One consistent purpose for the Book of Esther is to reveal and explain the traditional Jewish festival of Purim. The day we have been waiting for has arrived in today’s reading. Both decrees were called into play. You will recall Haman’s plot to kill the Jews, and then Esther’s plea to be saved from death. Both decrees were set to happen the same day, the 13th day of the 12th month, or March 7.
Was there anything that surprised you when both decrees happened simultaneously? I was surprised that Esther wanted another day for the Jews to have free reign over their enemies. And, I was surprised there were that many enemies killed since we also read about how many people were now fearing the Jews and their power. This was thanks, in part, to Mordecai. The other interesting things was that no plunder was taken, despite the decree allowing it. And one last observation is that there is no record of how many Jews were killed. I get the impression that no Jews were killed.
What do these events say about the people, the Jews? They wanted their freedom, they wanted to establish some sort of equality or respect, and they didn’t want or need any more “stuff.” I’m sure as it was happening, there was a lot of chaos, weeping, yelling, and power being yielded about. It was a day that had been marked on everyone’s calendar. They had time to prepare. Yet how it played out was a miracle to behold. God’s hand was there, too.
Esther remains respectful in her ask, “if it please the king.” She surely got what she wanted with that type of attitude. The king was open to Queen Esther’s desires. The bloodshed that day seemed to be one-sided. Yet, the king continued to let Esther take control. I wonder if the rest of his reign as king would be as influenced by his wife as this?
Mordecai has come a long way from a guard at the gate to prime minister. Esther, too, from her life as a young Jewish girl to a queen. It’s like a fairy tale. More on that tomorrow.
The events of this book have given us the history of the Jewish festival of Purim. It commemorates the day Esther saved her people. Along with the relief from their enemies, their sorrow was turned into joy. Still today there will be celebrations involving food, candy, and carnivals (including costumes). Mordecai proclaimed people should “celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor.” Giving each other baskets of food is also a remembrance.
Take some time today to reflect on how God rescued his people. Do you or someone you know need rescuing? What can we learn from Esther on asking for rescue? Maybe you’ve been rescued in the past. Have you set aside a day for celebrating your new life?
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for how you work in the lives of your people. I am seeking clarity in my own life for how best to proceed. There are so many things I want to do each day, but only a fraction get done. Help me be more productive and efficient in my planning. May you deliver me from my anxiety and concern over this situation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.