Esther 5

ESTHER CHAPTER 5

Addition C (located after chapter 4)

Mordecai’s Prayer

    • Then Mordecai prayed to the Lord, remembering all the works the Lord had done.

    • He said, “O Lord, Lord, You rule as King over all things. The universe is in Your power because You made heaven and earth and every wonderful thing under heaven. There is no one who can oppose You when it is Your will to save Israel. You are Lord of all, and no one can resist You, the Lord. You know all things. O Lord, You know that it was not in insolence, or pride, or love of glory that I refused to bow down to this proud Haman, because I would have been willing to kiss the soles of his feet to save Israel! I did this so that I would not set human glory above the glory of God. I will not bow down to anyone but You, who are my Lord, and I do not do these things in pride. Now O Lord God and King, God of Abraham, spare Your people because the eyes of our enemies are upon us to annihilate us, and they want to destroy the inheritance that has been Yours from the beginning. Do not neglect Your portion, which You redeemed for Yourself out of the land of Egypt. Hear my prayer and have mercy upon Your inheritance. Turn our mourning into feasting so that we may live and sing praise to Your name. O Lord, do not destroy the lips of those who praise You.”

    • And all of Israel cried out mightily because their death was in front of their eyes.

Esther’s Prayer

    • Then Queen Esther was seized with deadly anxiety and fled to the Lord. She took off her splendid apparel and put on clothing for mourning and distress. Instead of expensive perfumes, she covered her head in ashes and dung. She utterly humbled her body, covering with her tangled hair every part that she loved to adorn. She prayed to the Lord God of Israel saying, “O my Lord, You are our only king. Help me. My danger is in my hands. I am alone, and have no helper but You. O Lord, ever since I was born I have heard in my family’s tribe that You took Israel out of all the nations, and our ancestors from among all their forefathers, as an everlasting inheritance, and that You did everything that You promised for them. Now we have sinned before You by glorifying their gods, and You have handed us over to our enemies. O Lord, You are righteous. Now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery. They have covenanted with their idols to abolish what You have ordained with Your mouth, to destroy Your inheritance, to close the mouths of those who praise You, to quench Your altar and the glory of Your house, to open the mouths of the nations to praise vain idols, and to magnify a mortal king forever.

    • O Lord, don’t surrender Your scepter to what has no being, and don’t let them laugh at our downfall. Instead, turn their plan against them, and make an example of the man who began this against us. Remember, O Lord. O King of the gods and Master of all dominion, make Yourself known in this time of our affliction, and give me courage. Put eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion, and turn his heart to hate the man who is fighting against us, so that there will be an end to him and those who agree with him. Save us by Your hand and help me. O Lord, I am alone and have no helper but You. You know all things, and You know that I hate the splendor of the wicked, and detest the bed of the uncircumsised and any alien. You know my necessity: that I abhor the sign of my proud position, which is on my head on the days that I appear in public. I hate it like a filthy rag, and I don’t wear it on days when I am at leisure. Your servant has not eaten at Haman’s table, nor have I honored the king’s feast or drunk the wine of libations. Your servant has had no joy since the day I was brought here until now, except in you, O Lord God of Abraham. O God, whose power is over all, hear the voice of the despairing, and save us from the evildoer’s hands. Save me from my fear!”

        • The MT never addresses how Esther practices her Israelite religion as a Persian queen, or whether she has dietary or work restrictions in accordance with the Torah. Addition C specifically addresses these tensions: Esther fulfills her queenly duties as far as her religion allows, but resents them.”

      • In the Introduction to Esther, I explained that there are two different Greek versions of Esther: the LXX (Septuagint, which the text above his based on), and the AT (a Greek translation that is based on an earlier Hebrew text that is even shorter than the MT). With that in mind, Bustamante writes:

        • There are also some important discrepancies between the version of Addition C in the LXX and that of the AT. In LXX… Mordechai states that he ‘refused to bow down to this proud Haman.’ In the AT, however, he states he did not bow down to ‘uncircumcised Haman.’ Here in the AT, Mordechai echoes Esther’s later disdain for uncircumcised gentiles, thus emphasizing fidelity to the Mosaic Covenant. There are also several discrepancies that seem like scribal errors. For example… Esther prays, ‘do not surrender your scepter to what has no being…,’ while the same verse in the AT has ‘to your enemies who hate you…’ Here, the words for ‘what has no being’ are very similar in Greek to ‘those who hate.’ Later…Esther states, ‘your servant has not eaten at Haman’s table…’ while the AT reads ‘at their tables at the same time …’ Again, ‘Haman’s table’ in Greek is very close to ‘their tables.’”

End Addition C

Addition D (located before chapter 5)

    • On the third day, when she had ended her prayer, she took off the clothing she had worshiped in, and dressed herself in splendid attire. Then, adorned majestically, after invoking the help of the all-seeing God and Savior, she took two maids with her. She leaned gently on one for support, while the other followed, carrying her train. She was radiant with perfect beauty, and looked happy, as if she were beloved, but her heart was frozen with fear. When she had gone through all the doors, she stood before the king. He was seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of his majesty, and all covered with gold and precious stones. He was terrifying.

    • Lifting his face, which was flushed with splendor, he looked at her in fierce anger. The queen faltered, turned pale and faint, and collapsed on the head of the maid who walked in front of her. Then God changed the king’s spirit to gentleness. He sprang from his throne in alarm, and took her into his arms until she came to herself. He comforted her with soothing words, saying, “What is it, Esther? I am your husband. Take courage. You will not die, because our law only applies to our subjects. Come near.”

    • Then he raised the golden scepter and touched her neck with it. He embraced her saying, “Speak to me.” She replied, “I saw you my lord, like an angel of God, and my heart was shaken with fear at your glory, because you are wonderful my lord, and your countenance is full of grace.” And while she was speaking, she fainted and fell. Then the king was agitated, and all his servants tried to comfort her.

      • Note, “In Greek, Chapter D replaces verses 1 and 2 in Hebrew.” (NRSV footnote)

      • Turning again to Bustamante:

        • Jobes and Silvamake an important observation concerning Addition D: ‘it is woven within the Greek verses translating the Hebrew text of 5:1–2, expanding these two Hebrew verses to sixteen in the Greek.’ This is the only Addition that is interwoven within the translation of the Hebrew text. In other words, instead of being a block of text that has no parallel in the Hebrew text, Addition D is written into the Hebrew translation.”

      • There are two main differences to note between the LXX and the AT versions of Addition D. In the LXX, Esther enters uninvited, and then the king ‘lifting his face, flushed with splendor, […] looked at her in fierce anger’ (Esther 15:7).The AT reads, ‘as a bull in the height of his anger’

      • Addition D is the narrative high point of Greek Esther, but in many ways it raises the most questions. Indeed, Moore writes, ‘The establishment of Purim is the raison d’etre of the Hebrew version, while God’s miraculous deliverance of Queen Esther (D 8) is the climax in the Greek.’ Addition D follows Addition C directly and tells the story of Esther’s entrance before the king. Esther, arrayed in all her beauty, enters the king’s throne room. The king looks at her in fury, whereupon Esther faints. God then softens the king’s heart, and the king revives her and reassures her. In the LXX, Esther then faints again.”

End Addition D

Esther’s First Banquet for the King

    • On the 3rd day, Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner court of the palace, opposite the king’s quarters. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the palace, across from the entrance. When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court he was pleased with her. He held out the gold scepter that was in his hand, and Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

      • ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “Extant sources do not describe a queen’s robes, but reliefs provide a general idea of what noble women wore: long dresses typically tied with a belt and featuring multiple folds and wide sleeves; a veil that did not cover the face was also worn occasionally.”

      • ESV Study Bible writes, “At the end of three days of fasting (4:16). Esther stands where Ahasuerus can see her and waits for him either to reject or receive her. This is a very tense moment, for she is risking her life.”

    • The king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you.”

      • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible points out, “This statement should not be taken literally. Its repetition in v. 6 and 7:2, as well as its appearance in Mk 6:23, suggests that this phrase was an idiomatic means of expressing royal favor.”

    • Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I have prepared for the king today.” The king answered, “Bring Haman at once so that we may do as Esther requests.”

      • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, “Esther’s delay in presenting the petition for her people’s lives should not be interpreted as a sign of cowardice. Rather, Esther was following typical Near Eastern protocol for presenting a request. She begins by asking for a small favor but eventually she works her way, one concession at a time, to the real issue at hand.”

    • So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king asked Esther, “What is your request? It will be given to you. What is your petition? Even up to half the kingdom, and it will be granted.”

    • Esther replied, “This is my request and petition: If I have found favor in the king’s sight and if it pleases the king to grant my request and approve my petition, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them tomorrow. At that time I will do as the king has asked.”

      • ESV Study Bible says, “Another feast, on the following day. Esther bides her time, as Haman had done. She puts Haman further off guard and makes sure the king is in the best possible mood before revealing what she wants.”

Haman’s Plan to Kill Mordecai

    • That day Haman left happy and in high spirits. But when Haman saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and saw that he neither rose nor trembled with fear at his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. Yet Haman restrained himself and went on to his home.

    • He sent for his friends and his wife, Zeresh, to join him. Haman recounted to them his vast wealth, his many sons, and how the king had honored him and elevated him over the king’s other officials and servants. Then Haman said, “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. I am also invited, along with the king, tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

      • NET Bible says, “According to Esth 9:10 Haman had ten sons.”

    • ESV Study Bible remarks, “Haman is elated at how he has been treated by the king and queen, but again becomes incensed by Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him. He won’t be able to enjoy the (second) feast until he has dealt with Mordecai.”

    • His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows 75 feet high built, and ask the king in the morning to hang Mordecai on it. Then go to the banquet with the king and enjoy yourself.”

      • ESV Study Bible writes, “There was a gallows in 2:23, but this is another gallows, to be erected especially for hanging Mordecai. Its enormous height…reflects Haman’s ‘towering’ rage; it is probably intended to make a public spectacle of Mordecai. Zeresh assumes that Haman’s influence is now so great that he can virtually order the king to hang Mordecai. Mordecai’s fate now seems to depend on whose influence over Ahasuerus will prevail- Haman’s or Esther’s.”

    • The advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows constructed.

      • Guzik says, “We should never underestimate the destructive and distorting power of hatred. The same irrational, violent hatred that made Haman want to see Mordecai hang to his death is the same irrational, violent hatred that made man want to hang Jesus on a cross.”

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