Saturday, 6 January 2018

Esther 1-5

Here's how the study works: Read the chapters mentioned in the heading during the week and share any words, thoughts, verses that stood out to you. Having a week for several chapters creates the opportunity to revisit them and make additional comments as you feel inclined as well as make comments on other people's insights.


Susan Barnes said...

1:22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.

The return of the first exiles to Jerusalem was in 536 BC. The events in the book of Esther began in 483 BC and Esther becomes queen in 479 BC. Presumably this decree must have been sent to all parts of the Persian empire including Israel. In Nehemiah 13:23-24 Nehemiah is upset that children born to foreign wives cannot speak their father’s native language (about 431 BC). Mothers would teach their children their own language, not their father’s. So, it seems this decree was not effective in Israel just 50 years later.

Fathers, as well as mothers, need to pass on the spiritual language of faith.

Susan Barnes said...

2:11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Mordecai was obviously concerned for Esther going back and forth every day to see how she was and what was happening. It suggests that Esther was taken against her will (v. 8), according to the king’s order (v. 8). Some commentators are critical of Esther marrying a pagan king but it seems to me she didn’t have much choice. Sometimes we are placed in comprising situations regardless of our own wishes, but God can still use us.

Susan Barnes said...

3:4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

Four years previous, Mordecai had told Esther not to mention she was a Jew. Yet now Mordecai is drawing attention to himself as a Jew. It wasn’t against Jewish custom to bow in honour (v. 1-2, 5). It was wrong to bow in worship. Is Mordecai letting an old prejudice against the Agagites cloud his judgement? Or has God got something bigger going on here?

Susan Barnes said...

4:14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

Some feel Mordecai wasn’t a spiritual person but this is such a state of faith, “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.”

(Constable Commentary) “Though God chooses to use people he is in no way dependant on them … Our Sovereign God will accomplish all his objective with or without us. He calls us not out of his need for us but for our need to find fulfillment in serving him.”

Susan Barnes said...

5:11-13 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

In an hour-shame culture such as this, it wasn’t unusual for people to point out that they are worthy of honour. However, to feel all this is nothing because one person, of little account, refuses to honour you shows Haman’s lack of character.

People’s lack of appreciation will not bother us when our self-worth is rooted in being God’s child.