ESTHER CHAPTER 4.

Mordecai Plans to Deliver the Jews.

THE MOURNING OF THE JEWS. ó V. 1. When Mordecai perceived, found out about, all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, in token of his deep grief, and put on sackcloth, a garment of haircloth next to his skin, with ashes, which he strewed over his head and clothing, and went out into the midst of the city, openly in the streets, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry, concealing his deep distress from no one, but rather proclaiming it publicly; v. 2. and came even before the kingís gate, to the open place before the royal palace; for none might enter into the kingís gate clothed with sackcloth, while bearing the dress and the disfigurements of mourning. V. 3. And in every province, whithersoever the kingís commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing, for according to the decree of the king there seemed to be no escape from the threatened doom; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes, for they felt just as Mordecai did. V. 4. So Estherís maids and her chamberlains, the eunuchs in charge of the royal harem, came and told it her, they brought her the news, Mordecaiís behavior, with which he had purposely drawn attention to himself, probably suggesting to them that he desired them to do so. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved, filled with great anxiety, although her nationality had not yet been revealed in the palace; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, proper clothes, in which he might enter the palace grounds, and to take away his sackcloth from him; but he received it not, chiefly because he wanted to communicate with her in private, lest she divulge her secret. V. 5. Then called Esther for Hatach, one of the kingís chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, a eunuch set apart for her service alone, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai to know what it was and why it was, she wanted detailed information explaining his strange behavior. V. 6. So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city which was before the kingís gate. V. 7. And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, the entire plan of Haman with its motive, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the kingís treasuries for the Jews to destroy them, emphasizing this despicable sordidness in order to arouse the indignation of Esther all the more. V. 8. Also, he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, as it was posted in the city, to show it unto Esther and to declare it unto her, give her an explanation of its import and significance, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people, to entreat or petition relief and deliverance for her people, if necessary, by revealing her nationality. Mordecaiís plan depended upon the depth of the kingís fondness for Esther, of which he felt sure. V. 9. And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. It is in times of great distress and anxiety that the believers turn to the Lord with sighing and entreaty, begging Him for deliverance from all their enemies. And the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.

ESTHER AGREES TO MORDEAIíS PLAN. ó V. 10. Again Esther spake unto Hatach and gave him commandment unto Mordecai, v. 11. All the kingís servants and the people of the kingís provinces do know that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, that part of the courtyard adjoining the kingís apartments and the throne-room, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, the long tapering staff, the symbol of royal authority, that he may live. But I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days; she feared that the king had become indifferent to her, and that any attempt to approach his throne without his express invitation might change his indifference into dislike, so that the venture would cost her her life. The Persian law required that all business was to be brought to the attention of the king through his ministers, including all petitions, and Esther interpreted the law to mean that, unless called and therefore also acceptable to the king, she dared not approach his throne except at the risk of her life, in spite of the fact that she was his favorite wife and officially recognized as queen. V. 12. And they told to Mordecai Estherís words. V. 13. Then Mordecal, bound to remove Estherís hesitation, since it would absolutely hinder the success of his plan, commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the kingís house, merely by virtue of her position in the kingís palace, as queen of the empire, more than all the Jews. V. 14. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, not making an attempt to intercede in behalf of the people of her race, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, for Mordecai confidently believed that the Lord would provide a way to deliver the Jews from the impending destruction, so that they would be able once more to breathe freely; but thou and thy fatherís house shall be destroyed, being overtaken by the punishment of God for the negligence exhibited in this crisis. And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom, holding the position of queen, for such a time as this? Mordecai firmly believed that it was the providence of God which had placed Esther in the position she occupied at this time, for the purpose of effecting a deliverance of Godís people. V. 15. Then Esther, overcome by this appeal, bade them return Mordecai this answer, v. 16. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day, a very severe fast, accompanied with urgent prayer to God to give success to the plan suggested by Mordecai. I also and my maidens, her servants-in-waiting, who may have been Jewish girls gradually introduced by Esther, will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law, not legally allowed; and if I perish, I perish. Thus she expressed her willing submission to the fate which might be in store for her if she performed what she now considered her duty, the risk being all the greater since she would not only approach the kingís throne unannounced, but also intended asking a favor of him which involved the recall of a royal edict and an interference in the business of the empire. V. 17. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. Note: It is altogether permissible for any person who enjoys the favor of the mighty ones of this world to make use of this factor in counteracting the evil plans of the enemies of the Church. Also: Every important matter in the Church should be begun with, and accompanied by, prayer.