The Esther story is hard to date, but it probably picks up a few decades earlier than Ezra and Nehemiah, midway between the completion of Zerubbabel’s temple and Ezra’s journey. The Jews have been scattered throughout the empire for over 100 years. As evidenced by Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, some of them had earned high respect from the palace, but as a people they were viewed with suspicion. Scattered. Vulnerable. There were no walls at Jerusalem; no army; no king, save the throne in Susa, from whence help would have to come.
“…for the king had so commanded concerning him…” This is the thread that connects Mordecai and Haman with the prologue story about queen Vashti, who refused to come at the king’s command. Did you notice yesterday why Mordecai refused the king’s order to bow to Haman? Neither did I. It wasn’t stated. Nor was it stated why Vashti refused to come when the king called. Instead of providing exposition, the author draws as many details as possible and allows you to imagine the moments in which the queen and Mordecai refused. You can conjecture without concluding. You’re allowed to sense, to feel, the three dimensions.
“…and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them…” Look beyond the sinister and study the king. The Vashti narrative is an A-B-C-D sequence that is repeated with Mordecai: the king gives an order; a subject refuses that order; advisers warn that such insubordination is a mortal threat to the kingdom; and finally, the king buys his adviser’s conclusion. To what end will these tensions be resolved?
“And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.” This final line of Act I establishes the environment in which Act II will be performed. We return to the gates of the capital, “When Mordecai learned all that had been done…”
Our verse for this week is Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Esther 4 through 6. Now let’s read it!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.