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Esther's oil on a Prayer Cloth

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Esther on a Prayer Cloth

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Esther’s oil on a Prayer Cloth

The Esther’s oil on a prayer cloth is dedicated to the 5th century Queen who saved her people from annihilation.

In 454 BC King Ahasuerus, ruler of the Persian Empire, holds a lavish 180-day banquet. It was initially for his court and dignitaries.  Afterwards a seven-day banquet for all inhabitants of the capital city, Shushan. On the seventh day of the latter banquet, Ahasuerus orders the queen, Vashti, to display her beauty before the guests by coming before them wearing her crown.  She refuses, infuriating Ahasuerus, who removes her from her position. He did this as an example to other women who might be emboldened to disobey their husbands. . A decree follows that “every man should bear rule in his own house”

Ahasuerus then makes arrangements to choose a new queen from a selection of beautiful young women from throughout the empire.Among these women is a Jewish orphan named Esther, who was raised by her cousin or uncle, Mordecai.  She finds favour in the King’s eyes, and is crowned his new queen, but does not reveal her Jewish heritage. Shortly afterwards, Mordecai discovers a plot by two courtiers, Bigthan and Teresh, to assassinate Ahasuerus. The conspirators are apprehended and hanged, and Mordecai’s service to the King is recorded.

Esther is made Queen

Ahasuerus appoints Haman as his viceroy. Mordecai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman’s disfavour.  He refuses to bow down to him. Haman discovers that Mordecai refuses to bow on account of his Jewishness.  In revenge he plots to kill not just Mordecai, but all the Jews in the empire. He obtains Ahasuerus’ permission to execute this plan, against payment of ten thousand talents of silver, and casts lots (“purim”) to choose the date on which to do this – the thirteenth of the month of Adar. A royal decree is issued throughout the kingdom to slay all Jews on that date.

When Mordecai discovers the plan, he goes into mourning and implores Esther to intercede with the King. But she is afraid to present herself to the King unsummoned, an offense punishable by death. Instead, she directs Mordecai to have all Jews fast for three days for her, and vows to fast as well.  On the third day she goes to Ahasuerus, who stretches out his sceptre to her to indicate that she is not to be punished. She invites him to a feast in the company of Haman. During the feast, she asks them to attend a further feast the next evening. Meanwhile, Haman is again offended by Mordecai and, at his wife’s suggestion, has a gallows built to hang him.

Esther agrees to intercede for her people

That night, Ahasuerus cannot sleep, and orders the court records be read to him .  He is reminded that Mordecai interceded in the previous plot against his life, and discovers that Mordecai never received any recognition. Just then, Haman appears to request the King’s permission to hang Mordecai, but before he can make this request, Ahasuerus asks Haman what should be done for the man that the King wishes to honor.  Assuming that the King is referring to Haman himself, Haman suggests that the man be dressed in the King’s royal robes, and crown and led around on the King’s royal horse, while a herald calls: “See how the King honours a man he wishes to reward!”. To his surprise and horror, the King instructs Haman to do so to Mordecai.

Immediately after, Ahasuerus and Haman attend Esther’s second banquet. The King promises to grant her any request, and she reveals that she is Jewish and that Haman is planning to exterminate her people, including herself.  Overcome by rage, Ahasuerus leaves the room; meanwhile Haman stays behind and begs Esther for his life, falling upon her in desperation. The King returns in at this very moment and thinks Haman is assaulting the queen; this makes him angrier and he orders Haman hanged on the very gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai.

Esther pn a prayer cloth/Origins of the feast of Purim

Unable to annul a formal royal decree, the King instead adds to it.  He permitted the Jews to join together and destroy any and all of those seeking to kill them.  On 13 Adar, Haman’s ten sons and 500 other men are killed in Shushan. Upon hearing of this Esther requests it be repeated the next day, whereupon 300 more men are killed.  Over 75,000 people are slaughtered by the Jews, who are careful to take no plunder. Mordecai and Esther send letters throughout the provinces.  They instituted an annual commemoration of the Jewish people’s redemption. It was to be a holiday called Purim (lots).  Ahasuerus remains very powerful and continues his reign, with Mordecai assuming a prominent position in his court

Additional information

Weight0.036 kg

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