Queen Esther Saves the Jews
The Jews’ hardships were not over when the temple was finished.
Their enemies were everywhere, even in the king’s palace in Shushan. People
didn’t like the Jews because they kept to themselves and refused to worship
idols. And in the days of King Ahasuerus a wicked man named Haman tried to get
them all destroyed. King Ahasuerus did not know his new Queen Esther was a
Jewess; her older cousin Mordecai had wisely warned her not to tell anyone about
their family. So when the king set the evil Haman over his princes and commanded
everyone to kneel before him, there was trouble - - Queen Esther’s cousin
Mordecai refused to bow down! Mordecai realized the Persians worshipped their
gods through their rulers and it would be wrong for him to worship them that
Letters soon were sent out decreeing that all Jews should be killed on a certain day. Mordecai was horrified. He sent Esther a copy of the letter, urging her to ask the king for help. But Esther was afraid. The king had not sent for her for thirty days - - he could put her to death for going to him without being called. So Mordecai sent her another message, saying, “…if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to kingdom for such a time as this?
“I will go to the king, which is against the law,” Esther replied. “And if I perish, I perish!” The king, however, received Esther kindly. He promised her anything she wanted, up to half of his kingdom. But instead of telling him everything then she invited him and the wicked Haman to a feast the next day. After they had eaten, she invited them both back a second time, promising to tell her problem.
Haman was flattered to eat with the queen and king, but seeing Mordecai when he left the palace spoiled everything. That night his wife and friends advised him to get rid of Mordecai - - he should make a high gallows and ask the king to hang Mordecai on it. So Haman built a gallows fifty cubits high for everyone to see. Then matters took an unexpected turn.
The next day Queen Esther shocked the king by begging him for her life and the lives of her people. “For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated!” she exclaimed.
Ahasuerus listened in disbelief. “Who is he, and where is he, who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing?” he demanded angrily.
“The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” Esther declared. This made the king so angry he got up and left the feast. Now it was Haman’s time to be afraid. Terrified, he fell upon Esther’s couch, pleading for mercy. And when the king returned, he thought his evil ruler was assaulting his queen.
Immediately his servants covered Haman’s head. “Look,” one told the king, “The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai…is standing at the house of Haman.” “Hang him on it,” ordered the king. So the proud Haman was hanged on his own gallows in the sight of all Shushan.
No law of the Medes and Persians could be changed, so King Ahasuerus made another law giving Jews everywhere permission to gather weapons and protect themselves when the attack from their enemies came.
And so it was that the brave, beautiful queen Esther helped to save the Lord’s people.
Talking it Over:
1. This bad time for the Jews was caused by Haman’s prejudice toward them. Talk about the ways people show their prejudices today - - by judging people by their race, how they look, how much money they have or how intelligent they are. Why is everyone special? How should we treat everyone?
2. Talk about other exciting things in the book of Esther.
3. In his second law, the king told the Jews they could take all the wealth of their enemies who attacked them. But the Jews would not. Why?
“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
How can each of us be important in helping others?