The Eight Beatitudes in the Book of Esther
Today marks the holiday of Purim celebrated by the Jews. It commemorates the threat of annihilation that confronted the Israelites around the year 470 B.C., when God conveyed great salvation on His Chosen People through those two giants of faith, Mordecai and Esther. To us, the Book of Esther is not just a revelation of God¡¦s plan of salvation, but a testimony on earth of the Kingdom of Heaven¡¦s Chosen People. We need not be envious of the external beauty of Esther, or the prestige and grandeur of Mordecai upon his promotion, but we should strive to possess the heavenly qualities they displayed. On their persons, we can see the eight beatitudes of the Chosen People of the Heavenly Kingdom described by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.
1. ¡§Blessed are the poor in spirit¡¨ ¡V poor in spirit is a paucity affecting the spirit, an affliction brought about through reverence (Psalm 14:6, 22: 24). Because of his fear of God, Mordecai refused to kneel down to Haman, thereby engendering a crisis of death and annihilation for himself and his people. He experienced great hardship and suffering in his spirit, but because he sought God faithfully and unwaveringly, he received the blessing of the Lord (Esther 3:5-6).
2. ¡§Blessed are those who mourn¡¨ ¡V Mordecai and Esther were captured Jews, and they knew well that the destruction of their nation was because of the sins of the Jews in the past. When they learned that their enemy planned their annihilation, they were even more distressed and sorrowful. This mourning compelled them to seek God¡¦s help through fasting and prayer (Esther 4:1, 16), finally eliciting the act of salvation of the Lord.
3. ¡§Blessed are the meek¡¨ ¡V Esther did not become ungrateful and indifferent because she had become the queen. She still cared about Mordecai, who was testifying alone at the king¡¦s gate, and sent clothes for him to put on (Esther 4:4). She had a meek and gentle attitude, heeding the advice of her adopted father in breaking her silence and risking death to beg for mercy from the king for her compatriots (Esther 4:11, 16).
4. ¡§Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness¡¨ ¡V Although Esther ardently wished for God¡¦s righteousness to be quickly manifested to the enemy so that her people would rid themselves of the stain of unrighteousness, she did not act rashly when she got the assent of the king. She continued to wait patiently, unconsciously complying with the Lord¡¦s timing so that an unexpected result ensued (Esther 5:4, 8). Mordecai did not forget his kinsmen¡¦s suffering because the king gave him a temporary honour. He still returned to the king¡¦s gate and waited silently for God¡¦s salvation (Esther 6:11-12).
5. ¡§Blessed are the merciful¡¨ ¡V Esther did nor seek personal immunity against her people¡¦s distress because she had become queen, or ease up because Haman was killed. She had compassion on her kinsmen throughout the country who would suffer the catastrophe that was to come on the day of Purim. ¡§For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?¡¨ (Esther 8:6) So she unremittingly pled in tears to the king until he agreed to issue a decree of self-preservation and protection for the Jews (Esther 8:3-8)
6. ¡§Blessed are the pure in heart¡¨ ¡V Esther was not a materialistic opportunist. She asked for nothing in the process of being chosen to go to the king, thereby winning the favour of everyone (Esther 2:13-15). When she learned of her compatriots¡¦ fate, she purified her heart, fasted and prayed. She also gathered together all the Jews in the city of Susa to fast and pray for her for three days and nights, then went to the king in defiance of the law (Esther 4:15-17).
7. ¡§Blessed are the peacemakers¡¨ ¡V After Mordecai gained real political power, he issued an edict that allowed Jews in the whole country to rise up and protect themselves on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar and eliminate those enemies that sought to attack them. Yet they did not pursue their revenge too far, nor did they lay their hands on the plunder (Esther 9:16). When Mordecai became the prime minister of Persia, he worked for the good of his people and was held in high esteem by his fellow Jews, establishing peaceful relationships among them (Esther 10:3).
8. ¡§Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness¡¨ ¡V Mordecai belonged to God¡¦s Chosen People, and endured the suffering of his country¡¦s destruction and personal exile. Because of his fear of God and pursuit of righteousness, he encountered the persecution of Haman, but did not forsake his loyalty despite pressure from his fellow officials (Esther 3:3-6). In the end God rewarded his faithfulness.
Mordecai and Esther displayed their heavenly qualities in the midst of myriad trials. They were able to secure salvation from God for the Chosen People, and also gained for themselves and others many blessings.
By: Daniel To