Why was Esther so important in the Bible? An entire book is dedicated to the story of an orphan jew and God always has a purpose. Let’s examine why she is called a hero in the Jewish community and what can lessons can we take away from her beautiful message.
Where is the Story of Esther in the Bible?
You’ll discover the entire book of Esther nestled between Nehemiah and Job in the Old Testament. It’s 10 chapters long and reveals the providential provision and preservation of God. While no one can confirm who the author is, many suspect it may have been Mordecai.
Most likely the story unfolds during the period of the Media/Persian Empire after the collapse of Babylon. The Jews are still dispersed because of the Babylonian captivity throughout the Persian land and most have no desire to go back to Jerusalem.
Summary of the Story of Esther
King ‘Ahasuerus’, which is a title, reigns over 127 provinces under the Persian Empire. This king is most likely Xerxes based on historical documentation. He had a feast one day in front of many nobles and princes. Vashti, his wife the queen, made a feast as well for the women in her royal house.
When the king was merry with wine, he commanded his chamberlains to bring his queen before the court so everyone can check her out and admire her beauty. Well, Vashti wasn’t thrilled with the idea and refused to step forward.
Publicly humiliated, he sought counsel from those close to him. Concerned that her insubordination would spread throughout the kingdom, the king made a law that would essentially divorce Vashti and published it throughout Persia.
King of Persia Chooses Esther
This is where Esther comes in – Ahasuerus needs a new virgin bride now. So, Shushan the palace was set up to be basically a beauty pageant for the king. Mordecai, a Jew stuck in Shushan, has a great idea. He’s the uncle of a beautiful girl named Hadassah who had raised her since her parents died.
He decides that she would be perfect for this new position as queen. His niece had a Persian name – it was Esther. So, she was entered into the large pool of virgins specifically picked for the ruler.
What Made Esther So Special?
Esther seemed to be favored by most she came into contact with – from the chambermaids to the king himself. In the meantime, Mordecai became an officer of a royal court and reported a true conspiracy to kill the king.
Esther had become a part of the second round of young virgins on display for the king. It is clear in scripture that he loves Esther above all the women and sets a crown upon her head. She was now the queen!.
The story doesn’t stop there with the “fairy tale” ending. Instead, it gets quite scary. Xerxes decides to promote a man named Haman, who is very proud in and of his position, now overseeing the entire staff. He is so proud that he loves being bowed down to by everyone. Yet, Mordecai only bows down to his God, so when Haman passes by Mordecai at the gate, he is obviously defiant over the traditions of Persian men.
Why Esther is Important in Jewish History
Haman finds out he’s a Jew and plots out his revenge. In fact, he decides in his wrath to kill all jews through the entire kingdom of Ahasuerus. He tricks Ahasuerus to sign a decree to kill those who are defiant with the king’s laws. To determine their execution, he casts lots or “purim” to choose the date – the 14th of the month of Adar.
Mordecai is mortified and goes into mourning. Esther calls for Mordecai, but he refuses to come to the palace. She doesn’t know what is going on but finds out from her chamberlain after sending him to see her uncle. Her uncle sends word that Esther is the only way to fix this problem. However, Esther has a problem herself and cannot go to the king unless he called for her. If she does come into his presence, she could be killed.
Does Esther Risk Her Life for the Jews?
After going back and forth with messages, Esther finally decides she has to risk her life for her people. She sends word to the Jews to pray and fast for 3 days as she is preparing to present herself in front of the king.
Three days have passed, and it was Esther’s time to shine or die. Esther stands in the inner court of the king’s house, and rush of relief is felt — death is averted. It seems the king is actually happy to see her and holds out the golden sceptre, indicating she is spared.
Esther then precedes to tell the king in humbleness that she’d like to dine with him and Haman. The king agrees and Esther begins to prepare for the banquet.
In the meantime, Haman is so excited that he goes home and boasts to his family. Then, later the KIng approaches Haman asking how he can best honor someone he is delighted with. The king had just read the records of Mordecai’s bravery in foiling the plans of his death during a restless night of sleep.
Assuming the king is talking about himself, Hanan gives elaborate details on how he should wear a royal robe and sit on his horse throughout the city. So, that is what the king orders for Mordecai! Haman is shocked when he finds out unwittingly that he’s not talking about him! Haman’s worst week is just getting started.
As the banquet proceeds, the king asks the queen what she would like and that’s when the beans are spilled. She accuses Haman of killing her people, the Jews. Haman is now in serious hot water – the king is wroth with anger! Haman is ultimately hanged in the same gallows where Mordecai was supposed to be. Justice is served!
The Celebration of ‘Purim’
Every year, the Jewish people in Jerusalem and surrounding cities celebrate the survival of the Jews with the feast of Purim, which means in Hebrew “Lots”. It’s celebrated in either February or March on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar.
What made Esther so special?
Here is why Esther is so special. She is in a position to make a difference – and she does. She could have said no and kept living the royal lifestyle. Instead, she said yes, I will risk my life for my people with God’s help. There are 5 biblical lessons from the Book of Esther we can take away:
- Be caring with everyone you meet.
- Remember that only God can meet your needs.
- Fasting is an important part of the praying process.
- Be strong and courageous when it’s in your court.
- God will go above and beyond our expectations.
What is the Main Message of the Book of Esther?
The main theme throughout the book of Esther is how God hears our prayers if we rely on him to rescue us. We can’t just say a quick prayer and expect quick results. God’s people steadfastly prayed, fasted, and begged God to intervene. And, he did with many surprises along the way including a ‘you reap what you sow’ moment when Haman is hanged on the same gallows that he built for Mordecai.
How can Women be More like Esther?
There are several ways we can be more like Esther. The characteristics of Esther are something every woman should strive for as Christians. The bravery and courage Esther shows as a young woman is impressive and something we should strive to mimic.
- Be kind to every connection you encounter.
- Have a plan and stick to it.
- What may seem impossible, is possible with God.
- Say yes when God calls you for something bigger.
- Find ways to fast and focus on talking to God.
- Stay courageous even when you are scared.
Esther was a courageous and strong woman. Had Esther not asked her people to fast and pray while carefully carving out a strategic plan, the story of Purim would not be a celebration, but a holocaust memorial for many Jewish lives.
Want to learn more about amazing women in the Bible? Read on to Hannah’s Prayer!