Esther was a Jew who reigned as Queen of Persia (modern day Iran)  at a time when the King’s word was law and no one opposed or changed it. Her fascinating history is documented in the Biblical account in her name – The Book of Esther. She was married to King Ahasuerus whose wife Vashti had refused to comply with his decree to party with him and his companions.

I would encourage you to read the account, because it is a fascinating story of twists and turns that outdoes the best award winning novel today.

Main characters

  • King Ahasuerus, a man with a big ego and rather naïve, I think, since he passed a law without fully investigating the claims made by the devious Haman.
  • Mordecai – Esther’s uncle and a Palace attendant, from all appearances
  • Esther – the young virgin who became  Ahasuerus’ wife.
  • Haman – a devious, sinister government official who was second in command to the king. He was a descendant of King Agag who had been killed by Prophet Samuel hundreds of years before. He had a long time vendetta with the Jews and hatched a plot to exterminate them as a nation.   This would have been the Holocaust of the era.

Main plot

  • Mordecai monitored Esther daily after she became  Queen. He learnt of a plot to assassinate the king and Esther reported the matter to the King in her uncle’s name. Following the investigation, the King arrested and killed the traitors.
  • The King promoted Haman as second in command and commanded his servants to bow to him and applaud every time he came into sight. Mordecai refused to do so.
  • Haman’s ego was severely wounded and he plotted to kill all Jews when he learnt Mordecai’s nationality.
  • He cast lots every day (PUR) from the first Jewish month to the twelfth and finally decided on the date to kill the Jews.
  • He had to have the King pass the law, so he contrived a lie and had the king sign a law that all Jews should be killed on 13th day of the twelfth Jewish month. This was in the thirteenth year of King Ahasuerus’ reign.
  • Mordecai learnt about the plot and informed Esther, who fasted with the Jews living in the capital.
  • She invited the King and Haman to a banquet.
  • Haman excitedly reported all the matters to his family. He thought that he had the King and Queen both eating out of his hands and built a gallows on which to hang Mordecai. This was an extra bonus for him
  • However, God used Queen Esther to turn the tables on him and delivered the Jews from his sinister plot.
  • Today, Purim is still celebrated by the Jews.

 

Which Ahasuerus was Esther married to?

History commonly refers to Xerxes (485 to 465) as her husband. However, I wonder if this was really the case for several reasons:

  1. Ahasuerus means “I will be silent and poor”.  Daniel, an inside reporter of the events of 539BC, referred to Darius the Mede/Cyrus as the Son of Ahasuerus.  Cambyses the son of Cyrus, was also referred to as Ahasuerus (Ezra 4: 6).
  2. Mordecai her uncle was taken into captivity in 597  with King Jeconiah of Judah (Esther 2: 6).
  3. Esther married King Ahasuerus in the seventh year of his reign (Esther 2: 16). If her husband was Xerxes, this would have been  478 BC.
  4. Mordecai would have been living in Babylon from 597 to 478 = 119 years. This does not include the age at which he was taken into captivity
  5. Was he that old?
  6. I believe that Queen Esther was married to Darius 1 (522-485). Mordecai would have been living in Babylon for about 82 years in the seventhyear of the reign of Darius 1.
  7. Is there any historical evidence to support this belief?

Have a great day!

26th March 2015

Josephus, noted Jewish historian, wrote about Darius I in the Antiquities of the Jews XI – Chapter 3. His writings indirectly confirm that Esther was married to this King of Media and Persia:

  • Josephus said that Darius I ruled over 127 provinces, including India and Ethiopia. Esther 1: 1 confirmed that Xerxes “ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush.”
  • Cyrus the Great aka Darius- chapter 2  – 539 – 530 = 9
    Cambyses II, son of Cyrus – chapter 2:  530 – 522 (8 years)
  • Darius I, son of Hystaspes (522 – 485)
  • seven families of the Persians appointed Darius, the son of Hystaspes, to be their king.- chap 3

  • feasted in the first year of his reign with key officials in his kingdom  – ” those that were about him, and those born in his house, with the rulers of the Medes, and princes of the Persians, and the toparchs of India and Ethiopia, and the generals of the armies of his hundred and twenty-seven provinces.”

  • Esther 1: 1 described a similar feast in the third year of his reign in which Vashti was deposed as Queen. The feast included  “his nobles and officials, the military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces…”

  • Zerubabel. govenor of Jerusalem, returned to Babylon in the first year of the reign of Darius 1 in order to seek  permission to continue temple construction. This had been stopped by Cambyses.

  • Zerubbabel had known Darius I and the King appointed him as one of his chief body guards (there were two others)

  • Unable to sleep in the night, Darius I asked his body guards four questions and Zerubbabel instructed him about women. It seemed that the King had a problem with women disrespecting him since the govenor described an incident in which “Apame, the daughter of Rabsases Themasius, his concubine, and his diadem taken away from him, and put upon her own head, while he bore it patiently.”  Josephus also stated that Apame was his wife. Was she Vashti?

  • Pleased with Zerrubabel’s discourse, Darius I granted his request to resume temple construction and also gave other forms of assistance.

  • Zerrubabel returned to Jerusalem with a large delegation of Jewish exiles

  • Mordecai was among them. Ezra recorded that a Mordecai went up with the first group of captives who were released under Cyrus.

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