IF I PERISH, I PERISH!

                                            

King Ahasuerus reigned from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces. He gave a feast that lasted 180 days. That’s a lot of food. It was followed by another feast lasting a week.  On the 7th day he ordered his seven eunuchs to bring in Queen Vashti, who was giving a feast for the women. She refused. The king burned with anger and asked his seven wise men what should be done. One of them said that she should be forever banished from his presence and the king should choose someone else. Esther, adopted by Mordecai when her parents died, was one of those chosen to be beautified for twelve months. Mordecai checked up on her daily. She won the contest and was made queen in place of Va

One day Mordecai heard about a plan of two eunuchs of the king to assassinate him. He told this to Esther, who passed the plot along to the king. He investigated the matter, found it to be true, and had the men hanged. Meanwhile, a man named Haman rose to a place of prominence next to the king, and people bowed down to him, all except Mordecai, because he was a Jew. Haman in anger decided that all the Jews of the empire should be destroyed. He lied to the king about the Jewish people and said they should be exterminated. He promised to give the king money to help in the destruction. This decree went out to every province. When Mordecai heard of it, he tore his clothes and cried bitterly, as did Jews throughout the kingdom.

Esther sent clothes for Mordecai through one of the eunuchs, but he would not put them on. He sent word back to Esther, showing her the written decree, and telling her that she had to go before the king on behalf of her people. She sent word back that it had been thirty days since she had been before the king, and if she went without being called, her life was in danger. Mordecai sent this message back to her: “Don’t think that because you are in the palace you will escape. If you keep silent, deliverance will come from another place, but you and your house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Esther replied to Mordecai, “Gather all the Jews in Susa and hold a three-day fast. Don’t eat or drink. I and my young women will do the same. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (15,16).

On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes and stood in front of the king’s quarter. When the king saw her, he held out his golden scepter. She approached him and touched the end of the scepter. He asked her what she requested and promised up to half of his kingdom. She requested that the king and Haman come to a feast that day that she has prepared. At the feast the king repeated his promise. She requested that the king come the next day to a feast and she would let him know. Haman left, passed by Mordecai, and despised him for not bowing. He went home rejoicing for the favor he was being shown by Queen Esther two days in a row. But he told his wife, “It means nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate” (5:13). She said, “Prepare a gallows 75 feet high and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged on it,” which Haman did. 

That night the king couldn’t sleep. He read through the book of memorable deeds and found how Mordecai had uncovered a plot on his life. He found out that nothing had been done to honor him. It was morning by now, and Haman was coming up the court. So the king asked him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” Thinking he was the hero, he recommended lavish acclamation through the square with someone proclaiming praises. The king said, “Good. Do this for Mordecai.” Haman had to be the town crier for his enemy, after which he hurried home in shame. His wife said, “Doesn’t look good for you now.”

At that moment the eunuchs arrived to bring him to Esther’s feast. As they were dining, the king again asked the queen about her request. She told him the grief she felt concerning the decree regarding the annihilation of her people. The king asked, “Who has dared to do this?” and she replied, “This wicked Haman!” While the king stepped out to the garden in anger, Haman fell on the couch with Esther, pleading for mercy. The king returned, and it appeared that Haman was assaulting her. He commanded that the gallows prepared for Mordecai be used for him. And the authority that Haman had enjoyed was now given to Mordecai along with a crown and a royal blue robe. He was received in Susa the capital with great cheers.

Esther then pleaded with the king on behalf of her people, the Jews. The king could not reverse his edict but allowed the Jews to arm and defend themself against all who wanted to destroy them. The Jews gained mastery over their enemies and defeated them. The ten sons of Haman were hanged on his gallows. The day that the Jews were to be annihilated that they reversed was turned into a feast day–the Feast of Purim. “Pur” means to cast lots. Lots were cast to crush them, and the reverse took place. Purim this year is March 16! Rejoice with your Jewish friends!

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