Who was Mordecai in the Old Testament?

The book of Esther tells us that Mordecai was the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish. He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin who had been taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had adopted when her parents died. Hadassah or Esther was a beautiful young woman. At that time, Mordecai worked in the citadel of Susa (Esther 2:5-7).

Queen Esther

When King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) wanted to replace his first queen Vashti, he was advised to gather the beautiful virgin’s in his domain that he may choose a queen from among them (Esther 2:1-4). As result, Esther was selected (Esther 2:8). Mordecai asked her not to reveal her Jewish identity (Esther 2:10). When the king met Esther, he was pleased with her and crowned her queen (verse 17).

Mordecai and the king

As Mordecai served Ahasuerus, he discovered that two of the king’s eunuchs were planning to lay hands on the king. So, he told Queen Esther and she in turn informed the king in Mordecai’s name. When an investigation was made, the matter was confirmed, and the eunuchs were hanged. This story was recorded in the king’s chronicles (Esther 2:21–23).

Haman’s hate for the Jews

Haman the Agagite, served as a high official in the king’s court. However, he hated Mordecai because he refused to honor him by bowing (Esther 3:5). This went against the Jewish faith to bow to anyone except God (Exodus 20:4-5). So, after learning who Mordecai’s people were, Haman planned to destroy not only Mordecai but all the Jews as well (Esther 3:6). To that end, Haman deceived the king into granting him the permission to annihilate the Jewish people. When Mordecai learned of that decree, he tore his clothing, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes mourning (Esther 4:1).

The advice of Mordecai

Mordecai told Esther of Haman’s plan against the Jews. He asked her to go at once before the king and plead for the Jews’ lives (Esther 4:8). Esther answered him that it was not her turn to appear before the king and that anyone that violates this law would be put to death (verses 9–10). However, Mordecai answered her, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (verse 13,14)

Esther decided to go before the king uttering her famous phrase “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Thus, she fasted for three days and appeared before the thing without being summoned. Thankfully, she found favor in his sight. He asked her the reason for her visit. She requested that he will come with Haman to a special banquet at her house (Esther 5:1–4). At the banquet, the king asked about her request. She asked him to come to a second banquet the following night and then she would reveal her petition.

The humiliation of Haman

Haman was greatly pleased with the honor of being invited to the queen’s banquet. However, his happiness was turned into rage when he saw Mordecai (verse 9). So, his wife suggested that he should hang Mordecai before the queen’s banquet. The matter pleased him and he built 75-foot-high gallows for that purpose (Esther 5:14).

That night, King Xerxes could not sleep. So, he requested that the king’s chronicles be read to him. Providentially, the part that was read was about Mordecai’s story of saving him. Then, the king inquired how was Mordecai rewarded for that act and found that nothing was done in this regard. At that instant, Haman appeared before the king to ask for a permission to hang Mordecai. Before the king would hear Haman’s request, he commanded him to give Mordecai the royal honors to a man who saved the king’s life in the streets of Susa (Esther 6:10–11).

The honoring of the Mordecai and the Jews

At Esther’s second banquet, the king again asked her about her request. So, she pleaded that he would save her life and the lives of her people from the death decree (Esther 6:3–4). She added that this deadly plan was fabricated by the wicked Haman (verse 6).

At hearing this, the king ordered that Haman would be put to death. Haman was killed on the same gallows he set for Mordecai. Then the king gave another decree saying that the Jews can defend themselves against their enemies. Thus, Haman’s wicked plan failed.

The king promoted Mordecai so that, “Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews” (Esther 10:3). Thus, Mordecai’s integrity and faithfulness to God were rewarded greatly. The story of Mordecai demonstrates God’s promises.

My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day… His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalm 7:10-11, 16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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