credit where credit is due…

My mom is currently leading a Bible Study on the book of Esther.  I am not in the said Bible Study, but it seems like whenever my mother and I discuss spiritual matters, she’s always referring back to that book.  It’s always “In Esther, this….” or “That’s like Esther’s…” or she’s quoting verses directly from the book of Esther.  Well, I’ve been looking for some direction from God lately and decided ‘Why not take a look at Esther?’

I started today and the biggest issue that jumped out at me was how Esther became queen.  Have you ever wondered why the king chose Esther?  There were many young women who were candidates for the position of queen, so what made Esther stand out?  Usually when we hear a sermon on this topic, we’re told that God blessed her and made her find favor in the eyes of the king so that the Jews could be saved.  (Or something along those lines.)  That’s probably true.  The Bible doesn’t specifically say “God moved the heart of the king”, however. (In comparison to the story of Moses, where the book of Exodus literally says that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart.”)  In fact, the book of Esther is known as one that says very little about God specifically and instead only implies spiritual issues. 

Here’s what the Bible does say happen (My paraphrase of Esther Chapter 2.) All these women who were candidates for the crown were taken into a harem and prepped for an entire year with Persian customs of beautifying women. (Esther 2:12. Six months with oil and myrrh and six months with spices and ointments.)  After this, the women took turns going in to the king.

As a child, I always envisioned this story as the ultimate beauty contest.  I’m sure I even had picture books that showed all these exotic, Middle-Eastern women lined up in a row getting looked over by some judge.  But unlike today, this pageant included neither swimsuit modeling nor a talent portion.   

“When [each] young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of [the king’s eunuch] who was in charge of the concubines.”                                                         ~Esther 2:13-14 (my emphasis)

Now, I don’t know how each of you interpret that section, but I see only one thing.  The king went through the girls and had sex with each one.  Now, if there is some piece I’m missing in this story and in my interpretation, please let me know!! But as of now, I see these girls being judged by their sexual merit.

And what did Esther do?  The same as the other girls.  Verse 16 says that “Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus” and verse 17 says that “the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

Esther saved the Jewish race from extinction, the very race that Jesus Christ was born into so He could save your soul.  Each and every human being on this earth has a chance at eternal salvation because of her actions.  You were given that chance because…Esther was a good, moral woman? No.  Because she was beautiful? She was, but that is not necessarily why.  It’s because…

She was good in bed.

Of all the virgins in Persia, Esther gave the king the most sexual pleasure.  Am I stretching this? Let’s look at it again.  After the “one night stand”, each girl was promptly returned in the morning (verse 2:14).  This does not leave time for anything else to transpire, whether good or bad, for these girls to do to impress the king.  Esther went in to the king (verse 17), she won grace and favor in his sight “more than all the virgins” (still verse 17) so the king crowned her (still verse 17).

Now, today we label someone who has never had sex a “virgin.”  I do not know whether or not that was the case in this time period.  I know there are certain historical  periods where “virgin” could mean either someone who hasn’t had sex or just a young woman, regardless of her sexual activity (not a young man, but a young woman.)  Was this that time-period? I don’t know.  But I am hesitant to give a modern definition to any term.  Maybe Esther was great at having sex her first time…or maybe it wasn’t her first time.  Some of you reading this may be pastors or historians who have researched this and therefore would have authority to make a claim on the definition of that word, but, as I am neither, I cannot.

 So what is the point of this?  Why am I writing this slightly uncomfortable entry?  Well, first of all, I really want to a hear a preacher say this stuff from a pulpit someday!  I don’t know that anyone, in our sexually silent culture, is necessarily trying to cover stuff like this up.  There are just certain things we don’t want to talk about.  But that sacrifices our biblical education.  Please, somebody read stuff like this and then tell me the Bible is either boring or not applicable to today’s lifestyle!! (Another good story to read is Ruth!) 

The other reason I’m mentioning this is because I’m doing a little comparison.  Remember Daniel?  Like Esther, Daniel was a Jew living in captivity.  Daniel was in Babylon.  He was chosen to be part of an experiment that would show him fortune in the king’s eyes.  But he refused to defile himself by eating and drinking what the king commanded them to, because it was against his religious beliefs.  That is what we call “taking a stand.”  God rewarded him for it, for he became highest official in the land, below only the king.

In Esther’s case, I don’t know that getting prepped with foreign, heathen spices was against God’s law.  But what about the sex? This is all I could find of Old Testament law that was applicable (If you know of other verses, please let me know!):

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.”                          ~Exodus 22:16

The king wasn’t necessarily planning to wed her.  If she hadn’t pleased him, he would have defiled her and left her to her own misery.  But nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that Esther put up a fuss about this.  She just did it.  Unlike Daniel’s “taking a stand”, this is referred to as “conforming.”  When this is done today, most Christians get upset by it, they call it “wrong” and “weak.”  But for Esther, what happened?  That verse in Exodus was fulfilled.  The man who defiled her did marry her.  And Esther was able to save the Jewish race literally and pave the way for the entire human race to have a  second chance spiritually.

So Daniel takes a stand, Esther conforms…what do we do?  Could it be that it really isn’t “one or the other?”  Is this why the New Testament says:

1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.          Romans 14:1-4

Maybe instead of figuring out “how” to do something, we’re supposed to simply follow God into wherever and whatever He leads us into.

It’s just a thought…

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