1When Mordecai heard about the letter, he tore his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he covered his head with ashes and went through the city, crying and weeping. 2But he could go only as far as the palace gate, because no one wearing sackcloth was allowed inside the palace. 3 In every province where the king's orders were read, the Jews cried and mourned, and they went without eating. Many of them even put on sackcloth and sat in ashes.
4When Esther's servant girls and her other servants told her what Mordecai was doing, she became very upset and sent Mordecai some clothes to wear in place of the sackcloth. But he refused to take them.
5Esther had a servant named Hathach, who had been given to her by the king. So she called him in and said, “Find out what's wrong with Mordecai and why he's acting this way.”
6Hathach went to Mordecai in the city square in front of the palace gate, 7and Mordecai told him everything that had happened. He also told him how much money Haman had promised to add to the king's treasury, if all the Jews were killed.
8Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the orders for the murder of the Jews and told him that these had been read in Susa. He said, “Show this to Esther and explain what it means. Ask her to go to the king and beg him to have pity on her people, the Jews!”
9Hathach went back to Esther and told her what Mordecai had said. 10She answered, “Tell Mordecai 11there is a law about going in to see the king, and all his officials and his people know about this law. Anyone who goes in to see the king without being invited by him will be put to death. The only way that anyone can be saved is for the king to hold out the gold scepter to that person. And it's been thirty days since he has asked for me.”
12When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, 13he sent back this reply, “Don't think that you will escape being killed with the rest of the Jews, just because you live in the king's palace. 14If you don't speak up now, we will somehow get help, but you and your family will be killed. It could be that you were made queen for a time like this!”
15Esther sent a message to Mordecai, saying, 16“Bring together all the Jews in Susa and tell them to go without eating for my sake! Don't eat or drink for three days and nights. My servant girls and I will do the same. Then I will go in to see the king, even if it means I must die.”
17Mordecai did everything Esther told him to do.
When Mordecai hears of the decree to kill the Jews, he responds with grief. In deep mourning, wearing sackcloth and ashes, Mordecai makes himself a spectacle throughout Susa. His fellow Jews respond and also wearing sackcloth and ashes, lament and fast as they cry out for help.
Esther, ensconced within the royal harem, has no contact with Mordecai and so knows nothing of the plan for the mass murder of the Jews. How they eventually devise a plan to rescind the death decree is miraculous.
Mordecai and Esther cannot confer directly. They have to communicate through Esther’s servant, Hathach. In today’s world of sophisticated communication, Hathach shows us that truth and accuracy in communication are what’s most important. Mordecai and Esther are able to exchange essential information, consult well, and devise a coordinated plan of action in which both must do their part. Mordecai will call the Jews in Susa to fast and pray on Esther’s behalf, as she acts. Esther must go to the King and ask for amnesty for herself and her people. Even as queen, she cannot intrude uninvited into the King’s presence without consequences of death. She needs the king’s favour. She needs a miracle.
The Book of Esther is notorious as the only book of the Bible that does not mention God explicitly. However, God is present to hear and to act. Mordecai’s words to Esther (v.14) makes clear his expectation that the help and deliverance they seek will come from beyond themselves or even King Xerxes.
God hears the cry of his people and acts through events and circumstances: “If you [Esther] don’t speak up now, we will somehow get help, but you and your family will be killed. It could be that you were made queen for a time like this!”
Lord Jesus, you said, “If they persecute me, they will persecute you.” Help me to trust you and your resurrection power, to stand in loyalty with Christ followers worldwide and walk in your righteous path of grace and truth, even if it means I must die. Amen.