Rumors of Assassination: Esther 2: 19-23

Two Persian Soldiers on the Persepolis

Two Persian Soldiers on the Persepolis

Esther 2: 19-23

 19 When the virgins were being gathered together, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Now Esther had not revealed her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 22 But the matter came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, both the men were hanged on the gallows. It was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

There are a lot of things that are unclear in this little passage: Esther is already queen, why are they gathering the virgins together. Does the competition go on? It doesn’t seem so, but there is no indication they are being sent home either. As confusing as it is we have our two protagonists, Esther and Mordecai, who have assimilated to the Persian culture and who are in the court of the king working together to expose a coup attempt. Mordecai comes into knowledge of the plots of Bigthan and Teresh and he informs Esther, and Ester tells the king. Mordecai doesn’t expect or receive any reward at this point and the two conspirators after an investigation are executed. This gets recorded, and it is critical to the story moving forward, but ultimately it is recorded and forgotten for now.

Plots were not uncommon in the Persian courts, nor were coup attempts. The act of saving the king at this point will prove important for Esther, Mordecai and the Jewish people going forward.

If you are going to plot an assassination, probably best not to do it at the king’s gate where many ears are listening. Eunuchs did have a fair amount of power but they would never lead themselves, and we will never know what they are upset about. Perhaps they believe the king is a fool, perhaps they think he parties too much, perhaps some policy worked against their people. We will never know the reasons, and ultimately they are a necessary side plot that will be important later, but once the investigation commences it is not a good day to be named Bigthan or Teresh.

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