Woman Blessing Julie Ford had gifted me with a Bible about a year ago, and I was pretty faithful on daily readings for a better portion of the year, but eventually fiction, kiddos, t.v., hub, Norovirus, etc., distracted me from my frequent meetings with the Word.
Today is a new day; I'm sexist (the other way), so I opted for a book of the Bible named after a female, Esther. Here I discovered a brazen woman for the time, Queen Vashti, who "refused to come" (1:12) when her king and husband, Xerxes ordered her presence in order to "show off her beauty to the officials and all his guests" (1:11). This man who had been partying for a week and "For six months he made a show of the riches of the imperial court with all its splendour and majesty" (1:4), sounded like a guy who could have benefited from some time to reflect on his behavior (did I mention his harem of women?). On the advice of his advisers (all men I might add), Queen Vashti was banished from the throne for her apparent insult to the king. She was probably better off without him.
Fast forward through some verses and enter Esther, Queen Vashti's replacement. Esther, cousin to Mordecai from the tribe of Benjamin, was a Jew (although Mordecai urged her to keep this secret from the king). Meanwhile, the king's prime minister, Haman, detested Jews and convinced the king to have them put to death.
When Esther heard of this, she took action. Instead of waiting to be summoned by the king (you go, Girl!), she threw a two-day banquet inviting the king and Haman (keep your enemies closer . . .). The king, apparently swept up in the attention, repeatedly tells Esther, "Tell me what you want, and you shall have it- even if it half of my empire" (5:3). Finally, she replies on the second night, " . . . my wish is that I may live and that my people may live" (7:3), uncovering Hamon's plot to exterminate the Jews and the fact she herself is a Jew.
If you want to learn what happens and understand the meaning behind The Festival of Purim, crack open the book of Esther. You won't be sorry you did.