Welcome to week 3 of our Esther series, and its fair to say its been a bit of a controversial week this week!! I love when a topic sparks discussion, so lets jump straight into the verse in question:
“Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.” Esther 2:10
to lie or not to lie
White lie or lie of omission, the first thing that jumped out to me in this verse is that Esther is hiding something intentionally from others. So whether she had to tell a lie and say she was Persian, or whether she just didn’t mention it and let people assume what they wanted, she was trying not to let on that she was of Jewish descent. This started us straight into a discussion of whether it was ever ok to lie, and what God’s heart on that is. Ranging from the black and white view that it is always wrong to lie, to the more grey areas of moral values and whilst truth is high on that list, stopping potential evil is even higher, we had lots of different opinions and thoughts.
I’m not going to share my own opinions on this – there are plenty of articles and other sources shared in our Mummy Meditations Community – but I am going to draw one observation. Clearly we all see truthfulness as a desirable quality, something that is characteristic of God and hence something we should strive for. And so it must take the thought or prospect of something pretty horrendous to make Mordecai forbid Esther from being truthful. Something unimaginable, that he wants to save his precious adopted daughter from. Or perhaps even just the fear of the unknown.
Yes, the Jewish people were accepted and allowed to live in the Persian Empire, but that doesn’t meant that they would have been treated the same once inside the palace. One mum also mentioned that perhaps as an orphan and adoptee that she might have been considered lower ranking too. Maybe this would have lowered her chances of seeing the king and pushed her back in the queue (when she had been fast-tracked last week by Hegai) or perhaps it could even have resulted in physical abuse or death. We really don’t know, but we know that Mordecai acted out of love to protect Esther, even if that was by telling her to lie.
forced to lie
As I stepped into Esther’s shoes, I tried to remember a time when a situation had come up where I had been forced to lie or protect some piece of information and how it made me feel. Examples flooded into my mind, such as safeguarding issues at church where you may need to only share information with certain people on the team, or when a friend had confided in me. Work examples of news such as concert line-ups which are embargoed until a certain date and time. All these examples have made me feel very uncomfortable, almost anxious, with having to keep information to myself. I have felt threatened and accused when people asked me innocent questions around them. Esther might have felt similar, as if every question, comment or action of those inside the harem was designed to catch her out or make her reveal her true identity. It is not a nice place to be in by choice, and even worse when someone forces you to be there.
When it is someone else who requests you lie, then you feel like you are going to let them down if you slip up, there is added pressure and responsibility on your shoulders. Esther must have been so aware of everything she was doing, trying to hide her prayers, trying to forget about special days and not seem bothered, trying to hide her accent, way of dress or distinguishing features that would mark her out as different. How tiring that must have been. Despite being surrounded by 400 woman and her own set of servants, I am sure she would have felt isolated and alone in that place.
what can we learn from Esther?
Well, we don’t know an awful lot more about how she dealt with this situation, because as we already noted – the book is written from a male perspective, and so they can only report the facts that they knew. On her own in that harem, who knows the struggle that Esther went through inside, whether she turned to God in that dilemma and found comfort in him, or whether she just isolated herself and avoided everyone so that no questions were asked. However, as we know from last week, she found favour with people inside, so I doubt highly that she did that by hiding away. The only thing we do know is that Esther succeeded in keeping her nationality a secret until later in the story.
Esther was obedient to her adoptive Father, even when she didn’t know why is was necessary, even when it would have been hard for her to do so, and even when it battled with her inner conscience that wanted to be truthful. In this messed up and sinful world, sometimes we have to be obedient to those wiser than us and to God, in ways that we just don’t understand. Obedience is certainly a characteristic that Esther displays here, and perhaps one that we need to practice more.
I’d love for you to join our Mummy Meditations Community over on Facebook to discuss our next verse over the week:
“When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.” Esther 2:15
Please do share your own comments and thoughts below or over on Facebook.