Old Testament Survey Dr.
Michael Warren 9/20/2008
A peasant who became a princess by going against the culture and seeking a king’s heart rather than the riches of his kingdom.
By Kaitlin Turner
Object of Presentation
The purpose of my slideshow presentation is to explore the life of Esther as presented in the Word of God. Not only have I learned a great deal about my favorite Bible character through this project, but I hope you learn something new as well!
Key Events in the Book of Esther
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10
King Xerxes issues decree for a new queen to replace Vashti
Mordecai’s refusal lead Haman to plot the execution of the Jews
Esther waited for God’s timing, hiding the fact that she was a Jew
Esther reveals to the king that she is a Jew and tells him of Haman’s evil plot
Haman’s sons are hanged; The Jews celebrate victory in Susa
Esther undergoes royal beauty preparations and is chosen as queen
Esther fasted and prepares to approach the King for help
God saved the Jews
Mordecai is appointed over Haman’s estate
Mordecai becomes second in command under Xerxes
“Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.” Esther 2:7
King Xerxes (Ahasuerus)
King of Susa who was a ruthless and ambitious warrior. Vashti, his queen, was removed from the palace after she refused his summon.
The palace of Susa, Persia was built with splendor and grandeur. Feasts were held to display the king’s royal riches that spanned hundreds of days.
Esther’s cousin who adopted her and became her sole guardian God used Mordecai and Esther to save the Jews
The book of Esther begins with a problem. King Ahasareus needs a new queen to replace Vashti. Like in the story of Cinderella, the king summoned his officials to search all of Susa for the most beautiful virgins from which he would choose his new queen. Mordecai told Esther she must prepare to be taken to the palace with the other concubines. She shed everything that would identify her as a Jewish maiden including her jewelry and clothing.
After being taken to the palace, Esther spent 12 months in preparation for one night with King Ahaserus. She spent the first six months of her stay in the palace undergoing “preparations” with oil of myrrh. The second six months followed the same procedures except with perfumes. For Christians, this symbolizes our daily repentance, allowing God to remove our impurities and cleanse our inward parts.
The beauty treatment in Esther's day was a physical treatment carried out with oils. Oil in the old testament represented the Holy Spirit. Under the new testament the Holy Spirit still prepares us to be beautiful in the sight of God. However this is an inner beauty.
The Concubines and their Quarters
Scholars estimate there were from 400 to 1,460 women who were preparing to be the new queen. Chuck Swindoll said, “This was the place to get high on seduction. This is the place were women cultivated the ability to use their charm to get what they wanted-namely, the highest office a woman could hold in the kingdom. This was the place where women had available to them all the jewelry, perfume, cosmetics, and clothing needed to make them physically attractive and alluring to the lonely king. This was a place that would make Nordstrom and Tiffany, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus fad into insignificance. Yet it is in this environment that Esther, God’s lovely star, shines the brightest.
According to the Bible, Esther stood out to Hegai, Xerxes’ chief chamberlain. “As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.” Esther 2:8-9
A King’s Favor
Esther knew that Hegai was highly trusted and loved by Xerxes, so she asked for his advice before going in to the king’s chamber. She truly wanted to please the king with who she was and sought to gain his favor. Finally, after an entire year of preparing for one night with the king, Esther won not only his favor, but that of everyone who saw her.
One day as Mordecai was on duty at the palace, two of the king’s eunuchs became angry at King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. However, Mordecai heard about the plot and passed the information on to Queen Esther. She then told the king about it and gave Mordecai credit for the report. When and investigation was made and Mordecai’s story was found to be true, the two men were hanged on a gallows. God planted Esther ‘for such a time as this’ in the life of Persia’s king Xerxes. God moved an unknown Jewish orphan into a palace and orchestrated the unthinkable.
King Xerses promoted Haman to prime minister, making him the most powerful official in the empire next to the king himself. All of the kings’ officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect. This enraged Haman and he devised an evil plan to wipe out the entire Jewish nation.
Mordecai told Esther that she must go before the king and intercede for her people. She could either rise with strength to accomplish the will of God or simply focus on her self and slip into the shadows of her rank without purpose. Mordecai warned her, “Do not think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all the other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?”
Esther replied to Mordecai to gather all the Jews together and tell them to fast and pray for three days and nights. Esther promised that she and her maids would do the same and would prepare to go before the king.
A King’s Favor
In the time of Esther, no one went before the king unasked. The punishment for doing so was death. However, Esther courageously said, “If I perish, I perish.” Esther was careful to clothe herself in the right garments before she entered the king’s presence and asked for his favor. When she finally appeared before the king, he remembered how Mordecai had saved his life and granted Esther’s request.
God’s Plan Completed
Haman was hanged and Mordecai was appointed to his position in the palace. Esther gave the entire estate of Haman to Mordecai and the Jews celebrated their rescue. God displayed His faithfulness through the life or a Jewish orphan girl and saved an entire nation.
According to rabbinic tradition, Esther was one of the four most beautiful Jewish women of all time(the others were Sarah, Rahab, and Abigail). Some believe that Xerxes married Esther strictly for her stunning good looks. Even if he had, Xerxes kept Esther because of her heart. She sought to love the heart of the king, not the splendor of his kingdom.
Even Hitler and the Nazi concentration camp commanders feared the power of the book of Esther. In fact, they banned it in their death camps. One writer noted: “Anti-Semites have always hated the book, and the Nazis forbade its reading in the crematoria and the concentration camps. In the dark days before their deaths, Jewish inmates of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, and Bergen-Belsen wrote the Book of Esther from memory and read it in secret on Purim. Both they and their brutal foes understood its message. This unforgettable book teaches that Jewish resistance to annihilation, then as now, represents the service of God and devotion to His cause. In every age, martyrs and heroes, as well as ordinary men and women, have seen in it not merely a record of past deliverance but a prophecy of future salvation.” Evil still fears Esther’s story today-it reveals divinity’s solution for humanity’s confusion. Esther’s story is a prophecy of future doom to satan’s plans.
Bible scholars have found the genre of the book of Esther hard to define. The book is told from a narrative point of view and contains genocide which many Jews relate to the Holocaust of World War II. There are many different interpretations, but the most popular characteristics of the book are as follows: The story displays “novelistic elements” that parallel the book to Greek novellas Esther uses satire through the Persian court that points to important social, political, and theological matters. Wisdom literature Romance between a heroine and a king
Esther contains many parallels between the corrupt and violent culture of Persia and today’s culture. Although Christian tradition has been hostile toward the book of Esther because it has been regarded by some as uncanonical, the book told the story of her life as an instrument used by God for ‘such a time as this’.
The story of Esther teaches us several lessons… 1. There is a preparation time She allowed herself to be prepared for the task. God's preparation time can sometimes be long and uneventful. Moses spent 40 years in the desert looking after sheep before coming to deliver the Israelites. The refining of our characters is very essential to God's plan for our life. God cannot use a proud woman (or man). 2. We need the favour of God Esther found favour with the King and so did Mordecai. Even Jesus grew in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52). When you live a life pleasing to God, by obeying His will you will find favour with Him. God will also give you favour with people. 3. God works in His own time and season Esther listened for and obeyed God’s timing. Maybe God has put it on your heart to do something for Him. Don't just jump into it but wait for his time. Joseph was in jail until it was God's time for him to be released. God will move in His time when we remain faithful and alert to His leading. 4. Your background does not hinder your future with God Esther was an orphan. God still exalted her and used her. Some of Jesus' disciples were fishermen, tax collectors and one was a doctor. Our background does not determine what God can do with us. Our faith does.
Truths from Esther
God still prepares us for His work today 1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adornment be merely outward -arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (NKJV) The beauty of Christ is seen in the fruit of the spirit. A life touched by Christ will show a godly character. True spiritual maturity is measured by the fruit of the spirit and not the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Gifts are what God gives us, whereas the fruit of the Holy Spirit is what we give to God by yielding to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to touch our personality and character. A carnal Christian maybe able to manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it takes a person who has dedicated herself willingly to the Lord to manifest the fruit of the spirit.
We must love God with everything we are This is how He uses us… just as Esther yielded her own life to God’s plan
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. “ Deuteronomy 6:4-6
What we must understand is that Esther is just like us. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Esther’s God is our God. Israel was His people, and now we, as believers in Christ, are His people. How God worked in Esther’s life is how God desires to work in our lives. We may not be as good-looking as Esther, we may never have won a beauty pageant, and we may not be in a position of power, let alone a Queen of the most powerful nation on earth. Yet, God oversees the events of our lives just as He did the events in Esther’s life. Psalm 139:16 says, "And in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." From even before we were conceived in our mother’s womb, God had a plan for our lives. He knew hw He would gift us, what opportunities we would have or lack, and all of the details of each and every day of our lives.
Esther was humble enough to listen to Mordecai, courageous enough to risk her life for the sake of her fellow Jews, and obedient enough to God to influence the king as she knew she could. She exercised her ability to choose in partnership with the providential hand of God. Thus, she is known the world over as the woman who had the courage to do what was right at her Godappointed time. We need to want to be used, and we need to be looking for God’s sovereign hand to see where and how we are to serve Him.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
God has good works prepared for each of us to do. He wants to use us. In fact, as 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." The question is whether or not we are usable vessels.
Esther’s life was not mere coincidence or fate. It was coordinating with the God who orchestrated it from the very beginning. God has made us all “for such a time as this.”
Esther in today’s world
Darlene Conner, talented music teacher at Dallas Christian School wrote a children’s song entitled “Esther was a She-ro” It is sung to the tune of a familiar children’s song. Es-ther was a beau-ti-ful girl. She made King Xer-xes head go whirl. Mor-de-cai would not bow down. He made Ha-man's head to pound. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a he-ro.. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a SHE-RO!! Es-ther had cour-age and faith-ful-ness. She would have to meet the test. She knew the king could be mad at her, But he held out his gold scep-ter. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a he-ro.. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a SHE-RO!! Listen now and learn from me; Es-ther loved God's fam-i-ly. She stood strong when things were bad. Her peo-ple went from sad to glad. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a he-ro.. He-ro, He-ro, Es-ther was a SHE-RO!!! We must be loy-al to God you see, And honest we must al-ways be. We must stand up for our God. He does such an awe-some job. He-ro, He-ro. We must be a he-ro. He-ro, He-ro, Maybe be a SHE-RO !!
The second song is from the popular Veggie Tales animated version of Esther and is called “The Battle is Not Ours”
The battle is not ours. We look to God above, For He will guide us safely through And guard us with His love. I will not be afraid. I will not run and hide, For there is nothing I can't face When God is at my side. No, there is nothing I can't face When God is at my side. The battle is not ours. We look to God above, For He will guide us safely through And guard us with His love.
These two messages are by Chuck Missler, Christian author, Bible teacher, and founder of the Koinonia House ministry. In them, Missler explores coded words in the Bible called ‘macrocodes’ or ‘types’ and their role in the book of Esther. The name Esther means ‘hidden', Martin Luther argues that the book should be removed from the canon of scripture and one of his main reasons was that the book doesn't even mention the name of the Lord, but Luther was wrong because Esther does mention the name of God it's just encoded in the text. The Bible is full of different codes from equidistant letter sequences to macrocodes, the Word of God has depth which can never be fathomed, the interesting point about some of the codes is that encoded words are always found in passages where the plain text bears some relevance to the encoded word, a phenomenon which is unique to the Bible. The Hebrew name for Jesus, Y'shua is found in the Old testament over 5,500 times including all major messianic prophecies and even to the extent in Isaiah 53 encoded in the text is 'Yshua is my name'. Incredible! Another interesting point is the title Pilate wrote and placed on the cross above the Lord 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' where in Hebrew the first letter of each word spells 'YHWH' the unutterable name of God that He revealed to Moses..
Notes – Women’s Lives in the time of Esther
Ezra demanded that worship of the fertility gods be abandoned; only Yahweh would be worshipped. Worship of the forces of Nature and fertility had been strongest in the northern agricultural provinces, and the dispersal of these people by the Assyrian conquerors led to a decline in the popularity of the fertility religions. The problem for women was that religion was now centered on a god whose essence was power and majesty. This deity was a genderless spirit force, neither male nor female. But because power and strength were seen in human terms as male attributes, the deity was increasingly described in male terms. Poetic images of Yahweh had previously contained female references, likening Yahweh to a mother and suggesting that Yahweh’s love was as deep as a mother’s. These images were increasingly overlooked in favor of male images of Yahweh. Sin was now linked with impurity, and with imagery that was demeaning to women, for example the reference in Ezekiel 37:17 to menstruation. When wickedness was presented in human form, it was female, for example Zechariah 5:7-11. Nehemiah demanded that all foreign-born wives who had returned to Jerusalem with their Jewish husbands should be divorced. The purpose of this edict was to emphasize and purify Jewish identity. Women were judged on their clan background rather than on their personal merits, which undermined respect for women as human beings. The social reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah were accepted by the people, but not without protest. For example, the stories of Ruth and of Esther, written in this period, make particular points about women, that: they were powerful in their own right, and not to be treated as property and they were as capable of being God’s instruments as men were, and sometimes, as in the case of Esther, even more so.
Great site w/games and coloring sheets
In-depth notes on the book of Esther
Poems written about Esther
1. What preparation did Esther go through to become Queen? Twelve months of inner and outer beauty preparations. 2. What preparation does God take us through? He cleanses us from our sin and removes any impurities in our life if we ask Him for forgiveness. 3. What is the importance of God's timing in our life? God’s ways are higher than our ways and He knows what is best for us. There may be times when our selfish motives try to get in the way of God’s will for us, but we must yield to His perfect timing! 4. How can God turn bad situations in your life around? Just like in the story of Esther, God turned Haman’s evil plans into a beautiful rescue that glorified Him. God can use trials to grow us into the child He has created us to be and He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. 5. What effect did Esther's background have on God's plan for her life? Being the only Jewish woman in the palace, she was set-apart. But God had a greater purpose because He used her hidden identity to save her people in the end.
Tenney, Tommy. Finding Favor with the King : Preparing for Your Moment in His Presence. New York: Bethany House, 2004. Piper, John. Desiring God : Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Sisters: Multnomah, 2003 Sermon Index. 2 Oct. 2008 <http://www.sermonindex.net>. McGeough, Kevin. "Esther the Hero: Going beyond "Wisdom" in Heroic Narratives." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 70.1 (Jan. 2008): 44-65. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=29968885 &site=ehost-live>. Wootton, Janet. "For Such a Time as This The Timeliness of the Book of Esther." International Congregational Journal 6.2 (Summer2007 2007): 21-30. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 16 Oct. 2008 <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=26215332 &site=ehost-live>. Background music: www.jennyphillips.com “Daughter of a King”