Biblical Women Esther

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Esther : 

Esther Her story is found in the Old Testament Book of Esther

Slide 2: 

The story of Esther’s courage begins with Queen Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus also know as Xerxes (485-464 b.c. ) . Xerxes arranged a feast in the garden for all of his friends. Vashti also arranged a feast for the women to be held in the palace. After seven days of feasting and drinking, Xerxes sent for Vashti so that he could show her off to his friends the same way one would show off a trophy.

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Vashti refused go which was a very courageous act on her part. The king and the other men were furious, a woman had refused the king, what would this mean would their wives also become “head strong,” and refuse to do the husband’s bidding. Something had to be done to prevent a female rebellion. The decision was made to banish Vashti. Once banished the country and the king was in need of a replacement queen. The Jews had been deported to Babylon in 587 BC.

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Cyrus the king of the Persians defeated the Babylonians and Assyrians and released the Jews to return to Jerusalem in 536 BC. Some Jews chose not to return and continued their employment and family relationships in what was once Babylon. Esther’s family chose not to leave. Esther finds herself to be an orphan whose only living relative is Mordecai, her cousin.

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Xerxes then decided to fill a harem with beautiful young virgins and the one who pleased him the most would be the next queen. Esther was part of that group. Mordecai told her not to speak of her Jewish heritage lest it damage her chances to become the next queen.

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She was the one chosen as the next queen. Just like her predecessor she had the title of queen but very little power. An Amalekite named Haman rose to a high office and the king had ordered that when people came close to him they were to kneel. Mordecai refused, stating that he was a Jew. As a result, Haman decided to kill all Jews and Mordecai would be the first.

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Haman was able to get the king to sign a decree that all Jews should be killed and the person killing them would be able to keep all the deceased person’s possessions. The killing would take place 11 months from the date of the decree. Mordecai enlisted Esther’s help to speak to the king on behalf of the Jews. But if she goes to the king without him asking for her she, might be killed. She asks her maids and Mordecai to join her in a three day fast before she approaches the king.

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Esther then approached the king and invited he and Haman to a banquet that evening. The king accepts and in the course of the evening he asks her to name anything she might like. She then invited both of them to return the next evening. When the king returned to his sleeping chamber he was unable to sleep and had a servant read from the history of the kingdom. Mordecai had discovered a plot to kill the king and thus saved his life. The king realized that Mordecai hadn’t been rewarded for his loyalty and wanted to make give him something.

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The king asked Haman what would be a good gift for a loyal man. In Haman’s arrogance he thought the gift would be for him, but it wasn’t, it was for Mordecai. Mordecai had acquired the honor Haman wanted for himself so he had a gallows built and planned to have Mordecai hung. At the evening banquet hosted by Esther she told all that Haman had done to the Jews and in the kings name. Haman, not Mordecai, was the first to test the gallows by being hung. Sometimes the instrument designed for another’s destruction becomes the instrument of our own destruction.

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Esther wasn’t the perfect person was she? She used her beauty to get her queenship. She used her charm to win over people to achieve her goals some benefitting others, some self-serving. Esther combined courage with careful planning. Unlike Haman she was willing to take advise and to humble herself by fasting. She was willing to act and more concerned for others than for her own security. Serving God often demands that we risk our own security, our own comfort, our own pride. We can certainly learn from Esther, can’t we.

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