Esther 8: 1-8
On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2 Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
3 Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4 The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5 and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6 For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” 7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, “See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. 8 You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”
The king lives a sheltered life, and even here at the end of the story he basically passes authority to Esther and Mordecai. They may write and seal it with the king’s seal. The king himself doesn’t take any more responsibility for the actions of Esther and Mordecai than he did for Haman. Even though these are irrevocable matters, they are still delegated. Much as in the story of Joseph, now Mordecai ascends to be in charge of everything and second only to the king, which makes him the person who really makes the decisions.
This makes me think a little of our own system of elected government where we may elect officials, but these officials may have to answer to groups and lobbyists who may be pulling the strings more than we want to admit. Granted, if the king decides to act on his own people have two choice, obey or assassinate the king while elected officials find themselves having negative adds financed against them, or members of their own party who try to take their seat in the next election cycle. I want to believe that the people we elect are there to make the best decisions on behalf of the American people, but the skeptical side sees way to many hands trying to craft their own policies to place under the signet ring of officials.
For the Jewish people in the story this turn of events is a very positive thing, now they have their own guy who bears the signet ring and can craft policy for their benefit. Maybe I am naïve to hope for a government that is better than this, a government that can move beyond what is good for one group or another and look at what is best for the population and even beyond that, the world. Don’t get me wrong, I think we’ve come a long way-but in our antagonistic and partisan world we can dream of something better.
One final note, I’ve highlighted several times that Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman, but this is apparently not a Jewish thing since Esther has no problem bowing before the king. We will never know the why behind Mordecai’s not bowing throughout the story, it could be a personal hatred, an ethnic dislike or any number of other things (and even here Mordecai doesn’t bow with Esther-although it may not be the time or place).
We are left with dueling decrees that cannot be revoked. One that will allow anyone to kill and loot Jewish families and one that allows the Jewish people to assemble and allow for their protection. Perhaps what is most important is not the edict but who has the power to enforce it.