It is Sunday morning and is therefore fitting that I address a biblical subject. The subject is Esther and I bet you know nothing about her because you didn't pay attention in Sunday School. I happen to be an expert on Esther because I saw her on TV last night -- well, not her but they did have a lot of pictures of different pretty women they called Esther. This was pretty confusing because it forces the viewer to mentally start picking and choosing the one that you want to be Esther.
Anyway, Esther is a book from the Old Testament and I figure that Pippa is her reincarnation. Think about it. Pippa spelled backwards is Appip, which sounds Persian to me.
Rembrandt disagrees with me and says she looked like this:
The fact is that she was extraordinarily beautiful, in fact the most beautiful woman in all of Persia, which is what Iraq was called way back before Iraqian times.
Esther's family were part of those wandering Jews that were kicked out of Jerusalem and environs. Somewhere in all this, Esther's parents died and so her uncle Malachi took the fifteen year old lass in. They ended up in.....in one of those Persian towns.
And it came to pass (that was a nice Biblical touch) that the King of Persia, Anazar, was having a party with the guys in his palace one evening, and he got a wild idea. He summoned his very lovely queen to come forth with her crown. Most scholars agree that this was a summons for his queen to come forth wearing only her crown. He wanted to show off his wife in her lovely nudity to the guys. Well the Queen said "Stuff it. Are you crazy?" Actually she probably said "Stuffith it". Well now, she not only disobeyed him but in the process embarrassed him in front of the guys. So he did what any embarrassed Persian King would do and de-crowned her and banished her from his kingdom.
So now the King was in a fix. Even though he had a harem of lovely ladies, his queen had been the most lovely. So he figured he had to somehow replace her. So he sent out all the king's horses and all the king's men to find the fairest in all the land. (Am I confusing this with something else?) Lo and behold, biblically speaking, the beautiful, now sixteen year old Esther was found. She was carted off and placed in the harem.
Now let's talk about harems a minute. We tend to think of harems as a horrid place where lasses are huddled shivering in fear of being commanded to bed the king. Nope. Not like that at all. First of all, the harem took up a significant part of the palace with multiple rooms and courtyards and banquet halls and were luxurious. The women were pampered and their every need attended to. There was also a political hierarchy within the harem. The king's mother was the boss -- for after all, she wanted to have the best for her son. But the real power lay in The Eunuch. Now The Eunuch was someone who had been castrated in early life and -- I really don't want to think about it. But he was someone the king could trust around his bevy of beauties.
Nor Mr. Eunuch took a shine to Esther not only because of her extraordinary beauty (see my picture above) but also because of her intelligence and calm wisdom. He taught and coached Esther for a year in haremland. Esther, as well as the other haremees, looked forward to being summoned by the king. This was the epitome of harem life. And Esther had been taught how to please the king and what mannerisms to use and when to speak up and when to be silent. It seems strange, but it was not unusual for a lass to be in the harem for a year or two before ever seeing the king.
So when Mr. Eunuch felt that Esther was ready he told the king that the most beautiful woman in the land was ready to...what's the word...yes, consort with him. So Esther entered the kings chambers and they dined and they talked (kinda' like a first date) and they consorted.
The king was so smitten with her...and I figure she was seventeen or eighteen years old at this time, that he immediately took her as his wife and made her queen of Persia.
There is a bit of intrigue here. We know that Esther was Jewish, but the king didn't and she saw no reason to tell him. Jews were not the most favored people around.
Esther was able to get her uncle appointed as a Gatekeeper to the palace. While gatekeeping, Malachi just happened to overhear a couple of eunuchs plotting to kill the king. Well that wouldn't do...after all, the king was his son-in-law, although the king didn't know this. So he sent word to Esther, and she told the king that his loyal gatekeeper discovered a plot to kill him. The king called Hawaii Five-0 and investigated, and the eunuchs ended up getting hanged. The king wanted to reward the gatekeeper for his loyalty, but with the pressure of kinging didn't quite get around to it.
There was an evil upstart in the palace who schmoozed his way into the kings favor. His name was Haman, or something like that. He kept doing things that the king liked so Haman was ultimately promoted to Prince of Something. He figured that the princely thing to do was to ride around lording it over everyone making them bow in his presence. So everyone would bow except when he rode through the gate where Malachi refused and stubbornly stood there. This wouldn't do, so he called Hawaii Five-0 to have this guy investigated. They found out he was a Jew.
This festered with Haman. Every time he rode through the gate, this Jew guy would just stubbornly stand there. Those damn Jews -- they corrupt the kingdom. I think something else happened with the Jewish population but I think that is where I left to get some iced tea. But the important part is that Haman grew to hate Jews. So he convinced the king that Jews were insurrecting and being horrible subjects and something had to be done. The king essentially said, "Whatever. Take care of it." So Haman issued a decree which he brought to the king to sign ordering that all Jews be rounded up and killed. The king -- never one to jump into things -- said, "Well -- hold off a bit. Delay this for a year."
So the decree went out that all Jews were to be killed in a year.
Malachi got a little perturbed about this. So he sent a message to Esther to do something. Esther said, "I can't do anything. It is a decree and I can't protest on part of Jews....I can't tell him that I am Jewish." Malachi was horrified and sent her a letter that said that it was God's plan for her to be where she was so she could save her people. Get with the program.
No one could just appear before the king. They has to be summoned, and Esther had not been summoned for over a month. She thought and fretted about this and then girded her loins and marched into the kings presence. The king was at first disturbed that someone would dare march in....but then it was Esther and she was so lovely...and his heart melted. "Dear Esther. What can I do for you? You know you can have anything you want."
Oh, what to do. She thought and said, "Well honey, I was thinking that I would like to invite you into my chambers for dinner. In fact, we could invite Haman too."
"Well Sweetie Pie, that's right nice of you. Of course we will come."
So Esther had her court lay out a magnificent dinner. She acted the perfect courtesan and entertained both the king and Haman with wit and intelligent conversation, and reacted to everything they said with awe and wonder, especially Haman. In fact, Haman was quite taken with her. The king said, "Come on Estie, I'm sure that you wanted to ask me something. What is it?"
Esther said that she would discuss it tomorrow night...in fact she would throw a magnificent banquet for the king and Haman that they must come to. It will be better than this piddling little meal. The king could never figure out women but if she wanted to throw a private banquet, what the hell.
The next day Haman went out princing with his evil wife. Everyone in Persia bowed in his presence except Malachi which infuriated Haman and his evil wife. She turned to him and said, "Hang that sucker. Build a scaffold 5 cubics high (or maybe it was 50 cubics) so he will be an example to all those stupid Jews." (That is a rough translation. Persian is kind of hard to figure out.)
So Haman ordered a large scaffold be built. Gotta' please the little lady. Malachi was to be hanged tomorrow.
The king that morning was resting and a bit depressed and so he called in his Royal Chronicler to read him the recent history of his accomplishments and events. One of the things read was about Malachi telling of the plot against the king. 'Well hell,' he thought, 'I never did reward him for doing that.' So he called in Haman and said to clothe Malachi in royal robes and place him on his finest steed and lead him around town proclaiming him to be the savior of the king.
"But he is a Jew."
"Don't question me. Do it. He saved my life."
So a pissed off Haman had to lead a finely clothed Malachi proclaiming him to be the kings savior throughout all the streets of...whatever city they were in.
It was banquet time that evening. It was magnificent with a lot of wine and celebration. We can only imagine that Esther paid a lot more attention to Haman, which would explain what happened a short while later. The king left to go to the bathroom for something. We are not sure exactly Esther did. She either put her seductive powers in high gear, or simple pulled Haman onto her, but the king came in and saw Haman on top of Esther. He was tumultuously enraged (tumultuous enragement is the ultimate) and ordered the guards to take Haman and ordered him hanged. The irony is that he was hanged on the very same scaffold that his evil wife wanted.
The king felt so sorry for Esther. She had to suffer the indignity of such a horrible display of passion from that evil man. He pleaded with her to ask him any favor and he would grant it. Esther meekly told him that she was Jewish and that her people were going to be slaughtered and that her uncle was the gatekeeper Malachi and she didn't know what to do. The king looked upon her kindly and thought.
"Estie darling, the law forbids me to rescind a royal decree. I don't know what I can do."
"You have to do something, you handsome kingly person."
"Hmmm. The best I can do, my little pumpkin, is allow you to write your own decree and I will endorse it."
The best Queen Esther could come up with was a decree that stated that the Jews had the lawful right to band together and arm themselves and defend against the planned extermination.
They did, and saved themselves....in fact they killed 300 soldiers in the process. Thus the Jews were saved.
That is all we know of Esther. She probably went on to discover oil or something. In fact, the only way we know of Esther is through the Bible. To date no one has uncovered any other reference to her.
I am pleased to have added to your biblical education.