Monday, March 5, 2012

Hidden Treasures in the Book of Esther

With Purim approaching, I thought I would point out a little Bible trivia about the book of Esther, the story of which is the basis of the minor festival of Purim.  There was much debate among the Rabbis who were charged to determine the writings that would be included in the Bible, as to whether the Book of Esther belonged in the Tanakh.  The name of God is not mentioned once in the entire Book of Esther.  But is that really true?

I have at times posted many interesting things found only in the original Hebrew text of the Bible.  Hebrew word pictures, the patterns of letters and words, the jots and tittles etc.  The hidden messages imbedded in the Hebrew text.  The more of these that I find, the more I am convinced that this text, the Bible in its original language, was directly inspired and constructed by God for the purpose of reviling His divine nature and provides a powerful witness to His presence and glory in our world today.

The first and perhaps the most revered name of God that appears in scripture, known in Bible scholar circles as the tetragramation, or the four letters, is spelled in the Hebrew יהוה.  The letters read right to left, yood, hey, vav and hey.  In the mainstream Jewish translations of the Tanakh, HaShem, literally “The Name” is substituted for the יהוה.  In most of our standard Christian English translations the word LORD, in all capital letters, is the substitution of choice.  This practice of substitution is a long held tradition but does tend to water down, and in most cases eliminate, the intended messages hidden within the original text.  The name יהוה, is the name that doesn’t appear in the Book of Esther.  But wait, it isn’t quite that simple!

The story of Esther takes place in Persia.  At a time when many of the Jewish people are in exile.  Driven or taken from their land because of turning away from God and following after other gods.  In doing so, God says that he will hide is face from them.

Deuteronomy 31:16-18 NKJV 16 And the LORD said to Moses: "Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 "Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?' 18 "And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.

Just as God had “hidden His face” from the children of Israel, His name is also hidden.  In Esther 5:4 we read the following:

Esther 5:4 NKJV 4 So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him."

This highlighted section of the text is 4 words in Hebrew as such:

I have enlarged and highlighted the first letter in each of the four words and here is the name of God in the Book of Esther! 

The enemy of the Jewish people in the Book of Esther is the evil Hamen, an Amalekite, or son of Amalek.  Amelek fought with the Israelites at Rephidim, and they continue to face Amalek in every generation to this day!

Exodus 17:7-8 NKJV 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" 8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

Exodus 17:13-16 NKJV 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."

What is the “banquet” that Hamen and the Amalekites are destined to attend?  In the Book of Esther, God mocks Hamen and therefore Amalek.  The ultimate banquet for Amalek is spoken of in Revelation.

Revelation 19:17 NKJV 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God

God will ultimately pass judgment on Amalek and I think Amalek will be the one being eaten rather than the one doing the eating!

The children of Israel are commanded to remember what Amalek did to them along their journey.  The Book of Esther is inspired of God and strategically placed in the Bible to remind us that there is an Amalek in each generation and we are not to forget that he is bent of the destruction of all the Jewish people and by extension and association, all of us who call on the name of the LORD!

The Amalekites are first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14:

Genesis 14:7 NKJV 7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

The last time Amalek is mentioned in Genesis is in chapter 36:

Genesis 36:12 NKJV 12 Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau's wife.

In Hebrew Amalek is spelled עמלק.  Another interesting Biblical fact that connects Amalek with the Book of Esther is that from the very first mention of Amalek, from the very first letter of his name in Genesis 14:7, the ע (Ayin), to the last letter of his name in Genesis 36:12, the ק, (Koof), there are 12,110 Hebrew letters in the Torah.  It just so happens that there are exactly 12,110 Hebrew letters in the Book of Esther!  This is just a coincidence right, just a happenstance?  I don’t think so!

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 NKJV 17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 "how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.

The Hebrew word translated as “he met” in this passage is “qarah”, קרע.  It is defined in the Strong’s Dictionary #7136 to light upon (chiefly by accident); happenstance. 

In the Book of Esther:
It just so happens that a Jew becomes queen.
It just so happens that Mordechai hears of a plot to kill the king in a foreign language.
It just so happens the king can’t sleep.
It just so happens the king wants a book to read.
It just so happens that he reads the very page where Mordechai saves his life.
It just so happens that in the middle of the night Hamen walks in.
It just so happens the king walks in and sees Hamen on the bed.
It just so happens the gallows for Mordechi just got finished.

Happenstance?  Just a coincidence?  I don’t think so!  God is in control of history as it says in Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:10 NKJV 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

And it is recorded in Proverbs:

Proverbs 25:2 NKJV 2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

The face of The LORD, Ha Shem, the יהוה, will not always be hidden from us.  He reveals Himself in His word, both written and living.  It is our privilege to search the scripture for these hidden treasures.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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