A Woman in Authority, Who Refused to be Silent: In Celebration of Purim

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”
So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.” (Esther 3:8-10)

This is the biblical account of Haman’s plot to perpetrate genocide against the people of Israel while they were in exile. He was unsuccessful.

God used a woman in authority, Queen Esther, to stop him. She exposed the evil machinations of Haman to her husband, King Xerxes:

Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated.” (Esther 7:3-4)

Up to this point, the King had been unaware that it was the Queen’s own people that Haman planned to destroy. When Xerxes learned the truth, he was outraged:

King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” (Esther 7:5)

The Queen named the would-be murderer, and the King promptly ordered his execution.

This is the deliverance of Israel that is celebrated during the feast of Purim, underway across the world even now. And who instituted this celebration that is still observed? Once again, it was Queen Esther, exercising her “full authority”:

So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records. (Esther 9:29-32)

I’m thankful to God that he raised up Esther, a woman, to a position of authority; and that she had the courage to speak on behalf of her people. An unthinkable tragedy was averted as a result of her courage and God’s intervention.

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