Let’s be honest: have you ever read the story of Esther as the Christian edition of the quintessential “Cinderella” story? I know I certainly used to read it through this lens (see my name), and the stereotype did nothing to urge a true deep study of the real woman. In fact, it did quite the opposite. As a young child, whenever I was introduced to someone, I would often be met with the phrase, “Ah, ‘for such a time as this!’” Relatives and people in church would sometimes ask me how I planned to fit the shoes left by that “great woman of God.” As a 5-year-old, I had no idea what that meant, but I certainly didn’t want to be this version of Cinderella, even if she did believe in God. To say that I used to have an irritation with the phrase, let alone that book of the Bible, was an understatement. And while it was a popular read for many young women growing in their walk with God, it certainly was not the case with me. I had no time for this so-called fairytale… I wanted something real and honest, with someone that as a young woman, I could not only relate to, but look up to for inspiration.
That is why, with this new study of Esther done by none other than a dear friend and colleague of mine, Shonna Dalusong, I was completely blown away by just how much I have been missing by avoiding this book. Through an in-depth study laying out of the intricacies of politics, royal family history, culture, religion, and history, I was able to plainly see that this was no ordinary woman, and her story was certainly not the Hollywood image of Cinderella I was led to believe.
Esther, stripped away of that fairytale magic, became a very real human being. She was a young woman whose life was forever changed by the selfish impulses of the ruling government. She had a strong belief in God, even when her life was dramatically turned upside down. She had dreams of finding out God’s will for her life, of following that path through her faith in a way that honored Him, and I’m pretty sure that being the celebrity wife of a pagan king and head over his harem was not what she had in mind. She had an uncommon knowledge of the Torah, especially for a woman of that time, and this knowledge governed her everyday life of everyday problems. She was exceptionally well-educated and supported by her mentor Mordecai, and that unique trait deeply impacted her people for the better. Her amazing leadership and diplomatic skills helped her maneuver a volatile situation to protect and raise her people out of danger and into safety. The power of her voice and the skill with which she managed dangerous men cannot be overstated, especially as a woman trapped between two worlds of vastly differing cultures and religions.
There is so much more than can be said about this extraordinary woman, and I believe that it would be a great benefit to all, women and men alike, to remove the old fairytale perspective of this story and reexamine it with the heart of God in mind. He is not outright mentioned in this book, but oh, He surely does speak!
To learn more about what the church has been equipped and called to accomplish, check out some of the online Bible studies at International School of the word. Consider starting with our course, The Book of Esther. Visit www.ISOW.org today to get started on an affordable online biblical education!
– Eszter Willard, Staff Writer