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©Laura Haverkamp

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on November 19, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:1-4 (ESV) - Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. 

Question to consider: Why would king Ahasuerus put on a six month festival like this?

The Hebrew word Ahasuerus was a transliteration of the Persian word for “mighty man”. The concept of “the mighty men” or “men of renown” dates all the way back to the generations after Cain who believed themselves to be “sons of the gods” because of the power they demonstrated in waging war. Scripture called them the Nephilim. While some paint these “giants” as something otherworldly, I pointed out in my study of Genesis 6 that the name Enosh (the son of Seth) meant “mortal”, and that Moses was giving the history of how these mighty warriors who considered themselves sons of the gods would condescend to take for themselves wives from mortal women (those descending from the holy line of Enosh). Eventually, the faithless line of Cain would overtake the world except for the last of the holy line: Noah, and his family. At this point, God would wash the earth clean with a flood and begin again with Noah.

It is worth noting that king David would one day have his own mighty men, but instead of considering themselves sons of the gods, these men would be warriors of the one true God, purging the nations of sin. Under the new covenant in Christ, we have no such mighty men because we have beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Micah 4:3). We are no longer the sword of God purging the nations of sin but His sowers of gospel seeds and reapers of a harvest of righteousness. I’d argue that those in history who took up the sword in the name of Christ were not acting in accordance with the Testament established in Christ’s blood. If someone is considered a mighty man for Christ today, it would be based on their acumen as a preacher or willingness to serve and not their ability to wage war.

In today’s passage the mighty man-king was thought to be Xerxes, the son of Darius. Darius was the king who halted the rebuilding of Jerusalem that was decreed by Cyrus and then allowed it to resume 14 years later after discovering in the archives that Israel was not acting against Persia but by the decree of his father, Cyrus. Nehemiah served as cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, and was given the men and materials necessary to return to Jerusalem and restore the walls that had been burned down by the surrounding nations who enforced the original decree from Darius to halt the building project.

So the story of Esther takes place in the winter of the third year of the reign of Xerxes. I say winter because they were in Susa which was the place where the Persian kings went during the winter months. This was also the setting of Nehemiah when he first asked about going back to Jerusalem. It makes me wonder whether Esther or her uncle Mordocai had a hand in Nehemiah getting the cup bearer position. 

Xerxes had a sixth-month festival in which he invited all of the rulers in the provinces of the Medes and Persians to see the splendor of his reign. Today we put all of our country’s treasures in museums for the public to see rather than putting on such a festival. The closest comparison we have today is when the royal family in the United Kingdom wears the crown jewels and has some kind of processional. Xerxes was showing off the opulence and power of Persia to other countries as a witness of the greatness of the Persian empire he had inherited from his father Darius. The mention that it lasted six months is meant to emphasize the hubris of Xerxes which will become apparent in tomorrow’s devotion.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us humble servants in Christ who don’t seek the approval of men but desire to bring You glory and lead people to the cross of Christ. Please give us a desire to serve one another in love and not out of a desire to do great things. Amen.