A person’s greatness is not measured by their words, but rather by their deeds. A person’s actions are a good representation of their heart and their character. King Ahasuerus has shown his character throughout the book of Esther. He showed off his kingdom and held a 6 month long party for all of his officials, then he threw a party for the whole kingdom. During this party, he banished his wife from the kingdom because she would not do as he commanded. He chose Esther out of many women from a royal beauty contest as his queen. In Esther 2:18, during the wedding ceremony and celebration he rescinded the “taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.” (Esther 2:18). He allowed Haman to pass an edict that would eliminate an entire race of people, even though he was unaware of what race he was eliminating. Since King Ahasuerus could not rescind the original law, he allowed the Jews to defend themselves which resulted in the loss of at least 75,000 people. Now in Esther 10:1, the tax that he had rescinded in Esther 2:18 is being reinstituted. The meaning of this word “tax” in the original Hebrew means “forced labor.”
This encapsulated version of King Ahasuerus’s life helps us see his character. He is impetuous and does not stop to consider the consequences of his decisions. The contrast of his life is that of Mordecai’s. Mordecai raised his niece, was important in the palace of the king and when he overheard a conversation that would threaten the life of the King he reported it to the right people. He gave Esther sound advice throughout her life that showed his love for his people and his willingness to do what was needed to save the entire race of the Jews. He became second in command even though he was not a Persian, but rather from a race of captured people. As second in command, “he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.” (Esther 10:3).
The character of Haman also speaks for itself as he plotted the murder of an entire race of people because one man did not bow down to him. This anti-Semitist attitude evidently had permeated the entire Persian culture. According to Esther 9, there were 75,000 people who were killed because they hated the Jews and sought “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate them.” (Esther 3:13). There is no record of any Jews being slain during this time of personal vendetta. “Now the rest of the Jews who were in the King’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75, 000 of those who hated them…” (Esther 9:16). If a person did not hate and decide to attack the Jews they were safe from destruction. An edict against the entire race of the Jews to kill them was not enough personal satisfaction for Haman since he also had gallows 75 feet tall constructed to hang Mordecai on, the apparent root of his hatred and bitterness.
Esther’s character also shines through the events recorded about her life. She is raised by her uncle so at some point in her life she had to deal with the loss of her parents. She becomes part of this royal beauty pageant and wins. Though she is not a Persian, she becomes queen. Just another fact about King Ahasuerus. He does not do a background check on the new Queen but takes her as his wife based on her looks. Esther does as her Uncle Mordecai suggests and she willingly lays down her life for her people, since she does not know the response she will receive from the King since she had not seen him for 33 days. By the end of the book, the King is coming to Esther and asking her what she wants to happen. (Esther 9:12)
God takes the character of people and uses it for His purposes and plans. The theme of Esther and the central verse of the book is Esther 4:14 “…And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
- As we have reviewed the lives of the main characters in the book of Esther, their character shines through their actions. Read Matthew 7:16-20 and record what Jesus says and how it applies to each of the characters in the book of Esther. What fruit is evident? What made the difference in each of their lives?
- Take some time and evaluate your life. Think about the decisions you have made and how they have impacted your life. Think about the deliberate choices you have made and the impetuous choices you have made and record the impact it had on your life.
- Read Matthew 25:14-30. Which servant are you at this point in your life? What changes do you need to make no matter which servant you are, no matter how great or small the changes are to be counted more faithful by the Lord?
- Realizing that you cannot do this task on your own, who must you enlist to help you and what must you overcome in order to become more faithful?