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By: Larry Shaffer
A pastor in Malawi, Africa drew this picture after I taught on a firm grasp of God’s Word. Hear, read, study, meditate and memorize God’s Word.
The Background of the book of Esther
The story takes place in ancient Persia during the period when Persia was the reigning world empire. Nearly 50 million people resided within the empire during this time period of the early 400sBC. Persia had conquered Babylon many years earlier, (539BC) so the Jews residing in Babylon (because of their Babylonian captivity) were now part of the Persian empire. Esther was a child orphan during the time of the famous king Darius. His well-known for his battles with the Greeks, (who would eventually defeat Persia under Alexander the Great). One of the famous battles between Darius and the Greeks was the battle of Marathon in 490BC where, although the Persians were favored, Darius suffered defeat. Enraged, he vowed revenge but died shortly thereafter before he could mount another attack. Darius’ son, Xerxes, took over as King and vowed to carry out his father revenge. Xerxes battles the Greeks repeatedly and has some successes and some defeats but eventually the Greeks prevail.
The king with two names
All this to say that Esther was born during the later reign of Darius and came of age under the reign of his son, Xerxes. Xerxes was the name the Greeks gave him, but the Hebrews called him Ahasuerus. Xerxes/Ahasuerus is the king in the book of Esther who eventually takes Esther as his bride.
Vs.1 says “Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, (50 Million people)…in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet….(for his nobles, princes and military officers)… and he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days.” So, we have a new king with inherited wealth (old money). He could do anything he wants, have anything he wants and go anywhere he wants. Most likely he called these men together to plan out his campaigns and strategies to utterly defeat the Greeks, but the Hebrew writer of Esther tells us it ended with a 7-day banquet. Wine and food took center stage during this banquet.
The king of the world
The drama begins with Ahasuerus assuming the role of “king of the world” with no mention of God. Some things just never change. World rulers have been doing the same thing ever since. Thinking of themselves as men of ultimate power without even a thought toward God. Little does Ahasuerus realize that the unseen God is orchestrating the entire scene for His purposes and Ahasuerus is simply a play actor in the drama. God is about to really rock his world in the next scene with the defiance of his current wife, Vashti.
Lord, in the coming days, teach us more about You and Your divine providence in our lives. Help us avoid the sin of living this life as if it is our own. We are yours. May we be mindful and thoughtful toward You and Your ways and Your Word, always. Amen