Esther was a Jewish orphan adopted by her uncle before the Jews were carried into Babylonian captivity. Eventually, she became the queen of Persia (Esther 2:7). Her Persian name, Esther, means star, the planet Venus. Hadassah, her Hebrew name, means myrtle, a flower.
Esther is best known as the heroine of the Old Testament book named for her. She was the niece of Mordecai, a servant of Ahasuerus, whose queen she became after Vashti’s banishment for disobedience. Using her influence as queen, Esther managed to avert the persecution of the Jews planned by Haman (Esther 2:7 to Est. 9:32).
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
The book of Esther and the book of Ruth are two books in the Bible that bear the names of Hebrew women. While the book of Ruth begins and ends in poverty, the book of Esther begins with all the splendor of the kingdom of Persia. Persia was the wealthiest nation ever to exist in the history of the world, and Nebuchadnezzar had carried the Jews away from Jerusalem to be bondmen in foreign lands. According to Jeremiah, Jerusalem became a land of desolation (Jer. 9:9-11; Jer. 25:10-11). Esther, the heroine, is first seen as a lowly orphan child brought up by an uncle; yet, to the spiritual eye, she rises to a position of power and service to her people because God put her there for His work among the good figs.
When Esther lacked courage to put her life in the balances in order to save her people, Mordecai used the phrase, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14). Yet for all the work given to Esther, if she had not cooperated with God’s plan to do it the way He wanted it to be done, He would have raised up another deliverer from another place and destroyed both her and her house (Est. 4:14).
In addition to Esther’s love and respect for her adoptive uncle, consider a few other important facts associated with this short book:
- Esther is apparently the only Jewess ever to sit on a foreign throne.
- Training in respect for her “parents” manifests itself in Esther’s respect for and obedience to Mordecai in spite of her position as queen.
- We also see that Esther had respect for her husband and the laws of the land even though she was doing her best to find a way to repeal the unfair law that would destroy her people.
- The accuracy of the accounts of the Persian Empire and its palaces and rules is unsurpassed in secular history.
- Ahasuerus also, known as Artaxerxes, in secular history for anyone who doubts the authenticity of the account.
- The Jewish Feast of Purim gains credibility under the Hebrew Old Testament Law because of the explanation found in the book of Esther.
- “Pur” from which the word Purim comes, means “a lot.” The lot was cast to see which would be the most favorable day for the Jews to stand against their enemies.
- Even today the Jews respect the “law” given by Esther to remember the Feast of Purim on the fourteenth and fifteenth of March (Est. 9:32).
Did Mordecai tell Esther that she alone could save the Jews (Esther 4:14)? Some men preach that God cannot get his work done unless we do it. They say, “God has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet . . . ,” etc. Read (Isa. 55:10-11 and Luke 19:35-40).
ONE LAST EXAMPLE OF ADOPTION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
King Saul originally promised to give his elder daughter, Merab, to David, but later he gave Merab to Adriel the Meholathite. After David’s success in battle against the Philistine giant Goliath, King Saul became jealous and therefore connived to destroy David through a marriage to his younger daughter Michal (1 Sam. 14:49). When he invited David to marry Michal, David replied, “I am a poor and lightly esteemed man”, meaning that he was unable to provide a bride price. King Saul offered to accept the foreskins of 100 Philistines for his daughter’s hand in marriage. David immediately killed 200 Philistines, and brought double the number of foreskins to Saul.
Later, we see Michal’s compassionate heart when she chose the welfare of David over the wishes of her father. When Saul’s messengers searched for David in order to kill him, Michal sent them away while saying he was ill and laid up in bed. After Saul’s men left, she let David down through a window and arranged a ‘body’ in his bed as a decoy.
While David hid from King Saul for his life, Saul gave Michal as a wife to Palti, son of Laish. Later, when David became king of Judah and Michal’s brother, Ishbosheth, assumed kingship over the rest of the nation of Israel, David and Ishbosheth made peace, but one condition of peace was that Ishbosheth return his wife Michal. Ishbosheth complied, despite the public protests of Palti. David had indeed paid the bride price twofold for Michal.
After Michal returned to David, she despised him in her heart (1 Chr. 15:29) when he supposedly danced naked (unclothed), while he and the priests were bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:14). Actually, David wore an ephod like the priests wore and thus was not literally naked. David rebuked Michal, and she never bore children until the day she died (2 Sam. 6:20-23). Nevertheless, she was still mother to her sister Merab’s children (2 Samuel 21:8). During that time, Michal had showed great compassion in ‘adopting’ her older sister Merab’s five sons for her. Merab’s husband was Adriel (1 Sam. 18:17-19; 2 Sam 21:8). Nothing is recorded to explain why Merab did not raise her own children, but likely, she had died.
The account has a very sad ending for Michal, when the Lord required David to take vengeance on King Saul’s house because he broke Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites by killing many of them. The Gibeonites required the seven of King Saul’s grandchildren be hung. Thus David was required to take “… the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.” After that God was entreated for the land and removed the famine (2 Samuel 21:1-4).