The book of Esther records a very important event in the history of the nation of Israel that took place in the Kingdom of Persia. Timewise this falls during the reign of Ahasuerus (484-465 bc) and between Ezra chapters 6 and 7. It is a beautiful, dramatic story with many twists and turns.
The story mainly concerns this decree which was signed by Persian King Ahasuerus:
Ahasuerus – King of Persia
Vashti – Queen of Persia
Mordecai and Esther – Jews from the captivity living in Shushan. (See 2:5-6)
Haman – called Haman the Agagite, honored by Ahasuerus. Persuades the king to sign a decree kill all the Jews.
ESTHER PART 1, CHAPTERS 1-4. Below is a summary of some of the highlights of these chapters. Note any additional thoughts or questions you have about these events.
- Following a feast of 180 days Ahasuerus commands Vashti to display her beauty. She refuses and is deposed.
- A search is made for a new queen. Esther is favored by Hegai, the custodian of the women, and she is chosen to be queen.
- Mordecai overhears a plot against the king and informs Ahasuerus exposing the conspirators. The matter is recorded in the chronicles of the king.
- Haman the Agaite is elevated by Ahasuerus and all pay homage to him, except Mordecai, which angers Haman.
- Haman persuades Ahasuerus to pass a decree that not only Mordecai, but all Jews will be killed.
- Mordecai worries outside the palace to get the attention of Esther and persuades her to go to the King on behalf of the Jews.
What are your observations about the character of the main characters in the book of Esther, mentioned above?
Why do you think Esther was so successful in the quest for a new queen?
What do the following statements suggest about Mordecai, then Esther?
Esther 4:14 “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:16 “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”