Varda Books



 View book pages:
 Buy this book:
  eBookshuk
  




40 Esther is resigned

by Adele Berlin
40 Esther is resigned to the possibility  of perishing if she does go to the king. The grammatical construction, here and in Gen. 43: 14  where the same syntax occurs, betokens a fatalistic accept-ance of a choice of action to which  there is really no alternative.17.  Here Esther gives the orders and Mordecai follows them— a reversal from 2: 20 where Esther  followed Mordecai’s orders. CHAPTER 5 Party Favors Parties set the scene at the story’s beginning and parties are  the backdrop of the denoue-ment. Spliced between Esther’s banquets in chapters 5  and 7  is the continuation of the contest between Haman and Mordecai over the matter of honor. The  banquets have a role in this contest also, for the invitations to Haman put him off his guard by according him the very high honor of dining privately with the king and queen. A second purpose served by the banquets is to delay the queen’s declaration of the “ favor” she wants  from the king. She goes to him to plead for her people at  the beginning of chapter 5,  but the actual request to save them is not made  until chapter 7.  Meanwhile, the delightful anticipation  builds. In chapter 5, Esther shows her  courage and her cleverness even more than before.  At the risk of her life, she  goes unsummoned to the king. As suggested earlier, in chapter 4  Esther devised the strategy she would use to gain access to the king. In chapter 5  she goes further, engineering the circumstances under which she will make her plea and accuse  her adversary. None of this was mentioned in Mordecai’s instructions. It was Esther alone who planned the parties and invited the guests. It was she who arranged exactly the right setting to expose the wickedness of Haman, much  to the surprise of both the king and Haman. Mordecai is barely mentioned in chapters 5– 7, and when  he is,  his silent presence is there as a foil to Haman. The motifs employed in chapters 5  and 7—  a strong and clever royal woman, the king’s will-ingness to grant extravagant requests, and  a banquet scene for securing retaliation against one’s enemy— are not the creation of the author of Esther, but are among those literary motifs current during the Persian period. In a plot very different from the Esther story, Herodotus 9.109– 111 combines all these motifs. Herodotus recounts that Xerxes’ wife Amestris had made for her husband a brightly colored shawl, with which he was quite pleased, and he wore it when he went to Artaynte. ( Artaynte was the daughter of Xerxes’ brother Masistes and the wife of Xerxes’ son Darius, and Xerxes had fallen in love with her himself.) As Herodotus puts it: She [ Artaynte] gave him pleasure too— so much so that he told her he would give her anything she wanted in return for the favours she had granted him; whatever she asked for, he assured her, she would get . . . so she asked Xerxes, “ Will you really give me anything I want?” Not suspecting for a moment what she was going to ask for, he promised her that he would and gave his word— and now that she had his word, she boldly asked for the shawl. Xerxes did everything he could to dissuade her, because he really did not want to give it to her, for one reason and one reason alone: he was afraid that Amestris [ his wife] would have her suspicions confi rmed and fi nd out what he was up to. He offered Artaynte cities, unlimited gold, and sole command of an army ( a typically Persian gift), but she refused everything. Eventually, then, he gave her the shawl, which she liked so much that she used to wear it and show it off. Of course that confi rmed for Amestris her husband’s unfaithfulness. Amestris did not wish to take revenge on Artaynte, however, but rather on her mother, whom she ( mistakenly) PARTY FAVORSEst. 4: 17          C    h  a  p  t e  r   Home  |      T  O   C   

Zoom in  zoom  Zoom out
  << Topic >>             |<   <<    Page       >>   >|  
40 Esther is resigned to the possibility of perishing if she does go to the king. The grammatical construction, here and in Gen. 43: 14 where the same syntax occurs, betokens a fatalistic accept-ance of a choice of action to which there is really no alternative. 17. Here Esther gives the orders and Mordecai follows them— a reversal from 2: 20 where Esther followed Mordecai’s orders. CHAPTER 5 Party Favors Parties set the scene at the story’s beginning and parties are the backdrop of the denoue-ment. Spliced between Esther’s banquets in chapters 5 and 7 is the continuation of the contest between Haman and Mordecai over the matter of honor. The banquets have a role in this contest also, for the invitations to Haman put him off his guard by according him the very high honor of dining privately with the king and queen. A second purpose served by the banquets is to delay the queen’s declaration of the “ favor” she wants from the king. She goes to him to plead for her people at the beginning of chapter 5, but the actual request to save them is not made until chapter 7. Meanwhile, the delightful anticipation builds. In chapter 5, Esther shows her courage and her cleverness even more than before. At the risk of her life, she goes unsummoned to the king. As suggested earlier, in chapter 4 Esther devised the strategy she would use to gain access to the king. In chapter 5 she goes further, engineering the circumstances under which she will make her plea and accuse her adversary. None of this was mentioned in Mordecai’s instructions. It was Esther alone who planned the parties and invited the guests. It was she who arranged exactly the right setting to expose the wickedness of Haman, much to the surprise of both the king and Haman. Mordecai is barely mentioned in chapters 5– 7, and when he is, his silent presence is there as a foil to Haman. The motifs employed in chapters 5 and 7— a strong and clever royal woman, the king’s will-ingness to grant extravagant requests, and a banquet scene for securing retaliation against one’s enemy— are not the creation of the author of Esther, but are among those literary motifs current during the Persian period. In a plot very different from the Esther story, Herodotus 9.109– 111 combines all these motifs. Herodotus recounts that Xerxes’ wife Amestris had made for her husband a brightly colored shawl, with which he was quite pleased, and he wore it when he went to Artaynte. ( Artaynte was the daughter of Xerxes’ brother Masistes and the wife of Xerxes’ son Darius, and Xerxes had fallen in love with her himself.) As Herodotus puts it: She [ Artaynte] gave him pleasure too— so much so that he told her he would give her anything she wanted in return for the favours she had granted him; whatever she asked for, he assured her, she would get . . . so she asked Xerxes, “ Will you really give me anything I want?” Not suspecting for a moment what she was going to ask for, he promised her that he would and gave his word— and now that she had his word, she boldly asked for the shawl. Xerxes did everything he could to dissuade her, because he really did not want to give it to her, for one reason and one reason alone: he was afraid that Amestris [ his wife] would have her suspicions confi rmed and fi nd out what he was up to. He offered Artaynte cities, unlimited gold, and sole command of an army ( a typically Persian gift), but she refused everything. Eventually, then, he gave her the shawl, which she liked so much that she used to wear it and show it off. Of course that confi rmed for Amestris her husband’s unfaithfulness. Amestris did not wish to take revenge on Artaynte, however, but rather on her mother, whom she ( mistakenly) PARTY FAVORS Est. 4: 17 <    <      C   h  a  p  t e  r  >> Home |      T  O   C   
Zoom in  zoom  Zoom out
  << Topic >>             |<   <<    Page       >>   >|  

Varda Books - 1-59045-743-9


 Other related titles:
JPS Hebrew-English (Jewish Bible) TanakhJPS Hebrew-English (Jewish Bible) Tanakh

 Already viewed books:
JPS Bible Commentary: EstherJPS Bible Commentary: Esther


TANAKH - INTERACTIVE HEBREW BIBLE