My Queen Esther

My Queen Esther

Purim 2019\5779 Special Edition

My Queen Esther
Torah Portion TZAV – Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:1(8) – 8:36*

Then Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim. Esther 9:29

Shabbat shalom dearly beloved,

For this Purim I want to bless you with my view of Queen Esther, the Jewish Hadassah. So often we read Bible stories, but we miss the human and “down to earth” part and we only see the heroic. However, the heroic is actually a result of the humanity of the hero or heroine in our case. Let us meet My Queen Esther!

He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. Esther 2:7

First of all, she is a young woman of maybe 16, 17 years old, and she is a virgin, one who has never known a man intimately. As all teenagers do, she may have had dreams of the “knight in shining armor” she would one day fall in love with and marry. Surely the King of Persia was not one of her prospects! As sheltered as she grew under the tutelage of her uncle Mordechai, she was an orphan with a capital ‘O’. She had no mother, no father, no sisters and no brothers that we know of. She may have never met her parents or maybe she was very young when they died. Being an exile and a captive from Judah it may very well be that her parents were murdered by the Persian authorities, maybe by the King himself, or maybe they died when Jerusalem fell into the hands of Babylon before Persia took over the Empire.

The Bible is silent about the circumstances of their death, but one thing we know is that it is not happy to be an orphan. It is not happy for a little girl to lack a mother to caress her, to comfort her in a foreign land. Even though Mordechai became a very good surrogate father it seems, while growing up and becoming a woman (getting her period and such things that happen to young maidens) she had no mother to confide in. Maybe she grew up lonely, serving her uncle the best she could, but it seems to me that Hadassah’s beginnings were not very favorable — certainly she did not have the marks of distinction of royalty or of a real happy life.

It looks to me that though Hadassah had suffered from a very young age, she had made a few inner choices that are Royal in my eyes. Her choices included: 1) to Fear the God of her fathers (the God of Israel), 2) to honor her adopted father, Uncle Mordechai, and 3) to have a positive, humble attitude in life. This non-victim attitude is what brought Hadassah to the throne and positioned her to become the savior of her People Israel. We can see evidence of that positive, faith attitude when she was kidnapped from the safety of Uncle Mordechai’s home into the harem of the king.

So it came about when the command and decree of the king were heard and many young ladies were gathered to the citadel of Susa into the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Esther 2:8

My Queen Esther

Talk about a traumatic event! Imagine all the girls screaming in sheer terror as they were being seized by the Persian soldiers to be taken to a women’s luxury jail called a Harem, from where they would NEVER be able to return to their homes and to their families. Their life was doomed to seclusion! And even in the event that the king would choose one of them, things would not be much better. The chosen lady would have to make love to the king whether she liked him or not, none of her feelings would be taken into consideration. Her goal in life would be to please the king whenever he wanted her and live in seclusion among the other women-concubines and the eunuchs in the luxury of the harem. The day these girls were seized as “merchandise” was the day their dreams died. Plus consider that only one will be chosen and all the others would be nothing but an ornament, a toy with no aspirations for a family of their own. The king may call on each of his concubines at times but that was the most they could hope for and maybe if they were “lucky” they would fall pregnant and raise a royal child of their own.

Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known. Esther 2:10

It is no surprise therefore that, when the time came for each of these women to go to the king and see if they would be chosen — after months of preparation and grooming in precious oils, each one chose the best they could wear to impress the king. There was quite a women’s competition going on in that harem! Once their initial first shock of captivity subsided, each woman was then totally focused to conquer the heart of the king and to reach the crown. Except Hadassah, who that by then had adopted the pagan name Esther.

Esther is a derivative from Ishtar (the goddess of fertility) but it also has a Hebrew meaning, “the hidden one”. And indeed she was hiding her identity as a Jew, as Uncle Mordechai had wisely advised, under her pagan name. Esther kept obeying her uncle though far away from him. This shows me that she had a pliable, teachable heart of obedience but it also shows courage. Courage to act a part in a role that she had not planned on and she had not scripted. Courage to trust her uncle’s wisdom, her upbringing as a Yah-fearing Jew of the God of her fathers.

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. Esther 2:15

Esther was the only one that relinquished her “rights” in the harem. She deferred her rights of choice of garments for her defining night with the king to the eunuch in charge. The obedience, humility and teachability that she had displayed in her uncle’s home brought her favor with the eunuchs in authority. She was different and she was not playing the part of a seductress like the others. She simply wanted the advise of professionals and, when it came to the king, the eunuch knew exactly what his master liked the most. He proceeded to dress her up in a way that would be irresistible to the king. Her discrete demeanor, her humble spirit, her positive and wise attitude now was “packaged” in the right “wrapping”, dressed in the clothes and jewelry the king liked best!

My Queen Esther

I wonder: what exactly did these clothes look like? Where they concealing or revealing? Where they shiny and glitzy or toned down in color? Where the earrings long or round, gold or silver, jade or diamonds? Again, the Scriptures are silent about the details which allows our imagination to soar. One thing does cross my mind: I am sure that her garments did not look “Jewish”. Probably in the eyes of most Jews she would have looked like a “pagan and unholy woman” going to the king. Maybe had they been able to see her they would have disapproved of her make-up, her cape, her dress, her gown and the Persian symbols in them. But this is what the eunuch advised, and he knew the king best.

The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17

I cannot refrain from thinking about my own life: when I have had to dress in Bishop’s and Archbishop’s clothes (that do not look Jewish but rather Catholic) and yet this is what my “eunuch”, The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit requires of me — in order to play my part for the salvation of many! I admire Queen Esther for not allowing religiosity or the fear of man to stop her Divine Mission of which she knew nothing at that time. She was just following instructions. And indeed, the king was pleased! Pleased with her outer garments and pleased with her beauty and character. It was love at first sight for him! The question is what was it for her? Did she like him? Was he attractive? Was he gentle? After all, this would be the only man she would ever know.

Esther had not yet made known her kindred or her people, even as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care. Esther 2:20

As I continue sharing My Queen Esther with you, I want to touch on her human tendency to comply. While I praise her teachability and submissiveness that won her so much favor with the authorities and with the king himself, there is an area of compliance in her character that was not to her advantage. That is the reason why perhaps the king grew bored with her and for one month he did not reach out to her. She had become a forgotten queen. Maybe she was too compliant, too sweet and the king needed someone more exciting. It looks to me that this passivity led her to accept the situation instead of fighting back for the affections of the king. She grew comfortable in her passivity and settled for less than she could have, less than she could be – sitting in the luxury and comfort of the harem among other women that were in the same predicament. I can even detect a hint of depression here, maybe discouragement?

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. Esther 4:1

Suddenly her lonely, comfortable, sleepy world of comfort and royal entertainment was rocked by the news! Her beloved and honored uncle Mordechai was fighting a decree of extermination signed by the king! He was in dust and ashes as soon as he learnt that the wicked counselor of the king, Haman the Agagite (a descendant of Amalek, the feared enemy of Israel) had convinced the king to exterminate all the Jews! Alas! This was a day of distress and destruction and there was no salvation in sight: whatever was signed by the King’s signet ring could not be revoked!

Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days. Esther 4:10-11

However, the compliant Esther was not moved to come out of her passivity. She had found her comfort zone and did not want to suffer anymore. Had she not suffered enough already as a Jewish captive, an exile, an orphan, a kidnapped woman and now rejected by the king that had not seen her in 30 days? Do I detect a hint of “victim mentality” here? Do I detect some bitterness in her attitude, maybe resentment? There is a time in the life of all heroes and heroines where “too much is too much” and when we feel we cannot give any more of ourselves. This is a human moment in the life of a hero, an important moment. It is a moment of definition. Choices made at this point will define all future events. Will Queen Esther rise up as a queen or will she remain a captive, an exiled orphan? Her positive attitudes and choices made her a queen, and now?

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13,14

Mordechai knew how to speak to the heart of his treasured niece, after all he had raised her. He knew her better than herself, knowing what would propel her forward and get her out of her shell to take daring ACTION! He rebuked her as only he could! He talked to “his Hadassah”, the courageous Jewish Woman: he talked to her faith and conscience, and she responded as Jewish Hadassah would! She had been Esther-Ishtar-Hidden for too long — she needed to show up in her Jewishness now! It was now or never!

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:15,16

Putting all fear aside, as this was a true matter of life and death, she mustered all the courage she could. She exercised leadership and authority as she commanded all the Jews and all her handmaidens to fast with her!

When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Esther 5:2

My Queen Esther

She was a strategic thinker: she had a plan, and no one would stop her. Hadassah and Esther had become ONE finally! Her Jewishness and her faith, coupled with her position of authority and royalty, would now manage to perform the greatest feat anyone man or woman had ever performed! She would rescue the entire Jewish Nation from extermination and would become a Queen for real — sitting side by side with the King on her throne. She would rise from the obscurity of the harem into the lime light and responsibility of the Throne! Still dressed in Royal, Persian garments, full of the Spirit of Israel and of Israel’s God she would co-rule Persia — and her Uncle would become the advisor of the king instead of the wicked Amalekite Haman. She single handedly defeated the Principality of Amalek and rescued Israel from extinction!

Had it not been for Queen Esther, the Messiah Yeshua would have not been born of the Tribe of Judah and of the House of David, Prophecy would have not been fulfilled and no Gentiles would ever be able to enjoy salvation and redemption! Had it not been for the overcoming courage and obedience of One Jewish Woman, the whole world would now be doomed to destruction! The devil has tried to annihilate Israel so that the nations would never experience salvation. He is still trying to annihilate Israel so that the Messiah will not return to Jerusalem!

So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews. Esther 8:7

All hail Queen Esther! You are still needed in this generation!

Happy Purim to all who love Israel and Israel’s Messiah!

For such a Time as This. Esther 4:14

Your Israeli Mentors and Friends,

Archbishop Dr. Dominiquae and Rabbi Baruch Bierman

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent. Isaiah 62:1

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