The rise and fall of Esther

After writing the previous post I returned my thoughts to the Old Testament story of Esther. Esther, I think is one of those stories that is oft told in young women’s’ classes as a way to empower and encourage chaste young women to have faith and everything will work out. That at least is the way I viewed the story for a long time, but after reading night, and reading the story of Esther a little more critically then I would have in the past, it seems that the author of Esther was using Haman and Mordecai to contrast one another. With the rise of power of Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, Haman loses his stranglehold on the King. This is the part of the story that normally we cheer and give thanks that the good guys one, but when I started comparing the two characters a little more carefully, I wasn’t sure if I should be cheering for either one.

Both Haman and Mordecai share a number of similarities. They control the king through indirect power (Mordecai controls through Esther, Haman controls through the previous queen), they order the slaughter of the opposing character’s people (Mordecai succeeds in slaughtering the sons and daughters and followers of Haman), they both manipulate the king to carry out their orders, they both become de facto rulers of the region, they encourage the king to use capital punishment to enforce their proposed laws, and neither of them attribute their power to God. Mordecai no longer appears as the Abel to the Cain of Haman, maybe they were both just power hungry, maybe it’s just a metaphor, maybe the good thing to do is sometimes too similar to the wrong thing for me to distinguish.

The rise and fall of Haman and Mordecai, that’s what I think I’ll refer to Esther as from now on.

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