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Theme: God acts behind the scenes to work His will, to protect His Chosen

People (the Jews) and to demonstrate His sovereignty even over heathen

rulers. It could be the most striking biblical statement of the providence of


Historical context: Cyrus the Great attacked and conquered Babylon in 539

BC. Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuilt (found in Ezra

1). Eventually, Xerxes I, the son of Darius, became emperor, ruling from

486-465 BC, perpetually at war with Greece. During this period of struggle

between Persia and Greece, comes the story of Esther.

1:1-8--The third year when Xerxes ruled in Susa over 127 provinces from

India to Cush, he gave a banquet of 180 days (to impress the war council

planning the Persian invasion of Greece.)

1:9-12—The queen gives her own banquet for the wives. On the 7 th day of

Xerxes’ banquet, he demands she show off her beauty and fabulous royal

garments. Vashti refuses. Xerxes is ticked. He’s not used to being told “no”.

1:13-22—Xerxes asks his wisest advisors what to do about the queen. They

are worried that all the other women will follow her example, disobeying

their husbands, and bringing chaos. So they banish her from the king’s

presence, and will replace her.

2:1-11—Xerxes orders the most beautiful girls in the kingdom to vie for the

queenhood. A Jew named Mordechai urges adopted daughter Hadassah, also

known as Esther, to audition, discouraging her from revealing she is a Jew.

She is beautiful and well-shaped.

2:12-18—The kings eunuch oversees the twelve months of beauty

treatments for all the “contestants”, then the nights with the King. Esther

pleases Xerxes the most, so he crowns her the new queen. Banquets,

holidays, and gifts abound to celebrate.

2:19-3:15— Mordecai overhears an assassination plot and tells Esther, who

tells the King. The conspirators are hanged. Five years later, a noble named

Haman the Agagite was highly honiored and promoted, and the others bow

to him. Mordecai refuses, enraging Haman, who plots to destroy all the Jews

in Persia. He approaches the king and gets permission to send notice to

every province that on the 13 th day of the 12 th month, all Jews are to be