Day 275 – Esther Becomes Queen

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read the return of exiles. Nehemiah has many different plots against him by his enemies. He is asked to meet in a village, but Nehemiah has a great response — he is doing important work and cannot come. People can attempt to get us to stop doing God’s will. We should remember how Nehemiah responded so we can keep on task doing God’s work. Nehemiah knows he has been commissioned by God for his work and he cannot be distracted or taken away from it. He asks God to strengthen him.

In Esther, we read that King Ahasuerus has a drunken party that goes on for days and he wants Queen Vashti to attend. She refuses and Ahasuerus issues a decree against her. Esther is a young Jewish woman that becomes part of the King’s harem to replace Vashti. We must remember that in those days women were treated as property by those in power.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Nehemiah 6

1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and our other enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that not a single gap was left — though at that time I had not fixed the doors to the gates-

2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message, ‘Come and meet us at Ha-Chephirim in the Vale of Ono.’ But they had evil designs on me.

3 So I sent messengers to them to say, ‘I am engaged in a great undertaking, so I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’

4 Four times they sent me the same invitation and I made them the same reply.

5 The fifth time, with the same purpose in mind, Sanballat sent me his servant bearing an open letter.

6 It ran, ‘There is a rumour among the nations — and Gashmu confirms it — that you and the Jews are thinking of rebelling, which is why you are rebuilding the wall, and you intend to become their king;

7 and that you have even briefed prophets to acclaim you in Jerusalem with the cry, “There is a king in Judah!” Now, these rumours are going to reach the king; so you had better come and discuss them with us.’

8 To this I sent him the following reply, ‘As regards what you say, nothing of the sort has occurred; it is a figment of your own imagination.’

9 For they were all trying to terrorise us, thinking, ‘They will become demoralised over the work and it will not get finished.’ But my morale rose even higher.

10 Then, when I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, since he was prevented from coming to me, he said: We must gather at the Temple of God, inside the sanctuary itself; we must shut the sanctuary doors, for they are coming to kill you, they are coming to kill you tonight!

11 But I retorted, ‘Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the Temple to save his life? I shall not go in!’

12 I realised that God had not sent him to say this, but that he had produced this prophecy for me because Tobiah was paying him

13 to terrorise me into doing as he said and committing a sin, so that they would have grounds for blackening my reputation and blaming me.

14 Remember Tobiah, my God, for what he did; and Noadiah the prophetess, and the other prophets who tried to terrorise me.

15 The wall was finished within fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth of Elul.

16 When all our enemies heard about it and all the surrounding nations saw it, they thought it a wonderful thing, because they realised that this work had been accomplished by the power of our God.

17 During this same period, the nobles of Judah kept sending letter after letter to Tobiah, and letters from Tobiah kept arriving for them;

18 for he had many sworn to his interest in Judah, since he was son-in-law to Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah.

19 They even cried up his good deeds in my presence, and they reported what I said back to him. And Tobiah kept sending letters to terrorise me.

Nehemiah 7

1 Now, when the wall had been rebuilt and I had hung the doors, the gatekeepers (the singers and the Levites) were then appointed.

2 I entrusted the administration of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and to Hananiah the commander of the citadel, for he was a more trustworthy, God-fearing man than many others.

3 I said to them, ‘The gates of Jerusalem must not be opened until the sun gets hot; and the doors must be shut and barred before it begins to go down. Detail guards from the residents of Jerusalem, each to his post, in front of his own house.’

4 The city was large and spacious but the population was small, and the houses had not been rebuilt.

5 My God then inspired me to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people for the purpose of taking a census by families. I discovered the genealogical register of those who had returned in the first group, and there I found entered:

6 These are the people of the province who returned from the captivity of the Exile, those whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had deported, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.

7 They were the ones who arrived with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

8 sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two;

9 sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two;

10 sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two;

11 sons of Pahath-Moab, that is to say sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen;

12 sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

13 sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five;

14 sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty;

15 sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight;

16 sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight;

17 sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two;

18 sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven;

19 sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven;

20 sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five;

21 sons of Ater, that is to say of Hezekiah, ninety-eight;

22 sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight;

23 sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four;

24 sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve;

25 sons of Gibeon, ninety-five;

26 men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight;

27 men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight;

28 men of Beth-Azmaveth, forty-two;

29 men of Kiriath-Jearim, Chephirah and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three;

30 men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one;

31 men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two;

32 men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;

33 men of the other Nebo, fifty-two;

34 sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four;

35 sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty;

36 sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five;

37 sons of Lod, Hadid and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one;

38 sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty.

39 The priests: sons of Jedaiah, of the House of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three;

40 sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two;

41 sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven;

42 sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen.

43 The Levites: sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodiah, seventy-four.

44 The singers: sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight.

45 The gatekeepers: sons of Shallum, sons of Ater, sons of Talmon, sons of Akkub, sons of Hatita, sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight.

46 The temple slaves: sons of Ziha, sons of Hasupha, sons of Tabbaoth,

47 sons of Keros, sons of Sia, sons of Padon,

48 sons of Lebana, sons of Hagaba, sons of Shalmai,

49 sons of Hanan, sons of Giddel, sons of Gahar,

50 sons of Reaiah, sons of Rezin, sons of Nekoda,

51 sons of Gazzam, sons of Uzza, sons of Paseah,

52 sons of Besai, sons of the Meunites, sons of the Nephusites,

53 sons of Bakbuk, sons of Hakupha, sons of Harhur,

54 sons of Bazlith, sons of Mehida, sons of Harsha,

55 sons of Barkos, sons of Sisera, sons of Temah,

56 sons of Nezaiah, sons of Hatipha.

57 The sons of Solomon’s slaves: sons of Sotai, sons of Sophereth, sons of Perida,

58 sons of Jaala, sons of Darkon, sons of Giddel,

59 sons of Shephatiah, sons of Hattil, sons of Pochereth-ha-Zebaim, sons of Amon.

60 The total of the temple slaves and the sons of Solomon’s slaves: three hundred and ninety-two.

61 The following, who came from Tel-Melah, Tel-Harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer, could not prove that their families and ancestry were of Israelite origin:

62 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda: six hundred and forty-two.

63 And among the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai — who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, whose name he adopted.

64 These had looked for their entries in the official genealogies but were not to be found there, and were hence disqualified from the priesthood.

65 Consequently, His Excellency forbade them to eat any of the consecrated food until a priest appeared who could consult urim and thummim.

66 The whole assembly numbered forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty people,

67 not counting their slaves and maidservants to the number of seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven. They also had two hundred and forty-five male and female singers.

68 They had four hundred and thirty-five camels and six thousand seven hundred and twenty donkeys.

69 A certain number of heads of families contributed to the work. His Excellency contributed one thousand gold drachmas, fifty bowls, and thirty priestly robes to the fund.

70 And heads of families gave twenty thousand gold drachmas and two thousand two hundred silver minas to the work fund.

71 The gifts made by the rest of the people amounted to twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly robes.

72 The priests, the Levites and some of the people lived in Jerusalem and thereabouts; the singers, the gatekeepers, and the templeslaves in their appropriate towns; and all the other Israelites, in their own towns. Now when the seventh month came round —

Esther 1

1 It was in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus whose empire stretched from India to Ethiopia and comprised one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. 

2 In those days, when King Ahasuerus was sitting on his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,

3 in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet at his court for all his officers-of-state and ministers, Persian and Median army-commanders, nobles and provincial governors.

4 Thus he displayed the riches and splendour of his empire and the pomp and glory of his majesty; the festivities went on for a long time, a hundred and eighty days.

5 When this period was over, for seven days the king gave a banquet for all the people living in the citadel of Susa, to high and low alike, on the esplanade in the gardens of the royal palace.

6 There were white and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple thread to silver rings on marble columns, couches of gold and silver on a pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones.

7 For drinking there were golden cups of various design and plenty of wine provided by the king with royal liberality.

8 The royal edict did not, however, make drinking obligatory, the king having instructed the officials of his household to treat each guest according to the guest’s own wishes.

9 Queen Vashti, for her part, gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Ahasuerus.

10 On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven officers in attendance on the person of King Ahasuerus,

11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, crowned with her royal diadem, in order to display her beauty to the people and the officers-of-state, since she was very beautiful.

12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the officers. The king was very angry at this and his rage grew hot.

13 Addressing himself to the wise men who were versed in the law — it being the practice to refer matters affecting the king to expert lawyers and jurists-

14 he summoned Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memucan, seven Persian and Median officers-of-state who had privileged access to the royal presence and occupied the leading positions in the kingdom.

15 ‘According to law,’ he said, ‘what is to be done to Queen Vashti for not obeying the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the officers?’

16 In the presence of the king and the officers-of-state, Memucan replied, ‘Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also all the officers-of-state and all the peoples inhabiting the provinces of King Ahasuerus.

17 The queen’s conduct will soon become known to all the women, who will adopt a contemptuous attitude towards their own husbands. They will say, “King Ahasuerus himself commanded Queen Vashti to appear before him and she did not come.”

18 Before the day is out, the wives of the Persian and Median officers-of-state will be telling every one of the king’s officers-of-state what they have heard about the queen’s behaviour; and that will mean contempt and anger all round.

19 If it is the king’s pleasure, let him issue a royal edict, to be irrevocably incorporated into the laws of the Persians and Medes, to the effect that Vashti is never to appear again before King Ahasuerus, and let the king confer her royal dignity on a worthier woman.

20 Let this edict issued by the king be proclaimed throughout his empire — which is great — and all the women will henceforth bow to the authority of their husbands, both high and low alike.’

21 This speech pleased the king and the officers-of-state, and the king did as Memucan advised.

22 He sent letters to all the provinces of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each nation in its own language, ensuring that every husband should be master in his own house.

Esther 2

1 Some time after this, when the king’s wrath had subsided, Ahasuerus remembered Vashti, how she had behaved, and the measures taken against her.

2 The king’s gentlemen-in-waiting said, ‘A search should be made on the king’s behalf for beautiful young virgins,

3 and the king appoint commissioners throughout the provinces of his realm to bring all these beautiful young virgins to the citadel of Susa, to the harem under the authority of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. Here he will give them whatever they need for enhancing their beauty,

4 and the girl who pleases the king can take Vashti’s place as queen.’ This advice pleased the king and he acted on it.

5 Now in the citadel of Susa there lived a Jew called Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin,

6 who had been deported from Jerusalem among the captives taken away with Jeconiah king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,

7 and was now bringing up a certain Hadassah, otherwise called Esther, his uncle’s daughter, who had lost both father and mother; the girl had a good figure and a beautiful face, and on the death of her parents Mordecai had adopted her as his daughter.

8 On the promulgation of the royal command and edict a great number of girls were brought to the citadel of Susa where they were entrusted to Hegai. Esther, too, was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, the custodian of the women.

9 The girl pleased him and won his favour. Not only did he quickly provide her with all she needed for her dressing room and her meals, but he gave her seven special maids from the king’s household and transferred her and her maids to the best part of the harem.

10 Esther had not divulged her race or parentage, since Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.

11 Mordecai walked up and down in front of the courtyard of the harem all day and every day, to learn how Esther was and how she was being treated.

12 Each girl had to appear in turn before King Ahasuerus after a delay of twelve months fixed by the regulations for the women; this preparatory period was occupied as follows: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with spices and lotions commonly use for feminine beauty treatment.

13 When each girl went to the king, she was given whatever she wanted to take with her, since she then moved from the harem into the royal household.

14 She went there in the evening, and the following morning returned to another harem entrusted to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s officer, custodian of the concubines. She did not go to the king any more, unless he was particularly pleased with her and had her summoned by name.

15 But when it was the turn of Esther the daughter of Abihail, whose nephew Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter, to go into the king’s presence, she did not ask for anything beyond what had been assigned her by Hegai, the king’s officer, custodian of the women. Esther won the approval of all who saw her.

16 She was brought to King Ahasuerus in his royal apartments in the tenth month, which is called Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign;

17 and the king liked Esther better than any of the other women; none of the other girls found so much favour and approval with him. So he set the royal diadem on her head and proclaimed her queen instead of Vashti.

18 The king then gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his officers-of-state and ministers, decreed a holiday for all the provinces and distributed largesse with royal prodigality.

19 When Esther, like the other girls, had been transferred to the second harem,

20 she did not divulge her parentage or race, in obedience to the orders of Mordecai, whose instructions she continued to follow as when she had been under his care.

21 At this time Mordecai was attached to the Chancellery and two malcontents, Bigthan and Teresh, officers in the king’s service as Guards of the Threshold, plotted to assassinate King Ahasuerus.

22 Mordecai came to hear of this and informed Queen Esther, who in turn, on Mordecai’s authority, told the king.

23 The matter was investigated and proved to be true. The two conspirators were sent to the gallows, and the incident was recorded in the Annals, in the royal presence.

Proverbs 21:1-4

1 Like flowing water is a king’s heart in Yahweh’s hand; he directs it wherever he pleases.

2 All actions are straight in the doer’s own eyes, but it is Yahweh who weighs hearts.

3 To do what is upright and just is more pleasing to Yahweh than sacrifice.

4 Haughty eye, proud heart, lamp of the wicked, nothing but sin.


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