Now it came about in the days of Ahasuerus, (that Ahasuerus who was ruler of a
hundred and twenty-seven divisions of the kingdom, from India as far as
ויהי בימי אחשורוש |
הוא אחשורוש המלך
מהדו ועד כוש
The story begins with a huge banquet that the great King of Persia,
Xerxes [Ahaseurus], celebrated for seven days.
It must have been quite a party! On the seventh day,
King Xerxes was kind of drunk, and decided he wanted some entertainment.
As you probably already guessed, the King was not a follower of God.
The King decided that his wife, Queen Vashti, should come to his party and dance for his guests,
to show off how beautiful she was.
But Queen Vashti refused the King's request.
The King was very angry and eventually decided to fire Vashti as Queen.
Later, King Xerxes felt bad that he had fired such a beautiful Queen.
The King's advisors came up with an unusual idea.
They decided to hold a beauty contest to pick a new Queen for King Xerxes.
So a search was made in all the provinces of the King for young women for the contest.
All of the women chosen were given special beauty treatments,
and special foods, and lived at a royal palace.
Esther a beautiful young Jewish woman, was chosen to be part of this special pageant.
Esther's Mom and Dad were dead, and her Uncle Mordecai had raised her and been a father to her. Mordecai was a wise man, and told Esther to not tell anyone she was a Jew. Esther obeyed her "Dad" and kept the secret.
משתה - banquet|
אחשוורוש - Xerxes
תחרות - contest
מסכת - pageant
King Xerxes loved Esther more than any of the woman his advisers had found in their beauty search. He gave Esther seven
personal servants, and the best of everything he had. The King crowned Esther Queen, and declared a special holiday in her
honor, and gave away expensive gifts to celebrate this special day. Esther's Uncle Mordecai must have been very happy for his
adopted daughter. Mordecai worked for the King's government, and followed all the exciting events of Esther's success like
any proud Dad would. One day Mordecai was sitting at the gate of the King's palace, and he heard two men talking. They
were making a secret plot to kill King Xerxes! Mordecai ran and told Esther the news and Esther told the King. The plot to kill
the King was ruined by Mordecai's report, and the two men were hung as traitors. Things looked pretty good for Esther and
Mordecai, but trouble was around the corner.
משרתים - servants|
הכתיר - crowned
נהרס - ruined
Trouble was Haman's middle name. Haman worked for King Xerxes, and Haman was an evil man. Haman was in love with
himself, and demanded that everyone kneel down when he came into a room. Everyone was afraid of the evil Haman.
Everyone except Uncle Mordecai. Mordecai feared and b>worshipedGod alone, and did not bow down to Haman like everyone
else. This made Haman VERY angry. He hated Mordecai. When he found out that Mordecai was a Jew he decided to kill
Mordecai and every Jewish person in the kingdom, when he got a chance. Evil Haman made a plan.
לכרוע ברך, להשתחוות - kneel|
סגד - worshiped
Haman told the King that there were a group of people in his Kingdom that were trouble makers, and broke the King's laws.
Not only was this a lie, but Haman never told the King who these people were. Haman convinced the King to issue a decree so
that these trouble makers could be killed. Haman could not wait to get his revenge on Mordecai and the Jewish people.
צו, גזירה - decree|
נקמה - revenge
When Esther's Uncle Mordecai heard the horrible news of Haman's plan, he quickly went to Esther and said "Perhaps you
have come to the kingdom for such time as this." Esther was the Jewish people's only hope, they were a small group in Xerxes'
kindgom, compared to the Persians. Esther told Mordecai to fast (go without food) and pray for three days before she went to
speak to King Xerxes about this terrible plan of Haman's. King Xerxes, like many Kings of that time was incredibly powerful,
and no one could speak to the King without a special invitation. If you were not invited, and interrupted the King, you could be
put to death! But if the King pointed his royal gold scepter (pronounced Sep-ter) towards you, that meant your life was spared.
Interrupting the King was a VERY risky thing to do.
After 3 days of fasting and praying Esther went to the King. King Xerxes was not mad, but happy to see Esther, and pointed
his gold scepter. Esther must have been very brave. The King promised Esther he would give her whatever she wanted, but she
only asked him to come to a special banquet for him, and HAMAN. The King and Haman immediately came to her special
dinner, as Esther had asked. King Xerxes was dying to know what Esther wanted, but when he asked her she only asked that
him and Haman come to a banquet again the next night. Haman, who was already in love with himself, left the banquet with an
even bigger head than usual. On the way home he came across Mordecai and became more angry than ever that Mordecai
would not bow to such an important person as himself! Haman went home and boasted about his "special invitation" from
Esther, and was furious that Mordecai did not bow down to him. His family suggested he build a 75 foot high gallows, to hang
Mordecai on, which Haman immediately had built. Just when Haman thought everything was going his way, it was all about to
That night King Xerxes could not sleep. Just like kids like bedtime stories, King Xerxes liked to be read the royal records when
he could not sleep. Maybe history made him sleepy! This night the King learned some very important information. The records
were read about an attempted plot to kill him, that was discovered by a certain man named MORDECAI. The King asked what
had been done to reward this great act that saved his life. The record said that Mordecai had not received anything for saving
the King's life. That morning Haman arrived early to ask the King for permission to hang Mordecai. The King greeted Haman
with a question. The King did not know that Haman wanted to kill Mordecai. He asked Haman..."What should be done for the
man the King delights to honor?" Haman, of course, had no idea the King was talking about Mordecai (who Haman wanted to
hang). Haman, being in love with himself, figured the King must be wanting to honor him! So Haman thought of every good
thing he could think of to honor himself! Haman said "I think the King should give this man his royal robe, and the King's
royal horse, and one of the King's noblest princes should lead this man through the streets saying...THIS IS WHAT IS DONE
FOR THE MAN THE KING DELIGHTS TO HONOR!" The King replied, to Haman's total shock, that he should
immediately do this for Mordecai, who saved the King's life. Haman spent most of the day leading the King's finest horse
through the streets, with Mordecai, on the horses back, while Haman declared..."This is what is done for the man the King
delights to honor."
It was a tough day for Haman, as you can imagine. But it was going to get worse! Not long after Haman returned home, still in
shock, the King called him to the second banquet with Esther. Once again, the King could not wait to ask Esther what she
wanted. Esther blurted out someone was going to kill her and her people, and she begged the King to save them. The King
asked angrily, "WHO is going to do such a thing?" Esther replied, "This evil man Haman!" The King became so angry he left
the room. Haman was stunned, and terrified. He did not know that Esther was related to Mordecai, and a Jew. Haman fell onto
Esther's couch and began begging for his life. King Xerxes came into the room and exploded when he saw Haman lying
beside his beautiful Queen. The King flew into a violent rage and accused Haman of trying to steal his wife! Haman's evil
plans had turned against him, and he was taken and hung on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.
There is more to this story. But we are going to skip to the ending. In the end, not only did Haman get hung on his own
gallows, but all the enemies of the Jewish people suffered a great defeat. King Xerxes made a law that allowed the Jewish
people to defend themselves, and they did. Esther remained the King's Queen, and her Uncle Mordecai became a powerful
man in King Xerxes palace. Jewish people have been celebrating this great victory ever since. The story of Esther and Purim
teaches us that even when things look bad, God is in control, and He will take care of Godly men and women, and boys and
girls, who refuse to bow to evil.
גרדום - gallows|