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CHAPTER FOUR

The First Acrostic

Now, we will consider the meaning of the acrostics. The recurrent word in four of them is “Jehovah,” not as we write it in English but as written in ancient Hebrew without vowels--JHVH in four consonants. It corresponds to “Lord” and is translated in small caps in our Bibles.

Bible scholars call this four-letter, Hebrew word the “tetragram,” a word that means four letters. This word will be used very frequently. Remember, it is equivalent to “Jehovah.”

The acrostic tetragram appears four times in the Hebrew text of Esther as either the initial or the final letters of four consecutive words. Nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible does it appear with one exception, which is in Psalm 96:11, “Let-the-heavens rejoice, and let-the-earth be glad.” Words we join here with hyphens are one word in Hebrew and so in all the four acrostics.

We begin with Acrostic One.

The actual words of the acrostic are:

“it,

and-all

the-wives

shall-give,” etc.

1

    2

      3

       4

The Hebrew words that furnish the tetragram are numbered and for clearness make up a corresponding English sentence showing whether the letters are initial or final.

Here is an English equivalent of Acrostic One:

Decree,

and-Requiring

Obedience

Lavishly given

1

2

3

       4

The four, bold capital letters form the tetragram, for “Lord” is its English equivalent. Note that the tetragram is formed of initial letters, but it is spelled backward—DROL.

The first word is "it" and refers to the decree as stated in the Companion Bible with which I agree. In my equivalent English sentence, our first word is "decree," the noun for which the pronoun "it" stands. Our English Bible places a period, a full stop here, and then omits “and,” the next word altogether, as though the word were awkwardly out of place. The “and” is unmistakably present in the Hebrew text, and its omission is uncalled for.

It is unusual to find as here an acrostic word linking two sentences together. The link is made stronger by the “and,” which our English translators omit. By this linking, the stories of Vashti and Esther are joined together and should be considered as making a whole. It is not as though an interesting beginning point for Esther's story was sought for and found in Vashti's divorce, which made room for Esther's exaltation to royalty. Then, when found, Vashti could be cast away into oblivion. No, indeed! By and in the acrostic name of "Jehovah," the correct interpretation holds them together. “Let not that which God hath joined be put asunder.”

The decree that brought divorce to Vashti for obeying her instinctive sense of modesty, as warned by God, was so widely published as to constitute a warning to all the wives of the realm against Vashti's conduct. The backward reading of the tetragram signifies God’s activity against the decree. It was “backward," says the Companion Bible, "because Jehovah was turning back and overruling the counsels of man." On its initial letters, the tetragram signifies the beginning of measures to annul the evil effects of the decree.

Note: It may be easily and superficially claimed here in criticism that this interpretation is all pure conjecture, an effort to build up a case to the author’s liking, and so forth. It is said our explanation “has no foundation in facts.” Our reply is that the story of Esther alone is quite sufficient as a “foundation of facts” to sustain the conclusions we shall draw regarding the call and character of Esther.

As to Acrostic One: Did not Jehovah begin to oppose that Decree to crush the conscience of women that would own any law but their human “lords?" Did He not move at once, as the instrument of His design, a woman who would dare to defy her "lord's" will and go unbidden into his presence? Only an initial step to a deeper design, it was an attack on another law promulgated in her "husband’s” name--a law to slaughter all the Jews. In fact, God rose up to great power, just at this juncture in the greatest and grandest nation on earth, not a man, but a WOMAN. This woman, Esther, would thwart the will and doings of her husband, a very mighty king at that. A bolder, more independent human creature is not described in Scripture than strong-minded Esther, “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”

The loose and easy way in which Haman secures in the king's name an edict for the slaughter of the Jews, though monarchs with dictatorial powers have often committed such atrocities, speaks sad words of the character of Ahasuerus. This king Esther sought unbidden twice (5:2 and 8:3) to induce him to alter his decree to slaughter the Jews.

“Ahasuerus” is a title, and many of our commentators—perhaps the majority—hold that he was Xerxes. The commentator Schultz of Breslau says in his work on Esther: Keil very justly makes prominent the point. . .that Greek and Roman authors were unanimous in their portrait of Xerxes and paint him as a very riotous, licentious monarch and an extremely cruel tyrant. The commentator last cited [Keil] goes on to say: “Xerxes was the despot who, after the wealthy Lydian Pythius, has most richly entertained the Persian army in its march against Greece.” He offered an immense sum of money as a contribution to the costs of the war while making a petition to have the oldest of his five sons then in the army given to him as a solace for his old age. Xerxes became so enraged that he caused the son he asked for to be cut in pieces. He then “laid the pieces on both sides of the way and ordered his army to march through between them.” Think of Esther intruding upon this monster to ask favors!

God knew His woman when He chose Esther to overrule this monarch in his weak and bad legislating. Relying on His strength, she did overrule Xerxes. No speech in diplomatic pleading can excel in tact and wisdom the few words that fell from her lips when she arraigned Haman before his master. (7:3, 4).

What have male expounders done with all this intensely interesting scrap of Sacred Literature? I vow I find little in their comments but a drab veil of commonplace toning down the glare of light that might have shone out of sacrificial life and victory. Then, I find a black place of unconscious resistance against all light of defense for Vashti's wrongs, lest the truth of God damage the “doctrine” of male supremacy over their sisters, wives and others. In chapter 1:20 by a marginal note, the translators call to their help Paul and Peter to steer off the track of God’s truth—of liberty for women, who are also in Christ—and plunge into the bramble of thorns they have managed to make for women, which is the “subordination doctrine.”

CHAPTER FIVE

The Acrostics (2 to 5)

The message of Acrostic One is as though Jehovah speaks to say: “My first of the Ten Commandments is:

“I am Jehovah thy God…Thou shalt have no other gods before me [Hebrew, confronting me].” The realm of conscience is my exclusive field of operation with humanity. These males shall not be gods over wives without my challenge. The book of Esther displays, through His use of Esther’s unconscious activities, the nullification of the law while she wrought for another end—the rescue of her people.

Acrostic Two reads (in Hebrew):

Let-come

the-king

and-Haman

this-day

1

2

3

4

These are four, compound and separate words in Hebrew.

The tetragram JHVH reads forward on initial letters. Illustration:

Let

Our

Royal

Dinner be graced by thy presence, “ etc

    1

2

3

     4  

God prompted that banquet. He was the originator of the plan, created the idea and led Esther in it. Therefore, the tetragram reads forward and is on initial letters.

Next is Acrostic Three. “Yet all this availeth me nothing as long as I see Mordecai.” The acrostic Hebrew differs in order of words and reads, “Yet all this nothing availeth to-me, etc. We illustrate:

“Sight of Mordecai 

reduceD

fervoR

tO

NiL”

 

1

2

 3

  4

The tetragram reads backwards on final letters. Jehovah has turned His back to Haman and denies him joy in his hate. His loss of joy is final in his compulsory royal parade of Mordecai.

Acrostic Four’s English translation varies from the order of the Hebrew words, which order we must keep.

“He saw that 

determined

against-him [was]

evil

  1

2

           3

  

The relative position of the acrostic and Hebrew letters appear in this English sentence:

“eviL

nO

longeR

delayeD.”

1

2

3

4

The tetragram reads forward on final letters. Jehovah forwards Haman’s end and finish by death. One more four-consonant name of Jehovah appears in Esther in acrostic form.

EH YH

It means, “I AM.” This name of deity appears once in Esther (5:5) and once in Exodus (3:14) and nowhere else as the name of deity in the Bible.

God instructed Moses to say to the children of Israel that He had sent Moses to lead them out of slavery in Egypt, to free them from bondage. He was to say that “I AM” had sent him to them. The name “I AM” was not further explained although it was the name in which God revealed Himself when He came to emancipate them from slavery. Now, once more He reveals Himself in an acrostic as an Emancipator in “I AM.”

Although in divine counsel it was a certainty, just before the execution of Haman our thought is arrested and centered on the EH YH acrostic.

“Who  

is-he

and-where

is-he that presumeth,etc.

 1         

2

           3

  4

Illustration:

“wherE

hidetH

bloodthirstY

wretcH that,” etc

1

2

3

     4

The tetragrams (the JHVH and the EH YH) both read forward on final letters. The teaching is the same as to words and letters. The JHVH tetragram forwards the end of Haman while the "I AM" tetragram forwards the end, the finish of bondage to Satan through conscience-slavery. The seven wise men devised this slavery, and Ahasuerus decreed for “all the wives” of his realm. Jehovah initiated this task when He turned His back on the decree of divorce Memucan pronounced as “great,” and likewise turned His back on that law for “all wives.”

Jehovah also responds to the king’s demand. “I AM”–“it is I, and I am everywhere; and I am come down not merely to deliver a nation from a human enemy, though I do that (as I delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery), but to deliver all humanity from the bondage and slavery of conscience into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

CHAPTER SIX

Nullification

God placed before Esther the duty of ruling Ahasuerus for the good of his realm and for the saving of the Jews from annihilation. Her conscience bade her to obey God alone, which she did at the risk of her life. Esther found her first step in obedience to God was a transgression of two laws of the kingdom in which her husband ruled. The most recent law required the resigning of her conscience to his will, which Esther did not do. The other law bore a death penalty for disobedience unless the king offered his golden scepter for a pledge of good faith. She passed successfully through both ordeals.

The next step was to interfere between the king and his dearest friend, Haman. The tie was broken, and Haman was hanged shortly after by the king's order. The king would have stopped here with the death of Haman, but Esther did not allow it. The king must undo a law of the Medes and Persians, "which is unchangeable" (8: 8), and the law to slaughter the Jews was of that order (3:10,12).

The sixth chapter of Daniel tells us how King Darius became entrapped in his own law of the Medes and Persians, "which altereth not," and was obliged to allow Daniel to be cast into the lions’ den. He labored all day to save Daniel, spent a sleepless night while Daniel was in the den, and "very early" in the morning came with weeping and lamentation. By a miracle of God, King Darius found Daniel unharmed after a night with the lions. Esther had to break through this kind of law to deliver her people from annihilation. Her tears, pleading and pressure (8:3-6) on the king found a way. Another law was proclaimed as extensively as the law of destruction. The Jews were to be armed in order to defend themselves. Government officials in all places were instructed to assist the Jews to be ready for the attack on the appointed day for their slaughter. These officials gave much help. (9:3)

Ahasuerus had the reputation with historians of being self-indulgent, indolent and careless. Certainly, he showed these qualities in allowing Haman to proclaim such a law in the king’s name. Esther rendered great service to her king besides saving her people in getting this ill-considered law reversed.

His realm was formed out of all kinds of petty nations tribes and clans—many of them fierce and lawless, living by depredations upon others. Alexander the Great, who conquered Medo-Persia in B.C. 333, neglected the country and allowed it to fall to pieces because he did not prize it.

To be sure, the despots of those early times did not exercise any scruples when occasionally killing off a tribe of a few hundred. Doubtless, Ahasuerus got this troublesome idea from Haman.

Because the Jews existed in such vast numbers throughout the realm, the king was amazed and thrown into such a passion. He saw that his whole country would be thrown into confusion. With the legalization of the killing of prey, quickly no life would be safe, Jew or Gentile, after the slaughtering got under way. Ahasuerus seemed to have thought all was stopped when the mischief-maker Haman was hanged.

Esther’s second risk to go to the king unbidden secured an antidote law against Haman’s. Knowing that a proclamation allowed the Jews to be armed, still 800 men in Shushan alone fell upon the Jews with swords and spears. They hoped to overthrow them for the sake of booty. Because they were after Jewish prey, 75,000 men throughout the provinces perished for their folly in attacking the Jews. Thus, the country was ridded of ten thousands of brigands who fell through their own rashness.

The law of defense provided for the Jews to take the prey of those they killed. However, it is recorded three times that the Jews “laid not their hands to the prey” but merely defended themselves.

It does not require a very lively imagination to understand that Haman’s foolhardy meddling with government brought about a situation not unlike civil war when nearly 76,000 were left dead on the battlefield, not numbering the wounded. Also, the conflict extended all over the realm. This affair was not confined to the Jews. Non-Jews, who were lawless and were not the better elements of the population, suffered death.

All had passed through the real peril of violence from the bandit mob, which was brought into activity by Haman’s law and refused to be assuaged by the antidote law. Therefore, all rejoiced when order was restored and not the Jews alone but certainly they the most. Their nation had been rescued, and the Feast of Purim was established as a memorial for all time.

What about that decree that was the result of Vashti’s disobedience, instructing all wives to give honor to their lords, both great and small? Did the example of Vashti’s conduct encourage women to despise their lords (“husbands”)? Would “too much contempt and wrath” arise? (1:18)

It was forgotten when it became known throughout the provinces that their king had such a wonderful and most beautiful queen. The king was so devoted to her. Esther had great influence over him for the good of their country. She influenced him to find a way to combat a vicious law that had been proclaimed to kill and plunder all the Jews. This mischievous law would have run into indiscriminate plundering.

The women forgot to copy Vashti, alas, even in her modesty and also in her disobedience. They didn’t heed her case as a warning. However, we believe they copied everything they could learn about Esther, her style of dress and all that. Sometimes they said to their husbands, “It’s a wise plan to sometimes listen to and act upon a wife’s opinions as the king does.” Probably, husbands said, “I do wish women wasted less time in gossip and on their hair and fingernails and took an interest in the welfare of the nation, like the queen.”

Many people of the land became Jews, “for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” (8:17). We suppose they said, “Our queen looks well to the interests of her people, and she has great influence over the king. One might almost think he is a Jew, too. It won’t do to mistreat a Jew. I think I will join the Jews and keep myself in their favor—that is the safe side.”

The whole atmosphere of women’s life in Persia must have altered considerably after Jehovah inaugurated His attack through Esther upon that law which placed Jehovah in a position secondary to her husband. The first part of the Ten Commandments should be first in every wife’s life, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Vashti and Esther both put conscience, God, first.

When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, He armed him with the demand: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” The teaching is “they cannot serve me when service is regulated by any other master than Myself.” No more can a wife render service to a husband lawfully except as god, not the husband, regulates the service. Otherwise, she serves man and not God and is an idolater to that extent.

Let us repeat: The second and only other appearance of God as the “I AM” after His revelation of that name to Moses when He came as an Emancipator (Exodus 3:14), is here in Esther 7:5 in the sentence, “Who is he, and where is he”—and it is Jehovah who interrupts, as it were, to give answer, “It is the Emancipator, the I Am: I am here.”

The story of Vashti and Esther does not end with the Jews’ deliverance from death, though that was soon experienced. It did not begin with, nor does it end, with Esther. It began with Vashti, and it ends with a broader purpose than Esther’s nation, which it includes—a purpose that includes Gentiles like Vashti.

“Jehovah” was first revealed to Moses (Exodus 6:3), Covenant-Keeper, the One who made the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He included in the Great Covenant Eve whose Seed should bruise the Serpent’s head. (Genesis 3:15). Although that covenant was spoken to the Serpent, Jehovah has “come down” this time to interrupt the king’s question to say, “I am here to deliver all the seed of the ‘mother of all living,’ out from the bondage and slavery of Satan into ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God.’”

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