Class Notes: 5/20/2012

The providence rationale and the doctrine of promotion in the Book of Esther

We are presently studying the doctrine of the providence rational and God's deliverance of Israel from genocide that is recorded in the Book of Esther. Last time we stopped when we were discussing the historical context of Esther.

The book takes place in the Persian period (539-331 B.C.) after many Israelites had returned to the land of Palestine from their exile in Babylon to rebuild the temple and set up the sacrificial system.

Many of the Israelite captives had chosen not to return to their homeland even though they should have done so because Isaiah and Jeremiah had urged the them before they went into captivity to return from Babylon (Isa. 48:20; Jer 50:8; Jer 51:6) after the 70 years were over (Jer. 29:10)

Their return to the land would have placed them in the geographical will of God where the Lord could bless them under the Abrahamic covenant, and the Land Grant or Palestinian covenant. Deut 28;

Esther and Mordecai had not returned to the land and did not seem interested in returning and so they are outside of the geographic will of God.

The book was written to remind the Jews of the faithfulness of God who would keep His promises to them even if they were disobedient like Esther and Mordecai were because of His integrity. 2Tim 2:13;

Remember during the dispensation of Israel, Israel was assigned to the land of Palestine because of their responsibilities to provide the genetic line for the humanity of Jesus Christ but during the dispensation of the Church there are no specific geographical assignments for anyone weather they are Israelite or Gentile. Acts 1:8;

Esther 1:1; Net note 3 The Persian king Ahasuerus, who ruled Persia from (486-465 B.C.) was known by the Greeks as is Xerxes. He was the one who defeated the Greeks at Thermopylae.

The events recorded in the book of Esther occurred between what was recorded as happening the Palestine in Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 and extend over a decade from 483 B.C. Xerxes' 3rd year; Esther 1:3; to 473 B.C. the end of Xerxes' 12th year Esther 3:7;

The writer starts with the mention of Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces described as from India to Cush Esther 8:9. Xerxes, called Ahasuerus throughout the Hebrew text of Esther, ruled the Persian Empire for 21 years from 485 to 465 B.C.

Judah was one of the provinces over which Xerxes ruled Neh. 1:2; "India" at the time would be a reference to present-day Western Pakistan; "Cush" was a term for the upper Nile region which included present-day southern Egypt, all of Sudan, and northern Ethiopia.

Esther 1:2; Xerxes had an elaborate palace in Persepolis as well as a winter citadel or palace in Susa. The existence of this palace has been confirmed by archeological work.

Esther 1:3-4; In the third year of his reign (483 B.C.) Xerxes gave a banquet and invited his nobles and officials as well as military leaders "princes, and nobles of the provinces".

Though not stated, this banquet probably corresponds to the great feast Xerxes gave when he was planning to invade Greece. According to Herodotus it took Xerxes four years to get ready for the invasion he launched in 481BC.

Herodotus' four years would extend from the beginning of Xerxes' reign in 485 BC. Most likely the 180 days involved planning sessions where the provincial leaders were being prepared for the war effort, as well as being impressed with Xerxes' wealth and splendor.

The Book of Esther says nothing about Xerxes' invasion of Greece, but other sources state that he wanted to avenge his father's defeat at Marathon. Xerxes' had defeated the Greeks at Thermopylae but was defeated at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. and the Battle of Plataea in 479 and had to retreat back to Persia.

Esther 2:16; states that Esther was taken to him in the seventh year of his reign. This would have been in 479BC after his defeat in Greece.

Esther 1:5-9; At the end of the 180 days Xerxes gave another banquet; this one lasted seven days for people in Susa. Both great and small were invited. The descriptions of the decor of the king's palace garden that are described in Esther 1: 6-7 ; indicate that the writer had firsthand knowledge of the setting and the occasion.

Linen, silver, and marble, and other costly stones are known to have been used in Persia, and Persian couches of gold and silver were described to by Herodotus a contemporary Greek historian who is known as the "father of history" and wrote "The Histories." Esther 8:15; states that purple and white were the royal colors

Esther 1:7-8; Expensive drinking vessels were a Persian luxury. Normal protocol for drinking was to drink when the king drank but at this feast any guest could drink whenever he wanted to so he could drink as much or as little as he desired.

Esther 1:9; Queen Vashti was giving a separate banquet for the women. Separate banquets were not unusual. Net note 25

Esther 1:10-12; Xerxes told his seven eunuchs to bring Vashti into his banquet hall so that her beauty could be admired by the male guests. But she refused to come. This order was given on the seventh day the feast.

The reason for Vasthi's refusal is not explained. There is no implication that the king wanted her to do anything wrong. Perhaps she simply did not wish to be in mixed company at that time.

It has been suggested that it is likely that the queen was Amestris, and that she refused to go to the banquet because she was pregnant with Artaxerxes, who was born in 483BC. Regardless of the reason for her refusal, her action was a breach of etiquette and the king who was used to getting whatever he wanted when he wanted it so her refusal along with his excess drinking caused him to become irrational and enraged.

Esther 1:13-15; The king consulted wise men about what he should do. These seven men had special access to the king and were the ones who knew the law well. Herodotus has confirmed the fact that this use of wise men was a feature of ancient Near Eastern courts.

Throughout the ancient Near East wise men played important roles in governments, as demonstrated by Daniel's position in the Babylonian and Persian Empires. The crime the queen had committed was that she disobeyed a command of the king.

Esther 1:16-22; Memucan, one of Xerxes' wise men, suggested that he have the queen deposed so that other noble women of the empire and in fact all the women would not follow Vashti's example and despise their husbands and the empire be filled with female disrespect and marital discord.

The idea pleased the king and his nobles so an edict was sent throughout the empire in various languages stating that every man should be ruler over his own household. A vast relay communications system made it possible to spread news throughout the empire quickly.

This is the unexpected event that set the stage for the sudden rise of Esther from obscurity to a position that would put her into the place where she could be used by God to save her people Col 1:17; Gen 50:20;

God was going to promote her to the position of queen before the Jews even needed to be delivered. She was pre-positioned by God to be in the right place at the right time for the right reason.

This brings us a discussion of the Doctrine of Promotion and the Doctrine of Timing.

Promotion by God comes from execution of the spiritual life. This principle is brought out in James 4:10; "Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will promote you."

We see here that all promotions in the Christian life are completely and totally fair, because God and God alone accomplishes all true promotion..

Promotion is always related to humility and making the Word of God the highest priority in life. The basic foundation for promotion and success is humility. Because of the integrity of his holiness God cannot and will not promote you without humility.

Humility only comes from knowledge of Bible doctrine. You cannot make yourself humble and self-effacement is not humility it is a subtle form of arrogance.

Luke 14:11, "For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled. And he who humbles himself shall be promoted."

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