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Esther - The Chosen Bride

Will Queen Esther risk everything to try and save her people?
Esther

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Slide 1

Long ago in the kingdom of Persia there lived a rich and mighty king named Ahasuerus. His kingdom was so big that it stretched from India all the way to Ethiopia. Ahasuerus was the greatest king in the world.  Since the king was so powerful, he could do whatever he pleased. In the third year of his reign, he held a party at his palace in Shushan, the capital city. He invited the princes and leaders of Persia to join him. The princes were excited! They had heard all about the king’s wonderful parties. They jumped on horses and raced to Shushan to eat and drink with the king.  The king wanted to show everyone his great wealth. He gave the princes delicious food to eat, the best places to sleep, and the most fun they had ever had. The musicians played their instruments, and everyone sang and danced and drank from cups covered in precious jewels. – Slide 1

Slide 2

When the party was over, King Ahasuerus held another party for the people of Shushan. For seven days, music echoed through the city and the people ate and drank until they were full. On the seventh day of the party, when the king was drunk, he sent a message to his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti. “Come and see me, and wear your royal crown,” he said.  Queen Vashti refused to see the king. “No,” she said. “This is not right. I will not go.” The king flew into a terrible rage. “How shall I punish the queen for disobeying me?” he shouted.  The king’s Wise Men had an idea. “If other women hear what the queen has done, they might treat their husbands badly,” they said. “Send her away and find another queen to help you rule the kingdom.” And the king did just that. – Slide 2

Slide 3

Soon many beautiful girls from every city began arriving at the palace. Each girl would be presented to the king, and the one whom he liked most would become the new queen.  Among the officials at the palace was a Hebrew named Mordecai. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken Mordecai’s family prisoner in Jerusalem and carried them back to Babylonia, a land that later became known as Persia. Many Hebrews still lived in Persia.  When Mordecai heard the king was looking for a queen, he took his beautiful young cousin to the palace. Her name was Hadassah, but everyone called her Esther.  Mordecai placed Esther in the care of Hegai, the man the king had chosen to take care of the girls. Before leaving the palace, Mordecai gave her special instructions. “No matter what happens, do not tell people you are a Hebrew, or who I am,” he said. Esther nodded. “I promise you that I will not say a word.” – Slide 3

Slide 4

That year, Esther and the girls lived at the palace and prepared to meet the king. They bathed in sweet perfume and soaked in fine oils. And every day they brushed their hair until it shone like polished stones. Will the king choose me? wondered Esther.  After twelve months, the girls were finally ready to meet the king. When it was Esther’s turn, she stood before him and did not ask for anything except for what Hegai had told her.  King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than all the other girls. She was not only beautiful; she was very wise. He knew he had found his bride. Placing a royal crown on her head, he made her queen instead of Vashti. The kingdom of Persia finally had a new queen! – Slide 4

Slide 5

While Esther lived at the palace, Mordecai spent time at the king’s gate. The king’s gate was a large building near the palace where people came to discuss important matters and to wait to see the king.  One day while Mordecai was sitting at the gate, he overheard two men plotting to kill King Ahasuerus. Even worse, these men were the king’s servants.  Mordecai was a loyal servant of the king. He had to act fast! He sent an urgent message to Esther telling her about the servant’s evil plot, and Esther told the king.  King Ahasuerus was filled with horror. “How dare my servants try to kill me!” he said. The two men were arrested and hanged, and an account of what had happened was written in the king’s book of records. But Mordecai received no reward. – Slide 5

Slide 6

King Ahasuerus couldn’t rule the kingdom of Persia all by himself. He chose a man named Haman to help him make important decisions. “Every person in the kingdom must bow down to Haman and do what he says,” declared the king.  Haman was cruel and merciless, and full of pride. Whenever he walked past the king’s gate in Shushan, everyone bowed down before him. Everyone that is, except for Mordecai. “I am a Hebrew. I only bow down to Yah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” he said.  Haman was a descendant of the Amalekites, the Hebrew’s ancient enemies. He decided that day to kill Mordecai. “If this man will not bow down before me, I will destroy him and all the Hebrews in the kingdom,” he said. – Slide 6

Slide 7

Haman began dreaming of different ways to destroy the Hebrews. He came up with a horrible plan. Bowing down before King Ahasuerus, he said, “There are people in your kingdom who have their own laws. They do not keep your laws and are making trouble. If you destroy them, I will put lots of silver into the royal treasury.”  King Ahasuerus sat on his high throne and listened carefully. Then taking a ring from his finger, he gave it to Haman. “Deal with these people as you wish,” he said. Haman smiled wickedly. The king’s ring gave him permission to do whatever he pleased. He couldn’t believe his good luck.  Before the king could change his mind, Haman wrote a new law saying that in one year’s time, all Hebrews – young and old, women and children – must be killed and their possessions taken. The law was sealed with the king’s ring so that no one could change it. – Slide 7

Slide 8

When Mordecai learned about the new law Haman had made, he put on sackcloth and ashes to show he was sad, and walked through the city crying loudly until he reached the king’s gate. He knew the Hebrews were in big trouble.  Esther heard that Mordecai was outside the king’s gate. She sent a servant to speak with him. Mordecai told the servant everything that had happened and how much money Haman had promised to pay the king.  Mordecai gave the servant a copy of the law. “Take this to Esther,” he said. “Tell her to go before the king and ask him to spare her life and the lives of all her people.” – Slide 8

Slide 9

Esther was scared to go before the king. She sent a message to Mordecai. “Anyone who goes before the king without permission will be put to death unless the king holds out his golden scepter.”  Even though Esther’s life was in great danger, Mordecai knew there was no other way to save the Hebrews. He told the servant to tell Esther, “Do not think you will escape because you are the queen. You must ask the king to save our people. Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  That evening, Esther stood on her balcony and looked out over Shushan. Her heart pounded with fear. Should she risk her life to save her people?  Finally, she made up her mind. She sent a message to Mordecai. “Gather together all the Hebrews in Shushan,” said the message. “Do not eat or drink for three days. My servants and I will do the same. Then I will go and see the king. If I die, I die.” – Slide 9

Slide 10

Three days later, Esther dressed herself in her beautiful royal robes and went into the inner part of the palace to see the king. She was even more scared than before.  But Esther had nothing to worry about. When the king saw his beautiful wife, he was happy. He held out his golden scepter, and said to her, “What do you want? I will give you anything you ask.” Esther breathed a sigh of relief. She stepped forward and carefully touched the golden scepter. “Please come to a banquet I have prepared for you,” she said. “And bring Haman, too.”  Later that day, the king and Haman attended the queen’s banquet. During the meal, the king asked Esther, “What do you desire?” Esther replied, “Come with Haman to another banquet tomorrow. I will tell you then.” – Slide 10

Slide 11

Haman puffed out his chest. He was proud to eat and drink wine with the king of Persia. When he arrived home, he boasted to his wife and friends of his greatness.  “The queen has invited me to another banquet,” he said. Then remembering Mordecai, he sighed. “Yet none of this means anything as long as that man is still alive.”  Haman’s wife had a nasty idea. “Why don’t you build a wooden structure?” she said. “Tomorrow ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai on it. Then you can go to the banquet and be happy.”  Haman rubbed his hands together. “What a good idea!” he said, gleefully. “I will do as you say.” He had a set of gallows made that very day. – Slide 11

Slide 12

That night the king tossed and turned in his bed at the palace. He could not sleep. To pass time, he told his servants to read to him from the king’s book of records. When the servant read that Mordecai had saved the king’s life, the king asked, “What reward was given to him for this?”  “Nothing has been done,” his servant answered.  At that very moment, Haman arrived at the palace to see the king. Before he could say a single word, the king said to him, “How should I reward a man I wish to honor?”  Haman was full of pride. He believed the king was talking about him. “This man is a hero!” he said. “Dress him in royal robes, put a crown on his head, and take him on horseback through the city.” – Slide 12

Slide 13

To Haman’s surprise, the king said to him, “Do this for Mordecai.” Haman stared at the king in disbelief. He could hardly believe his ears. This was not what he had planned at all!  Haman had no choice but to obey the king. Gritting his teeth, he dressed Mordecai in fine robes, put a gold crown on his head, and led him on horseback through the streets of Shushan. First came the trumpet blowers, followed by fan bearers, and a small group of soldiers on foot. Behind them rode Mordecai on the king’s finest horse.  People lined the streets to see Mordecai. “This is the man being honored by the king!” Haman shouted to the crowd. The crowd laughed. Everyone knew that Haman did not like Mordecai at all. – Slide 13

Slide 14

Later that day, Haman and the king came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. While they were eating and drinking, the king asked Esther again, “What do you want? I will give you anything you desire.”  Esther answered, “Someone wants to destroy me and all the Hebrews in the kingdom. Please save our lives.” The king threw his hands in the air. “Who would do such a thing?” he cried. Esther pointed straight at Haman. “Our enemy is the wicked Haman!”  “What?!” exploded the king. He slammed his cup of wine on the table. “Has my faithful servant tricked me?” He rose from the table and marched out of the room.  Haman’s face turned white. His knees began to knock with fear. He knew he was in big trouble. Throwing himself at Esther’s feet, he begged for his life. “Please don’t kill me,” he cried. – Slide 14

Slide 15

But it was too late. When King Ahasuerus returned to the banquet and learned that Haman had built a set of gallows to use against Mordecai, he said, “Hang Haman on it!” And so it came to pass that the evil Haman died that day, just as the king commanded. That very same day, the king gave Haman’s house and all his possessions to Esther. Then he took the special ring from his own finger and gave it to Mordecai. “You are a good man,” the king told him, “and I need you to help me rule the kingdom.”  He placed a gold crown on Mordecai’s head and dressed him in fine linen robes. And from that day on, Mordecai became more and more powerful in the kingdom of Persia.  Esther had not forgotten that the Hebrews were in great danger. With tears in her eyes, she fell at the king’s feet and begged him to save their lives. – Slide 15

Slide 16

King Ahasuerus quickly agreed to save the Hebrews lives. He made a new law giving them permission to fight back against their enemies. Messengers riding fast horses delivered copies of the law to every province in the kingdom.  When the Hebrews heard about the new law, they were filled with joy. They threw a big party and had a holiday to celebrate. And later that year, on the day they were meant to be killed, the very opposite happened. The Hebrews gathered together in towns and cities and destroyed their enemies.  To celebrate this victory, Esther and Mordecai sent letters to all the Hebrews in the kingdom, telling them to always remember this time when they defeated their enemies. Yah* had used the queen of Persia to save His people.  (*Did you know that Yah is the Hebrew name for God?) – Slide 16

Slide 17

Slide 17
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