Esther – The Name
Esther is the Persian name meaning “star” which reminds one of Daniel 8:10, speaking about the persecution of the Church, “It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.” The stars here would be Christians. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means a “myrtle tree” which is featured in the vision granted to Zechariah where he saw the invisibly present Lord riding upon a red horse standing amongst the myrtle trees “that were in the bottom (the shady valley)” (Zechariah 1:8), which was a place of lowness and dis-esteem. This would well represent the position of the Jews at this time in the Book of Esther. They were a chastised people, slow to recover from their self-brought captive state, and not highly regarded in the eyes of the world. Just as a myrtle tree has a sweet smell and a bitter taste, so too Esther was “sweet” in character and was adverse (“bitter”) to the wicked Haman. These two opposites of character are also found in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
In Chapter 1 of the Book of Esther we are told of how the King of Persia, King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes), divorced his wife Vashti following her insubordination. The king’s advisers suggested that he get a new wife and queen to fill her place, and Esther was chosen as Queen. The king represents Jesus. The name Ahasuerus means Lion-King. Jesus Christ is designated “The lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). Ahasuerus was one of 11 rulers of the MedoPersian Empire. He was preparing his conquest of Greece. In picture, this represents that Jesus also was preparing for a conquest of the Gentile world, represented by the Greek-speaking believers who were served the Gospel by Paul and others. Xerxes made great in-roads into Greece, but he did not conquer the country. Likewise, Jesus made great in-roads into the Gentile world with the Gospel, but he did not convert the world in this age. His conquests, “thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies” (Psalm 45:5, Revelation 6:2), cause arrows of truth to enter the hearts of unbelievers, converting them to be followers of Christ. Thus the historical background of the book of Esther fits well as an episode depicting the beginning of the Gospel Age selection of the Church.
The name Vashti means beautiful and she represents the nation of Israel who had exclusive favour for 32 years from when Jesus (the Seed of Promise) came, but then went into disfavour because of their rejection of Jesus and disobedience. As the Apostle Paul said, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel” until the full number of Gentiles is found to complete the Bride class (Romans 11:25). When king Xerxes called Vashti to appear before him in her royal robe and golden crown, she refused to obey him. The lesson for us is that if the Lord invites us to put on the royal robe of Christ’s righteousness, wear the golden crown of the divine nature, and appear before the great king in beauty of character as his bride, we should not refuse such an invitation. We should consider it as a great honor and should obey eagerly and promptly. Those contemplating consecration should also think about this. Vashti’s situation reminds us of the case of King Saul who also was disobedient. “And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you” (1 Samuel 15:28). Vashti and Saul both lost their crowns. If not obedient, any one of us can be replaced and our crown assigned to a better person. Jesus said, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:11). There is a very sobering thought here. We can lose our crowns by not holding fast to that which we have, by being disobedient to the truth. This test is even now upon the church.
“The king’s daughter is all glorious within” (Psalms 45:13). Vashti was very beautiful, but only on the outside. She did not exhibit the inner beauty that is pleasing to the Lord. “Your beauty should not be dependent on an elaborate arrangement of the hair, or in the wearing of jewelry or fine clothes; but on the inner personality, the unfading loveliness of a meek and gentle spirit, a thing very precious in the eyes of God” (1 Peter 3:3, 4, Weymouth). We want to be beautiful and precious in God’s sight, who looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
“(5)Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjamite, (6) who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away” (Esther 2:5-6).
Esther was the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle; that is, Esther and Mordecai were cousins. After her parents died, the older Mordecai brought up Esther as if she were his own daughter. Mordecai, a Jew, courageously refused to bow to or reverence Haman (King Xerxes’ Prime Minister) and this was noticed by others, as well as by Haman himself. The king’s servants confronted Mordecai and asked why he transgressed the king’s command. In the beginning Mordecai probably delayed the revealment, but after the pressure increased, “he told them that he was a Jew” (Esther 3:4).
At the time of the beauty contest, Esther humbly listened to Mordecai’s advice and obeyed him, not disclosing her identity as a Jewess. In the antitype, the world does not recognize the true Church, the “little flock,” in the present age (Luke 12:32). Nor did the world know Jesus. Thus, the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” — the secretiveness — is a real factor (Colossians 1:27). Even though Jesus sent out the gospel call through his apostles and, generally speaking, the world is familiar with that call, true Christians are not recognized. Later Esther needed prodding from Mordecai to go in to see the king on behalf of Israel.
Mordecai seems to represent the Ancient Worthies, who will be “princes in all the earth” during the Kingdom Age (Psalms 45:16, Isaiah 1:25-27, Micah 5:5, Ezekiel 44:1-3). The “house” (the earth) was the possession of Esther (the Church), but the king (Jesus) was behind the whole arrangement. Since Haman represents Satan, the god of the present evil world, the elevation of Mordecai would indicate the transfer of power to the Ancient Worthies at the beginning of the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 4:4). Mordecai’s name means “dedicated to Mars,” and with Mars being the god of war, that name also describes the Ancient Worthies, who will be strong for the Lord and for a sense of justice. When Jesus rules with a rod of iron, he will rule through the Ancient Worthies, his earthly representatives, who will be backed by authority and power. The Great Company will be in the role of subservient messengers and servants.
The Beauty Contest
(8) So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. (9) And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem (Esther 2:8, 9).
For this contest, “many young women” were to be brought to the palace in Shushan and given into the “custody of Hegai (the King’s eunuch) who had charge of the women,” for preparation of the women. Like Eliezer with Rebekah, Hegai pictures the Holy Spirit. God gives the custody, care, and nurturing of Christians, His children, to the charge of His Holy Spirit, which enlightens, feeds, and nourishes them (John 14:25-26, Romans 8:26-27).
The process of selecting a queen to replace Vashti corresponds to the high calling of the Church, which come “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Those who appeared to be promising candidates were screened and then inducted into the court of the king for further screening and selection. Psalms 45:10-15 fits in nicely here.
“(10) Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, (11) and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. (12) The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people. (13) All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. (14) In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. (15) With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.”
When we consecrate, we leave our father’s house, the house of Adam, and we leave the things of this world including human relationships, hopes, aims, and ambitions. Our heavenly king greatly desires to see inner beauty of character in us (1 Samuel 16:7), and he gives us needed experiences to develop it. We are spiritually nourished so that we can be “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). We add to our robes the beautiful adornments of the Christian graces. Psalm 110:3 refers to these as “holy garments” and Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the fruits of the spirit, which we are to bear. 2 Peter 1:5-7 instructs us to add to our faith seven qualities: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity. Thus, we are to be moral, understanding, self-controlled, enduring, godly, and have two kinds of love: phileo (brotherly affection) and agape (unselfish love for the other). When we finally enter the king’s presence, our clothing is of wrought gold, symbolic of the divine nature, and we receive a golden crown, the crown of life.
The seven maidens assigned to Esther during the preparation were not contestants. They were supplied to Esther, and represent guardian angels who provide us with custodial care through the seven periods of the Gospel Age (Matthew 18:10). Once we enroll into battle as soldiers of the Cross, we too, like Esther, are given special spiritual “food” — the Word of God and an understanding of it, through the holy Spirit (Matthew 4:4, John 6:35, 50-71).
Esther 2:12, 13 — (12) Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women — (13) when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace.
The 12 months of Esther’s purification were “six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours.” The myrrh pictures bitter experiences, whereas the sweet odors and fragrances are the joys of the truth. God balances these opposite experiences for the Christian. “The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” God adds no unnecessary sorrow (Proverbs 10:22). Thus the Christian has a checkered life of summer and winter, of light and darkness experiences. Opposition, persecution, and ostracism — disciplinary experiences — are mixed with joy. The Manna comment for June 4 says: “In the calmer days, when the sun[shine] of [God’s] favor shone brightly upon you, you were quietly laying the foundation of a knowledge of the Truth, and rearing the superstructure of Christian character. Now you are in the furnace to be proved.” There comes a time for change, for hard experiences with a dark cloud and a chill. In Song 4:16, the Bride class says, “Awake, O north wind; and come, O south wind! blow upon my garden, let its spices flow.” The true Christian must have both experiences. Therefore, he asks God for this. “Send sorrow, send pain; sweet are thy messengers, sweet their refrain” are the sentiments of a hymn. The Christian is willing to suffer for Christ, but he wants uplifting experiences too. Thus, Jehovah blesses His children with measured and balanced experiences.
During our selection period on earth, we are to hold our hope firm, steadfast, unto the end (Hebrews 3:6). We should be “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). To give up because of thinking he or she has failed, results in disaster. You may recognize that you have not made the highest grade, but you must keep the hope to the end of your course. Even Paul said, “I do not even judge myself” (1 Corinthians 4:3) — though in another place he did advise us to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). Paul did not condemn himself, for God is the Judge. However, we should judge our actions by inspecting them daily. We are not to reason, “If I do not make the Little Flock, there is always the Great Company class,” for that attitude diminishes the prospect of making the Little Flock. We are to run the race until we reach the finish line. What God thinks in the meantime is His decision. Thus, the 12-month period of Esther’s preparation applies to the lifetime of each one in the high calling.
“In the evening” a candidate came before the king, but the decision was made “in the morning” (Esther 2:14). Each Creative Day began with an evening and ended with a morning (Genesis 1:5,8,13, etc.). “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The Gospel Age is a “nighttime,” as shown by the Passover picture. Joy will come in the morning, not only for the world in the Kingdom, but also for the Christian who makes his calling and election sure. We are to “pay attention” to prophecy “as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star (Jesus) rises” in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19). If we follow properly, Jesus will rise up in our heart and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Each one has had the “evening” in which to please the King. At the end of our course we die, and when the “morning” comes, a decision is rendered.
(15) When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch [the keeper of the women, KJV], who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. (16) And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign …” (Esther 2:15-16)
When a candidate was to be presented to the king, she made herself as attractive as possible. She fixed her hair, wore a becoming dress, used a certain perfume, etc. How did Esther handle this? Verse 15 states that Esther “required nothing except what Hegai … advised.” She acquiesced fully to Hegai and left the choice with him. She did not exercise her own will, but complied with his decision, trusting in God’s keeping power, instructions, and advice for attaining the throne. In the antitype, the consecrated are instructed what Jesus would like to see in our characters. God and Jesus instruct us, but compliance is largely a voluntary matter. To be faithful, we have to acquiesce, submit, and be beheaded for the witness, or testimony, of Christ (Revelation 20:4). The truly consecrated, those who attain the high calling, will leave the choice with the “keeper.” John 6:38, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” At consecration we vow to be dead with Christ, meaning we give up our earthly rights and acquiesce to the will of God, preferring to suffer with Christ and lay down our lives in sacrifice (1 John 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:12).
When Esther was presented to the king, she “obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.” So we hope to be viewed by the holy angels, specially our guardian angels. They did not decide her acceptance, but they were impressed, feeling she would be selected as the queen. Over the 2,000 years of the Gospel Age, some guardian angels may have successively guarded 20 to 40 Christians. As they watch those they are assigned to, they know everything about them. God makes the final decision, but the guardian angels could approximate their destiny.
Esther “was taken to king Ahasuerus into his royal palace” “in the tenth month” of “the seventh year of his reign,” still future in the antitype. The Esther class comprises all 144,000 faithful saints. They will enter the King’s royal house at the marriage. The risen saints wait with Jesus for the arrival of the feet members. When complete, all will be introduced to the Heavenly Father at the wedding.
The “seventh year” suggests the seventh (and last) stage of the Church, the end of the Gospel Age. As a class, the feet members will be caught up in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52). Then the Little Flock will be presented complete. Emperor Jehovah will be seated on His throne, with Jesus on His right hand.
“(17) … the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (18) Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity” (Esther 2:17-18).
In the story of Esther, the virgins who failed to become the bride were not sent home, but were given a secondary place in the king’s household. These represent the Great Company, referred to as “the virgins, her companions (Psalm 45:14),” also termed “foolish virgins” in Matthew 25:3,8.
The feast that followed Esther’s selection, the second gathering called “Esther’s feast,” corresponds to the marriage supper, which the Great Company class will attend (Revelation 19:9). They will serve “before the throne” (Revelation 7:15).
The Ancient Worthies
Esther 2:19, 20, “When the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. Esther had not yet shown her kindred, as Mordecai had charged her.” Mordecai represents the Ancient Worthies.
Verse 21, “In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.” The king’s gate was a place of judgment, and the Ancient Worthies will have a place of prominence in the earthly kingdom, that will begin at Israel. “The law” will go forth from Zion, and “the word of the LORD” from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3). Later, in the due, the general resurrection of mankind will begin.
As Mordecai wrote a new law in the king’s name which counteracted and Haman’s wicked law of death (Esther 8:8-10), a New Law Covenant will be inaugurated with Israel that will bring life to mankind. Haman was hanged upon gallows he had prepared for the innocent (Esther 7:10), and Satan will receive the penalty of death that he inflict upon humanity. Haman fortune was given to Esther who turned it over to Mordecai to administer for her, representing the transfer of Satan’s usurped dominion of the world to the church, reigning with Christ, who will be represented by the Ancient Worthies. This will fulfill Daniel’s prophecy, “The kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:27).
Haman’s ten sons were killed, as the powers of this world will pass away also (Esther 9:10). The narrative closes with Ahasuerus (Jesus) in control (Esther 10:1), Esther his queen vested “with all authority” (Esther 9:29), and Mordecai “advanced” by the king, as will be the Ancient Worthies. The human family will be blessed evermore.
- Br. Frank Shallieu, Old Testament Studies – The Book of Esther, 1996 Study
- Queen Esther, Beauties of the Truth, Volume 25, Number 3, August 2014
- Br. Donald Holliday, Esther and Our Times – The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom 1999 – Sept-Oct
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