Bryan and I have been studying the book of Esther recently and found it fascinating! I’ve always enjoyed the story but learning about the book has made me enjoy it even more.
Did you know the book of Esther is meant to be read as a comedy? It’s meant to make you laugh as the book is larger than life in its story-telling. The first party mentioned in the book is 6 mos long! 6 mos of feasting, drinking, merry-making for the king and his officials from all over the empire… so who’s running the kingdom? Then after that party’s done the king throws another party just for his palace officials. Why not? You can’t have too many parties after all. Talk about your ultimate frat boy.
The Hebrew name for the king “Ahasuerus” doesn’t actually mean anything but it suspiciously similar to the Hebrew word for “headache.” And what does this king like to do more than anything? Party. He loves his wine, his women, and his parties. There are 10 different banquets mentioned in the book most of them involving the king. Does “king headache” refer to the fact that this king is seen as a bumbling idiot throughout most of the book OR does it refer to his struggles the day after his parties 🙂 Or maybe both…
This king was in charge of the biggest empire the world had ever known and yet in chapter 1 you see that this king cannot even get his own wife to obey him. And when she refuses his summons to come to him, he turns to his councilors to figure out how to deal with her (bc talking things out with her just isn’t an option)! And their response is to completely blow the whole situation up! “The queen has wronged EVERY man in the empire and soon ALL wives will follow Vashti’s example and go on strike! So get rid of Vashti!”
In other words, the punishment for Vashti’s refusal to come to the king is that she’s now unable to ever come to the king again. Wasn’t that the problem in the first place???
The removal of queen Vashti leaves quite a hole in the king’s bed er…. heart and he just can’t live w/o a beautiful women at his side. All those concubines just aren’t enough sometimes you know.
Enter Esther, the beautiful, adopted daughter of a wise Jewish man named Mordecai who now must undergo 12 mos of beauty treatments before spending 1 night with the king. Apparently in this kingdom to be a good queen means you simply need to be good in bed. Esther wins hands down and is crowned the new queen. BUT her uncle tells her make sure you hide your Jewish identity!
Mordecai, for his part, seems to be a high official in the palace and is able to keep tabs on Esther even after she enters the King’s harem. He and Esther work together and expose a plot to kill the king. All’s well in the world, King headache is still on the throne.
Now, normally at this point you would expect the text to mention Mordecai getting a reward. Kings have many enemies (I can’t imagine why) and you need to reward your friends well to keep them loyal and punish your enemies cruelly to lesson their influence and keep other potential enemies from arising. But king headache either doesn’t remember (too busy partying perhaps), doesn’t care, or is just too lazy and instead, the text says another member of the king’s household gets promoted.
Enter the villain…