I’ve been under the weather these few days, and is definitely in no mood for anything except for lying on the bed and read. I’ve been devouring God knows how many romance books and the repetition in the plots started to get to me. And so, deciding that I had enough of the mush, I thought that it is time for me to have my daily dose of Bible reading. (You see, I’ve been making a point to read the Bible randomly before I sleep these days since I received the Children Bible from Booksneeze. Hopefully, this will become a habit).
I remembered that Bible have loads of beautiful romance to tell as well, and so, I flipped to the Book of Esther in the Old Testament.Â It tells the story of Esther, the Biblical Queen. The story of Hadassah, or rather Esther has always fascinated me as a child. The story is filled with intrigue, romance, bravery, and honor.
The book of Esther tells the story of a Queen who became the savior of her people through a curious mix of fate and charm. It is also a story of remarkable love, faithÂ and devotion.
According to the Bible, Esther was a Jewish Queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus (identified in the history as King Xerxes I). The story of Esther started with King Ahasuerus, who held a 180-day feast in Susa. He ordered his Queen, Vashti, to appear before him and his guests wearing no veil to display her beauty. This act is considered dishonourable, and therefore, Queen Vashti refused the King.
King Ahasuerus was enraged at her refusal to obey his command and so, the king asked advisors what should be done.
One of them said that all the women in the empire would hear that “The King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the Queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.” Then the women of the empire would despise their husbands and started to act in defiance. And this would cause many problems in the kingdom. Therefore it would be good to depose her.
And so, he divorced Queen Vashti and she was exiled and he began searching for a new queen to take her place at his side. To find a new Queen suitable to King Ahasuerus, it was decreed that beautiful young virgins be gathered to the palace from every province of his kingdom. Each woman underwent twelve months of beautification in his harem, after which she would go to the king.
When the woman’s turn came, she was given anything she wanted to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. She would then go to the king in the evening, and in the morning go to the harem where the concubines stayed. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased enough with her to summon her again by name.
Esther was then introduced to King Ahasuerus and he fell in love with the lovely and graceful Esther. She was chosen as his wife and queen. Esther was an orphan and was raised by her cousin Mordecai. She was born ‘Hadassah’ and received her name ‘Esther’ upon entering the royal harem. Her name was a form of the Persian name Satarah, which means ‘star’.
Through Mordecaiâ€™s instincts of caution and warning, it was not revealed to the king that his new bride was Jewish in origin.
It’s rather romantic, love at first sight. Esther had no idea at this point of her life that she shall soon be a saviour to her people.(Esther 4:14 ). Esther was told not to disclose her Jewish origin.
Enter Haman, who came into power beneath the king. This man hated all Jews and talked King Ahasuerus into allowing him to kill the Jews for they have been rebellious and is a threat to the kingdom. Haman didnâ€™t know, as the king didnâ€™t, that Queen Esther herself was a Jew.
Unfortunately, Ahasuerus listened to Haman and made the decree, as he thought he was just going to destroy the rebellions, and not the entire race. Mordecai was very unhappy, as was Esther upon hearing the news.Â She was horrified that her people would soon be destroyed and killed.
Her husband felt that Haman was his friend. In those days, no one, including the Queen, could appear before the king without being summoned. To do so is asking just like signing your own death warrant. But Esther knew that only the king could deal with Hamanâ€™s deceit and she had to risk death to get him to see this.
Queen Esther then ordered the Jewish hold a fast for three days and nights to request Godâ€™s intervention to save them and she herself would also be fasting. And after that, she shall go to the King, though she know that it is against the law for her to see the King un-summmoned.
Ans so, on day three, Esther donned her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, fearing that she will be killed as soon as she saw the king there.
King Ahasuerus loved Esther very much, and so did not order her be put to death, but instead held out his golden scepter, indicating that she was free to speak to him. â€œWhat wilt thou, Queen Esther? And what is it thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.â€
Estherâ€™s request was that the king and Haman attend a banquet she prepared.Weird, isn’t it? Esther did not tell this man who loved her what was on her mind and in her heart at the moment.
But Esther had great wisdom and wise people know that sometimes timing is everything. She could not afford to ruin her one chance to save her people from annihilation.
After the banquet, Esther asked again for the two of them to come for dinner the following night. Haman, at this point, thought he had won the Queenâ€™s favor as well as the Kingâ€™s.
The following day at dinner, Esther finally told the king about Haman (Esther7:3)Haman begged Esther for his life and fell upon her in his dismay. Ahasuerus had gone for a walk after hearing the crimes of Haman and returned to the room and thought Haman was forcing himself on his beloved queen and ordered Haman to be hung.
This story of sublime love shows not only how a phenomenal woman can earn the lasting devotion of a loving husband, but shows also how God can and does intervene to perform immense miracles. The Book of Esther can be divided into three main sections. Chapters 1:1-2:18 â€“ Esther replaces Vashti; 2:19-7:10 â€“ Mordecai overcomes Haman; 8:1-10:3 â€“ Israel survives Hamanâ€™s attempt to destroy them. The noble Esther risked her own death as she realized what was at stake. She willingly did what could have been a deadly maneuver and took on the second-in-command of her husbandâ€˜s kingdom, Haman. She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.
The bravery of Esther saved the Jews and the genuine love of a woman by a man gives us a story that brings tears to the most sensitive of souls.Reading the Book of Esther makes me wonder if such great love exist?
The Book of Esther shows the choice we make between seeing the hand of God in our circumstances in life and seeing things as merely coincidence. God is the sovereign Ruler of the universe and we can be assured that His plans will not be moved by the actions of mere evil men.
Feasting is a major theme of this book: there are ten recorded banquets, and many of the events were planned, plotted, or exposed at these banquets. Although the name of God is never mentioned in this book, it is apparent that the Jews of Susa sought His intervention when they fasted and prayed for three days (Esther 4:16.)
Anyway, the story of Esther never failed to warm my heart. The story of Esther was told in many ways, and have many different version. There’s also a movie about Esther, though it was ‘beautified’ in many ways and does not really reflect what the bible says. I find the movie beautiful nevertheless too. The movie is known as ‘One Night With The King’. You might wanna look this up. It’s on youtube.
Here’s the trailer.
And there’s this hauntingly beautiful song that was played in the movie during Esther’s coronation and her wedding…very beautiful that it brought me to tears as I watched the movie after reading the Bible.
The lyrics to the song:
Ziba malekeh hamra he shah ba jaho jalal
Ziba melekeh hamra he shah
Miad as rah
The beautiful queen and king are coming in all their glory
The beautiful queen and king have arrived
Cleffairy: Vashti did not come when she was summoned, but Esther came un-summoned. The King’s love for Esther must have been so great that he pardoned her…