Today’s reading is: Est. 1-4; Ezra 6:14-22; 4:6
Esther Chapter One
- The drama of Esther begins with the Persian King Ahasuerus and his self-manifested glory (Est. 1:1-9).
- Ahasuerus is better known by his Greek name: Xerxes (486-465BC).
- Xerxes’ assembly of princes in the 3rd year of his reign is attested in secular history (Herodotus vii.8).
- The geographic description of 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia is likewise confirmed by secular history.
- Queen Vashti’s refusal to be displayed before the Persian princes is not explained in this passage (Est. 1:10-12). If we correctly identify her with the historical Queen Amestris, then at this time she is pregnant with Artaxerxes.
- Ahasuerus’ advisors warned him about a pending rebellion by Persian noblewomen everywhere if Vashti is not punished (Est. 1:13-22).
Esther Chapter Two
- Ahasuerus’ advisors recommend a New Queen Audition Contest (Est. 2:1-4).
- The beautiful virgin selected from Susa to compete in the NQAC was an orphaned Jewish girl named Hadassah (Est. 2:5-11).
- She had been raised by her uncle Mordecai after her parents death.
- She has hidden her racial background all her life, taking the Persian name “Esther.”
- Mordecai was a Benjamite and apparently a eunuch in the Persian court.
- Esther found favor in the eyes of the chief Eunuch in charge of virgins—Hegai.
- Esther’s audition goes very well, and Ahasuerus gives her the Queen’s crown (Est. 3:12-20).
- Mordecai discovers a plot against Ahasuerus, and through Esther saves the King’s life (Est. 2:21-23).
Esther Chapter Three
- Rather than reward Mordecai for his service (Est. 2:21-23 cf. 6:1-3), Ahasuerus promoted Haman to a position of authority second only to his own (Est. 3:1-2a).
- Mordecai’s daily refusal to pay homage became a source of anger to Haman (Est. 3:2b-5).
- Haman’s rage motivated him to murder not only Mordecai, but his entire race (Est. 3:6).
- Haman followed the Persian soothsaying practice of throwing the Pur (stone) in order to determine fortunate timing for a planned event (Est. 3:7).
- In the Sovereignty of God, the casting of lots provided for nearly an entire year of warning to the Jews of the coming genocide.
- The King’s edict cannot be changed (Est. 1:19 cf. Dan. 6:8).
Esther Chapter Four
- In response to Haman’s edict, Mordecai undertook a public ministry of humble repentance (Est. 4:1-2). Mordecai’s response was typical of the mourning of Jews throughout the Persian empire (Est. 4:3).
- Hathach the Queen’s Eunuch became the go-between for Esther and Mordecai (Est. 4:5ff.).
- Esther offers clothing (and likely sanctuary) to Mordecai (Est. 4:4), but he refuses, and orders Esther to plead their case before the King (Est. 4:8).
- Esther fears the danger of approaching the King uninvited (Est. 4:11), but Mordecai advises her that she is in danger regardless (Est. 4:13-14).
- She is in danger of Haman’s decree.
- She is in danger of refusing her work-assignment of deliverance.
- Although God is not mentioned here by name it is clear that Mordecai views Esther’s royal office as the Lord’s provision for this very moment.
- Esther accepts Mordecai’s rebuke, and asks for a national three day prayer meeting and fast before she approaches the King (Est. 4:15-17).
Ezra Chapter Six
(Outline continues from Day 262)
- The temple is completed on the 3rd of Adar, in the 6th year of King Darius (515BC) (Ezr. 6:13-22).
Ezra Chapter Four
(Outline continues from Day 259)
- They engaged in legal/political slander to halt the wall building project (Ezr. 4:6). They file a שִׂטְנָה sitnāh #7855: legal accusation (from שָׂטַן sātan #7853: adversary, accuser).
- There is no recorded response by Ahasuerus to their indictment (Ezr. 4:6). He is known in secular history as Xerxes I (485-465BC).
- He is the King of Persia featured in the Book of Esther. It is perhaps her influence, and/or Mordecai’s influence that keeps Ahasuerus from responding to the Ezra 4:6 accusation.
(Chapter Four continues on Day 266)