Please explain the prefigures and foreshadows in the book of Esther. Who do Esther, Mordecai, Haman etc. represent?
After studying through the book of Esther and trying to draw parallels, I
had a few things that I just could not make sense of. First, I had a hard
time figuring out King Xerxes and Queen Vashti?s interaction in the first
chapter. I could not be sure who was the villain and who was the victim in
this story. I could not tell if Xerxes was justified for his actions in
replacing the queen. It seemed a little rash, but she did fail to follow
the king?s orders. Maybe they are both at fault? Also, I was wondering how
you interpreted the role of each character in this book and what they
represent. I definitely think Esther is a type for Christ by her risking
her life for her people. Mordecai seems to switch roles. At times he
seems to play the role God (the father) setting the events into place for
Esther (Jesus), but then he risks his life too for his conviction and fate
of his people (granted I know that these are really the same person, but I
am thinking about the roles they play). Also, his horse ride into town was
reminiscent of the Triumphal Entry, making him in the role of Jesus. Are
both Esther and Mordecai types of Jesus? And is Haman Satan? Xerxes is
confusing to me because I cant decide if he is bad or good. Is “the book
of annals” like a chronicle of his reign as king? Also, why does it say
three times that the Jews “did not touch the plunder of those they
conquered” even though the edict gave them permission to do so in the
previous chapter? Then I had trouble with chapter 8:10 and what that all
was symbolic of (I may be trying to reading too far into it). “Mordecai
wrote in the name of the king?”, in the same way Jesus came in the name of
the King (God). “?sealed dispatches with King?s signet ring?”, does that
have anything to do with the theme of seals in Revelation? “?sent them by
mounted couriers, who rode fast horses, especially bread for the king.”-
this seems that it would have some significance, but I am not sure what.
Would this have anything to do with the horsemen in Revelation? And
lastly, what would you say in the most important points that we should
grasp from this story? Thanks for the help!
On the first question, be aware that at times the Bible (and therefore
God) gives us information in a non-judgmental way. In other words, it is
simply a fact that Vashti did what she did and that Artaxerxes did what he
did. Who was right or wrong in this case is not relevant to the story.
This information is given to us because it happened, not to teach us a
principle. This is not uncommon in historical writings in the Bible. You
are free to reach your own conclusion, but it is not material to the
purpose of Esther. I guess I am saying this is not a biblical issue, so
you are free to form your own opinion
As for what the characters represent, let me state a general principle.
It is probably better to read less into a story than is implied than to
read more into it than is implied. It is very common for people to read
all kinds of stuff out of parables which God never intended. I agree
that Esther is a type of Christ. I believe that this is a major part of
the reason this story ended up in the Bible. To try to make Mordecai into
a type of something in the New Testament is to step out on a limb, in my
opinion. I am not saying that such an identity would be wrong, per se,
but I advise caution. Have you read the last chapter in my book From
Shadow to Reality? I offer suggestions for interpretations of types and
foreshadows. I definitely think reading his ride into town on a horse as
a foreshadow to be a huge stretch. He simply rode in on a horse. Period.
Does Haman represent Satan in this story? I had not thought of this
before, but I believe that you have an excellent point here. This is a
story for us and for the Jews and to see Haman as a classical figure for
Satan is reasonable. I like to err on the side of caution, but in this
case, I believe you have a winner, because the details fit so well. Satan
(Haman) wants to destroy us. Satan (Haman) used deceit. The work of
Satan (Haman) is defeated by the work of the Messiah (Esther).
I am assuming that the book of annals is a historical record kept by the
Persians and Medes. By the way, have you seen the movie which just came
out about Esther? It is in the theatres. I went to it. It is worth
seeing. There are several scenes in which Esther is looking at the annals
I believe it said three times that they did not touch the plunder because
they did not touch the plunder. Again, this is simply a recording of what
happened. Possibly this is emphasized because of the good light it put
the Jews in by comparison to Haman, but that is a bit of speculation.
About Mordecai wrote “in the name of the king” I think that you are
definitely reading way too much into the story here. I really applaud
your efforts to read and study deeply. This is commendable. In your deep
and careful look, however, try not to read in things which are not there.
The relationship to the seals in Revelation is surely coincidental. I
walked down the sidewalk today. Jesus walked down a sidewalk in Jerusalem
. This does not mean my walking down the sidewalk was foreshadowed.
Please forgive me for using a grossly exaggerated example. Most things
which happened twice are simply that?things which happened twice. Again,
I refer you to the appendix in FSTR.
The most important thing to grasp from this story is that God is in
control. At the times of our greatest danger, the important thing is to
rely on God, not on ourselves. This is a story of God saving his people.
Despite all my poo-pooing of your ideas, this story is loaded with
symbolism about God?s relationship to his people. It is a physical
example of the spiritual battle which rages, both with us as individuals
and with us as a group of God?s people. The secret on our part is
trusting in God and putting our faith in him.
John Oakes, PhD