Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Esther

Lesson 1: Esther Is Crowned Queen in Persia

(Scripture to Read: Esther 1:1–2:23)

Esther was a Jew living in the kingdom of Persia, more than a century after Nebuchadnezzar had carried the southern kingdom of Judah into captivity in Babylon. Interestingly, even though the name of God does not appear in the book of Esther, He was orchestrating events as symbolized by Esther’s name (which means "in secret" in Hebrew). God was quietly working through Esther, and His "fingerprints" are all over the story as He protects His people from annihilation. The book of Esther begins with a very unusual "beauty contest" held in the court of the mighty Persian king, Ahasuerus, to replace Queen Vashti after she angered the king.

When Esther became one of the candidates in this contest, she consulted Mordecai, her older cousin and guardian, for advice on how to conduct herself. Esther won the king’s favor with her beauty, and Mordecai won his favor by uncovering a plot to assassinate the king. Mordecai told Esther, who reported it to the king and made sure he knew that Mordecai was credited. That seemingly small detail became the key to the entire story.

Study Questions

  1. Why do you think Vashti refused to appear at the banquet as the king had commanded, even though she knew that to disobey was dangerous?
  2. "The laws of Persia and Media" (Esther 1:19) were famous for being unchangeable once they were written down. What did the king’s divorce decree mean to Vashti’s future?
  3. Why did Mordecai forbid Esther from revealing her nationality as a Jew?
  4. According to Esther 2:19, Mordecai had a place "at the king’s gate." What was significant about having a position at the gate of a city in that day?
  5. Why was Esther so careful to make sure that Mordecai was given credit for his loyalty to King Ahasuerus?

Something to Think About

An old Jewish proverb says God creates a solution before he creates a problem. Understanding this can help take some of the stress out of our problems.

Just as God was working behind the scenes in Esther, so too we may not see His overt presence in world events and/or our individual lives. But are in His caring eye nonetheless!