Hello and welcome back to our Illustrated Jesse Tree, which is our Advent devotional! Today, we’re going to look at something that happened when the Jews were once again in exile… Queen Esther’s role in saving them from extermination.
Anyway, we are using the Douay Rheims version of the bible for the scripture reading. If you are using your own bible to follow along with the readings, I highly recommend looking at the notes at the very end of the blog, because you will probably need them… the Book of Esther is pretty strangely arranged in a bunch of different bibles, unfortunately, and it might be tricky to follow along. Otherwise, please enjoy! 🙂
A Reading from the Book of Esther (Esther 4:7-17, Esther 15:4-15)
And Mardochai told him all that had happened, how Aman had promised to pay money into the king’s treasures, to have the Jews destroyed.
He gave him also a copy of the edict which was hanging up in Susan, that he should shew it to the queen, and admonish her to go in to the king, and to entreat him for her people.
And Athach went back and told Esther all that Mardochai had said.
She answered him, and bade him say to Mardochai:
All the king’s servants, and all the provinces that are under his dominion, know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, cometh into the king’s inner court, who is not called for, is immediately to be put to death without any delay: except the king shall hold out the golden sceptre to him, in token of clemency, that so he may live. How then can I go in to the king, who for these thirty days now have not been called unto him?
And when Mardochai had heard this,
He sent word to Esther again, saying: Think not that thou mayst save thy life only, because thou art in the king a house, more than all the Jews:
For if thou wilt now hold thy peace, the Jews shall be delivered by some other occasion: and thou, and thy father’s house shall perish. And who knoweth whether thou art not therefore come to the kingdom, that thou mightest be ready in such a time as this?
And again Esther sent to Mardochai in these words:
Go, and gather together all the Jews whom thou shalt find in Susan, and pray ye for me. Neither eat nor drink for three days and three nights: and I with my handmaids will fast in like manner, and then I will go in to the king, against the law, not being called, and expose myself to death and to danger.
So Mardochai went, and did all that Esther had commanded him.
And on the third day she laid away the garments she wore, and put on her glorious apparel.
And glittering in royal robes, after she had called upon God the ruler and Saviour of all, she took two maids with her,
And upon one of them she leaned, as if for delicateness and overmuch tenderness she were not able to bear up her own body.
And the other maid followed her lady, bearing up her train flowing on the ground.
But she with a rosy colour in her face, and with gracious and bright eyes, hid a mind full of anguish, and exceeding great fear.
So going in she passed through all the doors in order, and stood before the king, where he sat upon his royal throne, clothed with his royal robes, and glittering with gold, and precious stones, and he was terrible to behold.
And when he had lifted up his countenance, and with burning eyes had shewn the wrath of his heart, the queen sunk down, and her colour turned pale, and she rested her weary head upon her handmaid.
And God changed the king’s spirit into mildness, and all in haste and in fear he leaped from his throne, and holding her up in his arms, till she came to herself, caressed her with these words:
What is the matter, Esther? I am thy brother, fear not.
Thou shalt not die: for this law is not made for thee, but for all others.
Come near then, and touch the sceptre.
And as she held her peace, he took the golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck, and kissed her, and said: Why dost thou not speak to me?
Not so quick bible note:
Anyway, as I have mentioned before, we are using the Douay Rheims version of the bible! If you are following along with your own bible because you prefer that translation, the please note that some of the chapters of the scripture may be pretty different! On the NAB bible that I have, the text that I have says that there is a Chapter 4C and a Chapter 4D and are integrated right after chapter 4. In the Douay Rheims bible, they tack 4C and 4D at the very end of the book, so that 4C and 4D are Chapters 14 and 15. And if you have a bible that is not Catholic, they might have completely taken away those chapters entirely! Apparently, it’s because the Hebrew Bible and the Greek translations of the Hebrew bible were slightly different, and St. Jerome took some of the chapters that were in Greek and moved it to the end. But they were supposed to be integrated with the main text, and so some translators did that. And then, if you’re reading a bible that was made by Protestant translators, some of them chose to completely eliminate those stories entirely.
(It’s confusing, I know… sorry!)
Anyway, I considered just skipping to the next chapter — chapter 5, which has a pretty straightforward — and going with that, but since it’s this chapter 15 that is usually depicted in art, since it has a lot more details, that’s what I am using for this time. (Maybe next year I’ll change my mind… admittedly, this is a bit of a headache!)