(Based on my reading of The Queen You Though You Knew by Rabbi David Fohrman)
The book of Esther not only forwards the role of Esther as a queen, but also shows us a view of how the Jews view marriage at this time.
Mordecai comes to Esther to ask her to speak to the king. He tells her that if she keeps silent at this time salvation will come to the Jews from somewhere else, but she and her father’s house will be destroyed. (Esther 4:14)
What does Mordecai mean by this?
The first clue is that Mordecai uses a phrase from Numbers 4:14 hacharesh tacharishi. These are both words that mean to be silent. They are found in the verse in Numbers where it explains that a Jewish husband may annul his wife’s vow, if he does so on the same day he hears of it. But Esther is not a husband, but a wife. By using this term Mordecai shows that the Jewish people understood this command to work in reciprocity, where the wife could also dissuade her husband of something foolish, if she did so immediately. If she did not, she was tacitly agreeing to the commitment. This notion is further affirmed in the naming of the feast ‘Purim.’ The name Purim is the plural for pur, and means lots. Scripture tells us that the day is named thus because Haman used lots to decide the date that the Jews were to be killed. But scripture also tell us that the name also refers to the actions Esther took to save the Jews. We see the same double entendre in the naming of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, or Yom Kippurim (plural). Kip means like and Pur means to annul. Esther’s actions annulled her husband’s vow. (Yom Kippur is also the day the scapegoat is chosen by lot to be cast out for the sins of the people.)
So why would Esther’s father’s line be destroyed?
Esther is being given a choice. She is the only remaining person from her father’s household. She can either have a Persian marriage, where the woman has no value, or she can follow God and have a Jewish marriage, where the woman interacts with and advises her husband. If she chooses a Persian marriage, her children will be raised with Persian values and her father’s line will no longer be Jewish. This also shows us that while many of the laws regarding lineage follow the path of the male, the female is also important and considered part of the father’s legacy. Further, we see numerous examples in the Old Testament showing that having a Jewish wife determines whether, or not, your children will be godly. (Read the lists of the kings of Judah and see the pattern.) Today the Jewish line is followed through the mother, not the father, indicating that the mother plays a vital role in the beliefs of the child.
Further, the book of Esther shows that by remaining silent you are tacitly condoning, or allowing evil to occur and are as guilty as if you did the task yourself. This is a theme throughout scripture. We see it in the warnings of the prophets, as well as in Paul claiming to be a murderer of Christians when he held the coats of those who threw the stones. By allowing evil to go unchecked, when we could have stopped it (especially if, like Paul, we egged it on) we are just as guilty as those who did the deed.
Comments on: "Esther Explained: Part 3" (1)
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