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The Weakness Of Esther

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CHAPTER 4 Nov.28 
Mordecai Informs Esther about the King's Decree
Now when Mordecai found out all that was done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and wailed loudly and a bitterly. 2He came even before the king’s gate; for no one was allowed inside the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. 3In every province, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4Esther’s maidens and her eunuchs came and told her this, and the queen was exceedingly grieved. She sent clothing to Mordecai, to replace his sackcloth; but he didn’t receive it. 5Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, whom he had appointed to attend her, and commanded him to go to Mordecai, to find out what this was, and why it was. 6So Hathach went out to Mordecai, to the city square which was before the king’s gate. 7Mordecai told him of all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8He also gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given out in Shushan to destroy them, to show it to Esther, and to declare it to her, and to urge her to go in to the king to make supplication to him, to make request before him for her people.
Messages between Mordecai and Esther
9Hathach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message to Mordecai: 11All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that whoever, whether man or woman, comes to the king into the inner court without being invited, there is one law for him, that he be put to death; except those to whom the king might hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live. I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days. 12They told to Mordecai Esther’s words. 13Then Mordecai asked them to return answer to Esther, Don’t think to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house any more than all the Jews. 14For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows if you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this? 15Then Esther asked them to answer Mordecai, 16Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day. I and my maidens will also fast the same way. Then I will go in to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish. 17So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.


4:1-3 The complete absence of God’s Name in Esther indicates how they had forgotten the Name of their God in Babylon. It’s also odd that there is no mention of prayer in the story- when prayer was the obvious recourse of God’s people. The omission is so obvious- as if to point out that the Jews were not the prayerful community which they should’ve been. When we read of Mordecai rending his clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes, we expect to read of him praying – for prayer accompanies those two things in 2 Kings 19:1-4 and Joel 1:14. Even Esther appears to accept her possible destruction in a fatalistic way rather than in faith- “If I perish, I perish” (:16). There’s a contrast with Daniel, who gathered his friends and gave himself to prayer before going in to the King; she gathered her friends and asked them to fast, but there’s no specific mention of prayer. What she did was brave, but it seems to be more human bravery than an act of spiritual faith. The omission of any mention of prayer seems intentional- to highlight that the Jewish community were simply not prayerful as they should’ve been. The book of Esther was surely to encourage the Jews that despite their weakness, God was prepared to work with them. Esther appears to have slept with [‘went in unto’] the King before he married her; eaten unclean food (2:9; cp. Dan. 1:5, 8), and finally married a Gentile. And she didn’t tell her husband that she was Jewish for the first 5 years of their marriage (2:16; 3:7).  It’s almost certain that she would’ve acted like a Persian woman religiously in order for this to be the case; she certainly wasn’t an observant keeper of the Mosaic law. She’s almost set up in contrast with Daniel, who refused to defile himself in these ways and maintained his conscience in the same environment at whatever cost. But the point of Esther is to show that God was eager to work with such as Esther, He hadn’t quit on His people. And of course if Esther and Mordecai had done the right thing and returned to Judah as commanded, the whole situation would never have arisen, and there would’ve been no Jews left in Babylon to persecute. It seems that the history in the book of Esther is an example of how God sent ‘fishers and hunters’ to encourage the Jews to return as He commanded them (Jer. 16:16)- but even then, they didn’t.   
4:8 God had said that He would cast Judah out of their land, they would go to Babylon and serve other gods there, “where I will not show you favour” (Jer. 16:13). But actually Esther and her people were shown favour there [s.w. Esther 4:8; 8:5]. God was gracious [s.w. ‘show favour’] to those in exile (Is. 30:18,9; Am. 5:15; Mal. 1:9). Here we see God’s pure grace to His weak people.
4:16 See on :1-3.