Esther’s Great Reversal

God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways. One such person is a young Jewish woman named Hadassah. She was raised by her uncle Mordecai. When there became an opening for King Xerxes’ queen, Hadassah was selected as a candidate.

She was given another name–Esther. In the meantime an evil man tricked Xerxes into signing a decree that all Jews throughout the kingdom would be killed on a certain date. When Queen Esther learned of this, she talked with Mordecai about it. She was hesitant to talk about it with the king, because she could receive the death penalty for approaching the king without his having first given permission.

Mordcai says to Esther, “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 pace, but you and your father’s family will perish.”

The often quoted verse is 4:14b, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.” Esther asks the Jews of Susa for fast (and pray) for her for three days.

She approaches the king. He tips his scepter toward her, inviting her to approach and speak. She invites him to a meal along with Haman. Esther invites the king back a second time. In between, Xerxes has trouble sleeping. He has someone read to him from the history of his life. He is reminded that Mordecai once saved his life.

The next day, the king asks Haman what should be done for someone who has served the king. Haman, thinking it is about him, tells the king what should be done. You can imagine Haman’s humiliation when he is told to walk in front of Mordecai on a horse and proclaim, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor.”

Before the second meal, Haman goes to Esther to appeal to her. He stumbles and falls over her. At that point, the king shows up and in his rage at what he thinks is Haman taking advantage of his queen. Haman is hanged on the platform he had prepared for Mordecai and others.

And what of the decree to kill all the Jews? The decree that could not be broken? Xerxes promulgates a second decree giving the Jews permission to defend themselves. On the day decreed, no one could stand against the Jews. The Jews were now held in high regard.

Talk about a great reversal! And, you can read about it in the Bible’s short Book of Esther.