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READING: Esther 1-2 – Esther Becomes Queen & Mordecai Overhears a Plot

In many ways Esther is the most unique book in the Old Testament. For a start, it is the most Jewish of all the Hebrew Scriptures. Only five books of the Old Testament use the words Jew(s), or Jewish. These words are used in Ezra (9), Nehemiah (9), Esther (48), Jeremiah (11), and Daniel (2), a total of 81 times with Esther having almost 60%. 

The book of Esther not even once mentions the God of Israel. There are no prophetic parts of Esther. Yet Esther herself was instrumental in keeping the entire Jewish people from being annihilated through the machinations of the Agagite, Haman. Someone called the book of Esther “God in the Shadows,” as God’s providence is apparent throughout the book. 

Soon after Israel came out of Egypt where they had been slaves, even before they arrived at Mt. Sinai, the Amalekites attacked Israel. God sent King Saul to destroy them, but he spared the King, Agag. Therefore, Haman, the villain in this book, is called the Agagite, as he came from this people who were enemies of Israel. 

The opening of the story of Esther features a magnificent banquet given by the Persian King Ahasuerus who also went by the name of Xerxes. The banquet lasted 180 days. This was in 483 b.c., the third year of his reign. During this feast, he demanded that his queen, Vashti, come before the assembled princes and display her beauty. When she refused, she was deposed at the suggestion of the king’s wise men, who feared that other women would follow her example and disobey their husbands. 

During the years that followed, he made a trip to Greece with a large navy. He was stopped at Thermopylae, defeated at Salamis, and nearly annihilated at Plataea, the latter being in 479 b.c. He returned to Persia, and in his seventh year, he sought consolation with his extensive harem, according to Herodotus, a Greek historian. 

Many fair virgins were brought to him, among them a Hebrew orphan Hadassah, better known as Esther. She had been reared by an older cousin named Mordecai. Esther won such favor both with the king and his servants that she was made queen in the place of Vashti. 

In those times Mordecai at the king’s gate overheard a plot on the king’s life and reported it through Esther. The plotters were executed, and a record made of Mordecai’s deed. 

These first two chapters set the stage. Haman has not yet appeared in the story, but the characters are in place for what will come. But there is something else the reader needs to know; any edict of a Persian king is irrevocable. Also, anyone who approached the king would be killed, unless the king held out his scepter to him or her. These two facts also come into play in the dramatic story that follows. 

This book is a lesson in how the Providence of God works. 

Have you seen His hand in your life? 


Father in Heaven, help me to see Your glory in Esther as you stay in the shadows but control the outcome without a miracle, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Your Son, and my precious Savior, AMEN!  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself)  

Holy Father my prayer for all who read this and for myself, is that we, as we read Esther, note the times things “just happen” that will justify the name, “God in the Shadows.” I offer this prayer for myself, and for all who read this, in the precious name of Jesus, I pray, AMEN!  

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