Friday, March 2, 2018

Year 8, Day 61: Esther 1

Theological Commentary: Click Here

In Esther 1, it is really difficult to not get embroiled in conversations about which the passage is not really about.  Some people want to make Esther 1 about the man’s ability to rule over the household.  Other people want to make this chapter about the oppression of women.  Some people want to make this chapter about the relative barbarism of ancient cultures.  Personally, I think all of these miss the point.

From my perspective, this chapter is about two things.  First, it is about making a way for Esther to influence the king and bring the plight of her people to the king.  Fundamentally, this chapter is God making room for His servant to do His work.  This chapter is about setting up God’s provision.

Secondly, this chapter is about disobedience and consequence.  This is a chapter where a wife refuses a request of her husband.  It is a chapter where a citizen refuses the request of their king.  The request is honestly not an illegitimate one, either!  The king simply wants to show off his wife to the leaders of the kingdom.  This was, and is, a pretty typical practice among people in relationship.  How many spouses want to show off the person to whom they are married?  How many dating couples want to show off their significant other?  This is a natural human instinct; it is a political move.  This has nothing to do with chauvinism.

In fact, we know historically speaking that the Persian king Khshayarsha (Xerxes’ Persian name) had but one wife: Amestris.  We know that Amestris was a thorn in his side, have a reputation for being cruel to her servants and being incredibly self-centered.  She didn’t play nice with others.  She didn’t care about what other people needed.  She was neither a good role model nor a good political figure.  It’s honestly no wonder that the nobility would rather get rid of her!

In fact, in this light the comments of the nobility make sense.  They are afraid that this self-centeredness will rub off on others.  They are afraid that her inability to play nice with others will lead to a more general breakdown of community in their nation.

For me, the big takeaway for this chapter is that there are consequences for our actions.  We can choose to think of ourselves first.  We can choose to not care about others.  When we do this, though, we can expect the people around us to react accordingly.