Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Esther Bible Study - Chapter 2

In chapter one I didn’t want to get ahead of myself by going too in-depth on the topic of the Jews and the Gentiles. What we did study was “righteousness” and how important the righteousness of Christ is to one’s salvation. As we know from scripture, it is impossible for one to be saved without faith in Jesus Christ.

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. ~ Romans 5:19, KJV

The following verse is key in summing up chapter one and moving on to chapter two:

For they [the Jews] being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. ~ Romans 10:3, KJV

In this chapter we’ll discuss this further, as the story of Esther leads us to explore the Jews, the Gentiles, and the plan of salvation.

Meaning of names in this chapter:

Mordecai: Worshipper of Marduk (a Babylonian god)
Hadassah: Myrtle (a flowering plant)
Esther: Star (Persian name)
Hegai: Meditation, Word, Groaning, Separation

Esther 2:1-3

Here we see a virgin being established in place of Queen Vashti.

As we return to the parable of the banquet, let us compare Matthew 22:8-10 with these three verses.

What similarity do you see if any?

Esther 2:4

Pay close attention to this verse as it says, “Let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king.”

In understanding the story of Esther and the symbolism that it has to both Jews and Gentiles, we can look to the passage in Romans 11:7-12:

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [Gentiles] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? ~ Romans 11:7-12, KJV

We see from this scripture that God has never turned His back on the Jewish people in favor of a different bride. He was angry toward them, yes, but has never cast them away (Rom 1:11). A father chastens those he loves.

Look at Romans 11:20-22. What attitude are we commanded to have toward salvation and to the Jews?

Esther 2:5-6

Throughout scripture, and even more so in our modern language, the Israelites are often referred to as Jews. The word Jew however comes from the tribe of Judah. Here we see it being used in a broader sense as Mordecai (from the tribe of Benjamin) is referred to as a “Jew.”

We see from verse five that Mordecai worked in the palace, but we aren’t told what his duties were. And it would also seem from verse eight that they didn’t live there.

Esther 2:7-8

Here we are introduced Hadassah which is Esther. What relationship does she have to Mordecai?

What do we know about her appearance?

In verse 8, who do we see as the keeper of the women at the palace?

It is believed by many that Hegai was a eunuch. Wikipedia describes a eunuch this way:

Eunuchs are mentioned many times in the Bible such as in the book of Isaiah (56:4) using the word סריס (saris). Although the Ancient Hebrews did not practice castration, eunuchs were common in other cultures featured in the Bible, such as Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, the Persian Emprie and Ancient Rome. In the Book of Esther servants of the harem of Ahasuerus such as Hegai and Shashgaz as well as other servants such as Hatach, Harbonah, Bigthan, and Teresh are referred to as sarisim. Being exposed to the consorts of the king, they would have likely been castrated.

When I compare the story of Esther to that of the bride of Christ preparing herself for the King, Hegai typifies the Holy Spirit, which is given to us as a helper.

Looking at these two verses, what do we learn about the Holy Spirit?

John 14:26

John 16:13

Esther 2:9

How many maids were given to Esther?

As a Christian, who do you see as the "maids" in your life, i.e. who helps you prepare for the coming of Christ?

Esther 2:10-11

We see here that Mordecai charged Esther to keep her presence at the palace a secret from their people. Dake’s annotated Bible (p.515b) suggests that this was likely due to her Jewish origin. That would also explain why her name was changed from Hadassah to Esther, which is a Persian word for “star.”

Esther 2:12

How long was Esther in the palace before she saw the king?

What were the two beauty treatments that she had during her time of purification?

It’s interesting to note the significance of the two treatments used in the purification process. They are similar to ours as believers. Let’s look at them:

The first was the oil of myrrh. Myrrh comes from the Commiphoa Myrra tree. But the significance is in the way that it is extracted. The tree is pierced and the myrrh bleeds out of the tree in droplets. Many Christian historians believe that this symbolizes the suffering of Christ.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. ~ Romans 8:17, KJV

In the second half of the purification Esther was treated with sweet odors.

Compare Ephesians 5:2 and Philippians 4:18 with this part of the purification process. What might "sweet odors" symbolize in a believer’s life?

And finally, here is another verse that reflects our own purification treatment:

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: ~ 1 Peter 1:22, KJV

In those verses we see that believers are called to submit to the King through obedience, the very thing that Vashti was lacking.

Esther 2:13-15

In verse 13 we're told that the other women took whatever they desired with them out of the house when they met with the king. More than likely it means that they took fine garments and jewels.

However, in verse 15 we see that Esther required nothing but what Hegai had appointed. I'm really liking this girl!

What lessons can we take from both Esther and 1 Peter 3:3-5 when it comes to adorning ourselves?

Esther 2:16-17

Looking at 1 Samuel 2:4-8 we find Hannah’s prayer, a portion of scripture that illustrates how God can raise those who are lowly to a position of honor, and take down those who are mighty.

The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them. ~ 1 Samuel 2:4-8, KJV

How does this compare to verse 17, and in what ways could this message affect your life?

Esther 1:18-20

We can see from verse 20 that her relationship to Mordecai was still being kept as a secret. But what we can tell from his position in the kingdom is that Mordecai still had access to Esther so that he could keep watch over her.

When I see the relationship between Esther and Mordecai, I’m warmly reminded of the love and dedication between Ruth and Naomi. What I’m also reminded of is this portion of scripture:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless [orphans] and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. ~ James 1:27, KJV

Pure religion, in this sense, being the way that we live out our faith.

Esther 1:21-23

What transpired in verse 21?

What two things came of it in verse 23?

That's the end of chapter two, ladies! We'll dig into chapter three on Friday!

Find the other chapters here:

Esther Chapter 6

If you are studying along with us this week, you are welcome to leave a link to your site in the Linky tool below. But rather than linking up with a graphic from your blog like we usually do, it would be nice if you could post your profile photo so we can all see each other. If you don't have one--not a problem, another graphic will do. The Linky tool is just a way for all of us to get to know each other, it's not necessary to write a corresponding post.

I'm also posting the button code to the Bible study in hopes that you can add it to your post or sidebar.

You are loved by an almighty God,


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