644.) Esther 9 and 10

October 20, 2011

The King of the Jews was also executed, like a criminal, like Haman. But Christ's death was not punishment for his sin -- it was forgiveness for all of our sin, plus the destruction of our worst enemy, death. And Christ's resurrection is a day of gladness!

Esther 9 and 10   (NRSV)

Destruction of the Enemies of the Jews

Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain power over them, but which had been changed to a day when the Jews would gain power over their foes, 2the Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who had sought their ruin; and no one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen upon all peoples. 3All the officials of the provinces, the satraps and the governors, and the royal officials were supporting the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen upon them. 4For Mordecai was powerful in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful.

Considering the fates of Mordecai and Haman:

Proverbs 11:5-6 (New Living Translation)

The godly are directed by honesty;
the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.

The godliness of good people rescues them;
the ambition of treacherous people traps them.

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5So the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering, and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6In the citadel of Susa the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred people. 7They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, Vaizatha, 10the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews; but they did not touch the plunder.

11That very day the number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king. 12The king said to Queen Esther, “In the citadel of Susa the Jews have killed five hundred people and also the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.”

13Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict, and let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.”

"Queen Esther" by contemporary painter Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ  (to accompany his poem above)

"Queen Esther" by contemporary painter Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ (to accompany his poem following)

Queen Esther

Her people are saved.
Haman hangs
On the gallows
He prepared for the Jews.

The people rejoice and
The Feast of Purim
Is celebrated.

But Queen Esther reflects,
“Haman is hanged.
His ten sons are hanged.
His followers are slaughtered.
But I cannot rejoice.

Lord, send a better way
To achieve Salvation.”

–Fr. Jim Hasse

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14So the king commanded this to be done; a decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed three hundred persons in Susa; but they did not touch the plunder.

16Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and gained relief from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they laid no hands on the plunder.

It is disconcerting, at best, all the death and hangings.  The battles at the end of Esther remind us that violence can be rooted in the desire for peace and security.  Yet human experience teaches that peace is a precious, fleeting commodity, rarely won by escalated aggression.  The Hamans of the world must be exposed and brought to justice, and providential forces may yet redeem what is out of joint in the messy circumstances of life.

–Patricia K. Tull

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17This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.

The Feast of Purim Inaugurated

18But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness.

19Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, a holiday on which they send gifts of food to one another.

PURIM PARTY!

The most festive of the Jewish holidays, when fun is not only permitted, it is commanded!  The entire Esther scroll (the Megillah) is read aloud!  Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, the listeners make as much noise as possible with shouts or noisemakers to drown out the name of that evil man!  Kids put on masks,

9. Purim masks

dress up in costumes, and stage skits!  Special three-cornered pastries called Hamantashen are made, filled with poppy seeds or prunes or fruit jellies! 


And gifts are given!  Participants are authorized (by long-standing rabbinic tradition) to drink until they cannot tell the difference between “blessed by Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman”!

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20Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, 22as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

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Psalm 116:12-13 (New International Version)

How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.

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23So the Jews adopted as a custom what they had begun to do, as Mordecai had written to them. 24Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur—that is “the lot” —to crush and destroy them; 25but when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that the wicked plot that he had devised against the Jews should come upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26Therefore these days are called Purim, from the word Pur. Thus because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27the Jews established and accepted as a custom for themselves and their descendants and all who joined them, that without fail they would continue to observe these two days every year, as it was written and at the time appointed. 28These days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every family, province, and city; and these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.

29Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with the Jew Mordecai, gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30Letters were sent wishing peace and security to all the Jews, to the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, 31and giving orders that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as the Jew Mordecai and Queen Esther enjoined on the Jews, just as they had laid down for themselves and for their descendants regulations concerning their fasts and their lamentations. 32The command of Queen Esther fixed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.

Psalm 30:8-12 (New International Version)

To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:

“What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

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10)   King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. 2All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was powerful among the Jews and popular with his many kindred, for he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his descendants.

Can I be like Esther and Mordecai, and step forward on behalf of people that I care for with small acts of courage and grace, even when I can hardly see that it will do any good?  O Lord, be my help!

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Music:

Although the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, God is clearly present throughout the unfolding of the events.  We close our reading of Esther praising the name of the Lord!  “Blessed Be Your Name,”  by Matt Redman.

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And now you’ve been given the whole Megillah!  Praise God!  What in Esther’s story spoke in a new way to you?  Share your impressions at “Reply” below!

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
The King of the Jews.    http://www.avdefense.webs.com/king%20of%20the%20jews.jpg
Righteousness – Wickedness.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_IAagjscb35I/SpjFEjDFwgI/AAAAAAAADkQ/lBSkHrwg4Qs/s200/Righteousness+vs+Wicked.JPG
Hasse.  http://home.fuse.net/claver/esther.html
shalom dove.   http://www.windstarembroidery.com/cw2/Assets/product_full/2127_250.gif
masks.  http://www.readthespirit.com/.a/6a00e54ef51d768834011168cc3448970c-450wi
hamantashen.   http://www.infobarrel.com/media/image/11845_featured.jpg
Jewish musicians under the moon.    http://www.bonnieanddavid.com/clipart/musicians.jpg
the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.     http://joshsmithtrainer.com/uploads/courage1.jpg

643.) Esther 8

October 19, 2011
Queen Esther from the movie "One Night with the King."

Queen Esther from the movie “One Night with the King,” released in 2006.

Esther 8   (NRSV)

Esther Saves the Jews

_________________________

Music:

“Our God Saves”  by Paul Baloche.  Think about it, for you personally and for our world — our God saves!

_________________________

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Haman’s estate goes to Esther.  Haman’s job goes to Mordecai.  

Psalm 94:20-23 (New Living Translation)

Can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side—
leaders whose decrees permit injustice?
They gang up against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord is my fortress;
my God is the mighty rock where I hide.
God will turn the sins of evil people back on them.
He will destroy them for their sins.
The Lord our God will destroy them.

_________________________

3Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?”

7Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. 8You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”

One cannot help but be incredulous about how free the king is with his signet ring!  And further — who enacted such a silly law, in which the ring is more powerful than the person wielding it?  This is not Middle Earth!

_________________________

9The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language.

At 43 words in Hebrew, verse 9 is the longest verse in the Hebrew Bible.

10He wrote letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king’s ring, and sent them by mounted couriers riding on fast steeds bred from the royal herd.

11By these letters the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods 12on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar — the very day Haman had chosen to be the day of their mass murder  — but now the Jews can defend themselves.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (English Standard Version)

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

_________________________

13A copy of the writ was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies.

14So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal steeds, hurried out, urged by the king’s command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.

"So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out."  by James Shaw Crompton

“So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out.” by James Shaw Crompton

15Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor.

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Psalm 97:10-12 (New International Version)

Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.

_________________________

17In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday.

PARTY!

They can breathe again!  They can think of the future again!  Joy replaces sorrow, confidence replaces fear, life replaces death. What a wonder!

_________________________

Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Queen Esther.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_MctSWT9CFbc/R_2HnN5i1TI/AAAAAAAAAU8/pwpKfhFLizE/s400/esther.jpg
How the mighty have fallen.     http://www.calvarybaptist.org/uploads/ProgramPage_MightyFallen.jpg
Lord of the Rings.  http://www.impawards.com/2001/posters/lord_of_the_rings_the_fellowship_of_the_ring_ver1.jpg
Adar.     http://www.templeinstitute.org/images/adar-joy.jpg
Crompton.  http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/public/pd207.jpg

642.) Esther 7

October 18, 2011
"The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus"  by Dutch Baroque era painter Jan Victors, 1640's (Staaliche Museen, Kassel)

"The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus" by Dutch Baroque era painter Jan Victors, 1640's (Staaliche Museen, Kassel)

Esther 7  (NRSV)

Haman’s Downfall

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.

PARTY!

But Haman, I’m afraid the meal won’t agree with you . . .

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2On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”

3Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.

_________________________

Esther knew the decree by heart.

Esther 3:13

Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day . . .

_________________________

If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.”

5Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?”

6Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!”

Esther 7. E accuses H

“She understands full well the delicate and precarious nature of her position.  The threat against her and her people has two perpetrators, Haman and the king, and both are present with her.  She must somehow fully expose the culpability of Haman, while at the same time never appearing in any way to be bringing any charges against the king.  Hence, her response is extremely well thought out and presented with the utmost tact.”

–Frederic W. Bush, Word Biblical Commentary

_________________________

Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. 7The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him.

8When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?”

As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. 9Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.”

And the king said, “Hang him on that.”

_________________________

Proverbs 26:27 (Contemporary English Version)

If you dig a pit,

you will fall in;

if you start a stone rolling,

it will roll back on you.

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Proverbs 16:4 (New International Version)

 The LORD works out everything to its proper end—
 even the wicked for a day of disaster.

And now, from your English teacher  🙂  —  In the words of Jane Austen, Haman has ‘delighted us long enough’ (Pride and Prejudice, ch. 18) and we are glad to see him go.

_________________________

Music:

A slightly adapted version of “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This”  by the Shirelles, an American girl group of the early 1960’s.

_________________________

10So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

"Haman haning on the gallows"  by Jewish artist Arthur Syzk, 1950  (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).  Note the swastika on Haman, and the traditional Purim pastry in the writer's hand.

"Haman hanging on the gallows" by Polish-American Jewish artist Arthur Szyk (1894-1951), 1950 (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Note the swastika on Haman, and the traditional Purim pastry in the writer's hand.

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For Haman’s epitaph:

Proverbs 6:16-19 (New International Version)

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies,
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Victors.   http://www.wga.hu/art/v/victors/esther_a.jpg
Esther accuses Haman.  http://www.biblevisuals.org/images/look_inside_bvi/visualized_bible/OT/OT28_illustrations/OT28_P12_illustrations.jpg
Szyk.  http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/szyk/jewish/images/93841.jpg

641.) Esther 6

October 17, 2011
"The Triumph of Mordecai"  by Pieter Lastman, 1624 (Rembrandt Museum, Amsterdam)

“The Triumph of Mordecai” by Pieter Lastman, 1624 (Rembrandt Museum, Amsterdam)

Esther 6  (NRSV)

The King Honors Mordecai

On that night the king could not sleep,

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–another King who does not sleep!

Psalm 121:3-4 (New International Version)

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

_________________________

and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. 2It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus.

This was a remarkable example of Providence in action. King Ahasuerus can not sleep, and he can choose 20 different diversions to fill his sleepless night – but he commands that a book be brought to him and read. The one commanded to bring the book could have brought any one book of the records of the chronicles, but he brought one particular book. The book could be opened to any page, but it was opened to the exact page telling the story of Mordecai and how he saved the King from assassination. God guided every step along the way.

–David Guzik

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3Then the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?”

The king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

4The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him.

5So the king’s servants told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.”

The king said, “Let him come in.”

6So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor?”

Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?”

7So Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king wishes to honor, 8let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and a horse that the king has ridden, with a royal crown on its head. 9Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials; let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor, and let him conduct the man on horseback through the open square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’”

10Then the king said to Haman, “Quickly, take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to the Jew Mordecai who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.”

So ironic!  Really, doesn’t this scene make you laugh out loud?!

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
— Albert Einstein

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11So Haman took the robes and the horse and robed Mordecai and led him riding through the open square of the city, proclaiming, “Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.”

12Then Mordecai returned to the king’s gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered.

Proverbs 16:18 (New International Version)

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

13When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him, but will surely fall before him.”

Zechariah 2:7-9 (New International Version)

“Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!”  For this is what the LORD Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye—  I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.

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14While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman off to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

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Music:

And to whom is honor really due?  We know!  “Exalted” (Yahweh) by Chris Tomlin.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lastman.  http://www.codart.nl/images/LastmanTriumphOfMordechai1624RembrandthuisW.jpg
God at work.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-M4Vzb5CCQUc/TZ22vbAe0XI/AAAAAAAAAmQ/OZTmEoWXbcE/s400/God-at-work-sign.gif
all about me.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_iXEVCCsssh8/TSHtXzwooNI/AAAAAAAAASM/JrgLn-YpbB0/s1600/ABOUTME.gif
Haman and Mordecai.    http://www.amightywind.com/purimf/hamanmodecai.gif
red apple.    http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/IMAGES/New_York/redrome.jpg

640.) Esther 5

October 14, 2011
"Esther Preparing to Intercede with Assuerus"  by Rembrandt, 1633 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa)

“Esther Preparing to Intercede with Assuerus” by Rembrandt, 1633 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa)

Esther 5  (NRSV)

Esther’s Banquet

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. 2As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter.

3The king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.”

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Verse 3.  it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom—This mode of speaking originated in the Persian custom of appropriating for the maintenance of great men, or royal favorites, one city for his bread, another for his wine, a third for his clothes, &c., so that the phrase denoted great liberality.

–Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

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4Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.”

5Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires.”

Literally the Hebrew says, “so we may do the word of Esther.”  This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands.  Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call.  The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is no obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well.  And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew—a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts the lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness. 

–Patricia K. Tull

So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

PARTY!

Quite cozy — the Queen dines with her husband, the King, and his right-hand-man, Haman.

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Why did Esther invite Haman?

Rabbi Eliezer said: She set a trap for him, as it is written (Psalms 69:23): “May their table be a trap for them.”

Rabbi Joshua said: She learned this from her father’s house: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him bread” (Proverbs 25:21).

Rabbi Meir said: So that he shouldn’t have an opportunity to get advice and overthrow the king.

Rabbi Judah said: So that they shouldn’t realize that she is a Jew.

Rabbi Nechemia said: So that the Jewish people should not say, “we have a sister in the palace” and refrain from praying to G-d for mercy. (When the Jews would learn that Esther was befriending Haman, they would no longer rely on her to save them.)

Rabbi Yosi said: So that he should be available to her at all times (and she’d be able to utilize every opportunity that comes up to turn the king against him).

Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia said: To induce G-d to perform a miracle.

Rabbi Joshua ben Karchah said: She said to her self: I will act nicely toward him so that Achashverosh’s jealousy would be aroused and he’ll kill us both.

Rabbi Gamliel said: Achashverosh was a king who was constantly changing his mind (thus she needed that Haman should be there when she turned Achasverosh against him).

Rabbi Elazer Hamoda’i said: To make the king and the ministers jealous of him.

Raba said: “Pride comes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18).

Abayei and Rava both said: “In their heat I shall make them drunk…” (Jeremiah 51:39, where the prophet describes how G-d destroys the wicked as they drink and feast).

Rabbah bar Avuha met Elijah the Prophet and asked: According to which of these sages was Esther’s reasoning? Replied Elijah: According to them all.

–from the Talmud

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6While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”

7Then Esther said, “This is my petition and request: 8If I have won the king’s favor, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and then I will do as the king has said.”

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Esther 5. Scarlett

“Tomorrow is another day.” —  Tomorrow?!

Esther. why wait?  The king has asked you for your request, twice!  The enemy is right there beside you!  Every day your fellow Jews are suffering!

BUT! — God will use the next 24 hours to accomplish important things!  The king will have insomnia, and Haman will initiate a construction project. . .

What are you waiting for the Lord to do for you?  As you wait, God is at work on your behalf.

Psalm 130:5-6 (New International Version)

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

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Haman Plans to Have Mordecai Hanged

9Haman went out that day happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and observed that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was infuriated with Mordecai; 10nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home.

Then he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh, 11and Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king. 12Haman added, “Even Queen Esther let no one but myself come with the king to the banquet that she prepared. Tomorrow also I am invited by her, together with the king. 13Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

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Music:

The NIV has the verse above as:   “But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”   Or, as Proverbs 27:20 says, “The eyes of man are never satisfied.”  Poor Haman!  What a gift to be a person with  “A Satisfied Mind”!  Done here by Joan Baez.

How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

But little they know
It’s so hard to find
One rich man in a hundred
With a satisfied mind

Once I was waiting
In fortune and fame
Everything I could dream of
To get a start in life’s game

Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I’m richer by far
With a satisfied mind

No, money can’t buy back
Your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonely
Or a love that’s grown cold

The world’s richest man
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind

When my life is over
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I’ll leave, there’s no doubt

But there’s one thing for certain
When it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind

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14Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go with the king to the banquet in good spirits.” This advice pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

_________________________

Proverbs 14:17 (New International Version)

A quick-tempered man does foolish things.

_________________________

We should never underestimate the destructive and distorting power of hatred. The same irrational, violent hatred that made Haman want to see Mordecai hang to his death is the same irrational, violent hatred that made man want to hang Jesus on a cross.

–David Guzik

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.  http://www.bible-art.info/images/rembrandt_E_preparing_to_intercede_with_Assuerus_c1633.jpg
Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Windhttp://roddysrockinreviews.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/scarlett.jpg

639.) Esther 4

October 13, 2011
"Esther and Mordecai"  by Aert de Gelder, 1685  (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest).  Actually, Mordecai and Esther communicated through Hathach, since Esther was protectively confined to the king's harem.

"Esther and Mordecai" by Aert de Gelder, 1685 (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest). Actually, Mordecai and Esther communicated through Hathach, since Esther was protectively confined to the king's harem.

Esther 4  (NRSV)

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; 2he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.

From here we learn that one should ought not enter the synagogue or study hall (“the King’s gate”) with a sad face (“wearing sackcloth”).  Thus it is written (in 1 Chronicles 16:27): “Strength and joy are in His presence.”

–Rabbi Eretz Hachaim

3In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

The expression "sackcloth and ashes" has come to mean being publicly penitent.

The expression "wearing sackcloth and ashes" has come to mean being publicly penitent.

4When Esther’s maids 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. 5Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.

6Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, 7and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.

9Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.”

Much has been made of Esther’s hesitation, with various commentators calling her cowardly or selfish.  Please!  Give her more credit!  Considering what happened to Vashti when she did something Ahasuerus didn’t like, it seems reasonable, at the very least, for Esther to pause to think before acting here.

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12When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

4. Such_a_time

Each of us is placed in a unique setting, with a specific sphere of influence, “for such a time as this.”  Are we speaking the truth and doing the right things, as unto the Lord?  Are we kind in word and deed with our family members?  Do we appreciate the kindnesses done by others for us by expressing our gratitude or leaving a good tip?  Do we regularly say “Please” and “Thank you” and “I love you”?  These are simple yet concrete ways in which we can share the love of God with our world in “this” time.

_________________________

Music:

“For Such a Time as This”  written and performed by Janet Roller (Miss South Carolina 1997).

Quiet my hands
Quiet my soul
Quiet my mind to remind me
that You are in control
And I’ll be still in Your Presence until
I know I’m in Your Will
You have brought me to this place…
For Such a Time as This.

__________________________

15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do.

_________________________

THE OPPOSITE OF A PARTY!

Three days with nothing to eat or drink, for Esther and Mordecai and the Jews of the city.  The name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, nor is prayer — but I think we can safely assume that these people were fasting and praying to the Lord!

Joel 2:12 (New Living Translation)

That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”

_________________________

After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

_________________________

Romans 14:8 (English Standard Version)

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

–missionary Jim Elliott

“I am only one.  But still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

–Edward Everett Hale, US author and clergyman (1822-1909)

_________________________

17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Gelder.  http://www.wga.hu/art/g/gelder/esther.jpg
sackcloth.  http://joefelso.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/sackclth.jpg
“For such a time.”  http://www.rhondadavisministries.com/Ministries/conference/fall04/images/Such_a_time.jpg
black balloons.    http://images.celebrateexpress.com/mgen/merchandiser/43099.jpg?is=300,300,0xffffff
Proverbs 3:6.    http://arealsusiehomemaker.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/gods-voice.jpg

638.) Esther 3

October 12, 2011

Over and over. “Let a decree be issued to destroy them.” ~Haman. “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: ‘by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.'” ~Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

Esther 3   (NRSV)

Haman Undertakes to Destroy the Jews

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the officials who were with him. 2And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did obeisance to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him.

"But Mordecai bowed not. . . " by James Shaw Crompton

“But Mordecai bowed not. . . ” by James Shaw Crompton (1853 – 1916)

But Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance.

3Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” 4When they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew.

5When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do obeisance to him, Haman was infuriated. 6But he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Blood feud!

There is a history to this hatred.  Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites.  The Amalekites were ancient enemies of the Israelites.  God had told the Israelites to utterly destroy the Amalekites because of their wickedness.  Mordecai and Hamen may well have been taught as children to hate each other’s peoples.

_________________________

7In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur—which means “the lot” —before Haman for the day and for the month, and the lot fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

_________________________

Proverbs 16:33 (English Standard Version)

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

Was Haman disappointed that he would have to wait nearly a year?  He should be nervous, because a lot can happen in all that time!  

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8Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and separated among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not appropriate for the king to tolerate them. 9If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, so that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.”

10So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11The king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, and the people as well, to do with them as it seems good to you.”

Signet rings in the ancient world served as personal signatures.  Free access to the king’s ring meant power!   This ancient ring is from Giza, Egypt, and is made of pure gold. (The Brooklyn Museum)

_________________________

12Then the king’s secretaries were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language; it was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s ring. 13Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces, giving orders to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation, calling on all the peoples to be ready for that day.

_________________________

Music:

Martin Luther also knew what it was to have a sentence of death upon him.  This hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” tells us to whom we ought to turn in times of trouble.

_________________________

15The couriers went quickly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.

DON’T INVITE ME TO THIS PARTY!

The king and Haman celebrate their productive day while thousands of Jews weep in fear for their lives.

_________________________

Psalm 83:1-4 (New International Version)

O God, do not keep silent;
be not quiet, O God, be not still.

See how your enemies are astir,
how your foes rear their heads.

With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.

“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
yellow star. http://vitalperspective.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/jude2_1.gif
Crompton.  http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/public/pd203.jpg
Hatfield-McCoy historical marker (Kentucky/West Virginia).    http://www.matewan.com/Images/HM%20Marker.gif
ring.  http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/images/objects/size3/37.734E_reference_SL1.jpg