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"Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin —" (v. 5)
For reading & meditation:
Having taken steps to remove Vashti from the throne, plans are set in motion for the selection of a new queen. Thus the first "Miss World" contest gets under way. The king appoints officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, presumably to arrange knock-out competitions so that by process of elimination only the best candidates would appear before him. At this point a third person appears in our story - Mordecai the Jew. We read: "Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew." This is the first time the word "Jew" is mentioned in the book, but it is a word that appears over and over again, albeit derogatively. Mordecai's great-grandfather had been taken into captivity in Babylon over a hundred years before, in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, in company with such famous names as Daniel and Ezekiel. About sixty years before the events recorded in Esther, in 539 BC, Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon. He issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Many exiles returned to Jerusalem, but others preferred to stay in Babylon or move to other parts of the Persian Empire. For some reason, Mordecai settled in Susa, one of the Persian capitals. I say "for some reason," but really it was a divine reason. It was so that he might be the right man in the right place at the right time. We saw something of the way in which God guides His people in the story of Ruth - and here we see it again. How marvelous is the wisdom of God who sees the end from the beginning.
O Father, forgive me that I am so slow to recognize Your guiding and governing hand in my life. Make me alert and sensitive to the fact that I am being guided, even when I am not conscious of it. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Taken from 'Every Day Light' devotional, by Selwyn Hughes. © 1999 and is used by permission. All rights reserved.
Hughes, Selwyn. "Devotional for May 19". "Every Day Light". <http://classic.studylight.org/devos/edl/index.cgi?FirstSelectMonth=&FirstSelectDay=>. 1999.