Seeming to Get No Thanks for Doing the Right Thing

This is from Esther 2-10.

Mordecai was the cousin of Esther, who was set to be made queen of Persia. First off, it should be noted that likely his great-grandfather Kish was taken off into captivity by the Babylonians, not Mordecai himself. The KJV and other versions are kind of vague on this, but if Mordecai himself was taken off by Nebuchadnezzar, then he’d be about 100 years old by this point, and Esther, his cousin, would be fairly old too. One would think that the king wouldn’t choose her, though this might not be true, as Pharaoh seemed to take an interest in Sarah, despite her being at least 65. Anyway, Esther, at the command of Mordecai, hadn’t let it be known that she was a Jew. (Perhaps anti-Semitism was rather rampant or at a high level in Shushan.) Before Esther was made Queen, Mordecai stayed outside the area where she was kept. Later, Mordecai sat in the king’s gate.

One day, he overheard some guys plotting to kill the king. Mordecai overheard and told Esther. Esther told the king that Mordecai had overheard this. The king looked into it and found that it was true and he hanged the bad guys. However, he seems to have not bothered to thank Mordecai. The only thing that appears to have happened is that Mordecai’s deed got written down in some book of chronicles. Rather disappointing, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, some creep named Haman, who was described as an Agagite, which may have meant that he was from the Persian town of Agag, or it could have meant that he was of the line of the Amalekites, sworn enemies of Israel (Agag was a king of the Amalekites.) was made the second –in-command of Persia.

A decree went out that everybody had to bow down to Haman. Whether this was a reverence bow or a more worship type, the Bible doesn’t say. What it DOES say is that everybody (well, the people. I think Esther was allowed to opt out.) bowed to him….well….except for one person. Guess who. That’s right Mordecai. Whether it was because Haman was indeed of the line of the Amalekites, whether Haman was trying to make people worship him as some sort of deity, or whether Haman was known to be a jerk (if it’s this one as the reason, I give Mordecai two thumbs and two big toes up!) , or some other reason, the Bible doesn’t say. The Bible says that Mordecai kept defying the decree. Palace people told him off. However, he kept being defiant. (Good job Mordecai!) Eventually, Haman found out. The issue likely appears to be something that violated the Jewish faith, for Mordecai told them that he was a Jew, which seems odd, given his advice to Esther not to reveal that she was a Jew. Likely he told them that he was Jewish and that was the reason that he refused to bow. However, it is hard to tell, as the Bible isn’t very specific on this.

Haman was indeed a jerk. He decided that he was going to commit genocide and wipe the Jews out. He went and buttered up the king, offering to give a ton of dough (some accounts indicate the amount may have been as much as 1/3 of the annual Persian tribute intake.) to help him perform some decree, which he had to sign, and which, according to the laws of the Medes and the Persians, couldn’t be undone. Unfortunately, the foolish king signed it.

Things looked bad. Even Israel, which was under the control of the Persians, wasn’t safe from the decree. They had until a certain time before they would be attacked. Mordecai eventually talks Esther into getting help.

Meanwhile, one night, the King has trouble sleeping. He had them read a book of the chronicles of the kingdom. (That would help put anyone to sleep!!!! ) He then came across the account of how Mordecai had helped save his life (Coincidence? I think not. God clearly arranged this.) .

The king wasn’t sure what to do. He decides to ask Haman. Haman had been building a gallows to hang Mordecai. The king met Haman. What happens next makes me laugh every time I read it.

The king asked Haman what he should do for somebody that the king desires to reward. Haman, who appears to be as much a narcissist as Obama (He is really stuck on himself at being the lucky guy invited to a banquet with just Esther and the king. He doesn’t realize this is not going to end well for him, of course. This incident had happened sometime before this meeting between the king and him.), thinks that it must be himself that the king desires to honor. So then he has all of these fancy things done for the person, whom he thinks it will be himself.

Imagine his surprise when he found out that it was Mordecai. Haman was quite humiliated. He didn’t give up, however. He still planned to get rid of Mordecai and the Jews. However, Esther tells the king that she is a Jew and that Haman is the bad guy after her. The king is mad. Later, after the king mistakenly thinks that Haman tried to rape Esther, he had Haman hung. Mordecai now got Haman’s goodies and his office. Now, he was rewarded.

Things still seemed bad, as the decree was still out there. However, Mordecai was able to send out another decree, one that allowed the Jews to fight back. On the appointed day, many bad guys attacked. The people of Persia either didn’t help out, or, due to fear of Mordecai, helped the Jews. Lots of bad guys died. They later held a feast, called Purim, to celebrate their deliverance.

What seemed like being forgotten had actually been part of God’s plan. Had Mordecai been rewarded earlier, the memory of rewarding him, so fresh in the king’s mind, might not have been enough to make the king extra angry with Haman and lead to Haman’s downfall. It goes to show that God will see that we are rewarded at the proper time.

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