Esther- The woman who saved her people from genocide
Bible Reference- Book of Esther
Family Background- Her father was called Abihail, who was the Uncle of Mordecai. When her parents died, Mordecai her cousin, took care of her and took her as his daughter
Name meaning- Esther means star in Persian. The biblical meaning of Esther is hidden or secretive. Her original Hebrew name Hadassah means myrtle.
Who is Esther?
We are introduced to Esther in Esther 2:7 as Hadassah, where Mordecai took her as daughter as her parents died. She was also known as Esther. The Bible describes her as a young woman who had a lovely figure and was beautiful.
The story is that King Xerxes had a feast for 180 days where he displayed his wealth of his kingdom. After this he had a banquet for seven days. He summons Queen Vashti in order for her to show her beauty off to the people and the nobles. However she refuses. King Xerxes banishes her and she is punished to not enter the presence of the King. A new Queen is sought and Esther is chosen. Esther did not reveal her nationality or family background as Mordecai forbidden her not to do so. Mordecai uncovers a conspiracy, during his time sitting at the King’s gate. Two of the King’s officers conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai tells Queen Esther who then tells the King, giving credit to Mordecai.
After these events King Xerxes honours Haman, giving him a position higher than any noble. All royal officials had to bow down to him. However Mordecai refused. Haman was angry. When he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews in King Xerxes’ kingdom.
Mordecai calls on Esther to talk to the King. However the King does not know of Esther’s background. Esther is reluctant to go to the King. Remember, to approach her husband without permission she risked death. She would be breaking the law and be punished by death. Mordecai reminds her of background and purpose:
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther then replied to Mordecai, to tell everyone in Susa to fast and pray for three days. She also said will do the same and after this she would go to the King.
Esther then entered the King’s court. The King was pleased with her so she requested to have a banquet with the King and Haman (she said she would give her petition at the banquet). So Haman got cocky and did ‘guy guy’ because he had been asked to attend dinner with the beautiful Queen Esther. He saw Mordecai who again did not bow to me. Haman’s wife suggested to him and his friends that he should set a 75 ft (23 m) pole for Mordecai to be hanged on.
The King the following night couldn’t sleep. He read the records of his reign and he found that Mordecai had exposed the officers who conspired to assassinate the King. The King asked Haman what should this man receive for his good work. Haman without realising it is Mordecai, told the King he should have a royal robe, sit on the house and be paraded through the city. When Haman realised he was sad and angry.
At the banquet Queen Esther told her husband King Xerxes of Haman’s evil plans to destroy the Jews (Queen Esther’s people) and kill Mordecai. The King was angry and the pole that Haman planned for Mordecai, was instead set up for him.
The King gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate and she appointed Mordecai over it. The King gave Mordecai his signet ring which he reclaimed from Haman. The King also reversed Haman’s plans to destroy the Jews which was written into an edict. The decree granted all Jews across his kingdom the right to assemble and protect themselves.
Why is Esther great?
From Esther’s story you can tell what an extraordinary woman she was. She risked her life and interceded on behalf of her people to the King where she could have been punished to death. She knew the risks ‘And if I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4:16) yet she was willing to sacrifice her life in order for her people to be saved. Esther’s bravery, courage and faith in God highlights the strong belief she had in God. She was committed in fasting and praying, knowing that fasting gives favour and protection from God. She allowed God to use her in the position she was in to win deliverance for her people.
Esther, was a rare individual. She was chosen as a candidate for the King who must not only have been charmed by her beauty but her personality.Whilst reading this, I noticed the King was always eager to listen to his wife, Queen Esther. He greeted her with love and was willing to understand everything she put across. This demonstrates that Esther was a great wife too.
What can we learn from Esther?
We can learn from Esther’s obedience. Mordecai told her not to reveal her background and asked her to intercede on behalf of the Jews. She did whatever he asked. Imagine, as a young woman without no father and mother. Our parents from birth teach us how to respect others. However, Mordecai as her adoptive father took on that role. I learnt from this, the importance of obedience. Sometimes young people, even old can disagree with their parents, but look where Esther’s obedience brought her.
Furthermore, we can learn from Esther’s character from her determination to seek God’s guidance in her time of difficulty. We can be going through difficult times and forget the tools of prayer and fasting. In our trials and tribulations, we may lose hope and faith thinking what is the point. However Esther sought after God and we should learn from this.
Even though Esther kept her background a secret. She never forget where she came from. She was not ashamed in the hour of trouble to reveal who she was. We can learn from this that we should always love who we are, which includes our heritage and background.
From Esther’s story we learn that God can take you from nothing to something. She was a young woman called Hadassah from Susa but then became Queen Esther of Persia. He had a plan for Esther, just like he has a plan for you and I. God used Esther as an instrument for his glorious purpose, to deliver the Jews and give them their rights. The same way God will use you and I. God put Esther as a Queen to do this. God can put us in a similar position for a purpose. Esther’s life is a demonstration of how God works. God puts each one of us into a position for his plan and purpose. We may never know what he is doing and think to ourselves- Why this? Why here? Why now? Why am I doing this? Then when everything comes together, then we look back and say to ourselves God I understand why you did it like that. She was put as a candidate as ‘for such a time as this’, she was given to the King as ‘for such a time as this’, she was the Queen as a ‘time for this’. Whatever position you are in, believe it is ‘for such a time as this’.
Eunice- The woman whose her son became a famous evangelist
Family Background-Eunice was the daughter of Lois. The Bible does not mention who Eunice’s father is. Eunice married a Greek.
Name Meaning- Eunice means good victory
Who is Eunice?
Eunice was Timothy’s mother.
Why is Eunice great?
Esther is great because of the way she brought up her son. The Bible tells us that Timothy’s faith first came through his grandmother Lois and then Eunice. This means Eunice trained her son with scriptures. The bible reminds us to teach children in the way they should go. Paul speaks highly of Timothy, as his ‘dear son’. Eunice must have been proud that her son’s who was an evangelist, had an companion such as Paul. Looking at Timothy, Eunice did a great job.
What can we learn from Eunice?
We can learn from Eunice that we should bring up our children in the right way. She made sure that from birth, Timothy was surrounded by the ways of God. We can take this from Eunice, that if we have positive Christian training in our homes our children would not depart from it.