1-3. (a) Why might Esther have felt intimidated by the prospect of approaching her husband? (b) We will discuss what questions regarding Esther?
ESTHER tried to calm her heart as she approached the courtyard in the palace at Shushan. It was not easy. Everything about the castle was designed to inspire awe—its multicolored relief sculptures of winged bulls, archers, and lions of glazed brickwork, its fluted stone columns and imposing statues, even its position atop huge platforms near the snowcapped Zagros Mountains and overlooking the pure waters of the river Choaspes. All of it was intended to remind each visitor of the immense power of the man whom Esther was going to see, the one who called himself “the great king.” He was also her husband.
2 Husband! How different Ahasuerus was from the kind of husband any faithful Jewish girl might have expected!* He did not look to such examples as Abraham, a man who humbly accepted God’s direction to listen to Sarah, his wife. (Gen. 21:12) The king knew little or nothing of Esther’s God, Jehovah, or of His Law. Ahasuerus knew Persian law, though, including a law forbidding the very thing that Esther was about to do. What was that? Well, the law said that anyone who appeared before the Persian monarch without first being summoned by the king was liable to death. Esther had not been summoned, but she was going to the king anyway. As she drew near to the inner courtyard, where she would be visible from the king’s throne, she may have felt that she was walking to her death.—Read Esther 4:11; 5:1.
3 Why did she take such a risk? And what can we learn from the faith of this remarkable woman? First, let us see how Esther got into the unusual position of being a queen in Persia.
4. What was Esther’s background, and how did she come to live with her cousin Mordecai?
4 Esther was an orphan. We know very little of the parents who named her Hadassah, a Hebrew word for “myrtle,” a lovely white-blossomed shrub. When Esther’s parents died, one of her relatives, a kindly man named Mordecai, took pity on the child. He was her cousin, but Mordecai was much older. He brought Esther into his home and treated her as his own daughter.—Esther 2:5-7, 15.
5, 6. (a) How did Mordecai raise Esther? (b) What kind of life did Esther and Mordecai lead in Shushan?
5 Mordecai and Esther lived as Jewish exiles in that Persian capital, where they probably had to deal with a measure of disdain because of their religion and the Law they tried to follow. But Esther surely drew closer to her cousin as he taught her about Jehovah, the merciful God who had rescued His people from trouble many times in the past—and would do so again. (Lev. 26:44, 45) Clearly, a loving and loyal bond grew between Esther and Mordecai.
6 Mordecai evidently worked as some kind of official at the castle at Shushan, regularly sitting within its gate, along with other servants of the king. (Esther 2:19, 21; 3:3) How the young Esther passed her time as she grew up, we can only guess, although it seems safe to say that she took good care of her older cousin and his home, which was likely situated in the humbler quarters across the river from the royal castle. Perhaps she enjoyed going to the market in Shushan, where goldsmiths, silversmiths, and other merchants displayed their wares. Esther could not have imagined that such luxuries would later become commonplace to her; she had no idea of the future in store for her.
“Beautiful in Appearance”
7. Why was Vashti deposed as queen, and what was the result?
7 One day, Shushan was buzzing with gossip about turmoil in the household of the king. At a grand feast, where Ahasuerus was entertaining his noblemen with sumptuous food and wine, the king decided to summon his beautiful queen, Vashti, who was feasting separately with the women. But Vashti refused to come. Humiliated and enraged, the king asked his advisers how Vashti should be punished. The result? She was deposed as queen. The king’s servants began searching throughout the land for beautiful young virgins; from among them the king would select a new queen.—Esther 1:1–2:4.
8. (a) Why might Mordecai have felt some concern about Esther as she grew up? (b) How do you think we might apply the Bible’s balanced view of physical beauty? (See also Proverbs 31:30.)
8 We may imagine Mordecai gazing fondly at Esther from time to time and noting with a mixture of pride and concern that his little cousin was grown-up—and had turned out to be a remarkable beauty. “The young woman was pretty in form and beautiful in appearance,” we read. (Esther 2:7) The Bible presents a balanced view of physical beauty—it is delightful, but it needs to be coupled with wisdom and humility. Otherwise, it may breed vanity, pride, and other ugly traits of the heart. (Read Proverbs 11:22.) Have you ever seen that to be true? In Esther’s case, what would beauty turn out to be—an asset or a liability? Time would tell.
9. (a) What happened when the king’s servants noticed Esther, and why must her parting from Mordecai have been difficult? (b) Why did Mordecai allow Esther to marry a pagan unbeliever? (Include the box.)
9 The king’s servants noticed Esther. They gathered her up in their search, taking her away from Mordecai and off to the grand palace across the river. (Esther 2:8) It must have been a difficult parting, for the two were like father and daughter. Mordecai would not have wanted his adopted daughter to marry any unbeliever, even a king, but events were out of his control.* How eagerly Esther must have listened to Mordecai’s words of advice before she was taken away! As she was led to Shushan the castle, her mind was filled with questions. What kind of life lay ahead of her?
She Won Favor “in the Eyes of Everyone Seeing Her”
10, 11. (a) How might Esther’s new environment easily have affected her? (b) How did Mordecai show his concern for Esther’s welfare?
10 Esther found herself ushered into a world that was entirely new and strange to her. She was among “many young women” who had been gathered from far and wide in the Persian Empire. Their customs, languages, and attitudes must have varied greatly. Placed under the charge of an official named Hegai, the young women were to undergo an extensive beauty treatment, a yearlong program that included massages with fragrant oils. (Esther 2:8, 12) Such an environment and lifestyle might easily have bred an obsession with personal appearance among those young women, along with vanity and competitiveness. How was Esther affected?
11 No one on earth could have been more concerned about Esther than Mordecai was. We read that day by day, he made his way as near as he could to the house of the women and endeavored to learn of Esther’s welfare. (Esther 2:11) As bits of information trickled out to him, perhaps through cooperative servants in the household, he must have beamed with fatherly pride. Why?
12, 13. (a) What impression did Esther make on those around her? (b) Why would Mordecai have been pleased to learn that Esther had not revealed her Jewish heritage?
12 Esther so impressed Hegai that he treated her with great loving-kindness, giving her seven servant girls and the best place in the house of the women. The account even says: “All the while Esther was continually gaining favor in the eyes of everyone seeing her.” (Esther 2:9, 15) Would beauty alone have impressed everyone so profoundly? No, there was much more to Esther than that.
13 For instance, we read: “Esther had not told about her people or about her relatives, for Mordecai himself had laid the command upon her that she should not tell.” (Esther 2:10) Mordecai had instructed the girl to be discreet about her Jewish heritage; he no doubt saw that among Persian royalty, there was much prejudice against his people. What a pleasure it was for him to learn that now, even though Esther was out of his sight, she still showed the same wise and obedient spirit!
14. How can young people today imitate Esther’s example?
14 Young people today can likewise bring joy to the hearts of parents and guardians. When out of their parents’ sight—even if surrounded by people who are shallow, immoral, or vicious—they can resist bad influences and stick to the standards that they know are right. When they do so, like Esther, they make the heart of their heavenly Father rejoice.—Read Proverbs 27:11.
15, 16. (a) How did Esther win the king’s love? (b) Why might the changes in Esther’s life have been challenging?
15 When the time came for Esther to be presented to the king, she was given the liberty to select any items that she thought she might need, perhaps to beautify herself further. Modestly, though, she asked for nothing beyond what Hegai mentioned to her. (Esther 2:15) She probably realized that beauty alone would not win the king’s heart; a modest and humble spirit would prove a far rarer commodity in that court. Was she right?
16 The account answers: “The king came to love Esther more than all the other women, so that she gained more favor and loving-kindness before him than all the other virgins. And he proceeded to put the royal headdress upon her head and make her queen instead of Vashti.” (Esther 2:17) It must have been hard for this humble Jewish girl to adjust to the change in her life—she was the new queen, wife to the most powerful monarch on earth at that time! Did her new position go to her head, filling her with pride? Far from it!
17. (a) In what ways did Esther remain obedient to her adoptive father? (b) Why is Esther’s example an important one for us today?
17 Esther remained obedient to her adoptive father, Mordecai. She kept her connection to the Jewish people a secret. Further, when Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Ahasuerus, Esther obediently passed his warning along to the king, and the plotters were foiled. (Esther 2:20-23) She still expressed faith in her God by showing a humble, obedient spirit. How we need Esther’s example today, when obedience is rarely valued as a virtue and when disobedience and rebellion are the norm! But people of genuine faith treasure obedience, as Esther did.
Esther’s Faith Under Test
18. (a) Why might Mordecai have refused to bow down to Haman? (See also footnote.) (b) How do men and women of faith today imitate the example of Mordecai?
18 A man named Haman rose to prominence in the court of Ahasuerus. The king appointed him prime minister, making Haman his principal adviser and the second in command in the empire. The king even decreed that all who saw this official must bow down to him. (Esther 3:1-4) For Mordecai, that law posed a problem. He believed in obeying the king but not at the cost of disrespecting God. You see, Haman was an Agagite. That evidently means that he was a descendant of Agag, the Amalekite king who was executed by God’s prophet Samuel. (1 Sam. 15:33) So wicked were the Amalekites that they had made themselves enemies of Jehovah and Israel. As a people, the Amalekites stood condemned by God.* (Deut. 25:19) How could a faithful Jew bow down to an Amalekite? Mordecai could not. He stood his ground. To this day, men and women of faith have risked their lives to adhere to this principle: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
19. What did Haman want to do, and how did he go about persuading the king?
19 Haman was enraged. But it was not enough for him to find a way to kill off Mordecai. He wanted to exterminate all of Mordecai’s people! Haman persuaded the king by painting a dark portrait of the Jews. Without naming them, he implied that they were inconsequential, a people “scattered and separated among the peoples.” Even worse, he said that they did not obey the king’s laws; hence, they were dangerous rebels. He proposed to donate to the king’s treasury an immense sum of money to cover the expense of slaughtering all the Jews in the empire.* Ahasuerus gave Haman the king’s own signet ring to seal any order that he had in mind.—Esther 3:5-10.
20, 21. (a) How did Haman’s proclamation affect the Jews throughout the Persian Empire, including Mordecai? (b) What did Mordecai implore Esther to do?
20 Soon messengers were speeding on horseback to every corner of the vast empire, delivering what amounted to a death sentence on the Jewish people. Imagine the impact of such a proclamation when it reached far-off Jerusalem, where a remnant of Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon were struggling to rebuild a city that still had no wall to defend it. Perhaps Mordecai thought of them, as well as of his own friends and relatives in Shushan, when he heard the terrible news. Distraught, he ripped his clothes, wore sackcloth and placed ashes on his head, and cried aloud in the middle of the city. Haman, however, sat drinking with the king, unmoved by the grief he had stirred up among the many Jews and their friends in Shushan.—Read Esther 3:12–4:1.
21 Mordecai knew that he had to act. But what could he do? Esther heard of his distress and sent clothes to him, but Mordecai refused to take comfort. Maybe he had long wondered why his God, Jehovah, had allowed dear Esther to be taken from him and made the queen of a pagan ruler. Now the reason seemed to be emerging. Mordecai sent a message to the queen, imploring Esther to intercede with the king, to stand up “for her own people.”—Esther 4:4-8.
22. Why was Esther afraid to appear before her husband the king? (See also footnote.)
22 Esther’s heart must have sunk when she heard that message. Here was her greatest test of faith. She was afraid, as she freely revealed in her reply to Mordecai. She reminded him of the king’s law. To appear before the king unsummoned meant a death sentence. Only if the king held out his golden scepter was the offender spared. And did Esther have any reason to expect such clemency, especially in view of Vashti’s fate when she had refused the king’s command to appear? Esther told Mordecai that the king had not invited her to see him in 30 days! Such neglect left her plenty of reason to wonder if she had fallen out of favor with this capricious monarch.*—Esther 4:9-11.
23. (a) What did Mordecai say to bolster Esther’s faith? (b) Why is Mordecai worthy of imitation?
23 Mordecai replied firmly to bolster Esther’s faith. He assured her that if she failed to act, salvation for the Jews would arise from some other source. But how could she expect to be spared once the persecution gathered force? Here Mordecai showed his profound faith in Jehovah, who would never let His people be exterminated and His promises go unfulfilled. (Josh. 23:14) Then Mordecai asked Esther: “Who is there knowing whether it is for a time like this that you have attained to royal dignity?” (Esther 4:12-14) Is not Mordecai worthy of imitation? He trusted completely in his God, Jehovah. Do we?—Prov. 3:5, 6.
A Faith Stronger Than the Fear of Death
24. How did Esther show faith and courage?
24 For Esther, the time of decision had arrived. She asked Mordecai to get her countrymen to join her in a three-day fast, concluding her message with a statement that resonates down to this day in its simple faith and courage: “In case I must perish, I must perish.” (Esther 4:15-17) She must have prayed more fervently in those three days than she ever had in her life. Finally, though, the moment came. She dressed in her very best royal finery, doing all she could to appeal to the king. Then she went.
25. Describe how events unfolded as Esther appeared before her husband.
25 As described at the outset of this chapter, Esther made her way to the king’s court. We can only imagine the anxious thoughts and fervent prayers filling her mind and heart. She entered the courtyard, where she could see Ahasuerus on his throne. Perhaps she tried to read the expression on his face—the face that was framed by the carefully tended, symmetrical curls of his hair and of his squared beard. If she had to wait, it must have felt like an eternity. But the moment passed—her husband saw her. He was surely surprised, but his expression softened. He held out his golden scepter!—Esther 5:1, 2.
26. Why do true Christians need courage like Esther’s, and why was her work only beginning?
26 Esther had gained an audience, a hearing ear. She had taken a stand for her God and for her people, setting a beautiful example of faith for all servants of God down through time. True Christians today cherish such examples. Jesus said that his genuine followers would be marked by self-sacrificing love. (Read John 13:34, 35.) Showing such love often requires courage like Esther’s. But even after Esther stood up for God’s people that day, her work was only beginning. How would she convince the king that his favorite adviser, Haman, was a wicked schemer? How could she help to save her people? We will consider these questions in the following chapter.
Ahasuerus is widely thought to have been Xerxes I, who ruled the Persian Empire early in the fifth century B.C.E.
See the box “Questions About Esther,” in Chapter 16.
Haman may have been among the very last of the Amalekites, since “the remnant” of them had been destroyed back in the days of King Hezekiah.—1 Chron. 4:43.
Haman offered 10,000 silver talents, worth hundreds of millions of dollars today. If Ahasuerus was Xerxes I, the money might have made Haman’s offer more appealing. Xerxes needed a vast store of funds to carry out his long-proposed but ultimately disastrous war against Greece.
Xerxes I was known for his mercurial, violent temper. The Greek historian Herodotus recorded some examples from Xerxes’ war against Greece. The king ordered that a pontoon bridge of ships be built across the strait of Hellespont. When a storm ruined the bridge, Xerxes ordered the engineers beheaded and even had his men “punish” the Hellespont by whipping the water while an insulting proclamation was read aloud. In the same campaign, when a wealthy man begged that his son be excused from joining the army, Xerxes had the son cut in half, his body displayed as a warning.
1-3. (a) What was it like for Esther to approach her husband’s throne? (b) How did the king respond to Esther’s visit?
ESTHER slowly approached the throne, her heart racing. Imagine a hush falling over the great royal chamber in the Persian palace of Shushan, a silence so profound that Esther could hear her own soft footsteps and the rustling of her royal garments. She could not let her attention wander to the grandeur of the royal court, the graceful columns, the richly carved ceiling of cedars imported from distant Lebanon. She trained all her attention on the man seated on the throne, the man who held her life in his hands.
2 The king watched intently as Esther approached, extending his golden scepter toward her. It was a simple gesture, but it meant Esther’s life, for by it the king excused her from the offense she had just committed—that of appearing before him without a royal invitation. As she came to the throne, Esther reached out and gratefully touched the top of the scepter.—Esther 5:1, 2.
3 Everything about King Ahasuerus bespoke his immense wealth and power. The royal garb of the Persian monarchs of those times reputedly cost the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet, Esther could see some warmth in her husband’s eyes; in his own way, he did love her. He said: “What do you have, O Esther the queen, and what is your request? To the half of the kingship—let it even be given to you!”—Esther 5:3.
4. What challenges lay ahead of Esther?
4 Esther had already shown remarkable faith and courage; she had come before the king to protect her people from a plot to wipe them all out. So far, she had met with success, but greater challenges lay ahead. She had to convince this proud monarch that his most trusted adviser was a wicked man who had duped him into condemning Esther’s people to death. How would she persuade him, and what can we learn from her faith?
She Wisely Chose “a Time to Speak”
5 Should Esther have revealed to the king the whole problem in front of his court? Doing so might have humiliated him and given his adviser Haman time to dispute her charges. So, what did Esther do? Centuries earlier, wise King Solomon was inspired to write: “For everything there is an appointed time, . . . a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.” (Eccl. 3:1, 7) We may imagine Esther’s adoptive father, the faithful man Mordecai, teaching the young woman such principles as she grew up under his care. Esther certainly understood the importance of choosing carefully the “time to speak.”
6 Esther said: “If to the king it does seem good, let the king with Haman come today to the banquet that I have made for him.” (Esther 5:4) The king agreed and had Haman summoned. Can you see how wisely Esther spoke? She preserved her husband’s dignity and created a more suitable setting for revealing her concerns to him.—Read Proverbs 10:19.
7, 8. What was Esther’s first banquet like, yet why did she delay in speaking up to the king?
7 No doubt Esther prepared that feast carefully, seeing to it that in every detail she catered to her husband’s preferences. The banquet included fine wine to encourage a happy mood. (Ps. 104:15) Ahasuerus enjoyed himself, and he was moved to ask Esther again what her petition might be. Was this now the time to speak?
8 Esther thought not. Rather, she invited the king and Haman to come to a second banquet, on the following day. (Esther 5:7, 8) Why did she delay? Remember, all of Esther’s people were facing death by the king’s decree. With so much at stake, Esther had to be sure that the time was right. So she waited, creating yet another opportunity to show her husband how highly she regarded him.
9. What is the value of patience, and how can we imitate Esther’s example in this regard?
9 Patience is a rare and precious quality. Though distressed and eager to speak her mind, Esther patiently waited for the right moment. We can learn much from her example, for all of us have likely seen wrongs that need to be put right. If we seek to convince someone in authority to address a problem, we may need to imitate Esther and be patient. Proverbs 25:15 says: “By patience a commander is induced, and a mild tongue itself can break a bone.” If we wait patiently for the right moment and speak mildly, as Esther did, even opposition as hard as bone may be broken. Did Esther’s God, Jehovah, bless her patience and wisdom?
Patience Paves the Way for Justice
10, 11. Why did Haman’s mood change after he left the first banquet, and what did his wife and friends urge him to do?
10 Esther’s patience paved the way for a remarkable chain of events. Haman left the first banquet in high spirits, “joyful and merry of heart” that the king and queen favored him so. As Haman passed through the castle gate, though, his eyes fell on Mordecai, that Jew who still refused to pay him special homage. As we noted in the preceding chapter, Mordecai’s reasons had nothing to do with disrespect but, rather, with his conscience and his relationship with Jehovah God. Yet, Haman “was immediately filled with rage.”—Esther 5:9.
11 When Haman told his wife and friends of this slight, they urged him to prepare a huge stake, over 72 feet (22 m) tall, and then to ask the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on it. Haman liked their idea and immediately set about the task.—Esther 5:12-14.
12. Why did the king have the official records of State read aloud to him, and what did he learn as a result?
12 Meanwhile, the king had an unusual night. “The king’s sleep fled,” the Bible tells us, so he had the official records of State read aloud to him. The reading included the report of an assassination plot against Ahasuerus. He remembered the affair; the would-be murderers were caught and executed. What, though, about the man who had exposed the plot—Mordecai? Suddenly alert, the king asked how Mordecai had been rewarded. The answer? Nothing at all had been done for the man.—Read Esther 6:1-3.
13, 14. (a) How did things start to go wrong for Haman? (b) What did Haman’s wife and friends tell him?
13 Agitated, the king asked what court officials were available to help him correct this oversight. Of all people, Haman was in the king’s court—early, it seems, because he was eager to secure permission to execute Mordecai. But before Haman could make his request, the king asked him how best to honor a man who had won the king’s favor. Haman assumed that the king had him in mind. So Haman devised a lavish honor: Clothe the man in royal garb, and have a high official parade him around Shushan on the king’s own horse, calling out the man’s praises for all to hear. Imagine the expression on Haman’s face when he learned that the man to be honored was Mordecai! And whom did the king assign to sing out Mordecai’s praises? Haman!—Esther 6:4-10.
14 Haman grudgingly carried out what to him was an odious duty and then rushed home in distress. His wife and friends said that this turn of events could only bode ill; he was bound to fail in his fight against Mordecai the Jew.—Esther 6:12, 13.
15. (a) What good came of Esther’s patience? (b) Why is it wise for us to show “a waiting attitude”?
15 Because Esther was patient, waiting that one extra day to present her request to the king, Haman was given time to lay the basis for his own downfall. And might not Jehovah God have been behind the king’s sleeplessness? (Prov. 21:1) Little wonder that God’s Word encourages us to show “a waiting attitude”! (Read Micah 7:7.) When we wait on God, we may find that his solutions to our problems far exceed anything that we might have devised ourselves.
She Spoke Up Bravely
16, 17. (a) When did Esther’s “time to speak” come? (b) How did Esther differ from Vashti, the king’s former wife?
16 Esther dared not test the king’s patience any further; at her second banquet, she had to tell all. But how? As it turned out, the king gave her the opportunity, asking again what her petition might be. (Esther 7:2) Esther’s “time to speak” had come.
17 We may imagine Esther saying a silent prayer to her God before uttering these words: “If I have found favor in your eyes, O king, and if to the king it does seem good, let there be given me my own soul at my petition and my people at my request.” (Esther 7:3) Notice that she assured the king that she respected his judgment regarding what seemed good. How Esther differed from Vashti, the king’s former wife, who had purposely humiliated her husband! (Esther 1:10-12) Further, Esther did not criticize the king for his folly of trusting in Haman. Rather, she begged the king to protect her from a danger to her own life.
18. How did Esther reveal the problem to the king?
18 That request surely moved and amazed the king. Who would dare endanger his queen? Esther went on: “We have been sold, I and my people, to be annihilated, killed and destroyed. Now if we had been sold for mere men slaves and for mere maidservants, I should have kept silent. But the distress is not appropriate when with damage to the king.” (Esther 7:4) Note that Esther frankly exposed the problem, yet she added that she would have kept quiet about it if mere slavery had been the threat. This genocide, though, would be too costly to the king himself to keep quiet about it.
19. What can we learn from Esther about the art of persuasion?
19 Esther’s example teaches us much about the art of persuasion. If you ever need to lay bare a serious problem to a loved one or even to a person in authority, a combination of patience, respect, and candor can be of great help.—Prov. 16:21, 23.
20, 21. (a) How did Esther expose Haman, eliciting what reaction from the king? (b) How did Haman act when exposed as a scheming coward?
20 Ahasuerus demanded: “Who is this, and just where is the one who has emboldened himself to do that way?” Imagine Esther pointing a finger as she said: “The man, the adversary and enemy, is this bad Haman.” The accusation hung in the air. Terror filled Haman. Picture the volatile monarch’s face coloring as he realized that his trusted adviser had duped him into signing an order that would destroy his own beloved wife! The king stormed out into the garden to regain his composure.—Esther 7:5-7.
21 Haman, exposed as the scheming coward that he was, groveled at the queen’s feet. When the king came back into the room and saw Haman on Esther’s couch pleading with her, he angrily accused Haman of attempting to rape the queen in the king’s own home. That sounded the death knell for Haman. He was taken away, his face covered. One of the king’s officials then spoke up, telling the king of the huge stake that Haman had intended for Mordecai. Ahasuerus immediately ordered that Haman himself be hanged on it.—Esther 7:8-10.
22. How can Esther’s example teach us never to despair, turn cynical, or lose faith?
22 In today’s unjust world, it is easy to imagine that we will never see justice done. Have you ever felt that way? Esther never despaired, never turned cynical, never lost faith. When the time came, she spoke up bravely for what was right, and she trusted in Jehovah to do the rest. Let us do the same! Jehovah has not changed since Esther’s day. He is still more than able to catch the wicked and cunning in their own traps, just as he did Haman.—Read Psalm 7:11-16.
She Acted Unselfishly for Jehovah and for His People
23. (a) How did the king reward Mordecai and Esther? (b) How was Jacob’s deathbed prophecy over Benjamin fulfilled? (See the box “A Prophecy Fulfilled.”)
23 At last, the king learned who Mordecai was—not only his loyal protector against assassination but also the adoptive father of Esther. Ahasuerus bestowed Haman’s position as prime minister on Mordecai. Haman’s house—including his immense fortune—the king gave to Esther, who placed Mordecai over it.—Esther 8:1, 2.
24, 25. (a) Why could Esther not relax after Haman’s plot was exposed? (b) How did Esther risk her life once more?
24 Now that Esther and Mordecai were safe, could the queen relax? Only if she were selfish. At that moment, Haman’s decree to kill all the Jews was making its way to every corner of the empire. Haman had cast lots, or Pur—evidently a form of spiritism—to determine the opportune time to carry out this vicious attack. (Esther 9:24-26) The day was yet months away, but it was fast approaching. Could disaster still be averted?
25 Esther unselfishly risked her life again, appearing before the king once more without an official invitation. This time, she wept for her people, pleading with her husband to revoke the terrible edict. But laws passed in the Persian monarch’s name could not be revoked. (Dan. 6:12, 15) So the king empowered Esther and Mordecai to enact a new law. A second proclamation was sent out, giving the Jews the right to defend themselves. Riders sped to every part of the empire, taking this good news to the Jews. Hope was kindled anew in many hearts. (Esther 8:3-16) We may imagine the Jews throughout that vast empire arming themselves and preparing for battle, which they could never have done without that new edict. More important, though, would “Jehovah of armies” be with his people?—1 Sam. 17:45.
26, 27. (a) How great and how thorough was the victory that Jehovah gave his people over their enemies? (b) What prophecy was fulfilled by the destruction of Haman’s sons?
26 When the chosen day finally came, God’s people were ready. Even many Persian officials were on their side now, as news had traveled far and wide about the new prime minister, Mordecai the Jew. Jehovah gave his people a great victory. He no doubt protected his people from terrible reprisals by handing their enemies a thorough defeat.*—Esther 9:1-6.
27 Furthermore, Mordecai would never be safe to preside over Haman’s house while the ten sons of that evil man still lived. They too were killed. (Esther 9:7-10) A Bible prophecy was thus fulfilled, for God had earlier foretold the complete destruction of the Amalekites, who had proved to be wicked enemies of his people. (Deut. 25:17-19) The sons of Haman may well have been among the very last of that condemned nation.
28, 29. (a) Why was it Jehovah’s will for Esther and her people to be involved in warfare? (b) Why is Esther’s example a blessing for us today?
28 Esther had to take on her young shoulders her share of very heavy burdens—such as royal edicts involving war and execution. It could not have been easy. But Jehovah’s will required that his people be protected from destruction; the nation of Israel was to produce the promised Messiah, the one source of hope for all mankind! (Gen. 22:18) Servants of God today are delighted to know that when the Messiah, Jesus, came to the earth, he forbade his followers from that time forward to take part in physical warfare.—Matt. 26:52.
29 Nonetheless, Christians do engage in spiritual warfare; Satan is ever more eager to destroy our faith in Jehovah God. (Read 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.) What a blessing to have Esther as an example! Like her, may we show faith by our wise and patient use of persuasion, by our courage, and by our unselfish willingness to stand up for God’s people.
The king allowed the Jews a second day to finish their conquest of their enemies. (Esther 9:12-14) Even today, the Jews commemorate that victory each year in the month of Adar, which corresponds to late February and early March. The festival is called Purim, named after the lots that Haman cast in his quest to destroy Israel.