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Bible Study
The Book of Esther
Lesson One


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Bible Study
The Book of Esther
Lesson One


General Information

There are many lessons to be learned from The Book of Esther that can help us spiritually; as it says in Romans 15:4a, ". . . whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning . . ."

Lessons 1 and 2 of this study provide detailed summaries of the 10 chapters of The Book of Esther and some teaching.

The other lessons focus primarily on spiritual teaching and practical application that can be gleaned from this great book of the Bible.

Author of The Book of Esther
Unknown, some believe it was Mordecai

In the entire book, there's no mention of
  • the name of God
  • prayer
  • any spiritual service other than fasting
Purpose of the Book
  • God cares for His own.
  • When people go through trials & afflictions . . .
    • He sees all they go through;
    • He covers and keeps them;
    • He won't desert them.
Characters
Ahasuerus
  • King of Persia, reigning over 127 provinces
  • Husband of Vashti and Esther
Vashti
  • Queen before Esther
Esther
  • Vashti's successor
  • An orphan, cousin to Mordecai
  • Also known as Hadassah
  • Esther was her Greek name
Mordecai
  • First cousin to Esther, raised her as his own
  • A Jew – tribe of Benjamin
  • Carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar
  • Advanced second to King Ahasuerus
Hegai (Hege)
  • The king's chamberlain (an officer in the household of the king)
  • The keeper of the women
Abihail
  • Esther's father
  • Mordecai's uncle
Haman
  • Above all the princes
  • Arranged to have the Jews annihilated
  • Hung on his own gallows
Hatach
  • The King's chamberlain
  • Appointed to attend to Esther
  • Informed Esther of Haman's plot
Zeresh
  • Haman's wife
  • Suggested making the gallows
Bigthana and Teresh
  • Two of the king's chamberlains
  • Hung for plotting against the king
Places
Shushan
  • Location of the winter palace
  • Hebrew word for "lily" – lilies grow there
  • The Greek word is "SUSA"
  • One of the capitals of the Persian Empire
  • Nehemiah 1:1
  • Nehemiah was cupbearer at Shushan during reign of King Artaxerxes
  •  
  • Daniel 8:2
  • Daniel saw a vision at Shushan during reign of King Belshazzar
The Persian Empire
  • Consisted of 127 provinces, located 150 miles North of Persian Gulf
  • These provinces included what are now India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Holy Land, Syria, Arabia, and Ethiopia (this account probably took place in the vicinity of Iran)
The Jewish Calendar
April 1)   *Nisan, Abib
May 2)    Iar, Zif
June 3)   *Sivan
July 4)    Tammuz
August 5)    Ab
September 6)    Elul
October 7)    Tisri, Ethanim
November 8)    Marchesvan
December 9)    Chisleu
January 10) *Tebath
February 11)   Sebat
March 12) *Adar
* months mentioned in The Book of Esther

  • The Jewish calendar had 360 days – possibly adding a 13th month occasionally to make up for the missing days.
  •  
  • The calendar above is ordered according to the Jews' Sacred Calendar. Their New Year started with Abib (our April), the month of their Exodus from Egypt.
  •  
  • Their Civil Calendar began in Tisri (our October).
  •  
  • Each year, their calendar months differ somewhat in relation to the months of the modern calendar.

Chapter One – Summary

Overview
The story of Queen Vashti and her refusal to obey the king's commandment.

Detailed Summary
Verse 1
King Ahasuerus is reigning over the Persian Empire, which includes 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia.

Verses 2-8
In the 3rd year of his reign, in Shushan the palace, he held a feast for all his princes and servants; the power of Persia and Media, all the nobles and princes of the provinces, were present. For 180 days, King Ahasuerus showed his riches and honor. He then made a feast for 7 days in the court of the garden of his palace for all present in Shushan. At the feast there was royal wine in abundance but none were compelled to drink.

Verse 9
Vashti the queen also made a feast for the women in the king's royal house.

Verses 10-11
On the 7th day, the king commanded seven chamberlains to bring the queen to show off her beauty, for she was fair to look on. Queen Vashti refused to come. Therefore, the king was very wroth, and his anger burned within.

Verses 13-20
The king asked his 7 princes what to do to the queen according to the law, since she wouldn't do as he had commanded. They suggested she be removed from the throne to serve as an example to other women that they should obey their husbands.

Verses 21,22
So, the king sent letters to all his provinces that every man should bear rule in his own house.

Chapter One – Teaching

Prideful Boasting
In Esther 1:4 we see King Ahasaurus display the riches of his glorious kingdom.

Likewise, in II Kings 20:12,13, it's recorded that when the king of Babylon heard King Hezekiah was sick, he sent him letters and a present. When Hezekiah received them, he showed the messengers all his riches and treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that he shewed them not.

We can see in these accounts it wasn't uncommon for a king to show off all his possessions to impress others.

And isn't it like that today! Rich people's properties aren't usually modest and unassuming but are mansions, displayed with beautiful yards and drives for all to see. And often, that isn't their only home!

BOAST
  • to display proudly;
  • to express pride in oneself or in one's accomplishments

In Esther 1:7, 8, notice they drank out of vessels of gold! There was plenty of royal wine to drink and the guests were free to drink as much as they chose.

Jumping ahead to Esther 5:11, we see Haman told his wife and friends about the glory of his riches. He boasted of his advancement and of all he possessed.

Haman was rejoicing in all he had gained, but we will see in a future lesson how he wasn't really happy in the depths of his heart. Why? because Mordecai wouldn't bow down to him.

Custom of the Middle East
Esther 1:10-12 records that when the king's heart was merry with wine, he commanded Queen Vashti to come and show off her beauty. When she refused to come, his anger burned within.

Now, it seems like such a trivial thing to expect of her, but it wasn't proper for Vashti to show herself publicly. It was against custom. According to the custom of the women in that area of the world, it was improper for a woman to show her beauty to the public eye.

Even today, there are women in the Middle East who go out in public with long robes and veils that hide all but their eyes.

In some of those countries, a woman can't even walk beside a man; she has to walk a few paces behind him!

Some women, though, are so proud of how they look, they'd gladly show themselves off to others! They get all dolled up and strut around like a peacock for all to see.

But Vashti wasn't this type of woman. She was from Persia which is one of the Middle Eastern countries where the woman's beauty is to be hid from the public eye.

Queen Vashti didn't want to go in there and show herself off before all those men! Yet, her husband wanted her to. I suppose he was very proud because of her beauty, wanting all the others to see his good-looking wife — but she wanted no part of it.

A Christian Woman is Modest

I Timothy 2:9,10
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

MODEST
  • freedom from conceit or vanity;
  • neither bold nor self-assertive;
  • not forward;
  • shy;
  • reserved;
  • decent;
  • not displaying one's body
ADORN
  • to decorate;
  • to deck out;
  • to put on decoration or ornament;
  • addition of something that contributes to gaiety, or showiness

A godly woman doesn't adorn herself to impress others. She doesn't want to display herself. She doesn't govern her outward appearance by the world's standards.

Today, it is often hard to tell the world from the church. But the Word of God would tell us to dress modestly and with shamefacedness.

SHAMEFACED
  • bashful;
  • showing modesty;

Genesis 24:65
For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.

Genesis chapter 24 records that Abraham had sent his servant out to find Isaac a wife, and, in verse 65, we find the servant bringing back Rebekah. As Isaac approached to meet them, Rebekah asked who he was. When she heard he was the one whom she was to marry, she covered herself with a veil.

Rebekah didn't come to present herself to Isaac as a glamour girl. No, she was shamefaced, covering herself before he approached her. Rebekah wasn't bold or aggressive. She was of a meek and quiet spirit.

But today many women are very aggressive! They call the men, entice them, buy them gifts. Instead of letting them be the aggressive ones, they take the first step. There are women today who even do the proposing!

If Vashti had been a woman like that, she would have gladly obeyed her husband's request to come show off her beauty!

Now, some of these aggressive women think they're showing off their beauty when they're not even beautiful! On the other hand, there are women who are timid and don't think they're beautiful yet are very beautiful.

They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I suppose this may be true, but some consider themselves beautiful because they are the ones who are the beholder. Every time they pass a mirror, they behold how beautiful they are — that is, how beautiful they think they are.

They also say that beauty is skin deep, but some have so much makeup on that you can't even see their skin!

Know that the important thing is what's inside, not what's on the surface. When the beauty of Jesus shines through, even someone who is not naturally beautiful has a beauty that radiates.

But today many a girl thinks the way to find a man is to fix up the outward appearance. They neglect the inward, thinking the important thing is their looks. They think if they lose enough weight, put on enough makeup, fix their hair, then they will surely get a husband!

Such an aggressive woman may find a husband — but she won't find a godly one. She'll find someone of the world — just like she is! A good godly man wouldn't want a girl like that.

If a man wants all that God has for him, if he wants to live uprightly in well-pleasing to the Lord, he certainly wouldn't choose a girl that looks and acts like the world.

A godly man wants a woman who is wholesome, inside and out. He wants a woman who fears and serves God, rather than serving herself.

Psalm 10:4
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

So many young girls are brainwashed to think they have to get all primped up on the outside if they are ever going to find a husband: but that's not God's way!

Sure, they may find a husband, but he won't be one who wants all that God has for him.

A godly man will look at such a woman and note that she certainly doesn't look like a holy woman. She looks like someone who is all taken up with self.

You'll find in many marriages where the woman is so self-centered that her family suffers, because all her time is taken up with her looks. A marriage like that is most miserable. Such a woman is more concerned about her body, her face, her hair, her nails, than she is concerned about others, including her husband.

She takes time every day to make sure she looks like a show-girl, with no time left to care for her husband or her children, no time left to care for her home. She's so busy caring for her own clothes, she has no time to see that the rest of the family have their clothes cared for.

When her husband comes home, rather than finding a home-cooked meal waiting for him, he finds a wife who is all primped up!

Seeking Counsel
Esther 1:12-15 tells us the king was upset because his wife had disobeyed his order. He went to the wise men for some counsel as to how to deal with Vashti's disobedience.

It's good to get counsel, if you get the right kind of counsel: godly counsel.

When you need counsel, go to a good source, not someone who thinks they have a gift and wants everyone to know about it.

If I'm seeking spiritual counsel, I want to be sure the one I go to is someone who prays, not one who boasts that they have a special ministry.

There are those who claim to have a special gift — having a prophecy to give every time someone comes to them — but they are only prophesying out of their own heart.

We have to be careful that we don't look to someone like that for counsel! We want to do what God wants us to do, not what we choose to do in ourselves.

Realize that we have to be careful where we get counsel, that we don't just find someone who will go along with what we want to do even though it's against the will of the Lord.

We should only desire counsel that is in accordance with the Word of God, not something that is contrary to the Word and which causes us to enter into a snare.

If you need counsel, call on God. Let Him talk to you. Then find someone to give godly counsel, someone who will pray about the mind of God.

If their counsel coincides with what God told you, you'll be sure it was God who spoke to you in the first place.

Godly counsel should only confirm what God has already put in your heart, not to inform you what the leadings of God should be.

There are those who claim to be called unto intercessory prayer. They even print calling cards to let others know they have a ministry of intercession!

But those who are truly called of God to intercede aren't going about boasting and blowing their horns. They're busy praying. Yes, they're humble and obedient to the call of God, interceding in their secret prayer closet.

The Impact of Your Life
In Esther 1:15-18, we read that the wise men were concerned because Vashti's rebellion would give other women the idea of standing against their husband's authority. They didn't want this thing to get started. After all, they didn't want all the women to rebel against their husbands.

You don't realize how your life can influence others, for good or for evil. You don't realize how many are closely watching you.

Some may appear to be very spiritual in church, but how do they live at home?

Those who live with you know you best. If you are a different person at home, they see it and they take note. You can't fool them. They may see you acting spiritual in church yet acting carnal at home, and, thus, they decide they can act that way too: "After all, you do it and you're spiritual!"

Listen, as Christians, we have to set a good example — see II Corithinians 3:2.

You hear people say, "My pastor does it, so it MUST be all right." They look at their pastor's life instead of looking into the Bible to see what it says about these things.

They get their eyes on some person and what that one allows or doesn't allow: "If they can do it, then we can do it. If that preacher can do it, then so can we."

And because the preacher does something contrary to the Bible, his congregation follows along to do the same thing, unless they are spiritual enough to live in accordance to the Word, even if the preacher doesn't want to live that way.

Now, this situation with queen Vashti was going to cause a problem with the people, so something had to be done.

This is why it's very important for us to set a good example, being sure that we don't lay any stumbling blocks in another's pathway.

When you slip up, even in a small thing, everyone seems to know about it. You feel it won't get outside your home, but somehow it does. If you're being hypocritical and compromising, the Lord will let it be known.

Proverbs 28:13
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Many try to cover up the sinful things they do, acting one way in public, but then . . . at home! They feel nobody will ever know how they act when they're in the privacy of their home.

Often parents will warn their children: "Keep your mouth shut! Don't tell anybody what goes on at home!" But you can't trust your children, though you might think you can. And the same is true with your husband or your wife, or your brothers or sisters.

Somewhere along the line those things will come out; it may not be intentional, but they will leak out.

You have to very careful how you live at home. Be sure there is nothing you're doing that you'd be ashamed of if others found out. In fact, you should live a godly life even when you're all alone. After all, it's the Lord you're living to please, not man.

These wise men knew the rebellion of Vashti would be noised abroad, and they knew it would spread rebellion throughout the land.

Often, in the news you read of some scandal in a prominent person's life that was hidden from the public for years. Yet, it eventually leaked out for all to know!

Now, if you don't do things in secret that are sinful, then you won't have to be concerned about others finding out about your private life. If you live above board at all times, there will be nothing to hide.

The Submissive Wife

I Peter 3:1
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives

Ephesians 5:22-23
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body.

SUBJECTION
  • to be under the discipline and control of a superior
SUBMIT
  • to yield to authority;
  • to surrender to the control of another

The only time a wife shouldn't submit to her husband's rule is if he should want her to do something that is against the Word of God, something sinful and wrong.

If your husband wanted you to do something perverted or to steal or lie, naturally, you would obey God and not him.

A good, godly husband, though, would never ask his wife to do anything sinful. He'd want her to be a holy woman, a woman who lives righteously.

Colossians 3:18
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Even if your husband isn't a godly man, you are to obey him, unless his wishes are contrary to the Scriptures. You should respect him and obey him in love.

Now, Vashti didn't obey her husband when he requested she come and appear to the public to show off her beauty; it was against her ethics.

But the thing these wise men were worried about was that the other women in the kingdom would use this as a sanction to rebel in other areas.

The main issue here was that she gave the impression that it was all right for a wife to be rebellious to her husband.

Losing Your Place
Esther 1:19 says the wise men suggested that the king publicly remove Vashti from being queen and let her position be given to another.

If the king signed this, Vashti would lose her queenship. She would lose her place with her husband.

So, when a woman doesn't follow her husband's commandments — has no respect for his rule and authority, wanting to be boss, wanting to rule and reign — she can lose her place with her husband.

Problems come along as the result of losing your place with your mate. And this is what was suggested in the case of Queen Esther.

This decree was going to be published throughout the empire, for both great and small, that all wives would give their husbands honor.

They knew that other women would rise up against their husband's command. And they knew there would be a lot of problems in many a marriage over this rebellion: "If the KING'S wife wouldn't obey him, why should I obey my husband??"

A wife needs to show respect to her husband, honoring him as her head.

There are some wives who are always belittling their husbands before others, always ranking them down.

Listen, whether he meets the standards you have set for a husband to meet or not, you should still honor him as your husband; you should still respect him and be an obedient, submissive wife.

So, we see, way back in The Book of Esther, they were very concerned that the man bear rule over his own house.

Vashti lost her place in the kingdom, and you, too, could lose your place in the kingdom — in the kingdom of God — if you are stubborn in your ways.

In the Language of the People
Esther 1:21, 22 says they were going to publish this law in all the different languages, so everybody would be sure to understand it.

Likewise, today we have the Bible printed in many, many languages, so everybody can understand God's Word in their own tongue.

There are over 2,000 languages, though, that have yet to receive the Word of God in their native tongue. Missionaries in remote areas are at work to accomplish this.

Yes, we are fortunate that we have the Bible in our own language, so that we can fully find out what God expects of us.

To get the full benefit of this lesson, be sure to memorize the following definitions and verses before taking the exam.

Definitions
Boast
Modest
Adorn
Shamefaced
Subjection
Submit


Memory Verses
Romans 15:4
I Timothy 2:9, 10
Psalm 10:4
Proverbs 28:13

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