Esther 4:1 “…tore his clothes…put on sackcloth and ashes…”
Signs of severe mourning for a Jew.
3 “…in every province…many lay in sackcloth and ashes…”
All understood the danger of what had been decreed. While it doesn’t explicitly say they cried out to God, that would have accompanied the fasting, weeping, and wailing, as well as the lying in sackcloth and ashes. All are signs of repentance toward God.
4 “…she sent garments to clothe Mordecai and take his sackcloth away from him…”
She knows he is greatly distressed about something, but doesn’t know what at this point. Commentary suggests it is either to get him back into his office and duties as he can’t do so wearing sackcloth or to allow him to get close enough to her to let her know what is going on. I get the impression it was more personal. He had raised her. She obviously looked to him like a beloved parent figure. She doesn’t know what is troubling him so, but wants to comfort him as much as possible. All of this is hindered by the fact that neither had direct access to the other.
8 “…command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people”
Commentary suggests the term command is a bit strong if interpreted as a demand. I agree. As Mordecai is in such distress over the situation, he unloads the whole situation to Esther and implores her in the strongest terms possible to use her position to save her people.
9-10 “…Hathach returned and told Esther…Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai”
The back and forth which made communication difficult. Fortunately, Esther’s disposition was such that those around her liked her and tried to please her. Hathach apparently did all that he was asked to do in this situation.
11 “…I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days”
Commentary says the Medes were the ones to start the idea of isolating the king in such a manner that all business had to pass through subordinate ministers first unless one was summoned by the king himself. The Persians picked up this protocol when the kingdoms merged. The law was probably not originally meant to apply to the queen, but the strictness of the Persian law system eventually filtered down to that point. Commentary also brought out a good point with respect to the mention of the thirty days. Although Esther had found great favor in the king’s eyes when he first met her, the fact that he had not called on her for a whole month may have been an indication that he wasn’t as taken with her as he had been. If that were the case, and she entered without his permission, the chance of her demise was very real.
14 “…relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews…you have come to the kingdom for such a time…”
Interesting that the book doesn’t mention God by name although it relates His existence and presence by the actions of those involved, as well as expressing His character traits. Two are expressed here. First the fact that the Jews would be delivered in some form, obviously by God Himself. And second, that divine providence could very well have placed Esther in her position to accomplish that same deliverance.
16 “…fast for me…”
Again, entreaty toward God. It’s not so much that God isn’t mentioned, it’s the fact that the actions are obvious to those who accept His existence and presence. Those who follow and worship God would assume any mention of fasting and praying would be recognized as being directed toward Him. One only mentions specifics if they are outside the expected norm. That’s the reason I believe God isn’t mentioned by name within the book. Our lives should be the same. We should live in such a way that when we mention God or Christ, those around us know exactly to whom we refer.
17 “…Mordecai went his way…”
I get the impression this was done with haste. No delay. The urgency of the situation is still there.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.