Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Plans are Changed

As this story continues, we remember that Esther revealed to the king that Haman had plans to kill her and the rest of the Jews. Haman was hung on this gallows. Today, as we read Esther 8 we learn what can be done to save the Jews.

First we find the King giving his Queen the household of Haman. Mordecai was brought before the King now that he (the King) knew what the relationship between them was. The King gave Mordecai his own signet ring. That was like giving Mordecai the key to the city! He could enact laws in the name of the king. Mordecai was also put in charge of the house of Haman (this was done by Esther).

Then Esther plead for the lives of her people. How can the evil plan of Haman's be averted?
"If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?"
Once a king makes a law, he makes a law. he can't change it once it is made.
"Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. 8But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked."
So the King's scribes were summoned. A way was found to help the Jews. Mordecai had an edict written that
allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods and to plunder their goods, 12on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

The original order from haman said

with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.

So in essence, the Jews were given permission to defend themselves as heartily as they would be attacked. No order was rescinded, just a contradictory order given. This way the kings honour would be upheld, and yet the Jews could defend themselves from total annihilation.

The swiftest animals were used to carry this order, which was written in both the local language and the Jewish language, to all the ends of the nations.

Mordecai was given new clothes to wear, a crown and robes of blue with white and purple with white. The whole city of Susa was pleased and rejoiced in this.

There was gladness and joy among the Jews in the whole land that was the Kings'.

As an interesting note,
And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.

It is unfortunately a way to make converts to a faith. To use fear. But then one has to really wonder, are they true members of the faith, or just fearful participants?

I have to admit, I like reading the story of Esther, but sometimes I wonder, what can I learn from it that I can apply to my life?

I do like the respectfulness that Esther gives to the King. Some of that was out of necessity, if you don't, you might die (regardless of who you are). But Esther seemed a person who genuinely cared about others. She didn't weep for her own life, she wept for the lives of her people. She listened well to advice, and Mordecai was a person who watched out for people, and he would, in all likelihood, have raised Esther to do the same. So as an example of how to care for people, I think Esther is a good one.

I like how the bad guy got it in the end. Shows how the best laid plans of man can be thrown to the wind.

I like how Mordecai was given honour at the end. He didn't just have to wander around in front of the palace anymore, an anonymous soul watching out for his daughter.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring in this story of Esther. :)

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