Thursday, November 14, 2013

Esther: A Great Supporting Cast

If you have not read the book of Esther, or are not familiar with the story, you may struggle to follow this post. However, don't despair - you can read it free online!

Good morning, my lovely readers! I told you once before about my latest Bible reading plan, and what I learned from Ruth. Right now I'm reading through Esther - one of my favorite Bible stories, but a book I've never actually read completely through before. I'm only partially done, but I wanted to share a few thoughts that have come across already.

The entire book is about Esther, yes. It's titled after her, and she is undoubtedly the main character. But just like any good novel, in real life there are side characters - supporting roles, who are living their own individual lives with their own goals, dreams, back stories, and weaknesses. One reason I love the One Night with the King movie is because it portrays the story as a whole, complete with cultural and historical information and real, living "side characters." When you're reading Esther, the supporting characters really pop out. More so than with other books of the Bible, at least in my opinion.


There's Mordecai, the cousin who raised Esther. We see how devoted he is to her care and upbringing, to teaching her right, providing for her, and protecting her. It's clear how dedicated he is to his Jewish background. He's a hard worker who sits in the gates of the empire - a very high position for someone from his place in life. Mordecai's an everyday hero, really. He sacrifices a lot for Esther and for his people, and he stands by his convictions even under pressure.

Then we come to the caretaker of the women. We're not told the man's name. All we really know is that he's the head eunuch in charge of the young women coming from throughout the empire to this 'beauty pageant.' Quickly, Esther becomes his favorite. He gives her personal advice and favors her above all the other women - foreshadowing the king's favor of her above the others, as well.

Of course, we can't forget Haman. He's a classic villain, but I think his role doesn't end there. Early in the book, we see the king and his princes getting drunk and easily angered. From that point, it's clear that most men in the palace have big egos and short tempers. Haman draws this out as an individual. His pride is wounded when Mordecai refuses to bow to him. His temper flares, and he decides it's not enough to just seek revenge against one man. No, he's gonna wipe out that man's entire race! Talk about a hothead.

The king may not be considered a supporting character by some, but I tend to think of him that way. I mean, he's neither more or less important in the book than Mordecai or Haman. One Night With the King paints him as a young, romantic, passionate guy tired of the pretenses and politics of the palace. I love the story there. But that king? He's completely made-up. The real king portrayed in the Bible isn't quite so heroic or dreamy. Actually, he's an egotist with a temper and a drinking problem. He really just chooses Esther because she's prettiest and most pleasing. If you're looking for a great romance, go read Song of Solomon. This guy's a letdown.

Conclusion: while a great story - fictional or not - does center around a main character, don't overlook the other characters. They're individuals with stories of their own, and lessons we can learn from them. (Speaking of which, tune in next time for my list of lessons from Esther!)

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