Esther Lesson 5

The essence of holy war in the Old Testament is not about two nations in warfare, one of which happens to be Israel. Holy war is about God warring against sin and evil on the earth.

Est 8:1  Haman has been executed , but the evil he set in motion lives on in the decree of death against the Jewish people. This had not been revoked by the king. One wonders what would have happened if Mordecai had bowed to Haman in Esther 3 and Esther 4? His courage and commitment to not bow set in motion the series of divine “coincidences” in Esther 5-7 which resulted in the death of Haman and ultimately raised Mordecai to the number two position in Persia!

In Esther 8:2, we see Mordecai is given the king’s signet ring and supervision over Haman’s property. Esther still needed to address the coming destruction of her people, so once again she approaches the king for a request. Because the edict could not be revoked, Mordecai devised a plan to allow Jews to not only defend themselves but to destroy those in Persia who were enemies of the Jewish people.

The Jews prevailed in their conquest of their enemies, and we see in Esther 9:25-26 the conclusion of Haman’s evil edict and Mordecai’s clever counter leading to Jewish victory and preservation of their race was the establishment of a feast to commemorate this great reversal of fortunes with the feast being named Purim (see more on Purim at the end of the post), because of the central role played by the providential casting of the pur.

Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus. Mordecai joins other renowned Jewish statesmen like Joseph, who ranked second in the Egyptian dynasty (Gen 41:37–45), and Daniel, who succeeded in both the Babylonian (Dan 2:46–49; 5:29) and Medo-Persian Empires (Dan 6:28).

Spurgeon sums up the book of Esther…

There it is; man is a free agent in what he does, responsible for his actions, and verily guilty when he does wrong, and he will be justly punished too, and if he be lost the blame will rest with himself alone: but yet there is One who ruleth over all, who, without complicity in their sin, makes even the actions of wicked men to subserve his holy and righteous purposes.

Purim

Today, the Jews begin their celebration with a fast on the thirteenth day of the month (Es 9:31), commemorating the date on which Haman’s evil decree was issued (Est 3:12). They go to the synagogue and hear the Book of Esther (the Megillah) publicly read; and whenever the name of Haman is mentioned, they cry out, “May he be accursed!” or “May his name perish!” Children bring a special Purim rattle called a “grager” and use it to make noise every time they hear Haman’s name read.

 

 

On the morning of the fourteenth day of the month, the Jews again go to the synagogue, where the Esther story is read again and the congregation engages in prayer. The story about Moses and the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8–16) is also read.

 

Then the celebrants go home to a festive holiday meal with gifts and special foods. The traditional Purim dessert is something called Hamantashen, a fruit filled pastry that looks similar to Czech Kolaches, but is 3 cornered instead of squared.

 

 

 

A friend’s granddaughter dressed for Purim as Queen Esther. Making Hamantashen (r)

Next week we begin a study of the book of Ruth