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An Audio Bible Adventure: The Story of Esther, Part 2
Domingo, Julho 21, 2013

A retelling of Esther 2:19–23, 3, 4


See “The Story of Esther, Part 1” for the first part of Queen Esther’s story.

Esther's coronation was cause for a great celebration. No longer was the kingdom without a queen. Happier than ever, King Ahasuerus gave a magnificent banquet for all his princes and officials in Esther's honor. As a gesture of the king's generosity to the people, a special tax holiday was proclaimed throughout all the provinces, and the king distributed gifts with royal liberality.

Not long after young Esther's coronation, two of the king’s servants who guarded the palace door, Bigthan and Teresh, were angry at the king and conspired to assassinate him.

Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who sat in the king's gate, overheard their treasonable whispers and immediately informed Esther, who reported it to the king and credited Mordecai for their exposure. After an official investigation confirmed their intentions, the would-be assassins were arrested and hanged. But in all the excitement, Mordecai was forgotten. He received no recognition for saving the king's life.

About this same time, King Ahasuerus chose to install a proud and self-aggrandizing man named Haman the Agagite as his prime minister.

Because Haman's new position was higher than that of the other officials, King Ahasuerus had decreed that whenever he passed through the king's gate, everyone present was obliged to bow. Being Jewish and a believer in God, Mordecai could not bring himself to bow to any man, even if it was required by law. He also knew that in spite of Haman’s elevated position, the man was proud and ruthless.

Whenever he saw Haman passing, Mordecai would remain standing and would look the other way. This continued until some of the king's officials came to talk with him.

“Why do you transgress the king’s commandment?” they asked. “Everyone must bow to Haman, and you are no exception!”

“I am a Jew,” said Mordecai. “I bow only to my God.”

Day after day, they tried to convince Mordecai to yield, but when they saw that he wouldn't be persuaded, they reported the situation to Haman. When he learned that Mordecai had blatantly refused to obey the decree and that above all he was a Jew, Haman began to formulate his chance to avenge himself on Mordecai by wiping all the Jews off the face of the earth.

To ensure his plot would succeed, Haman had the priests of the heathen gods cast lots to find, according to their superstition, the best time to purge the Jews from the Persian Empire. The priests told him that the ideal time would be the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which was the month Adar (March 13 according to our calendar today).

Next, Haman outlined his scheme to King Ahasuerus.

“A certain race of people are dispersed through all the provinces of your kingdom,” Haman told the king, subtly avoiding specific mention of the Jews, “whose laws are different from those of any other nation, and they do not obey the king's laws! Therefore, it is not in the king's interest to put up with them. If it pleases you, O king, let a decree be issued that they be destroyed.”

Haman continued, offering to pay all of the expenses himself, saying he would pay 10,000 talents of silver to those in charge of the king’s business.

Having great confidence in his prime minister, the king took his signet ring and gave it to Haman.

“The silver is given to you,” he said. “And these people also, to do with as you please.”

Haman was delighted. His scheme was going better than he had dared to hope. Calling the king's scribes, he had them prepare the decree in the name of King Ahasuerus. Haman sealed it with the king’s signet ring and then had it sent to the governors of the 127 provinces. The order was to destroy, to kill, to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old—children and women included—in one day, March 13, and to take possession of all their goods and lands.

After the decree was sent out, Haman and the king sat down to drink a toast, bidding good riddance to the enemies of the empire.

When Mordecai heard the king's decree, he tore off his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the middle of the city, crying loudly and bitterly. Similar scenes of sorrow could be witnessed throughout Medo-Persia wherever the decree was read. In every village, there was great mourning, fasting, and weeping among the Jews, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Even the Persian citizens of Shushan were perplexed by this sudden strange and alarming decree.

When Esther's maidens and chamberlains told her how upset Mordecai was, she was very grieved. Not knowing the cause, she sent them to take the sackcloth from him and give him new clothes, but he would not accept them.

“Something must be wrong,” she told Hathach, one of her chamberlains. “You must go to him and see what is the matter.”

Mordecai told Hathach of all that had happened and of the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai then gave Hathach a copy of the official decree to show to Esther.

Along with these facts, Mordecai charged Esther to make supplication to the king for her people. But Esther sent back word that she couldn't possibly do that.

“Everyone knows that no one, not even the queen herself, is allowed to come into the king’s inner court unless specially invited,” she told him. “It is a law, and the penalty for disobeying it would be death. The only exception is for the king to extend the golden scepter and to spare that person's life. And I have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.”

 “Do not suppose that just because you live in the king's palace that you alone will escape,” Mordecai sent back in answer to Esther. “If you keep silent at this time, deliverance will surely come from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

It dawned on Esther then, why she, a mere orphan girl, had been made queen. All along, the events had been part of God's plan. He had known that this crisis was coming and had made Esther queen so that she could help to save His people. Indeed, she had come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

Once again, she sent her servant Hathach to Mordecai with an urgent reply, saying, “Gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast for me. Neither eat nor drink for three days and nights. My maidens and I will do the same. Then I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish!”

So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

To be continued…

See “Hero of the Month: Queen Esther” for more on this fascinating Bible character. 

Adapted from Good Thots © 1987. Read by Jeremy.
A My Wonder Studio Production. Copyright © 2013 by The Family International.

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