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
way, too.The king’s servants knew Mordecai was a Jew and reported his
disobedience to Haman. This made Haman furious! How dare a Jew refuse to worship
him? Instead of punishing Mordecai, however, he decided to ask the king to get
the Jews killed throughout the kingdom. He told the king, “Their laws are
different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws.
Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain.” Haman offered the
king ten thousand talents of silver for having the Jews destroyed. And the
unsuspecting Ahasuerus agreed to Mordecai’s plan, never dreaming his beloved
wife could be murdered, too.
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
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?”
How can each of us be important in helping others?
Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times.
Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce
for use, but not for publication.