Monday, May 18, 2009

An Overview of Esther

In the lead up to the EQUIP conference, here is a brief synopsis of the plot of Esther written by Louise Keun.

Esther - An Overview
The Who’s Who of Esther
King Xerxes: The wealthy and extravagant king of Persia.
Queen Vashti: King Xerxes’ defiant queen.
Mordecai: The hero of the story, a Jew living in exile in the king’s city.
Esther: Mordecai’s cousin, who uses her royal position for the good of her people.
Haman: A man of high standing who uses his position to plot against the Jews.

Act One
A New Queen
King Xerxes requests the presence of Queen Vashti at his banquet. When she refuses, the king acts swiftly to deter the women of Persia from disrespecting their husbands in the same way. Vashti will be replaced as queen and banished from the king’s presence forever. An extensive search is begun to find a new queen. The beautiful Esther wins the favour of all who see her, including the king. Esther is made queen.


Act Two
The Hero and the Villain

While sitting at the king’s gate, Mordecai hears of a plot to assassinate King Xerxes. He tells Esther, who in turn tells the king. These events are recorded in the royal records. After these events, King Xerxes decides to honour and promote Haman. Mordecai alone refuses to kneel down and honour him. In his anger, Haman sets aside a day to annihilate Mordecai’s people, the Jews. An edict to this effect is sent throughout the kingdom.

Esther’s Courage
Mordecai is in mourning because of Haman’s plan. He asks Esther to approach the king and beg for mercy for her people. Even though such boldness could lead to her death, Esther agrees. She requests the presence of King Xerxes and Haman at a banquet. There she tells them that she will make her request to the king at another banquet the following day.

The Tables are Turned
Haman is plagued by Mordecai’s refusal to fear or respect him. Spurred on by his wife and friends, he builds a gallows 75 feet high where he plans to have Mordecai hanged in the morning. The King, however, makes other plans when he realises that Mordecai has not yet been honoured for foiling the assassination attempt years earlier. Haman is grieved when the king has him bestow honour on Mordecai. Things go from bad to worse for Haman at Esther’s second banquet. She asks the king to spare her people and reveals that Haman is behind the plan to destroy the Jews. Haman is hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.


Act Three
A Reason to Celebrate

Mordecai is given the king’s signet ring which he uses to seal a new edict. The Jews have permission to destroy their enemies on the day previously set aside for their own destruction. The appointed day arrives, and no-one is able to stand against the Jews. The following two days are set aside as a time to celebrate and remember these events.The celebration is called Purim. Mordecai is now second only to the king, and is highly regarded because he worked hard for his people.

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