Thursday, September 29, 2011

Through Bleary Eyes - Esther 3 'n 4

Esther 3

Now for some reason, King Xerxes became very fond of a pompous politician named Haman. He created a special position in his legislature just for the guy, and all the other fellas had to bow down anytime he strolled past by order of the King. Which he did a lot. Back and to, back and to, until the rest of Congress got pretty fed up with his arrogance. But Esther’s Uncle Cousin Mordecai refused to bow when Haman walked by. Which annoyed Haman so much he couldn’t sleep at night, what with all that stomach acid and reflux. He was so enraged at this one man who wouldn’t pay any attention to him that he decided to get even. He decided to get MORE than even. He’d discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, which made Haman hate ALL the Jews in Xerxesville. He plotted to have all the resident Jews murdered as revenge for Mordecai’s bad manners. Talk about holding a grudge. Sheesh.

Well, the King and Queen had just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary with a nice quiet dinner at home with candles and roses and one of those cute violinists strolling around them all night. Meanwhile, Haman was in a habit of making big life decisions based on the roll of some dice, and a few months later, January I think, he played a little game at the craps table. He rolled a seven and a five, added them up, and decided that Fate was telling him December was a good month for the Jews to die.

He was a sneaky little creep, though. He didn’t just come right out and tell the King what he was so ticked off about. He fed the King a story about how there were some religious fanatics living in his city who were leaches on the economy. He told Xerxes it would be politically correct to stop tolerating them and just finish off the whole bunch, once and for all. He even offered a bribe to the King if he’d take him up on the idea. Talk about nerve!

Well, apparently good old Xerxes wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Or else he just wasn’t really listening all that closely to Haman that day. I think he just wanted to get rid of the guy, so he told him to put away his wallet, made Haman a co-signer on executive orders, and went back to watching his ballgame.

You know what happens next. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Haman wasted no time and signed a bazillion executive orders dictating the total demise of every man, woman and child with names ending in Stein or Berg on December 13th, which was probably a Friday. Attackers were given permission to loot the homes of their victims, too, just for a little incentive. It wasn’t going to be a sneak attack – it was made a law under the authority of Haman, the King’s right hand man. In eleven months to the day, Jewish citizens would be extinguished. Then the King and Haman shared a couple of beers, while Mordecai and all the Jews read the order and tried to figure out if it was something they said.

Esther 4

Mordecai’s reaction was as intense as it gets: he ripped his clothes apart in anguish, put on funeral attire, and headed back in tears to the Starbucks where he’d saved the King’s life. That’s gratitude for you, he thought, as he drowned his sorrows in a caramel macchiato. And he wasn’t the only one. Terror and grief seized the heart and mind of every victim destined for the sword. Guns hadn’t been invented yet. It was the worst epidemic of depression the world had ever known.

Esther’s servants told her of Mordecai’s mental condition and his pathetic wardrobe as soon as they saw it. Esther sent him a Sears gift card so he could put on something decent, but he refused the offer. Finally, she sent a trusted friend to ask Mordecai what was bugging him. The news she received was shocking: she learned how much money Haman had tried to bribe her husband with, and saw the actual legal directive signed under Xerxes’ authority to wipe out her very own people. Of course, he didn’t know they were her people – yet. Mordecai sent word through Esther’s agent begging her to use her influence with her husband and save all their lives. Preferably before December 13.

Esther was in quite a pickle. As she dictated to the courier to explain to her Uncle Cousin, absolutely everyone knew that it was a death wish to approach the King while he was watching a ballgame in his Man Cave. You simply couldn’t just saunter in there uninvited. And if you did attempt such a crazy thing, you’d be at his mercy, hoping he’d hold out his golden scepter to you compassionately and not use it to hit you in the head. Besides, the play-offs were going full force. The King hadn’t even seen her to kiss her goodnight in over a month. What Mordecai was asking her to do could end up making her the second ex-Mrs. Xerxes. It was just too dangerous.

Mordecai was a little taken aback by her response, and actually got kind of snippy with her. It was the stress. He sent back word through the poor, tired little messenger that Esther shouldn’t be selfish just because she lived in a big, fancy house. “You can pretend you’re not one of us for a while, ignore our predicament and somehow we will still be rescued. But cowardice is never rewarded, and you and your relatives will eventually suffer for it. Still, on a happier note, who knows, maybe you were promoted to your unlikely position as Queen Of The World for such a time as this.”

She always was a good girl with a sensitive spirit. His words hit her hard. She made up her mind. With privilege comes responsibility. She texted Mordecai back: “You’re right, of course. I need you and the rest of the town to fast on my behalf for the next three days – my friends and I’ll do the same. Then I’ll commit an act of civil disobedience and approach my husband without an invitation. And if I die, I die.” Sensitive girls tend to be a bit dramatic.

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