(Heb. shebet = Gr. skeptron), properly a staff or rod. As a symbol of authority, the use of the sceptre originated in the idea that the ruler was as a shepherd of his people ( Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Psalms 45:6; Isaiah 14:5). There is no example on record of a sceptre having ever been actually handled by a Jewish king.
Chapter 4 begins with Mordecai in the first stages of mourning after having found out about the plot to exterminate his people throughout the kingdom.
The tearing of clothes, wailing, putting on sackcloth and ashes were typical ways to show one was grieving.
Esther didn’t know what was going on until her maidens and the eunuchs told her, then she grieved too.
Back and forth messages were sent to Mordecai asking him what was going on. Mordecai explained all that had happened and even knew about the money that Haman had promised to pay the King for the destruction of the Jews (4:7).
How did Mordecai know that detail? Was it written in the edict? Did Mordecai’s job put him a place to know these things?
Mordecai sent back to Esther a copy of the edict so she would know what was going on and then Mordecai ordered her to go to the King and implore his favor and to plead with him for her people (4:8).
This was not done by anyone, going to the King, to the inner court, without being summoned, as it was an automatic death sentence unless the King decided to grant mercy through the giving of a golden scepter. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sceptre/
Esther relayed to Mordecai that she hadn’t been summoned for a whole month!
Mordecai reminded her that just because she was in the palace and Queen, she would not escape the same fate as she is a Jew too. Mordecai reminds her that even if she does nothing, relief for the Jews will come from somewhere else but if she does nothing her and her fathers house would perish (4:14). He gave her a rhetorical question.. and who knows whether you were made queen for just a situation like this?
For Mordecai to remind Esther that help would come anyway, even if she did nothing, is important. It not only shows that Mordecai is a man of faith (thought it doesn’t specify what/who his faith is in) but it also shows that Esther as a specific person is unimportant.
Even if she does nothing, help will come from somewhere else according to Mordecai.
That means that Esther could be anyone or no one.
We tend to place such importance on the person and their actions or lack thereof that we allow them to outshine God sometimes. (my own opinion).
The simple truth of the matter is, if Esther did nothing, the Jews would have found relief from someone else or help would have come from “somewhere” else (or “another place” as verse 14 says).
Esther requests that Mordecai gather all the Jews in Susa and fast for 3 days for her, her and her maidens would do the same and then she would go in to the King in the inner court without being summoned. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting#Judaism
Esther states.. “which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (4:16)
Esther is realistically fatalistic. Basically, she states.. here’s the deal… I’m going to go in there to the King who hasn’t wanted to see me for over a month.. I’m gonna violate His own Law right to His face and just walk right on up there and one of two things will happen… the King will either have mercy on me and hand me the golden scepter so he doesn’t have to kill me or he will be angry with me and withhold his mercy and I will up the creek without a paddle, finito, kaput..I perish. Oh but before I go and take this 50/50 risk, gather up everyone and fast for 3 days for me and I’ll do the same and maybe, just maybe we can avert catastrophe through our atoning sacrifice of fasting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting#Judaism
Which speaks to the fact that Esther does believe the Jewish faith in God, at least in part, otherwise she wouldn’t be willing to go through a 3 day fast or have the community do it too.
Now I know that specifically Esther could have been anyone or no one…her individuality in this situation is a mute point because that’s basically what Mordecai said to her. He said that if she did nothing, relief would still come to the Jews. (her and her fathers house would perish though if she refused to step forward though Mordecai doesn’t say who or what would cause her and her fathers house to perish).
It still took courage for her to knowingly break the Kings own law and take a chance on his mercy as his track record with being merciful toward his Queens isn’t that great. Think of Vashti and her disobedience and here Esther was contemplating breaking the law herself.
I’d like to say that this chapter is referring to the God of the Jews working behind the scenes but the fact is, neither Mordecai or Esther mentioned God.
Mordecai possessed faith that relief would come to the Jews but again he didn’t specify who or what his faith was in.
I’m frustrated with Mordecai and Esther because neither one specifically mentioned God in this. For all I know, Mordecai’s faith could have been in “luck” or a “blind hope” that things wouldn’t happen as the edict stated. The fact that he agreed to do the 3 day fast, as with Esther, shows he must hold at least a partial faith in the Jewish God, otherwise he wouldn’t be so willing to organize a communal fast in order to try and atone and avert catastrophe. Fasting was used as an atonement to God. So perhaps this is one of the subtle ways the text is conveying “faith” to us.
This book of the Bible reads so differently from all the others. The focus is fleshly, on people, on the world if taken at face value. When reading Esther you really have to look “beyond” in order to see God work in the lives of what can only be called “the lost”. Maybe they believed, maybe they didn’t. Either way, they weren’t living according to the Jewish law very well. That could be what this book is trying to show us that they didn’t need to live to the letter of the law because they had “faith”. Even back then. But it is still frustrating because they don’t describe the faith or explain the faith in this book. It’s a glimpse of people living in the world, mired in the flesh and yet we can still see God working in the background.
That is hope. There is hope for all.