Purim, a Jewish holiday whose story is told in the book of Esther, is a day of joy and celebration which generally falls between late February and late March in the Gregorian calendar—the 14th of Adar in the Hebraic/biblical calendar. It is a day to remember God’s mighty hand displayed to His people in the days of Esther and Mordecai—a time to commemorate His saving grace and protection. But how did Mordecai help establish Purim?
What Do You Know About Mordecai?
Most people who have heard of Purim know Esther’s story, but many forget Mordecai’s story, the cousin who adopted her.
After all, Esther was the one God positioned to become queen and the one who risked her life to save the Jewish people. But it was also she who had gained the favor of the king—by God’s intervention—to give her and Mordecai the authority to make decrees in favor of their people by giving Mordecai his signet ring to seal those decrees.
In this, Esther and Mordecai were instrumental in bringing about Purim itself, which is celebrated to this day…
Esther (Hadassah was her Hebrew name) is still the primary player in the story, and Mordecai maintains a prominent role throughout the narrative. Mordecai is as strong as his cousin Esther, whom he raised from an orphaned girl to the queen who would be set in place “for such a time as this” (see Esther 4:14).
The Book of Esther:
We all know the story…
Esther—then Hadassah—was orphaned at a young age and raised by her cousin Mordecai as if, and he was her father. She trusted him, obeyed him, and only appeared to revere God above him. Yet, when the king of the land took away the power and position of his then queen, Vashti, Hadassah’s life would change forever.
She, now a grown woman, was brought along with an untold number of other beautiful virgins to the citadel in the city of Shushan. There she underwent a full year of beauty treatments before she would be brought before the king and would become queen.
Esther Steps into Her Calling
After she—now known as Esther—had been in the role of queen for some time, a man known as Haman, was put into a high position of power. Through trickery and the omission of certain facts, Haman quickly convinced the king that a certain group of people in his kingdom—the Jews—needed to be destroyed.
Esther, upon hearing the edict, fasted and prayed for three days, then went before the king unsummoned—an act punishable by death should he not hold out his golden scepter—to try to save her people.
Esther’s Favor and Victory
Yet, God gave favor to Esther. She invited Haman and the king to dine with her for two days in a row, and she pleaded for her people, softening the king’s heart. Her people were saved and Purim was established.
There’s More to the Story!
While this is a fairly accurate summation of the story, particularly when compared to how it is often portrayed—with Mordecai making only the odd guest appearance in Esther’s journey toward queenship and saving her people—it is not the whole story. Yes, Esther’s role is vital, but Mordecai played a far greater role than most of the “tellings” of the book of Esther allow.
What Was Mordecai’s Role in the Story of Esther?
- “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”—Esther 2:7
Long before the day Queen Vashti was deposed, Mordecai took Esther in as his own, raising her and loving her as if she were his daughter.
Mordecai’s act of taking Esther in opened the doors to her purpose. Because of Mordecai’s wisdom and protection, Esther became a woman of…
- Caring nature
All of this was required for God to use her as He did. Yes, God could have imparted divine knowledge, character, and so forth, should Mordecai have failed, but God leaves nothing to chance.
He led Esther to her cousin, a godly, righteous man, so she could receive training far more important than any beauty treatments and learning she would find in her year of preparation to meet the king.
- “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”—Psalm 37:23
Mordecai’s Role Continued…
- He helped build the foundation of her calling.
Mordecai’s role in the book of Esther did not stop at raising her. While this greatly prepared her for her calling, helping to build a foundation that was critical for the call, it also proves God’s Word true. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…” and Mordecai was a good man–a man of God.
- He stayed with her and provided godly wisdom.
When Esther was brought in for her year of preparation, Mordecai did not simply leave her to whatever fate she might encounter. No. Instead, he came to the court of the women’s quarters EVERY DAY to learn how she was and what was happening to her.
“Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it. And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.”—Esther 2:10-11
He cared for Esther as if she were his daughter. He charged her to keep her identity a secret—a directive that protected her and eventually allowed God’s people to be saved through her.
He put his words into action and visited her every day, pacing in front of the court’s quarters until he learned what was happening to her, and how she was.
Imagine how much time this would have taken. He likely missed out on hours of work, which meant less income. God had put this girl into his charge, and he would not let her be alone.
- He let her grow.
When the time came for her to go before the king and ultimately be chosen as his queen, Mordecai’s distance had to increase. He had to trust in what he had taught her and spoken to her and let her grow into her calling.
He knew it would be hard for Esther to hide her heritage when he visited daily. Now being queen, he had to trust and watch her grow from a distance. However, that did not keep him from looking out for her or her new husband.
“In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name.”—Esther 2:21-22
- He watched out for her and the king.
When Mordecai informed Esther of the plot to kill the king, she informed the king in Mordecai’s name. The plot was thwarted, yet, Mordecai, while having his deed written in the book of chronicles, was not rewarded at that time. Instead, God held that honor back until the timing was perfect.
- He was dedicated to God.
Haman was placed above the princes of the land by the king. Mordecai refused to bow or pay homage to Haman because he wouldn’t bow to anyone but God.
Haman’s anger burned within him. Instead of striking out against Mordecai alone, Haman decided he would not be satisfied unless all the Jews in the kingdom suffered. So, before even approaching the king on the matter, Haman cast lots to determine the month and day he would destroy the Jews. He was certain he could trick the king into carrying out his plan.
Was Mordecai Responsible for the Planned Destruction?
Was Mordecai in some way responsible for the planned destruction of the Jewish people? Would they have never faced a threat had he pretended to honor Haman?
No. For, while Mordecai “triggered” Haman’s wrath, Haman’s evil—the spirit of evil within him—was so great that even if Mordecai had bowed to him, it is likely he would have come after the Jews eventually. However, what the enemy meant for evil, the Lord would turn for good…
Check out the rest of the story here.
Mordecai was used by God not only to bring the news of Haman’s evil to Esther but also to speak the words she needed to hear—to give her a God-given view and remind her of God’s power.
Because of Mordecai, there was a spiritual shift, and the favor of God was released upon the Jewish people.
Mordecai played an important role in the creation of Purim. Discover about the legacy and honor he ultimately rose to here.