Posted on Mar 11, 2017 | 0 comments

(miss part 1? Click here!)

Part 2

So, here we are – it seems that Esther & Mordechai have saved the day! But not quite. Even though Haman (who by the way was a descendant of Agag the Amalakite – sworn lifetime enemy of Israel) was out of the picture, the decree that he finagled to kill the Jews was not! Now comes the crux of the story. Would the Queen who has been concealed all this time in the pages of history reveal herself and be able to save her people? Let’s review.

Esther has just revealed that she has a ‘people’ other than her Persian subjects! Her perfect anonymity was shattered and she would have to face the consequences and the past! She had just shown King Achashveirosh that she is not just Mother Persia! There is more to her than meets the eye. She has a past, a present and a future. However, the King seems to have accepted this side of her as well and has rewarded both her and Mordechai with more honor and many splendid gifts – what more could they want he must have thought! But the story isn’t over here.

Let’s go back to what Esther said to the King at the 2nd banquet:

“If I have found favor in the king’s eyes, and if it pleases the king – then give me my life as my request, and [the life of] my people as my petition. For me and my people have been sold – to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated…” (Esther 7:3-4)

Sold? That wasn’t in the decree was it? Where do these sentiments come from? Where have we heard them before? Search your memory … do you remember? Continue on to Chapter 8 of Esther so we can tie this together. She goes again into the King’s chambers and begs for mercy:

For how can I bear to see the evil that will overcome my people? How can I endure seeing the extermination of my kinsmen?” Esther8:6

Look at these words carefully in Hebrew:

ki eichecha uchal v’raiti baraah asher yimtza et ami

“ the evil that will befall my people.

Where have we heard that in another story played out before? Somewhere, somewhere – yes! In Genesis, in the story of Judah and Benjamin! Judah said the exact same words to Pharaoh as he stood before him begging to save the life of his little brother! Exact same words with the exception of only one syllable! Instead of AMI he replaced it with AVI – my father! You find those words in Genesis 44! Judah says:

“eich ereh bara asher yimtza et avi”,

how can I possibly bear to see the evil that will befall my father?”

Coincidence? Ok – maybe. But look closer – she said that her people were sold! Could she be referring back to when the sons of Leah sold her ancestor Joseph as a slave? Could she be pointing back to that time in history when the sibling rivalry became entrenched? Coincidence? Well, then consider that she just might have started with that, but then Mordechai reminds her that they are still one family! And her memories go to the part where Judah begs Pharaoh for the life of Benjamin – the son whom his father loves more than all the other sons! In fact, let’s read what Judah said to Pharaoh:

He repeated what his father said: ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons: the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I haven’t seen him since. Now if you take this one away from me too, and something happens to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sh’ol with grief.’

“MY WIFE”? What happened to Leah? 2 sons? Weren’t there 10 more? For Judah to be able to come to himself, repent fully of what he had done and vow not to repeat history by offering his own life to take the place of Benjamin is the epitome of self-sacrifice. Joseph knew, then and there that he had changed, that he had turned around and completely repented of his past actions. Judah was  able to realize that his father loved Rachael more than his own mother, Leah. He came to grips with the fact that Jacob loved Joseph and Benjamin more than the other ten sons. He became, then and there, the Lion that saved the tribe of Benjamin! He colored his canvas with the good memories.

This Megillah (scroll) is about the heroism of a young Jewish girl, originally named Hadassah, but now called by her Persian name Esther and as you can see, has everything to do with memories. The past meeting the present which will determine the future!  This book is actually called Parshat Zachor, the Parsha of Remembrance.  And it certainly is! As we have seen, both Mordechai and Esther remember what has happened in the past; the good, the bad and the ugly. But they rise to the occasion and remember the good and in doing so, help in healing a family.

The Holy One has blessed us with memory – even when we sometimes wish to forget! But memory is not just about the past – it’s something that we carry with us every moment of our lives. This little thing called memory affects every part of our lives. Not only does it change our present actions – it changes our future in many ways, some that we are not yet aware of. It colors our perception of circumstances! We can’t help it – it just does.

But the story of Esther, with all its twists and turns and ups and downs and intrigue and romance, well, it gives us a wonderful example of how to deal with our memory! Our memories consist of two sides – comforting events that happened and horrible, never-want-to-go-there-again memories. Two sides of the same coin.  We have a choice of how that coin lands.

It is our choice on how we paint that canvas that counts in the end.  Put yourself in Judah’s shoes. He faced the hurtful memory of his father’s unconditional love for Rachael and her children over the children of Leah. What pain and devastation must have overcome him as he finally realized the fact, in its fullest extent, that his father’s most favored and loved sons were Rachael’s.  Benjamin’s life was now fully in his hands.  He stood before the Pharaoh, weighing the choice of walking away and saving himself or redeeming his father’s favored son, Benjamin. The decision must have been monumental. But it was also life-changing – for him, for his brothers and for all of Israel! It changed the course of history!

Now we arrive at another pivotal point in history, where King Achashveirosh of Persia has conquered 127 provinces and has much at stake in keeping that control. He depends on his image of strength and wealth and that of his Queen to cement the image of power. Vashti failed him in his third year of reign. Esther, chosen in the 7th year, was to be the perfect image of Mother Persia and the embodiment of all that was grace and beauty. The story unfolds with so many ‘coincidences‘ woven throughout this story.  But we know, in hindsight, they are not coincidences. It is simply our own King working behind the scenes as the players are presented choices. Just as we are presented with choices. One choice that is given to us is our choice to ‘remember‘. Our memories can color our story. As they colored this one.

Esther is forced to look at the memories. She is called to remember and to decide which way to color her story. How does she deal with the painful memories of her ancestors when they sold Joseph? How does she paint in her mind the years that Joseph spent in prison while his father languished in years of heartache at his beloved son’s fate? And then, how does she weigh the memories of what happened when Judah finally spoke up and saved the family that she emerged from? She deals with them only as a Queen of the Most High God would – she colors those memories good. She does not turn her back on the bad memories, the painful times that she must have wanted to forget.  She can’t … neither can we. We can try, but it doesn’t work that way. She weighed the force of those memories, and her canvas highlighted the good.

Memory, however, is a choice. Your choice. You are the one telling your story and it is up to you what you will do and how you will color your story. Stop here and ask yourself, do you allow the bad memories to lead and simply throw in a ‘good’ word here and there? Is that your story? Or do you choose to do what Esther chose to do? She made a choice on how to color her story. Yes, the bad memories of the sibling rivalry rose up to try to be the lead in that story but then she also brought forth the memories of the tremendous good that came about! And she colored her story with good, with redemption, with sacrifice, and with power. She knew that the author of the story was none other than the Creator of the Universe – and his color is always good!

Each and everyone of us are in an Esther time right now. No matter what circumstances you are going through, no matter how dark and black your story looks, know that the God of Israel, the King of Kings, is working behind the scenes – always! He has not forgotten any of us – whether our family ties come from Rachael … or Leah … or wherever. He is working behind the scenes to restore the whole House. His House….the House of Israel – as He promised. And we will run into many ‘coincidences’ along the way. Choose your crayons wisely.

So let us leave this story here (even though there is so much more to uncover!) and go forward this day, remembering the good and the bad and …

let us CHOOSE to color our story with the GOOD and realize that the ‘bad stuff‘ simply leads us to that climatic good ending! Go forth and be filled with COLOR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Esther…and Concealment | In Ancient Footsteps - […] on to Part 2 if you are up to it […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *