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Studying the Book of Esther, Chapters 4–9

December 15, 2002
Mother & Daughter

(Article online only, never in print) We have prepared this home Bible study for you to do by yourself or in the fellowship of other women.

Esther 3:8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. 3:13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. 4:1 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry;

Esther Chapter 4 v.1 – 2 Mordecai found out what had been decreed against his people, the Jews. It was so terrible, that he was moved to loud, public grief and despair, coming to the king’s gate. 1. It is interesting that no one clothed with sackcloth was allowed to enter the king’s gate. Why do you think this was? v. 3 The news of the decree was now known throughout the vast kingdom that stretches from India to Ethiopia, sending the Jews into great mourning, weeping and wailing, and depths of hopelessness. 1. Just what did the decree mean to the average Jewish family? v. 4 Esther’s maids and chamberlains came to her with the news of Mordecai’s great public mourning at the king’s gate. She did not know why Mordecai was making such a public outcry. Isn’t it a wonder that Esther did not know of such a far-reaching, deadly decree that already had the Jews wailing, mourning, and weeping all through the kingdom? 1. Should her husband have conferred with her about the business of the kingdom, shared his thoughts, especially when it involved such an emotional issue as death to an entire people? 2. How would you feel if your husband never conferred with you on business matters? v. 5-6 Esther must depend on her servants to communicate with Mordecai. She cannot go to him. 1. Do you feel you are being treated as less than an equal when your husband will not let you to talk on the phone very much to your friends, spend a week at your Mom’s, give money to the church, or let the kids do something you think they ought to be able to do? 2. What do you think about the concept of standing up for “my personal rights” that is part of our culture? 3. Does it have a place in the husband-wife relationship? 4. What Scriptures prove your answer? v. 7 - 8 Mordecai, who would be considered a lawyer and political figure in our day, revealed the behind-the-scenes details of the plot to Hatach, one of the king’s chamberlains who attend Esther. From the message that Mordecai sent her through him, Hatach must have then known that she was Jewish. 1. When is it right to reveal all the facts about a situation? 2. What did Mordecai charge Esther to do? v. 9 - 10 Esther must still communicate with Mordecai through servants. She now knew the reason for Mordecai’s great display of grief. v. 11 Esther answered Mordecai’s plea that she go to the king by reminding him of the law against entering the king’s presence uninvited. 1. What was her heart and attitude toward the law of her husband - the law of the land - even in the face of this terrible, impending catastrophe? v. 12 – 13 Remember that Esther is a very young woman, now suddenly faced with a situation of grievous, monumental proportions, being called on to intervene in her capacity as queen, the situation complicated by a law that could very well take her life before she even spoke. Mordecai counseled her that just because she is in the king’s house (his own wife!) she will not be spared under this decree. v. 14 It is interesting that Mordecai was sure that deliverance would come, if not from her, then from some other place. He again stressed the fact that if she remained silent, it would destroy her and her family. He brought to light the fact that she may have come to the kingdom for this very time. Think of it - a righteous young Jewish girl, given to a heathen king. 1. What two choices did Esther have, and what outcome was there in each one for her? 2. From her responses, what do you think her attitude was toward her husband so far? v. 15-16 Esther gave Mordecai her answer. 1. What course has she chosen to take? 2. What does her reaction and plan reveal about her character, her soul? 3. Her presence of mind while she was probably feeling fear and facing the high probability of dying by the hand of her husband is admirable. What other attributes do you see that might be desirable for any situation? 4. Have you ever fasted? What situation in your life might provoke you to fast? 5. For what end did Esther fast? Abigail faced a similar situation. Read her story now in 1 Samuel 25. Many women use Abigail’s story to justify disobeying their husbands. But, notice that there are three unique common denominators in Esther’s and Abigail’s situations: 1. Imminent death to their people (and to Esther, herself) 2. They made a humble appeal to the law. 3. Willing to take the penalty of death should their appeal fail. Their appeals were the only recourse for a large number of people. Esther had to disobey the law of the king to not come into his presence unless called, but she hoped for mercy. Abigail had to appeal to the king, David, hoping for mercy, in spite of her husband. Because of their humble appeal, each king was spared from making a great mistake. Abigail’s example shows us that when those under us are in peril of their lives, we need to appeal to the law of the land. In following through the entire accounts of Esther and Abigail, do you think that in their usual, daily relationship with their husbands, they were sullen, resistant, self-willed, self-pitying? God records in His word that Abigail’s husband was a “son of Belial” (a son of the devil), so evil and churlish that a man could not speak to him. Do you think that Abigail had plenty of occasions of his terrible behavior that she had to let pass? It appears she was honorable in all areas, and suffered, only acting when all her people were marked for death due to her husband’s error of judgment. If she had been a jerk of a wife, responding wrongly to his evil character, God would have never rewarded her. Both these women used wisdom in discerning when the situation called for action on their part. 1. If your family was planning to move and you knew your husband was not planning to pay the bills left behind, would it be right to go behind his back and pay them? No. He is the head of the home and in charge of the finances. 2. You have found out your husband is engaged in bi-sexual activity. The chances of him bringing HIV home to you are high. He wants you to participate in sodomy (anal sex). Do you have a moral right to stand against him in this area? Yes. This is a moral issue because your life is at stake, and God condemns sodomy. Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. What do you think about the concept of always responding in the right way to the wrong actions or to the decisions of those in authority over you that you don’t agree with? What Scripture would you use to support your thoughts? In their respective times and cultures, both women lived in strange and trying circumstances. In our time and culture, you can face circumstances that are not ideal, as well. The heart and attitude of Esther and Abigail are timeless examples for all women. Esther 4:15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. ESTHER CHAPTER 5 v. 1 Esther, her maidens, and the Jews in Shushan were still fasting on this third day when she went to the king’s inner court. She had every reason to wear sackcloth, wail, and show great emotional distress, especially to make an impact on him that he has decreed a terrible thing so nonchalantly. Esther was wise enough to know that she needed to win the king’s favor at his first glance. She put on her royal apparel, no doubt very beautiful attire. 1. Did she dramatically rush in, or stand silently, waiting for her husband’s reaction – death or life? v.2 When the king saw Esther, he evidently liked what he saw; she obtained his favor. 1. What emotions do you think her face displayed? v. 3 The king’s heart has truly been won by her. 1. Who spoke first? What does this tell you about Esther’s continued heart and attitude to her husband, and toward him in his larger appointment in life – his life’s work? Can you give a New Testament verse that addresses this attitude? 2. By all her actions thus far, it is evident that her husband’s position and authority and the laws of the land took precedence over their own relationship, and she submitted to it, worked within its parameters with a completely submissive heart and good attitude. Do you think he sensed this? What part do you think Esther 2:20b plays in all this? Do you think every man senses the spirit of his wife towards him, his position of authority in the home? If so, what responsibility does it bring to him? 3. What significance was there in the scepter? 4. What does the king say to Esther? By his statement to her in verse 3, was he just feeling good that day? If not, what does it show that he knew her character to be? 5. Other people may have been in attendance to the king. He would not welcome being embarrassed, especially by his wife, whose every move would reflect upon him. Esther’s wisdom seems to have even included this area. Do you do all you can to reflect well on your husband? Do you embarrass him or do you make him hold his head up higher among men? v. 4 In a young girl, this is wisdom and self-restraint beyond compare, under the circumstances. It seems the banquet had been prepared before she went in to the king. Do you notice the winsome manner in which she invited the king? “If it seem good unto the king...” 1. What wisdom do you see in her plan? 2. So far, what attributes has Esther shown that would win the heart of any husband? v. 5 The king was ready to go and even gave orders for Haman to make haste. v.6 The king’s amazing offer to Esther has been given twice in one day. His heart is evidently completely hers. Her beauty of face and spirit seems to have stayed with him. Remember that in Esther 2:14, it says the king delighted in her. She must have maintained her winsome spirit and ways every time she was with him, and even in her isolation from the king for long periods, else he would not be so evidently still smitten by her. It is possible that she shared him with concubines, yet maintained complete devotion and reverence to him. 1. What women have you known who, though they may not have been beautiful, had a most winsome and lovely spirit about them that made you want to be around them? v.7-9 Esther appealed to the king to grant her request that he and Haman come to another banquet the next day. Haman was joyful and glad, but as he left the palace, he was indignant that Mordecai, still sitting in the king’s gate, didn’t rise or move in honor of him. 1. Do you think Haman knew that Esther was Jewish? Why or why not? V. 10-14 Haman pridefully discoursed on his promotions and advances, and expressed contempt for Mordecai. 1. How did his words affect his family and friends?

Esther 5:11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. 13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. 14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

ESTHER CHAPTER 6 v.1 The king could not sleep, and ordered the book of records of chronicles to be read. 1. Do you think it was by chance that the king couldn’t sleep, and that the book that was read contained Mordecai’s deed? v.2-3 The king was pleased at Mordecai’s deed in saving his life, and is now going to reward him. 1. What do you think is starting to happen in the whole situation now? v. 4-5 When the king asked who is in the court to carry out his honoring of Mordecai, who was there? v.6-9 The tables are turning on Haman. 1. When do you think his downfall really began? v.10 This is a most revealing and telling verse. 1. Do you now think the king knew it was Jews that Haman wanted to destroy when he came to the king about them in Esther 2:8? If not, who did? v.11-13 Without knowing it, the king has perfectly taken from Haman what he wanted most, and given it to his main enemy. 1. Hearing of the turn of events, what is the prediction of Haman’s wife and friends now, who so shortly before supported him in his evil eye against Mordecai?

Esther 6:11 Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour. 12 And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. 13 And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. 14 And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

ESTHER CHAPTER 7 v.1-4 The king again offered up to half his kingdom to Esther at this second banquet. Esther made her move. 1. Esther could have brought up the matter in any number of ways. What wisdom do you see in the particular way she brought it before the king? 2. What did she say was the deciding factor in her coming forward to entreat the king? 3. To what point would she have held her tongue? v.5 What is now clearly evident in the situation? v. 6-10 Haman’s downfall and demise is final 1. When Haman entreated Esther for his life, and she knew the tables were turned for good in his case and his death was imminent, what do we learn by Esther’s silence before her husband’s judgment in the matter?

Esther 7:9 And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

ESTHER CHAPTER 8 The same day of the banquet and hanging of Haman, the king gave Haman’s house to Esther, found out the relationship of Mordecai to Esther, and gave his ring to Mordecai. v. 3-6 1. What unfinished business remained? 2. Even with her increased favor with the king, how did Esther handle this? v. 11-13 What is surprising about the new decree? Esther 8:16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. 17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. ESTHER CHAPTER 9 In verse 12, it is evident that the king wanted to please this woman, his wife. He asked her again what more she wanted done in this matter that Haman began. 1. She has evidently not been hounding the king for more vengeance, or gone around him. He came to her. What do you learn about her from her request to let the Jews continue to slay any enemies the next day, and to have Haman’s ten sons hanged? Is it inconsistent with the picture of a winsome, wise, submissive woman? 2. What memorial was she responsible for confirming in regard to her people? In summary: Study the words and verses that give a clue to Esther’s character, besides being fair and beautiful. Note how she responds and handles things.

2:8 Obeyed the king’s command – a Jewish girl to be brought into a heathen king’s house, be one of many concubines, at the least. 2:9 She pleased the keeper of women, and obtained kindness of him. He preferred her to the best place. 2:10 Obeyed her cousin in his charge that she should not tell she was Jewish 2:12 Evidently submitted with good grace to 12 months of preparation. 2:15 She showed trust of the king’s chamberlain by taking only what he gave her as she went in to the king. She evidently didn’t throw depressed fits or become a whiner or fearful woman in all these events, for she obtained favor of all who looked upon her. 2:17 The king loved her above all the women. She obtained grace and favor in his sight. Do you think all this had only to do with physical beauty or not? 4:10-16 Esther did not at any time revile or speak against the king for his decision. She met the grave situation by calling for a fast, and wise plan to entreat the king. 5:1-8 Again, she is very wise in her approach to the king, not losing control and wailing to him about what he had done. She finds such favor with him that he offers her half his kingdom, and jumps at the chance to be entertained by her at the banquet. Her restraint in not falling apart and pointing a finger at Haman during this first banquet is admirable.

At every turn, she comes before the king, entreating or requesting, then he is the one who gives the command. He is both the law and her husband, so she acts accordingly. She is brave and wise in her request to deal with the evil. Yet, it is always the king who makes the final decision on her requests. Debi Pearl and Friends

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