Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 19, 2013

A positive minute: X is for Xerxes

By Dr. Michael Layne
Daily News

---- — Esther 1:1 this is what happened during the time of Xerxes, [a] the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush

One would think that writing a column using the alphabet as the guide would be a pieces of cake, right?

Wrong! When you get near the end of the alphabet there it is; the letter X.

Fellow columnist Pat Smith remarked several weeks ago that she is curious what will be written about the letter “x.” My thoughts exactly. What have I gotten myself into this time?

In searching throughout the scripture, I kept coming back to the name, Xerxes. Who in the world is this person? If you have read the story of Esther, then you have read the name King Ahasuerus which is the Hebrew name for Xerxes. The book of Esther takes place during the reign of King Xerxes.

Esther marries King Xerxes, and after Haman comes to him and encourages him to kill the Hebrews, Esgther appeals to her husband, the King, to not listen to Haman.

King Xerxes ruled over 127 provinces and he ruled from the citadel of Susa which was the capital of Persia or, as we know it today, Iran.

The age old problem of hate erupts once again as Xerxes elevates a man named Haman to a seat of honor. It became obvious that a Jew by the name of Mordecai would not bow to Haman. Mordecai was a Jew and had told Esther to not reveal that she was of Jewish heritage.

The rift between the Persians and Jews was continuing except that it is interesting that Esther wins out the process of becoming the Queen for Xerxes. The first Queen lost her throne and crown when during a great display of the King’s wealth, we read that Xerxes was very tipsy from his consumption of wine and called for the Queen to come to him.

Xerxes sent word to his Queen and she refused to come and sit by his side during the grand gala. In his drunkenness, he became angry and called his consultants together to figure out what to do with the Queen who had publicly disobeyed him.

It was determined that if something was not done to correct her the other women throughout his kingdom would get word of it and not obey their husbands, so it was decided to strip the Queen of her right to the throne and crown.

It was then the quest was on for a new queen. Word was sent to all the rulers of the 127 provinces to search for the most beautiful virgin they had and present her to the King. Esther won the beauty contest, and the interesting thing about this process is, before she could go and be with the King there is a process that will take a year to complete.

She would have to spend six months bathing in Myrrh and the second six months in perfumes and colognes.

The twist to this story is, Esther had kept the fact that she was Jewish a secret as Mordecai had instructed her. So, here’s a Jewish lady becoming the Queen to a Persian King. To be sure, there is more to this story than I have room to share in this column. Read the book of Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible. It really is quite the story.

Our “Come Thirsty” series continues this Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. as we meet at The Fine Grind, 120 E. Washington Street, Greensburg. I invite you to join us for a wonderful study time.

The Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, can be reached at 812-614-2160 or through: www.doclayne.com.