Thursday, February 23, 2017

Queen Esther: A Destiny Fulfilled. Day 6, Two Murderous Plots

Queen Esther:
A Destiny Fulfilled
Day 6
Two Murderous Plots

The royal court of King Xerxes is filled with intrigue and conspiracies. Esther's uncle Mordecai discovers a plot to kill the king and is able, through Queen Esther, to warn Xerxes. Soon after this a new plot is hatched, but this time against the Jews.

"When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai's instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up." (Esther 2:19-20) Mordecai had a high enough rank to be allowed to sit in the king's gate where judges and officers sat. When Esther had first been brought to the harem, this allowed Mordecai to lurk near the garden so he could check on her, but no one knew of their family connection. This is where he is sitting when he learns of the plot against the king. The reference to the virgins being assembled is puzzling. Some commentaries suggest there was another gathering of young women into the harem after Queen Esther had been chosen as queen, that King Xerxes was so lustful and prideful that he kept adding to a harem that was already too large for him to ever personally meet each woman in it. Other reference books skip over verse 19 completely without offering an explanation. It's possible Mordecai learned of the plot while Esther was still in the company of the virgins, but he had no opportunity to get a message through to the king until Esther was made queen. 

"During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to kill King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king." (Esther 2:21-23) This is a pivotal event and will be of utmost importance later on in the book of Esther. Mordecai's action on behalf of Xerxes will cause the king to issue a decree that helps save the lives of the Jews.

"After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles." (Esther 3:1) We are not told why Haman was given this honor. We will learn that Haman is a barbaric and racially prejudiced man, so we may safely assume he rose up through the ranks by dishonest and back-stabbing means. Haman is a descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites, a people who had long been enemies of Israel. Amalek, the founder of the nation, was a grandson of Jacob's brother Esau. This made a strong familial connection between the Amalekites and the Israelites, but the Amalekites never showed Israel any brotherly love. Instead they attacked the children of Israel after they emerged from Egypt. Time and time again the Amalekites viciously attacked the people of Israel, allying themselves with other enemies of the Jews such as the Canaanites, Ammonites, and Midianites. They would even come in and destroy the crops the people of Israel had planted. By the time of King Saul the Lord's cup of wrath against the Amalekites was full and overflowing, so he ordered Saul to destroy them and everything that belonged to them. but Saul failed to fully obey the Lord's command. He left King Agag alive for a time and one ancient Jewish legend states that Agag fathered a child while in captivity and that Haman is descended from this child. We can't possibly know if this is true but we know David also had to deal with the Amalekites, plus it was an Amalekite who killed King Saul after he had been wounded in battle, so it stands to reason Saul didn't kill them all.

"All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor." (Esther 3:2) It was not a violation of Mosaic law for a Jew to bow to a person in authority, but the text indicates that an element of worship was involved. The Jewish Targum states that a statue of Haman was set up and that the officials were required to bow before it as to an idol. It is believed Mordecai refused to obey the king in this matter because to do so would be a sin against God. We found Daniel disobeying the order to worship Darius the Mede and we found Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego declining to bow before Nebuchadnezzar's statue. The Bible tells us to respect those in authority, but there are exceptions when paying those respects would require us to violate the laws of God.

"Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, 'Why do you disobey the king's command?' Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew." (Esther 3:3-4) The men at the gate urge Mordecai to get with the program. Day after day they try to talk him into going along with everyone else. At last they conclude his refusal is somehow bound up with his religion and they go to Haman to see if he can make Mordecai obey. I believe these men know of Haman's anti-Semitic feelings and expect him to take action.

"When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel to down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes." (Esther 3:5-6) Haman may be holding a grudge that goes all the way back to the time of King Saul, or even one that goes all the way back to when Jacob and Esau struggled with each other in their mother's womb. He sees am opportunity not only to be rid of this man who won't show him honor, but to be rid of an entire people. He longs to live in a kingdom where he will never again lay eyes on another Jew. Like others who have been under Satanic influence, he seeks a final solution against the Jews. 

But God has placed a Jewish woman on the throne as Queen of Persia who will be instrumental in delivering His covenant people from extinction in the Persian Empire. And in the days to come we will see God's awesome plans fulfilled. 

No comments:

Post a Comment