Esther was chosen as Xerxes’ queen (1:1–2:23). Her uncle, Mordecai, aroused the hatred of a high royal officer, Haman. Haman determined to destroy Mordecai’s whole race (3:1–15). Mordecai enlisted Esther’s reluctant help (4:1–5:14). Coincidentally Xerxes honored Mordecai for a forgotten service (6:1–14). Esther revealed she was one of the race Haman plotted to exterminate, and Haman was hanged (7:1–10). The Jews gained the right to protect themselves from their enemies (8:1–17). Many enemies of the Jews were slain (9:1–16), and Purim, celebrating deliverance, was instituted (vv. 17–32). Mordecai gained high rank in Persia, and used it to help the Jewish people (10:1–3).
Understanding the Text
“The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice” Es. 1:1–2:18. The first “coincidence” in the book is that of Queen Vashti’s rebellion against her royal husband. The author traces the reasoning of those who advised Xerxes to divorce his wife and choose a new queen. Vashti’s willfulness, and the reasoning of Xerxes’ advisers, cleared the way for Esther to become Queen of Persia.
God is able to use the free acts and the uncoerced reasoning of unbelievers to shape events.