We know from this chapter that evil is on the horizon, but let’s break down how long it took to get us to the point where every Jew in the Persian empire is about to be executed. We learned from the first two chapters that King Xerxes was in the seventh year of his reign when he made Esther his queen. We counted four years between the time King Xerxes banished the first queen and married Esther. Within that four years, Esther spent an entire year getting pruned with oils and baths before even being presented to the king. So, now, here we are five years later, in the 12th year of King Xerxes reign. That would mean, he and Esther have been together five years, and in that five years, a few things have changed apparently.
For one, Esther’s cousin Mordecai, who serves for the king, has revealed that he is a Jew, a fact that in the first two chapters we saw him keeping very secret. He even instructed Esther to keep her nationality a secret. I’m just throwing out a theory here, much in line with what I said about the atmosphere in the first two chapters, but it appears that things were pretty laid back and that people from other cultures had been in Babylonian society so long that they just blended right in, and it was crazy Babylonia, so diversity probably was accepted for the most part. And remember how King Xerxes treated the people in his kingdom: he held a party for them; he also didn’t even ask about Esther’s nationality when he made her queen. It was only until this cocky Haman guy enters the scene that a dust storm starts a brewin’. Mr. Fancy Pants, “the most powerful official in the empire (v. 1),” thought the whole kingdom ought to bow to him, and when Mordecai refused, he threw a great, big hissy fit. Wienerhead. Plus, he sent the king a whole bunch of loot, which is why the king was like, “Oh, yeah, do what you want with those Jews.” But we all know King Xerxes is not a cruel man, or at least that’s the vibe the text gives in the first couple of chapters. And we know that he loves his queen. And we know that his queen is a Jew. Ohhhhh, the foreshadowing is soul-wrenching, huh?
I wanted to point out, too, the very last verse of this chapter because it’s important. We know from previous passages that the king sent messengers to outlying provinces, and that the king was probably like, “Yeah, sure, get rid of the Jews,” possibly thinking that this new declaration really wouldn’t affect many people, and that he wouldn’t really have to deal with it anyway. He got his treasure, and maybe he assumed he was appeasing Haman without doing any serious harm. Little did the king know, however, that many Jews were settled right inside his neighborhood. Remember the king lived in the fortress of Susa, and according to this last line, the city of Susa fell into chaos. So, good King Xerxes is going to have to answer for the deal he just made, no matter the reason he made it.
Writing prompt: blindsided
Have you ever been blindsided? I feel like the king is getting ready to realize he’s been bamboozled. Write about a time something unexpected happened to you.