Daily Lesson for Monday 18th of December 2023
Eventually, after the fall of Babylon and the rise of Medo-Persia, many of the Jews returned to their ancestral lands. But not all returned. Some remained where they had been living for a generation or more.
With this background in mind, we have a bit of the context for the story of Esther. “In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel” (Esther 1:2, NKJV). Here is where the biblical narrative unfolds, the Persian Empire under this king.
In chapter 1, queen Vashti falls out of favor with the king, which leads him to look for another queen, one to replace the now-disfavored Vashti. It’s in this context that Esther and her cousin, Mordecai, first appear.
Read Esther 2:1-9. What do these verses teach us about the situation of Mordecai and Esther?
It seems that Mordecai, as a royal officer, was sitting at the gate of the palace and was residing in the city of Shushan with his adopted daughter, or cousin, Esther. Because of their position and living where they did, they were immersed in the Persian culture. This must be at least part of the reason Esther was chosen to be presented to the king: “Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem” (Esther 2:8, NIV).
Read Esther 2:10,20. What was going on here, and why would Mordecai give her such a command?
Though the text does not say precisely why, it’s not hard to guess. As aliens in a foreign culture and religion that, we will see, could be hostile, they were wise in keeping silent about their family and people.
What circumstances might you think of where it could be prudent not to be overt about our faith? Or should we never do that? And if not, why not?