Yesterday, I summarized the story of Esther and asked female readers if they identify the namesake as a positive female role model in our modern society. The responses were unsurprisingly diverse – both in content and style (one came with a picture!). I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you over the weekend. Yes, that means you will be getting a very rare Sunday entry this week. Hopefully God will forgive my Sabbath-breaking.
First Thought: Badass
One reader thought that Esther certainly qualified as “badass” and provided a different way to view it. To start her argument, she quoted a commentary Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, in order to give context to Esther’s actions:
Now the king had made a law that when he sat upon his throne none of his own people should approach him unless they were called, and men with axes in their hands stood round his throne in order to punish any that approached to him without being called. However, the king sat with a golden scepter in his hand, and when he had a mind to save any one of those that approached to him without being called, he extended it, and the one that he touched became then free from danger. But of this matter we have now said enough.
So while Esther was utilized by Mordecai purely for her connection to King Xerxes, she did actually end up convincing him into saving the Jews. She put herself in great danger in order to accomplish this, which above all else, is certainly “badass.”
Second Thought: Right-On Woman
My friend Liane – who previously gave us her thoughts on the relationship between Jonathan and David – had the following to say:
I’ve always seen Esther as a right-on woman, handling her beauty with power. Like Wonder Woman riding a skateboard to upend her enemies. She’s not in immediate danger nor does she really have power. But which women in the Bible do? She’s magnificent. She’s in charge. And the story is not about the villains, but about how she will vanquish them.
The first time I felt grace, a supreme connection with a story outside my own, which mirrored, connected, made manifest, the story that I already knew, was with Esther’s story. She had a hot second to convince her tribe. The tribe where she was only considered beautiful. If we could look at the Bible as we look at a movie set, we would see the same trope—pretty girl. No power. How could she possibly make a difference? And Esther probably felt that, too.
The church where I grew up had many strong women and men, and men who were comfortable with strong women. Or at least that’s what I took from growing up there. It was the 70’s and women were shyly announcing their needs, were concerned about getting home, had no purpose beyond their kitchen. But they held the tenor and the scope of their families. And they were tired of always being compared to virgins.
Esther stopped her whole world. She was the one who also came before the king.
It’s pronounced: Ah – haz – you- where- us
Next time you get before the King.
So we have two women who hold Esther in high esteem. Tomorrow, we will hear from a few of the other voices that chimed in, with some dissenting viewpoints.