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!
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.
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.’
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!
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.
1 Now, when the wall had been rebuilt and I had hung the doors, the gatekeepers (the singers and the Levites) were then appointed.
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.’
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.
26 men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight;
32 men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;
46 The temple slaves: sons of Ziha, sons of Hasupha, sons of Tabbaoth,
65 Consequently, His Excellency forbade them to eat any of the consecrated food until a priest appeared who could consult urim and thummim.
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.
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 —
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.’
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.