Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Overview of the Book of Esther

Set in the days of Ahasuerus (Xerxces) who ruled the Empire of Persia which consisted of 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia between 485 and 464 B.C. The capital was Susa (located in the lower Zagros Mountains about 250 km (150 miles) east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers).
Ancient Persia
In the third year of his reign, he puts on a feast for all officials, servants, nobles and princes of Persia and Media. Lasting 180 days, the intention was to show off the riches of his kingdom. Afterwards a feast of 7 days was given for all, both great and small, who were in Susa. There was an abundance of food and wine and each man did what pleased him. For the women the Queen, Vashti, also made a feast.
On the 7th day, Ahaseurus commands to eunichs to bring Vashti "to show her off.", for she was fair to look upon.She refuses and for this she is put away.
Then a decree is sent throughout all of the provinces throughout the Kingdom (a sort of 'beauty pageant') to choose a replacement for Vashti. All of the beautiful young virgins are to come to Susa (read 2:5-10)and complete a 12 month period of preparation - 6 months of oil and myrrh then another 6 of perfumes and ointments. Afterwards each maiden in her turn would go in the evening to see the king and return to their quarters in the morning.
Esther's, daughter of Abihail uncle of Mordicai, turn came in the 10th month (Tebeth) of the 7th year of the reign of Ahasuerus. He loved more than all of the others and she was proclaimed Queen. A feast in her honour was proclaimed.
Meanwhile, Mordicai uncovers a plot to assasinate the King. He tells Esther who tells the King and the conspirators are hung in the gallows.
(read 3:1-9) Haman is appointed above all of the princes of Persia. Though all bowed down and reverence Haman, Mordicai refused to do so. Great mourning was with Mordicai, Esther and all of their brethren the Jews. There was fasting, weeping, wailing and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
(read 4:10-17) Esther finds favour as she stands in the inner court of the Palace and is adorned in her Royal Robes. She is requesting the presence of King Ahaseurus and Haman.
(read 5:6-14) That night the King could not sleep and reads the Chronicles. In them he notices that Mordecai had not yet recieved the honour due him for uncovering the conspiracy against the King. Haman was in the outer court waiting to suggest that Mordecai be hanged on the charges of treason. Ahaseurus behoves Haman to enter the inner court.
(read 6:6-11) Esther prepares a banquet for both the King and Haman. The King asks Haman as to how to Mordicai.
(read ch 7, 8:17, 9:20-32, 10:3) Esther reveals the plot against her people. Haman, his 10 sons and all of those who conspired against the Jews were executed. Mordecai is given the office of Haman. On the 15th day of the 12th month Adar, has been proclaimed a day of gladness and feasting in gratitude for God's deliverance from their enemies. The day is called Purim.