ESTHER’S STORY … PART 1 (INTRO AND CHAPTER 1)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
(NOTE: Ray C. Stedman’s book “The Queen and I” was a major source of inspiration for this series of articles on the Book of Esther.)
As Esther might have told it today…
Although my Hebrew name is Hadassah, which comes from our name for the myrtle tree, most people know me by my Persian name, Esther. This is the story of how I rose from an orphaned captive Jewish girl to become Queen of Persia, the most powerful nation of my day. Many “learned” people (Martin Luther was one) have expressed doubt that my story should even be in the Bible because it seems to have such a secular theme. As evidence of this they claim that the Name of God is never mentioned. But as I’ll show you His Name appears five times, although each time it’s hidden in the Hebrew text. In fact “Something Hidden” is a good sub-title for my story because as it unfolds you’ll see that there is much more hidden than just the Name of God. It was all placed here for your learning, as a reward for the diligent student.
Many years before I was born, my parents had been brought to Babylon from Jerusalem with all the other Jews during what’s now called the Babylonian Captivity, a 70 year judgment that began in 586 BC with the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. My parents died there when I was still a young girl, so my older cousin Mordecai raised me as his own. My story takes place after Cyrus the Persian had conquered Babylon and released my people from our servitude but before Ezra left with a large group of volunteers to begin rebuilding our Temple in Jerusalem and reestablishing our nation.
It was a glorious time of peace in the Persian Kingdom and the air felt fresher, the sky looked bluer and the stars brighter because of it. All of Persia’s enemies had been conquered, including the great Babylon, long thought to be invincible. With no external threat present, King Ahaseurus, also called Xerxes, decided to host a grand celebration honoring the peace. Inviting his governors and other officials from all over the kingdom (it stretched from India to Egypt and encompassed 127 provinces) he threw a bash that lasted a full 180 days and was capped off by a lavish 7-day banquet! On the last great day of the banquet the King was feeling no pain and after extolling the flawless beauty of his Queen, Vashti, he commanded his servants to bring her into the banquet hall so all his princes and nobles could feast their eyes on her and envy his good fortune.
You’d think the Queen would be thrilled to receive all that attention, but to everyone’s amazement, she refused to appear before them. To say the King was beside himself with anger would be a massive understatement. Nobody disobeyed the King of Persia and lived to tell about it! He and his nobles quickly agreed that if she wasn’t punished, all their wives would soon become disobedient. They advised him to banish Queen Vashti from his presence and find a new queen to replace her, and he agreed. That very day he issued the decree deposing Vashti, vowing never to see her again.
In the Hebrew text describing this event the first hidden appearance of God’s name appears. The first letters of the Hebrew words for “all the women will respect” in what is now called verse 20 of chapter 1 form the acrostic acronym YHVH, the initials of God’s Name. There are a total of four such appearances. This one is spoken about the queen. The next will be spoken by the queen (5:4) and like it is made up of first letters. In both cases where the acronym consists of first letters the initial facts of an event are being revealed.
The third one will be spoken about Haman, (5:13) and the fourth by Haman (7:7). These two are made up of the last letters of the Hebrew words in the respective passages, and both times the final stages of events are being described. All four of these acronyms consist of the letters YHVH.
The first and third acronyms are spoken by gentiles and read left to right like all languages west of Jerusalem. The second and fourth are spoken by Israelites and read right to left like all languages east of Jerusalem.
There is also a fifth one (7:5) made up of last letters but in reverse order, and in this one the letters used are EHVH, another form of the Name of God, the one He used at the burning bush and that we translate “I am”. That makes five concealed appearances of God’s name. Five is the number of grace and indeed my story is a beautiful illustration of the Grace of God, concealed in the Old Testament, but revealed in the New.
But back to my story. It wasn’t till later that I discovered Queen Vashti’s reason for disobeying. She had refused the King’s command to parade before all those drunken nobles at the banquet because he had commanded her to appear wearing her crown, and only her crown. No wonder she declined.
After the party ended and the King had sobered up, he remembered how much Vashti had meant to him, and he regretted banishing her. Her absence created a great longing in his heart, and he missed her sorely. But Persian laws cannot be reversed, even by the King, so he was stuck with his decision. His advisers, seeing how sad and lonely he was, suggested combing the Empire for beautiful virgins they could bring to the capital city to be carefully prepared for him. After auditioning them, he could choose his favorite and she could help him forget Vashti. The King agreed, and that’s how I came into his life.
Now’s a good time to stop and introduce something else hidden in my story. In addition to being an actual historical event, the highlights of which are celebrated among Jews even today in the Feast of Purim, my story is also an amazing model of man’s proper relationship with God. It’s like a parable where every character also represents someone else.
To reveal these hidden mysteries, we’ll have the King represent our soul; our mind, will, and emotion. The Queen represents our spirit, our eternal essence. My cousin Mordecai, who we’ll meet soon, represents the Holy Spirit. Haman, an evil adviser to the King who we’ll also meet next time, represents our sin nature, or flesh, under the influence of Satan. The Capital City is our body, and the Kingdom, our world; the surroundings over which we exert influence.
The proper order for spiritual communications has God at the top, and in descending order the Holy Spirit, our spirit, and then our soul. As created beings, we’re designed to operate on the basis of the revealed Word of God, communicated through the Holy Spirit to our spirit and then to our soul, where it’s translated into behavior. When that’s happening we’re at peace.
When our story opened, the King and Queen were on their thrones. There was peace in the Capital City and indeed throughout the Kingdom. This represents man, functioning according to design, ruling over his kingdom within the parameters of God’s revealed Word as communicated through His Spirit.
But in his impaired state, the King reversed the order of communications, allowing the emotions emanating from his soul to govern his behavior. His lust prompted an improper command, and his anger at her disobedience caused him to banish the Queen. He soon regretted it, feeling sad and lonely, but the damage was done. This is what happens when we let our feelings replace the Word of God as the guide for our behavior. The line of communications is broken and we begin to feel sad, and alone. We’ve lost contact with our Counselor. And as we’ll see, once that happens there is no peace, either within us or in our surroundings, because it opens the door for the sin nature, or flesh, to take charge.
Next time the search for a new Queen begins, Haman and Mordecai begin their battle for the King’s ear, and a conspiracy to assassinate the King leads to an even more sinister plot to destroy my people, the Jews. We’ll also see how ruthlessly the flesh battles to maintain authority over the spirit once we permit it. So hang on, we’re just getting started.
ESTHER’S STORY PART 2 (CHAPTERS 2-3)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
As Esther might have told it today…
As I mentioned last time Mordecai is my cousin, although he’s so much older than I am that he actually remembers life in Jerusalem before the Babylonians destroyed it. When my parents died he took me in and raised me as his own. Our age differences made him seem more like a grandfather to me than a cousin and I loved and trusted him completely.
As soon as news of the King’s search for a replacement Queen was made public, Mordecai convinced me to enter the competition and sent me to Hegai, the man in charge of the King’s harem. Hegai took a liking to me right away, recognizing that there was more to me than just a pretty face and pleasing figure. He arranged for me to have extra beauty treatments and a special diet, assigned 7 maids to look after me, and gave me the best apartment in the harem.
Mordecai had warned me not to reveal my nationality, so I didn’t keep to the “kosher” diet or other unique traditions of my people while in the harem. (My “Jewishness” was something else hidden in my story, at least for the time being.) Somehow, Mordecai was certain I would be selected from among all the candidates to be the next Queen of Persia, even though at this point the King didn’t even know I existed. I guess he thought that if my Jewish heritage became known, it would hurt my chances in the competition.
As I reflect on Mordecai’s certainty, I’m reminded of the debate in your time over predestination vs. free will. The King was going to exercise his own free will to make a random selection from among all the girls in the competition, but my cousin already knew what his decision would be and had made sure I was available and prepared.
When you chose to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you were exercising your own free will, but God, Who sees the end from the beginning, knew what your decision would be before He laid the foundations of Earth, and made sure there was a place for you in His Kingdom. From His point of view, it was predestination. From yours, it was free will. Once you understand that God simply knew in advance what decision you would make, the problem goes away.
Before any of the harem girls were permitted to visit the King, we underwent 12 months of beauty treatment with herbs, perfumes, and cosmetics and were also given other training and preparation to make certain we were absolutely our most attractive selves possible. Then, one at a time we would be taken to the King in the evening, returning the following morning to another part of the harem. We would never see the King again unless he specifically asked for us by name. Needless to say, this put a tremendous amount of pressure on each girl since her one night audition would determine whether she would be chosen to live a life of unimaginable wealth and privilege as the Queen of Persia or spend the rest of her days confined in a “gilded cage” with no hope of a normal life.
Every day of that long year, Mordecai walked along the courtyard just outside the harem, checking with officials to find out how I was and what was happening to me. Remember I told you last time that Mordecai is a model of the Holy Spirit in my story. He was watching over me before I was chosen, making sure everything was going all right and that nothing would hinder the success of my audition with the King. In just this way the Holy Spirit watched over you every day of your life, even before you chose to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, making sure nothing would interfere with your opportunity to make that choice when the time came.
Finally it was my turn to visit the King, and just as Mordecai had known it would be, the King found me more attractive and more pleasing than any of the other virgins who had been brought to him. He placed the royal crown on my head and proclaimed me Queen of Persia. Then he hosted a huge banquet in my honor. He invited all his princes and nobles, made the banquet day a holiday throughout the kingdom, and distributed gifts to his subjects with royal liberality. It was the kind of day that girls like me don’t even dare dream about.
But you’ve had one just like it. My coronation celebration was a model of each believer’s salvation experience and the rejoicing that took place in heaven on that wondrous occasion when your spirit was united with the Holy Spirit of God. The King of Kings and His Heavenly Host stopped everything to sing and shout for joy! Did you know that the Bible records only five events that are cause for such celebration? They are the creation of the Earth, (Job 38:1-7) the birth of the Messiah, (Luke 2:13-14) the decision to finally unseat Satan from the Throne of Earth, (Rev. 5) the Messiah’s victorious 2nd Coming (Rev.19) and the welcoming of a new believer into the Kingdom. (Luke 15:7) That shows how important your salvation is to the Lord!
Now in those days the main gate of a city was actually a building, constructed as part of the city wall. This building usually became the major commercial and legal center of the city and ours was no exception. It was called the King’s Gate and most of the important men in the city gathered there every day. Mordecai was often there and one day happened to overhear a private conversation that troubled him greatly. Two of the officers who guarded the King’s Gate had become so angry with the King that they were actually plotting to assassinate him!
Mordecai rushed to tell me and of course I informed the King, crediting Mordecai as my source. (In obedience to my cousin, I was still keeping our family relationship secret so I didn’t tell the King anything about that.) When Mordecai’s claim was investigated and found to be true, the two officers were tried and convicted and hanged on the gallows. The entire event, including Mordecai’s part in it, was recorded in the Annals of the King.
This is an example of the spiritual communications I described last time working properly now that the lines were open again. By placing a queen on the throne the order was restored and warnings of impending danger could come from the Holy Spirit (Mordecai) to man’s spirit (the Queen) to man’s soul (the King) where it could be translated into behavior. Things were functioning the way they should again and peace was the order of the day.
But the sin nature doesn’t give up so easily, and unfortunately can often enlist the soul in its efforts to rule over us. Man’s soul has the power to act autonomously and can take advice from any source. It’s where our freedom of choice, sometimes called agency, resides. Before we’re saved, our soul has only the sin nature to advise us on how to behave, but once salvation has taken place, it’s the role of the Holy Spirit to resist and displace that once trusted advisor. What happened next is another example of the harm that comes from ignoring the promptings of the Spirit and acting on our feelings instead.
One day, for no particular reason, the King decided to honor a friend of his, a noble named Haman. He named Haman to a position of special counselor and made him superior to all the other nobles in his court. Even though Haman hadn’t done anything to deserve this honor, the King required everyone to bow down and pay homage to Haman whenever he passed by. Mordecai was incensed and refused to do so.
Perhaps a little history lesson will help explain the contention that existed between Haman and my cousin Mordecai. Haman was a descendant of Agag, King of the Amalekites, traditional enemies of the Jews. Years earlier, Israel’s King Saul had spared Agag in disobedience of the Lord’s command. The Amalekites had attacked the Jews when Moses was leading them through the wilderness and the Lord had sworn to wipe them off the face of the Earth for doing so. Saul was commanded to carry out the Lord’s judgment. (1 Samuel 15:1-9) By sparing Agag, he permitted the Amalekites to survive and their animosity toward the Jews to remain. Even though the Prophet Samuel killed Agag a few days later, the damage was done. As we’ll see, Haman was determined to show God just whose people would be exterminated.
When Haman learned of Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him, he was furious. Then he found out that Mordecai was Jewish, and this enraged him even more. Not being satisfied with just killing Mordecai, Haman conceived an evil plot to rid the entire kingdom of all of its Jews. Casting lots with his co-conspirators, he chose a day on which all the people of Persia were to rise up as one against my people to completely annihilate us from the Kingdom. Using his new found influence to poison the King’s mind against us, Haman got the King to issue a decree giving his plan the force of law, and promising the Persian people the property and possessions of all the Jews they killed for carrying out this heinous act. Finally, Haman pledged 10,000 talents of silver to the King’s Treasury to seal the bargain.
The King, who was already rich beyond measure, replied, “Keep your money, but do with the people as you please.”
Well, as you might guess, the King’s edict put the whole kingdom into a turmoil. Everywhere you went, Jews were wailing and tearing their clothes, throwing dust in the air and wearing sackcloth, and Persians were perplexed by this seemingly uncalled for extermination order. No one knew quite what to do.
Remember, Haman is a model of our sin nature. When our sin nature is elevated above the Holy Spirit in terms of influence in our lives, it immediately works to nullify all the fruits of the Spirit’s regenerative work in us. Both our spirit and our soul suffer anguish, and those around us become perplexed by our contradictory behavior. As the Apostle Paul would later write, “The sin nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sin nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want.” (Gal. 5:17) So it was between Haman and Mordecai.
In our next episode, Mordecai confronts me with the frightening truth that only I can save my people, and to do so I’ll have to risk everything, my prestige, my crown, even my own life. Little Hadassah, still in her teens, will be forced to confront the most powerful ruler on earth, a man who literally holds the power of life or death over her. My secret identity will become known and I’ll have to count myself among those scheduled for extermination. See you then.
ESTHER’S STORY PART 3 (CHAPTERS 4-8)
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
As Esther might have told it today…
The foiled assassination plot against the King can be likened to your salvation experience. Remember, due to Mordecai’s timely warning the two officers who plotted the King’s death were discovered and sentenced to die. Most translations of my story say they were hanged, but in those days hanging meant something different than it does today. It meant that they were nailed to a tree or wooden post and left to hang there till they died, and that’s what happened to the would-be assassins. It was an early form of crucifixion, and it saved the King from death. The event was then recorded in the Annals of the King.
Because of your sin, represented by the two officers, you too were appointed for death. But the Holy Spirit intervened and your sin was dealt with in the only way possible. It was nailed to the cross and you were saved from death. The event was then recorded in the Lamb’s book of Life.
When the King made Haman his chief counselor and empowered him to act on the King’s behalf, it symbolized man giving his sin nature authority over his behavior. Believers are sometimes surprised when they discover the extent to which the sin nature still controls their responses to events in their lives. They don’t realize that while being saved gives them the right to choose a new Counselor, they have to make that choice daily and then follow His advice in order to attain the victorious life. (If you’re starting to suspect that my story is a model of the Book of Romans, you’re catching on.)
One of Haman’s first official acts was to mount an effort to wipe out Mordecai and all the Jews, symbolic of the sin nature’s attempts to undo all the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
When Mordecai told me what Haman had done, I was sick at heart. And when he said that I had to help save our people by going to the King, I was scared to death. I reminded him that no one, not even the Queen, could approach the King with out first being summoned. Barging in on him unannounced was an offense punishable by death, and the King hadn’t sent for me in over 30 days. Who knew if he ever would again?
Mordecai was not impressed. He curtly explained to me that God doesn’t miss out on an opportunity to advance His Kingdom just because of our reluctance, we miss out on the opportunity to be involved. If I didn’t help save my people, the Lord would raise up someone else who would. But, he said, I shouldn’t think I would escape this danger just because I was the Queen. I was still Jewish after all. And besides, who could say that I wasn’t elevated to my royal position for just such a time as this?
“OK,” I said. “Have all the Jews in the city fast for 3 days and 3 nights. My maids and I will do the same. At the end of that time, I’ll go see the King even though it’s against the law. If I perish, I perish.” Mordecai went out and did all that I asked.
On the third day, with my heart beating so loudly that I’m sure everyone around me could hear it, I put on my royal robes and stood just outside the King’s Hall. He was sitting there on his throne facing the entrance. When he looked up and saw me his eyes lit up and he smiled as he motioned me into his presence. My life had been spared, at least for that day.
“What is it?” he asked. “What’s your request? Even if it’s for half the kingdom, I’ll grant it.” By law, half the kingdom is the most the King was permitted to give someone, so that was a good sign. But all I asked for was the pleasure of his company at a private luncheon that afternoon, along with permission to invite Haman as well. He happily agreed.
After the meal, as the King and Haman relaxed with me over drinks, the King again asked what I wanted him to do for me, and again offered half the kingdom. “Come dine with me again tomorrow, the two of you,” I responded. (I wanted to make absolutely sure the King was being sincere in his offer to do anything I asked.) “If this is agreeable, then tomorrow I’ll tell you what I want.” They both accepted my invitation and left.
Haman was really full of himself after the luncheon. “The Queen invited only the King and me,” he bragged to any one who would listen. But later as he passed by the King’s Gate, Haman noticed that Mordecai refused to bow down and was enraged all over again. Complaining long and loud to his family about Mordecai’s insubordination he was finally cheered by his wife’s suggestion that he have a giant gallows constructed and first thing in the morning ask the King’s permission to hang Mordecai on it for refusing to obey the King’s order. He rounded up the workers and had the gallows built that very day. (As I explained earlier, hanging him on it meant nailing him to it.)
That night the King couldn’t sleep, so after tossing and turning for some time, he had the historical record of his reign brought and read to him thinking that would help him relax. But when he heard the part about the assassination plot Mordecai had discovered, saving his life, he sat up in bed and asked how Mordecai had been honored for this act of loyalty.
“I don’t think we did anything,” his attendants replied. By then it was nearly morning, so the King asked if there were any officials in court yet. After looking around they reported, “Haman has just come in”. (Haman was there early to get permission to hang Mordecai as soon as he could.)
Calling Haman in, the King asked him how he would suggest they honor someone who had done a great service to the King. Haman assumed the King was planning to honor him, and said, “Put one of your own robes on him and seat him on one of your own horses. Then have one of your most trusted officials lead him through the city loudly proclaiming that this is what is done for someone the King delights to honor.”
“Great idea,” the King exclaimed, “Before you do anything else, go yourself and do this for Mordecai!”
Haman was speechless! He had come in early thinking he’d get permission to execute his archenemy Mordecai first thing, and now he was being ordered to personally honor him in the King’s name, in broad daylight and in front of the whole city. How humiliating! He was still moaning and groaning to his family after carrying out the King’s order when my servants arrived to bring him to the luncheon.
Little did he know, his problems were just beginning. After we had eaten, the King again asked for my request, and for the third time offered me up to half the kingdom. By now I knew he was sincere, so although my stomach was turning flip-flops, my voice was steady as I told him how my people had been placed under an extermination order and scheduled for annihilation. I said that if we had merely been ordered into slavery, I wouldn’t have thought to bother him, but I couldn’t stand by and let my family and all my people be slaughtered without speaking up.
I could see Haman’s astonished look as for the first time I revealed my true nationality. He had no idea he’d condemned the King’s beloved to death in his dastardly plot against the Jews.
The King was furious! “Who is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” he demanded.
“The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman,” I replied.
Haman was white with terror. The King jumped up and stormed out of the room. Haman knew what was coming and, throwing his arms around me, begged me to spare his life. The urgency of his plea threw us both back on the sofa where I was seated, and he landed on top of me. Just then the King returned. It looked for all the world like Haman was trying to molest me, and for the King this was the last straw. As he roared in anger, the guards grabbed Haman and pulled him off me.
One of them told the King that Haman had just constructed a giant gallows for the purpose of executing Mordecai. Pointing a condemning finger at Haman, the King shouted, “Hang him on it instead!” No due process here, no endless arguments on the finer points of the law, no jury deliberation. The King’s word was the law.
That very day they hanged Haman on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and the King’s fury subsided. He confiscated Haman’s substantial estate and gifted all of its money and property to me. I introduced Mordecai to the King and for the first time revealed our family relationship. Remembering his loyalty, the King named Mordecai to Haman’s now vacant position as chief counselor giving him the official signet ring he had taken from Haman’s finger. This authorized Mordecai to act in the King’s name. I made Mordecai administrator over all my newfound wealth as well.
Listening to his spirit, man finally learns of the true intentions of the sin nature. But putting the sin nature to death isn’t enough. The Holy Spirit has to be installed as Chief Counselor, and empowered to act. Even though He was sealed within you at the instant of your salvation, you still have to put Him in charge. You see, it’s never a question of how much of the Spirit is in you. The question is always how much of you is in the Spirit. Mordecai was always there for the King. His increasing influence over the affairs of the Kingdom represents the Holy Spirit moving from being with you, as He was before you were saved, to being in you, as He became at the moment of your salvation, to being upon you as you authorize Him to govern your behavior. Only then will you begin to act in His power.
As the Lord Jesus would one day tell His disciples, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Matt 12:43-45)
You can’t leave the position of Chief Counselor vacant. Either you appoint the Holy Spirit, or the sin nature will return to re-appoint itself.
This is not the end of my story; it’s only the beginning of the end. My people are not out of danger yet. We still have to overcome the problem of the extermination order against us that even the King cannot rescind. And as we’ll see, the sin nature has offspring that must also be put to death. Stick around. What happens next will astound and amaze you. 11-28-04
ESTHER’S STORY PART 4 (CHAPTERS 8-10) CONCLUSION
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
With the death of Haman and the elevation of Mordecai to Chief Counselor, you’d think my problems would be over, but we still had the extermination order against all my people in Persia to deal with. I fell on my knees and begged the King to rescind Haman’s order.
The King replied to Mordecai, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows. Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring – but no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”
Most English translations of my story render the last part of the King’s reply as … “for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked” instead of the way I’ve presented it above. Let me make clear what the King was saying, and you’ll see that my version is more accurate. He was giving Mordecai the authority to issue another order that would supercede the extermination order, but even he was powerless to rescind Haman’s order since it had been published over the King’s signature and sealed with his seal. The Jews were still under threat of death and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
So it is with you. When you reached the age of accountability you became liable for execution under the Law of Sin and Death. There’s nothing you can do to change that. All your attempts at self-help are futile. In fact, the harder you try the worse your plight becomes. Only the Holy Spirit can change things. With Him in your life you can appeal to a higher law, the Law of Grace. It super-cedes the Law of Sin and Death. The Apostle Paul would one day write about that in his letter to the Romans, chapter 7.
Upon reading Haman’s edict again we discovered that he had forbidden Jews to organize and defend ourselves against our enemies. Here was the loophole we were looking for. Forced to leave the extermination order in place, we simply published a modification permitting the Jews to fight in their own defense. And since Haman had authorized their enemies to seize the wealth and property of any Jews they killed, we extended that same privilege to Jews who overpowered their attackers. The playing field now appeared level, but our enemies would soon discover that we had a secret weapon. Though my people would still have to fight for their lives, victory was now assured.
When Mordecai left the palace that day he was dressed in royal garments of blue and white, with a large crown of gold on his head and purple robes about him. At the sight of him, a spontaneous celebration erupted among my people in the capital city that soon spread through out the entire Kingdom. Mordecai’s power and influence grew quickly because of the edict he had published giving us the right of self-defense. Many people of various nationalities began converting to Judaism, and the governors of all 127 provinces hastened to earn Mordecai’s favor through their kindness to us.
On the day Haman’s edict went into effect, Jews everywhere banded together and went on the offense against those who had gathered to attack us; I believe you would call it a pre-emptive strike. Because of Mordecai’s power and his influence with the King, there was great fear of the Jews and no one could stand against us. All the officials of Persia helped us so as to avoid displeasing Mordecai. My people’s power was coming right from the throne. We struck down all our enemies, even slaying Haman’s 10 sons, but did not take any of the plunder to which we were entitled. Victory is only pure in the absence of personal gain.
Under the Law of Sin and Death, no defense is permitted. Everyone is guilty and must submit to punishment. The Law of Grace supercedes the Law of Sin and Death, but a pre-emptive defense is required. (You must apply the Blood of the Lamb.) So you also use power that comes right from the Throne to achieve victory over your spiritual enemy and nullify the extermination order against you.
At the end of the day the King asked me if I desired anything further, once again offering up to half the Kingdom. I replied that I wanted the edict permitting the Jews to attack their enemies extended for one more day. I also asked that the bodies of Haman’s dead sons be hanged in the public square for everyone in the capital city to see. The King happily granted both these requests.
When my story was originally written down, each of Haman’s 10 sons was listed in large letters on a separate line with the name at the beginning of the line and the Hebrew word for “self” at the end separated by a long blank space in the middle. When you see these 10 names translated into English, this puzzling manner of listing them will make sense to you. Here they are with their English meanings and the word self added at the end.
Parshandatha means “curious-self,” a busy body.
Dalphon means “weeping-self,” self-pity.
Aspatha means “assembled-self,” self sufficient.
Poratha means “generous-self,” self-indulgent, a spendthrift.
Adalia means “weak-self,” an inferiority complex.
Aridatha means “strong-self,” assertive, over bearing.
Parsashta means “preeminent-self,” ambition.
Arisai means “bold-self,” impudence.
Aridai means “dignified-self,” pride.
Vaizatha means “pure-self,” self righteous.
Publicly displaying the bodies of Haman’s 10 sons signifies putting these 10 representative sins to death. (The number 10 implies completeness of the Divine order; that nothing is left wanting, the whole cycle is complete.) Their names reveal the intensely personal value of victory over the sin nature. As you can see from the first meaning of the names, each of the 10 was originally a desirable characteristic, part of the Image of God in which we were created. But the contamination of the sin nature, symbolized by the addition of the word self, distorted them as indicated by the second meaning, and they became offensive to Him. Satan has turned all of God’s creation, which was a source of endless joy to Him, into a perversion of its original state.
Reversing this contamination is not as simple as just trying to change your behavior. Because of his sin nature, the heart of man is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. (Jeremiah 17:10) Putting the sin nature to death and yielding your life to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the only way regeneration can begin, and even that will only be complete at the resurrection when our corrupt selves are once again made incorruptible, the way God designed them to be.
Finally the battle was over and the victory won. Once again peace was the order of the day. Mordecai ordered that a celebration be held and he and I chose the name “Purim” for it. It’s the plural form of our word pur, which means lot. (Remember, Haman and his cronies cast lots to determine on which day we should all be killed.) We then issued a proclamation throughout the Kingdom establishing the 14th and 15th of our month Adar (Feb.-Mar.) as the annual celebration of the Feast of Purim, and so it is to this day.
By the fact that this feast is still celebrated in Jewish communities all over the world, you can see that the events of my story actually took place. The story behind the story describes the battle between the Spirit and the sin nature and illustrates the proper order of communications between our Creator and us. It shows you why the Lord ordained that my story be a part of His Book, which after all is the Owner’s manual for humanity.
Now that you’ve read and understand my story, you’re better equipped to fight and win this battle and experience the incredible joy that only proper spiritual communications can bring. Doing this will please our Lord greatly and make it possible for you to live the life to which He’s called you. Shalom Aleichem, peace be upon you. 12-05-04