimulate thinking. One aside note that may be of interest per political correctness is the one mentioned as either a prophet or teacher in Act 13:1 and in perspective of today’s social norms would be (ASV) “…Symeon that was called Niger,…” [many Bible translation spell Symion as Simeon]. It is almost too obvious. Niger means black. Simeon is not the same Simon mentioned often in the bible. He also may have been the one who carried the cross of Jesus when Jesus no longer had the strength to carry it up Calvary’s Hill of the Skull.

Some commentaries want to make a point that a black man in this gathering for prayer must have been from Africa. How shallow is this thinking! Back when God created Adam and Eve, we have no clue what skin color was given to both or either of them. In Middle East culture, race has little to do with society at-large. As Malcom X discovered when he went to the Middle East to pursue his Muslim learning, he discovered that race was not an issue. Why? Because the DNA can appear in anyone and the original man and woman carried all of the DNA components of the “races” we see today.

Another very interesting component of Acts 13:1 is a man named Manaen…”the fosterHerod the Great brother” of Herod the Tetrarch. This is one of four Herods mentioned in scripture. We know this guy as Herod Antipas. To help us understand, see the chart to the right.

This Herod was partly responsible for the trial and crucifixion of Jesus; it was Augustus Caesar who appointed him ruler over one-fourth of his father, Herod the Great’s kingdom; he was the one who had John the Baptizer’s head removed; he feared the powers of the Jewish Sanhedrin leaders. Again see the above chart. To keep the time line of bible events in order… “When Jesus hears that John has been killed, “he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place,” (Matthew 14:13).

This is the chapter where Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are separated out as missionaries; going synagogue to synagogue. It would be remiss to not mention that Mark (John Mark), a young man at the time, accompanied them for a short while but eventually returned home. Saul (Paul) saw this as desertion on behalf of John Mark, later refusing to take him along again. This all changed when Paul ended up in Rome to be tried and executed.

When Paul and Barnabas traveled through the island of Paphos, they met Sergius Paulas, Island Proconsul appointed by Rome. He was a devout man of great intellect. Elymas the sorcerer who had the attention of Sergius tried to keep Paul and Barnabas apart from him. Why? Elymas had the attention and possibly the support of Serguis and KNEW (yadda) the Spirit in Paul and Barnabas. Paul calls him the “son of the devil” (ASV) which suggests he was magical with the support of Satan; i.e. possessed. Paul calls upon the Spirit to blind Elymas “for a season.”stone

JIV NOTE: Do these names align with secular history? The above stone marker was found with the Greek name of Sesguis Paulas inscribed on it.

In verse 15, they find themselves in Antioch of Pisidia (Turkey). They again go directly to the Synagogue where they find their usual audience of worshipers. Verse 15 tells us that they are called upon to speak of any word of exhortation if they have one. That is all Paul needed. He stands and delivers the message of his calling and of Jesus Christ. Paul addresses them in a two-fold manner… “Men of Israel and those that fear God.” He distinguishes between those who attend the Synagogue out of routine and those who respect and worship God (Judaism style).

JIV NOTE: Paul says “MEN OF ISRAEL.” This means he is talking to a mixed crowd of Israelis that were dispersed from their Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians hundreds of years earlier (720 B.C.). Essentially he said: “Men of Israel” which is all inclusive and “those of the same heritage” who still followed God plus Gentile proselytes.

Paul proceeds to discuss the lineage and history of those called “God’s People.” He goes from Egypt, through the Wilderness experience, time of the Judges (400 + years), setting up of Kings beginning with King Saul, John the Baptizer of repentance, the birth of Jesus in the line of Judah (David), the prophets, and the calling for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ BY THE JEWS OF JERUSALEM, his resurrection, all from the Old Testament teachings as this was before the written New Testament was even committed to a scroll or parchment. It was also a book with which his audience was familiar.

The fascinating but often missed portion of Acts 13 is the how Paul began his audience transition from the Jews to the Gentiles…the Jews left the Synagogue (v42) but the “nations” (people of Gentile background) remained asking to hear more. The next Sabbath almost the entire city (v44) showed up at the Synagogue to hear more of this one time Christian killer. This chapter ends with those of “devout” Judaism forcing Paul and Barnabas to leave the city. They shook off the dust of their feet leaving the unbelievers to their eternal destiny.

JIV: Saul is a Jewish name; Paul is a Gentile name. Some historians suggest that Saul took the last name of Lucius Sergius Paulis as his own Greek name: Paul. This is probably little more than speculation but We Teach – You Decide.

we teach

Rev. Dr. Jstark
October 2018