Though the names of God are absent in this , his name is hidden as series of acrostics proving that he is behind every action.
In the same way the ambitions of Haman are not just the destruction of the Jews, but the hidden agenda seems to be to replace the king and to take over the empire. His ambitions parallel Satan’s for the whole world.
The 180 day feast which is designed to secure Ahasueros throne, but appears to have also been used by Haman to bring about an empire wide conspiracy to put Haman on the throne.
To avoid this coup and to keep within the law Ahasueros security is maintained by putting a new Law behind the Jews stand against their enemies, for the enemies of God's people are also the enemies of the King that God has raised up. This parallels the work of the Lord Jesus Christ who meets all the requirements of God’s righteousness and yet obtains redemption for us
The Jews in the empire occupy a unique position: they blame their own sin for their captivity, they are still loyal to Jehovah and they are loyal to the Persian Empire. The Jews have no political ambitions outside the restoration of Israel in God's declared time and by the man Isaiah named Cyrus.
Haman (and Satan) to have his way must first overcome the Jews. The Jews throughout the empire act as cement of obedience that helps hold the empire together. The Jews are the salt of the earth in exactly the same manner and in the same position that applies to the church today and to the faithful in all ages.
The events of the book are often be stated to be after Ezra and before Nehemiah
However this is not positive – Bullinger places the event before Ezra, Nehemiah and Cyrus the Great. Bullinger thought Ahasuerus was the father of Darius 1 - To add to or clarify the mystery there is an unusual phrase in Nehemiah 2 v 6 'the queen sitting beside him' this surely must be Esther who is the queen or queen mother of the book of Nehemiah and who is still a deep influence, otherwise why would scripture make this point?
The style of the book is similar to Daniel in parts. Esther, Nehemiah and Ezra are all seem to be written in the style of the Babylonian, Median and Persian official records. They all contain the fine macro detail of names and accountability required in those kingdoms; see Dan 4 v 34 – 37
The book can be divided by events, by the dates mentioned, by the acrostics of Jehovah and of ‘I am that I am’ (see the Companion Bible – Bullinger)
This article outlines the major characters of the book in the hope that it will provide a foundation for your own studies
King Ahasuerus, see Dan 9 & Ezra 4 v 6
This is an energetic and wise King
He obeys the Laws himself Ch 1 v 8) and had great respect for the law (Ch 3 v 8). Ezra 6 v 2)
He takes advice from wisest men (Ch 1 v 13 & 7 v 9)
He was always busy with state affairs and even used his idle times for such (Ch 6 v 1 – 3, Chapt 7 v 4)
He attended to matters instantly (Ch 1 v 13 – Chapt 6 v 6 – Chapt 8 v 1)
He rewards Mordecai the instant he realises he had not done anything for him (Ch 6)
He has the deepest respect and affection for Esther his wife by choice Ch 5 v 2 - 3, Ch 7, Ch 8 v 1 - 9, Ch 9 v 29 - 32.
All these are admirable attributes are exactly the qualities advised to the apostolicointed men in the church for the purpose of maintaining apostolic doctrine see Rom 12 v 8 where rule means to preside (in the sense of an apostolic person)
We can be sure that our God is of perfect principal – righteous in all his ways, full of wisdom, never sleeps, always cares for his subjects and these principles should rule all our lives.
The strong possibility is that she was Queen through a political alliance, as was often the case, and was a daughter of an allied King of considerable power.
The feast of Chapter 1 is the longest public relations exercise in the bible - for 180 days the king invited and entertained the nobles and military commanders from his empire – to impress them with the resources at his command, his generosity, the fitness of his person and his authority. Only men it seems were invited.
Every thing had gone well; the huge effort appears to the King to have achieved its objective.
At the end of it, there is a feast for all those still left in Shushan of the invited quests and especially the people of the town who were the workers during this feast to thank them.
The King entertained the men – Vashti the women
On the last day he can relax at last – his merry with wine, this strikes a cord with Boaz who also was so merry at the end of a good of harvest. Merry with wine is not seen as a shame but fitting for such a time in Old Testament Times - our joy however is to be the joy of the Spirit at spiritual successes
His last act is to introduce the astonishingly beautiful Queen Vashti who had entertained the ladies –There is nothing lewd about this, on the contrary it is born out of generosity of heart for all to see her excellence and maybe as a very public thank you.
He sends his closest advisers to fetch her to ensure she understands the importance of his request; Vashti in a mood of petulance refuses.
In this one act she puts into question publicly his wisdom, his fitness to rule and his authority. It seems because she is of royal blood from a powerful line that she is more interested in demonstrating her own importance than the Kings.
It is a disaster and he is angry, and rightly so. It puts the whole of his aim of the 180 day feast in danger and he must repair the damage.
Vashti has launched the first of at least three attempts found in this book to diminish the King
None of us should seek to insist on having our own way, or even our own judgement, whatever the position we think we hold (none of us are to be Lords over God's heritage, that position is for Christ alone); We are to be servants of our King and to each other only submitting our suggestions for all to consider, without jealousy or pride and without an 'over my dead body,' attitude because we think we have the better of it -Such an authoritarian attitude does Satan's work and will result in the long term in disaster.
In the same way partners in marriage must work in concert with each other as equals in the Lord.
This King will choose his next Queen himself. The next Queen needs to be compatible to him and not a marriage of political convenience that carries with it outside influences and personal prestige.
Who is this (prince of Benjamin) and what position does he hold in the Kings gate?
His language is not now his mothers tongue but he uses the tongue of Israel's masters (Daniel 1 v 4 & 5, he would wear the clothes of his captors and would be indistinguishable from others in the gate, they did not even know his nationality until an occasion demanded it Chapt 3 v 4
He, in everything, is a good citizen of the Persian Empire and its King
Therefore what was it that was decided or discussed in the Kings gate that they knew so little of each other? – well the answer must be nothing at all.
It was the Kings gate; they were not working palace staff or busybodies soaking up all the news and rumours. They were there to be called by the King when needed for advice.
In this great kingdom there was no time to collect advisers from every nationality, district and nation and wait for them – The King needed their best representatives on hand for instant help and advice. These representatives must have the confidence of the people they represented, and their peoples obedience to their advice to them. The King can then deal with a problem because he understands the people and has a safeguard against the issuing of an unwise law or command and in return he will have submission to his rules and stability in the empire.
The proof of this is that time and again we are told of Mordecai’s people
He cares for them,
He mourns for them, he interferes for them,
He advises them.
When Mordicai’s people are in distress, he too.
When advanced and paraded in the Kings vestments and on the Kings horse, he goes straight back to the Kings gate to represent his people.
When in no position to advise he seeks a way for his people to be spoken for through Esther.
When he is the greatest in the realm he still cares for them.
Be he high or low he sticks at it without a single ounce of pride – what an example! The apostle Paul comes up to this standard and God cares for you and me like that and organises the operations that are for our defence 1 Cor 12 v 6.
This is a great characteristic of Benjamites and Mordecai is a Benjamite, They are different, to others awkward and left handed. Not the same as the other tribes, but loyalty and unity was often theirs as was their might in battle. Not easy to deal with a Benjamite, they are southpaws, have stick-ability and are accurate hard hitters,the Benjamite can sling a stone to a hairbreadth They can be a force for right that cannot be deviated from their task.
Ehud, Benjamite, the left handed slayer of Eglon king of Moab, and judge of Israel was used by God to defeat Moab, the Ammonites and Amelekites. Jonathan, Benjamite, was absolute in his loyalty to David. Shemie, Benjamite, in defending the throne of Solomon was the only prince of any tribe to stand with Nathan, Benaiah, Zadoc, Bathsheba and the mighty men (1 Kings 1 v 8) - every other prince followed Odonijah. This kind of characteristic, twill not compromise to conform to a majority view. Benjamin is always connected with Judah in loyalty. Half the temple belongs to Benjamin half to Judah. In the same way we who believe in Christ are co heirs with Christ.
It requires the highly individual characteristic of being able to stand against outward and secretive influences to have the confidence of others. He is trusted to be a true representative for them behind the closed doors of the palace. Unless one is 'ones own man' as others would put it in trying to explain an independent person, one cannot be a good representative for others or faithful to God. No one can trust the person who is influenced by personage, or by personal advantage, or favour or the desire to please everyone. In his action not to bow down to Haman and to wear the garments of mourning we have all the proof we need of his complete integrity. He was no reed that bends with the wind.
We all are asked to care for each other as Mordecai cared for his people and this responsibility is to all who belong to Christ
Mordecai like Joseph was faithful to his King and his people, and not for reward, Chap 2 v 22.
Like Mordecai the wise believer must serve faithfully their employers, though they are not always thanked, For the Lords sake we must be honest, faithful and non political, and managers and owners must be kind to those under them Eph 6 v 5 – 9.
We should notice it was this faithfulness to the king that saved him from the gallows and turned the matter for the whole nation when the King had the records read Chapt 6 v 1 - 2 - God interfered and he used faithfulness to save the day, to snatch victory from a deep and empire wide conspiracy. God has not changed he still uses the same kind of persons.
It is strange how often beauty is not skin deep but also soul deep; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel & Bathsheba all had these qualities
Esther had deep respect for Mordecai who represented her people and had cared for her. She would never do anything to undermine him, or his position in the kingdom, or his work for his and her people.
She obeyed him in all things – how like the Saviour in relationship to the Father and how like this we should be. When it says 'Children obey you’re parents' one assumes it is speaking to adults in fellowship, not tiny children, and that parental respect is still required by the Lord even when we are independent of them. If we do not respect our parents and older people how can we claim we obey God?
She gave all their proper credit Ch 2 v 22 and this saved the nation; she did not use information to promote her status to be Queen but gave the credit to Mordecai
She was not greedy for herself, but honoured and accepted the wisdom of those around Chapt 2 v 13 – 15
She, when working with Mordecai, cared for him as he for her Chapt 4 v 4
She never did anything underhand and secret but employed the Kings most faithful servants to communicate with Mordecai Ch 4 v 5. These servants must, when necessary, reveal all to the king to whom they were loyal servants. – Nor should we hide things from the saints! All our dealings and arguments should be open and known and not hidden. None of us are so important that we can afford to be secretive about anything or so powerful that we can make sure our will is achieved by secret arrangements known only to a few. All the pastoral letters are addressed to the whole church and the open debate before the whole church of Acts 15 is proof of this - If apostles obey this principle, how can we be so bold to act by a different principle?
Therefore she was a faithful wife always loyal to her husband, it seems for this reason she was advised by Mordecai not to reveal her people or even to represent them, many think this strange as they try to align this to Christian witness, but those tasks of representation were for Mordecai, the Jews could not have two representatives..
Her position was to be a loyal Queen in the kingdom rather like the Cherithites and Perethites were to David - loyal to the King alone was her responsibility.
She was devout Ch 4 v 16
She was purposeful Ch 4 v 16
She was courageous Ch 4 v 16 when she was the only person who could act.
Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite
The description here suggest that he had position similar to Mordecai as representative for the Amalakites - a nomadic and violent tribe who saw others as prey to grow rich on and who have always had the desire to rule other nations, they opposed Israel as they prepared to leave Sinai the area were the Amalakites ruled.
The term Agagite would indicate he followed the principles of King Agag who Saul was commanded to deal with and whom Samuel slew Num 24 v 7 A most powerful of people - 1 Sam 15 v 8 & 32
They were perpetual enemies of Israel but also of most others – they would take advantage of any, self interest was their principle. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau, they were Edomites at source Gen 36 v 12 – King Herod who in a later day would destroy the innocent that he might destroy the Christ was of that line – that he and his descendants might rule Israel see Ex 17 & v 16
Mordecai’s refusal to bow down was on the basis of the enmity between the two peoples and I suspect because he knew that Haman was no good for the King and the Kingdom either Ex 17 v 16
He was vicious - he would have all Jews killed because he wanted to get at Mordecai who represented them and their welfare Ch 3 v 6, destroy Mordecai's people and you destroy Mordecai's position. If he could remove a dispersed people who are loyal to the King then he opens all the roads to all his ambitions.
He was secretive - he never let the King know who the people were he wanted to destroy.
I plead with all readers never be secretive, no matter how attractive the end achievement seems, it is a wrong road and not blessed by our Lord. The Son of God took no short cuts to being our Lord Matt 4 v 1 - 11 but took the right road, Calvary, not the route of the temptations
Haman the Son of King Agag is set against Mordecai the Son of King Saul - the representative of all Israel
He was superstitious and would use the mysterious arts of the occult, which are under Satan Ch 3 v 6 to overthrow the Jews Ch 3 v 7
He had his own court of friends, advisers and followers throughout the kingdom (he seems to be organising a kingdom within the kingdom) Ch 5 v 14, 6 v 13 and would seek to lead his supporters to promote himself in rebellion. Are we relying on the gathering of friends around us to get our way?
He would lie by saying the Jews neither fitted in nor would they obey the Laws of the Land Ch 3 v 8. They were not against the empire, but reliable and honest citizens of it.
He would use all the wealth at his command to get his way – stolen wealth - to advance himself and win approval Ch 3 v 9. It is possible that position and influence is so important to us that all our actions are motivated by self interest though we present them as selfless actions.
It seems he had plans to supersede the King see Ch 6 v 8 – 9. His suggestions were extraordinary and designed to promote himself as a future King - it is Esther who points out that the danger from Haman reached beyond the Jews and herself and to the throne itself Ch 7 and the end of verse 4 (see the usual translation and the alternative in the New International, the passage might be difficult but damage to the King seems to be the sense)
The symbolism of Shamans 10 Sons and the slaughter of the Jews enemies are paralleled by: Decapolis’s Ten Cities and the10 Kings of Revelations. Etc.
The enemies of the Jews it seems were neither the officers of the realm, nor the ordinary people of the realm (many of whom became Jews Ch 8 v 17).
These enemies were conspirators who would overthrow God's people, God's representative and God's appointed ruler once they had gained such power.
To do this they needed to get Mordecai out of the way for he was a barrier and had already saved the King from other conspirators.
It is I believe because of this high sense of submission and respect for the crown by Mordecai, Esther and the Jews
that the foundation of imperial confidence in the Jews is laid. Freedom and support that was later given to the Jews to return to Israel, to rebuild Jerusalem's defences and the Temple.
The people knew Haman was wrong about the Jews Ch 3 v 15 this verse speaks of the Persian civil service not of the Jews. Chapter 4 speaks of the effect on the Jews and also that the advancement of Mordecai was pleasing to the civil service see Ch 8 v 15. The civil servants could be sure the Jews would not slay them but rather but help them.
Haman was a danger to the whole kingdom and Mordecai was safety for the whole Kingdom.
The high gallows Haman erected is a deliberate attempt to influence others who needed a sign of Haman’s power and that the removal of the advocate of the Jews not only sufficed his hatred but also gave a very public sign to his allies. This would strike fear into others as it displayed that Haman actually ruled the empire and no one should disagree with Haman, he was setting himself up to take over the throne
Haman would use position to plot the downfall of others and, like Satan overthrow those God has raised up that he might rule.
We should never seek the diminishing of others that we might have our way; splits are not of God and always disenfranchise good believers for the sake of one or more of us getting our own way. They are achieved by conspirator methods usually.
Domination and Lordship over believers is not of God and is often the cause of frustration that spills over into anger. The desire to have my way is a constant source of trouble, we have one Lord and only one Leader and that is Christ.
We see Calvary in these gallows for our Lord Jesus Christ by death slew him who had the power over death and delivered them who all their lifetime were subject to bondage through the fear of death Hebrews 2 v 14 & 15. - Here in Hebrews bondage is peculiar to the Jews who keep the law that they might live. So Mordecai in this is a type of Christ for in defeating Haman he initiates freedom from an empire that held them captive by its laws, a foretaste of Christ who sets the Jew free from the Law
More than that, though Satan was defeated at Calvary, yet he is still the power of influence in the world and is the Prince of the Power of the air. Haman being hanged does not end his conspiracy which still lives and has to be settled in every town and village by the empowering of the Jews.- a picture of the future battles Rev 21v 19 - 21 and Rev 20 v 7 - 10
The prophetic actions of Christ related to his return are in very simple terms are:
1) The judgement and dispersal of the nation of Israel by Titus because they rejected Christ (John saw this, so in a sense he did tarry until Christ came again in judgement against the nation)
to this day the military men of Israel swear Masada must not happen again - nor will it.
2) The rapture of the saints,
3) The tribulation,
4) The defeat of the wicked nations of the earth when they gather against Israel,
5) Christ's rule for a thousand years,
6) The final great battle when Jerusalem is surrounded by the greatest army ever seen - Satan will always attack the plans of God by seeking to destroy all that belongs to God and these 6 actions are all to do with the work and return of Christ
The great lesson is that God is always in control and that the principled life before God is the victorious life
In seeking the good of his people Mordecai also protects the King and saves and enhances the kingdom and the King – We should remember to follow Christ who helps all is not futile-we might not see the benefits to all around us, but be assured the consistent acts of steadfast faithfulness are not barren, but of great blessing to more people than we will ever know, it glorifies Christ and is effective in the salvation of people through the gospel.