Good morning, everyone.
Cyrus, the great king of the Persians, was also king of the joint Persian Median empire.
Darius was king of the Medes under Cyrus in that joint empire of the Medes and Persians called Gobryas by the Greeks.
This Darius was the general who actually took the city of Babylon on behalf of Cyrus, the great king of the Persians. Cyrus then made Darius governor of the city and province of Babylon, ruling that city and province under the Persian king Cyrus the Great.
So these two men were contemporaneous, with Darius ruling the city and province of Babylon under the Persian King Cyrus. Both of these men were acquainted with the nobility in Babylon and were also acquainted with the leaders of the various captive peoples. Darius, in particular, was a close friend of Daniel.
In his first year as King of Babylon, as the head of the Empire of Mede’s and Persians 536 B.C., Cyrus decreed that all captive peoples could send delegations back to their homelands to rebuild the houses of their gods.
Cyrus actually opened his decree with a statement that the God of heaven, the God of Israel, had instructed him to send people back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple there.
I would imagine that Cyrus instructed the other captive peoples to send their own delegations to build their own temples for their gods, to avoid strife and upheaval in his kingdom if the people saw that only the Jews were allowed to rebuild their temple.
At the decree of Cyrus, fifty thousand Jews and Levites went to Jerusalem to begin building the temple and after two years, because of extreme opposition, the construction work stopped for a number of years; during which Cyrus and his son Cambyses 2 died and ended the Achaemenid dynasty.
Then Darius king of the Mede’s and governor of Babylon, ascended the throne of the Empire of the Medes and Persians.
In 522 B.C., the first year of his friend Darius, the King of the Medes. Daniel understood from the Book of Jeremiah that 70 years would be accomplished upon Jerusalem and upon the temple, after which the people would be allowed to rebuild the temple.
Knowing that all work on the temple had been stopped for several years Daniel fasted and prayed a prayer of repentance for himself and his nation, and also prayed for the restoration of the temple and Jerusalem.
In response to that prayer, God sent his prophets, Haggai and Zeckariah to encourage the people of Jerusalem to resume construction on the temple. God also sent his angel to Daniel to give him a new prophecy that in future another decree would be issued which would authorize the construction of the city of Jerusalem.
Daniel records this prophecy in Daniel 9; a decree would be issued that the city walls would be built during difficult times over a period of forty nine years.
The angel also told Daniel that four hundred and thirty four years after the completion of the walls of Jerusalem, Messiah would appear.
Soon after this, Daniel died and the temple in Jerusalem was completed; and before long the other great men of God began to die out, and a new generation rose up.
And they began to lose sight of any zeal to live by every Word of God, they began to become complacent, self-righteous, and to compromise with God’s Word. Then the descendants of those who had gone to Jerusalem and Judea began to marry outside the faith just like Solomon had done; and full of love for their wives, they allowed those wives to entice them to tolerate all of these various idol gods, and to allow their children to be raised up to worship these idols.
And so, generation after generation a departure from godliness began snowballing into an avalanche. And the people in Judea began to depart further and further, faster and faster from any zeal to live by every Word of God.
In Babylon the situation was just a little bit different. There was still a core of people who were zealous and mighty for godliness. However, on the fringes, many people became proud of what they thought they knew.
As the spiritual situation amongst the Jews developed time passed until finally a new king, Ahaseurus by name, ascended the throne of Babylon in approximately 463 B.C..
This king, whose personal name was Ahaseurus, took the reignal name Artaxerxes Longimanus. The book and historical story of Esther begins with the ascension to the throne of king Ahaseurus.
This king would have ascended the throne with all the pomp and circumstance that the empire had to offer in that day. However, there was no modern transportation or communications and there were many provinces and the distances were very long.
The king ascended the throne in approximately 464 or 463 B.C. and after two years. That is sometime in his third year or about 461 B.C. this King Ahaseurus called a royal feast.
Esther 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaseurus. This Ahaseurus which reigned from India even to Ethiopia over one hundred and seven and twenty provinces, that in those days when the king Ahaseurus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan, the palace, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants. The power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces coming before him.
This grand banquet which gathered all these notables from all the provinces of this vast empire was not just a spur of the moment party. It was a very well-planned, well prepared, working occasion to establish the king’s administration over the entire empire.
The purpose of this conference, which is what it really it was although it was accompanied by feasting and drinking.
The purpose of this conference was to establish personal relationships with all of these governors and notables, to communicate to all of them, that is with all the governors of all the provinces; the king’s laws and policies and thereby establish a certain commonality of law across the empire.
And not least, the purpose of the meeting was to impress all the people with the glory and majesty, the might and power of the great king emperor; instilling in them a certain awe for him as king, so that they would never even consider rebellion: And so that they would faithfully and loyally carry out all of his policies, diligently enforce all of his laws, and fulfill all of his wishes.
This conference would have lasted several days, and it was a working conference of government just as a king or queen or president today might have working dinners or conferences over meals to confer with his officials.
Esther 1:4 He showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of His excellent majesty. Many days, even one hundred and eighty days.
Yes. This was a great banquet. It was also a working conference. Organizing the kingdom, organizing this vast kingdom, codify its laws and making its laws and policies standard across the vast empire.
Now notice that it was after this one hundred and eighty day government conference that the actual feast took place. These were not 180 days of drunkenness and feasting, they were a hundred and eighty days of hard work organizing the government and establishing the laws of the kingdom.
Esther 1:5 And when these days [the 180 days] were expired. The king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan, the palace, both up to the great and small seven days in the Court of the Garden of the King’s Palace. This seven day feast was to celebrate the successful completion of one hundred and eighty days of hard administrative work.
During this seven day feast, the king decided to call for the queen so that she could appear before all of these notables in her royal robes and regal crown, and further impress all these notables with his royal majesty.
This was a great king, he was accompanied on the throne by a queen full of royal majesty and majestic honor, who served the king and the kingdom as queen and a faithful example of loyal service to the king for the whole nation.
But alas, the queen refused to come: She refused the invitation of the king.
Esther 1:9 Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the Royal House, which belonged to king Ahaseurus.
Now, this Vashti was recently made queen, just as her husband was a recently made king; and now she was suddenly surrounded by the wives of hundreds of nobles, princes and governors who were all vying for her attention. Apparently, this turned her head for:
Esther, 1:12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
He had just spent one hundred and eighty days impressing all the governors and notables in the empire, impressing them and inspiring them to obey him, to be loyal to him, to fulfill his commandments and laws; and now his very own wife, the queen herself, refused, publicly refused to obey him: Setting a public example of rebellion, disobedience and disloyalty, and openly shaming the king emperor, thereby undoing one hundred and eighty days of work achieved at great expense and effort.
Therefore, the king consulted with his advisers, and they answered him.
Esther 1:16 Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.
Therefore, they gave judgment in Esther 1:19 That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
This great king then sent officials throughout his kingdom to seek out women who could possibly fulfill the office of Queen. He was looking for women who were beautiful, but also intelligent, full of poise and good sense, who would be faithful and loyal and would be excellent examples for the nation as a queen should be.
These young women were then brought to the royal palace, where they went through a period called Purifying, which was really a period of learning the customs of the court and being assessed as to their suitability to be queen and an example for the entire nation and for all the other nations of the world.
Then day by day the young women were presented to the king who would have conducted a kind of job interview, assessing them on poise, intelligence, appearance and everything important and necessary to fulfill the role of Queen of the Kingdom.
Included, of course, in this would be whether he could have a meeting of minds with her, and they could get along and work well together: Was she being responsive to his will as the king? And certainly an example of faithful loyalty to the King among all the applicants for the job of Queen?
Then Hadassah a young orphan Jewish girl was found to be of incomparable beauty, poise, charm, intelligence and wisdom: Having grown up in the household of her uncle Mordechai, a faithful servant of the Most High God.
This king who was styled as the king of the whole earth, was well pleased with Hadassah, and took her as his queen and wife, renaming her Esther.
These events would have a profound effect upon the prophecy given in Daniel 9 concerning the decree to build Jerusalem and the timing of the coming of Messiah.
These things are also a majestic allegory of the history of Israel and the two covenants.
Ahaseurus King over all the earth can be seen as a type of Messiah the Christ, King. over all the Earth.
Vashti can be seen as a type of physical Israel in the Mosaic Covenant who continually rebelled against God from their marriage to God at Mount Sinai to the removal of the ten tribes by the Assyrians: until finally he gave up his godhood to be made flesh as Jesus Christ, and to preach for 3 1/2 years before dying for humanity.
Then, upon his resurrection, he was free to take a new bride, and his agents have been searching throughout all the earth, looking for people who would be suitable to have a part in the collective spiritual New Covenant bride of Christ; being fitting examples of zeal, a passionate, enthusiastic, exuberant zeal to live by every Word of God: As an example for all people, just as Hadassah was a fitting and suitable bride for king Ahaseurus and a righteous queen of the vast empire of the Medes and Persians.