The Bible: working with non-heroes

Although Esther in the Old Testament has a book named after her, the Bible portrays her as a hero who didn’t start out that way.

queen-estherThe book of Esther relates how the Jewish people, under a genocide order by a duped Persian king, were saved by insomnia and a reluctant queen.

Often we see Esther as a brave hero – and she was in the end. But her transformation is part of the story. She didn’t start out a hero.

Instead, she became queen through a king of beauty contest, at her uncle’s wish.

Her uncle, Mordecai, is the hero of this story and Esther is the person transformed. Mordecai was courageous and concerned about others. Not only did he want to protect the Jews, but he saved the king’s life at one point.

Esther, once brought into the king’s palace, remained rather anonymous. The court people did not realize she was a Jew, which indicates that she probably did not hold to a kosher lifestyle. When the news of the order against the Jews came to her ears, she didn’t do anything.

Mordecai prompted her to approach the king and she, at first, hesitated. When she learned of Mordecai in sackcloth, she told him to stop mourning.

But then she learned of her people’s problem and she, in an amazing character transformation, grasped her destiny.

When Esther decided to act, she revealed the courage and character that she needed to complete her destiny. But she didn’t step forward in giddy confidence. “If I perish, I perish,” she told Mordecai.

God is never mentioned in the book of Esther. Even when Esther asks for “fasting,” we wonder why she didn’t ask for “prayer and fasting.”

But the providential events – from a shy but beautiful Jewish girl being selected as queen of Persia to a king who couldn’t sleep and instead was reminded of Mordecai’s kindness to him – signal something amazing going on behind the scenes.

In our storytelling economy, we would have placed the brave and wise Mordecai in a position to save the people. We would not have chosen a quiet queen content to hide.

(Esther’s name in Hebrew could be Mistar, related to mystery and similar to I am hidden.)

Yet this non-hero stepped up when called upon, providing victory and salvation to the Jews.

The Bible relates the stories of non-heroes with stunning results.

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