A long time ago lived a woman named Haddasah, but most people know her by the name Esther. She was raised by her uncle Mordecai since she had no parents. Mordecai and Esther lived in a very troublesome period in history. At the time, King Xerxes was in power and his empire stretched far and wide across the land.
King Xerxes was looking for another wife since he put away his first one, and many lovely young women were taken into his palace for him to choose from. Esther was also taken. She pleased the king well and he chose her as his wife. Yahweh caused this situation for a good reason.
Mordecai heard about a plot to destroy the Hebrew people by King Xerxes evil chancellor, Haman. Haman was angry because Mordecai refused to bow down to him and give him homage. Mordecai quickly told Esther about the plot. He reminded her that she, too, was a Hebrew and that she should not think that she would escape.
So Esther fasted for 3 days and prayed to Yahweh. She then put on her beautiful robes and approached the king.
When the king saw her, he allowed her to come to him. In those days, one could not approach a king unless he or she found favor with him. Esther invited him to a banquet which the king agreed to attend.
After feasting for two days, she revealed to him Haman’s deadly plot to destroy the people. She also told the king that she was a Hebrew and would die too since she would only bow before Yahweh.
Haman was hanged instead of Mordecai on the gallows he had built. So Yahweh had protected His people. Even Mordecai’s wife knew that Haman would lose for she reminded him, “Since Mordecai is a Hebrew, you cannot prevail against him—you will surely come to ruin! (See Esther 6:13)
So what can we know about King Xerxes? Besides being mentioned in Scripture, other historical records also mention him by name. Xerxes was of Persian ancestry. Some portray him as wildly impulsive. In one account, he “punished” the sea to 300 lashes for destroying a bridge he had been building during a storm! And of course he beheaded the men who were building the bridge. In another account, he had received a contribution from a loyal subject to go on a military expedition. Xerxes was so happy that he gave the money back and also contributed some of his own money. But when the same man requested his young son be released from the draft, it is said that the king became so angry that he had the young man cut in two pieces and had his soldiers march between the pieces.
So Esther was not married to a gentle king. She was probably terrified when approaching him. Much can be said about her upbringing. Since Mordecai raised her from childhood, she certainly was taught to worship Yahweh alone. Mordecai and his family had come to Persia as captives during Jerusalem’s last battle with Babylon. Even while living in a foreign land, Mordecai succeeded in business. When hard times came, Mordecai was very brave. He stood up for his beliefs. Even when he found out about Haman’s evil plot, he encouraged Esther to also take a stand. He knew there was a risk to both their lives, but he still did the right thing. His bravery led to a dramatic improvement in the lives of his people. They trusted him as we can read in Esther 10:3, “Mordecai the [Hebrew] was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the [Hebrews], and held in high esteem by his many fellow [Hebrews], because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the [Hebrews].”
SCRIPTURE TO REMEMBER:
"Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him."