Tuesday, February 2, 2010

150: That Jew, Mordecai

Esther 1-5
"I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." - Esther 5: 12-13

Oh my science. This is actually an interesting section of story today.

The section starts with Xerxes having a banquet (I think we went back in time from Ezra/Nehemiah, I don't really know though). The banquet lasts 7 days, and the guest are invited to drink all the wine they want. Xerxes knows how to throw a party. At the same time the queen, Vashti, gives a separate banquet for the women.

On the seventh day, while Xerxes is hammered, he tells seven of his eunuchs to go fetch the queen so all of the king's guests can ogle her. The queen tells the eunuchs no. The king consults his advisers and they tell him to exile Queen Vashti forever. The king agrees. The queen is exiled forever and the king sends out an extra little note with his press release about the queen: "Every man should be ruler over his own household".

Now the king has no queen. That's where Esther comes in. The king orders many virgins from all around to his palace, but Esther stands out among them. Esther is, in fact, an Israelite. But she chooses not to reveal that to the king.

Before a girl goes to go see Xerxes she has to go through twelve months of "beauty treatments". Say what? I'm not sure what twelve months of beauty treatment does for you. Esther pleases the king so much when she finally gets to see him that she is made queen.

The other person of interest in this story is Mordecai. Mordecai is the cousin (and benefactor) of Esther. He raised her from a child because she had no parents. One day Mordecai is sitting at the "king's gate" when he hears a couple of men talking about assassinating the king. He tells Esther this, and she in tern tells the king. The two conspirators are hanged. This gives much credit to Mordecai in the eyes of the king.

Mordecai is a stubborn man. He decides not to kneel down to one of the king's officials (Haman). Unfortunately, Mordecai picked the wrong official to piss off. Haman is so pissed that he doesn't just settle for wanting to kill Mordecai, he decides to try to have all the Jews in the kingdom (Persia/Babylon I presume?) killed. Haman goes to the king and basically asks if he can kill the Jews, the king sends out his response in a dispatch to the kingdom:
Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and little children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
Kill and annihilate the Jews?! That's terrible. The Jews are the only ones allowed to kill and annihilate people.

Mordecai goes to Esther and tells her to persuade the king to not kill everyone. She is afraid to go to the king without him requesting her presence but she goes anyway. The king asks her what she wants from him. Instead of telling him she throws him a banquet. He asks again while they're at the banquet. She tells him to come to another banquet the next day. (That part of the story is to be continued tomorrow)

The last part of today's section is Haman raging over Mordecai. Mordecai is still sitting at the king's gate, and when Haman comes around Mordecai shows no fear. In response to this, Haman calls together all of his friends and he talks to them about how wonderful he is. It's always the right time for a good ego stroking in Haman-land. During this ego stroking he gives us our quote of the day, which is worth repeating:
"I'm the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate."
Something about the bible saying "that Jew" strikes me as funny (reminds me of South Park maybe).

The section ends with Haman's wife suggesting gallows be built for Mordecai to hung. Haman is "delighted" at this suggestion and has the gallows built. (This is also to be continued tomorrow)

Fun fact: Nowhere in this section are the words "God" or "Lord" used. God is officially gone.

Woo, fundie day. Because Pharyngula stole my news.

This is in a letter to the editor to a Wyoming newspaper:
I can't speak for Doris, but as to my own Christian beliefs, there is no doubt in my mind that what I believe is right.
Ok, fair enough. Why, pray tell?:
I happen to believe that "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." And, the Bible tells us that we should not fall for the many lies from those who believe that homosexuality is OK as an "alternative lifestyle," or that atheism is perfectly acceptable, or that we can receive life-changing and helpful information from an old pot-bellied guy who apparently squinted a lot.
The basis for your belief is "I better believe in something"? Great argument. It's a good thing you didn't fall for something ridiculous like children being born to virgin mothers.

He makes sure to complete the circular logic with the standard "because the bible says so" line. He goes on to use the impenetrable argument "Darwin was ugly, so he must be wrong" (I'm assuming squinty + pot belly = Darwin). I don't think Pat Robertson is particularly attractive either, does that inherently make him wrong? I may as well finish out his letter, for completeness' sake:
Sorry, folks. I'm perfectly content where I am in life, and that's not open to debate. Perhaps if you would all take a serious look at the Bible from the point of prayerfully seeking the Savior who died for you and for me, you would understand that it is your personal responsibility to "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." This is literally a matter of life and death.
I agree, your contentedness is not up for debate. But that doesn't make your argument a good one. "Seriously looking" at the bible while simultaneously "seeking the Savior" seems like a wildly dishonest way to go about it. If the bible is all it's cracked up to be, I'll be converted with little effort on my part (but that's not my working hypothesis at this point).

(via The Trib)


  1. It's interesting to see your comments on that story, because it's one I'm rather familiar with (having been brought up Jewish, although of course I no longer am).

    I distinctly remember that every time we were taught that story as a child, we were supposed to revile Vashti because she was a "bad queen" (which seems odd, but I don't remember thinking it strange at the time). Misogyny? Check.

    Of course, my favourite little thing about this story is that many Jews have a tradition on Purim (the holiday derived from it) that says you're supposed to "get too drunk to tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai".

    Not that any of that is particularly relevant, of course, but maybe you'll find it amusing.

  2. Fat squinty guy = Buddha

    In case you weren't being sarcastic.

  3. You should read Greek Esther, it has more material and backstory; and yes it has the missing "Gods" and "Lords" that ye seeketh.

  4. Is prayfully a real word??

    And why should i be trying to get 'salvation in fear and trembling'? That sound like a vield threat.

    Oh, and how is this a matter of life and death? Whether i believe in god or not im going to live, and at some point die. So are you. SO IS EVERY GODDAM PERSON ON THIS PLANET???!!!!




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