Sunday 13 September 2009

Forrest S. Weiland on Esther

Forrest S. Weiland, ‘Seeing the Unseen’, Kindred Spirit Magazine 29, 3 (2005).

In 2002, Weiland published a series of four essays on Esther in Bibliotheca Sacra (the theological journal published by Dallas Theological Seminary), looking at history, genre, plot structure, literary conventions, etc. This shorter piece offers a more ‘devotional’ take on the book, seeking those places where God has left his ‘fingerprints’, working through the events recorded in the story.

In a marital squabble
Queen Vashti’s refusal to appear at a banquet at the bidding of King Ahasuerus’, which set in motion a series of events that made it possible for Esther to become queen of the Persian Empire (1:12).

At a beauty contest
Esther’s beauty provided the opportunity for her to enter and win the beauty pageant, to become the king’s wife (2:7, 9, 15, 17).

At the job site
Mordecai’s employment at the king’s gate (2:19, 21) gave him the opportunity to overhear a plot to kill Ahasuerus, the recording of which made it possible for the king to discover it four years later (2:21-23; 6:2).

In the throw of the dice

In chapter three the casting of the lot before Haman ‘in the first month’ falls out so that the destruction of the Jews is to take place in the ‘twelfth month’ (3:7), giving eleven months to prepare their defense.

In the words of a concerned cousin
When Mordecai asks Esther to intercede on behalf of the Jews, he adds, ‘And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’ (4:14).

During the silence at a special dinner
Esther’s unexplained failure to speak up and request help from the king at the first banquet allowed several important events to unfold, notably the king’s insomnia and his discovery of Mordecai’s good deed that occurred four years earlier (2:16; 3:7; 6:1-3).

In the late-night reading of a dull book
After reading about Mordecai’s deed in the chronicles, the king decided to reward him at the same time Haman planned to have him hanged (6:4-10).

When a wife changed her mind

After Zeresh essentially said to her husband regarding Mordecai, ‘Hang him!’, she reversed her counsel, saying, ‘If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him’ (5:14; 6:13).

After a short walk in the garden
Ahasuerus’s return from the garden at the exact moment when Haman was falling on Esther’s couch led the king to misinterpret that action as an attack on the queen and resulted in the execution of Haman (7:8).

At the gallows
Haman ended up hanging on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai (7:9-10).

In the heat of battle
Dread of the Jews had fallen on many of the people (8:17; 9:3) and not one Jew was listed as killed in the fighting.

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