Purim is just around the corner and many of us will be reading and studying the Book of Esther. In a recent blog I discussed the differences between the long and short versions of Esther, in today's blog I will discuss the important element of Spiritual Warfare embedded in the long version of the Book of Esther.
Although the lack of the presence of the use of the Sacred Name of YHWH is conspicuous in the short version of Esther, the name of YHWH seems to be shouting from between the lines of almost every verse.
What is shouting from between the lines of the short version is very clear in the long version of Esther. In this book we see the working of an invisible Elohim whose people are keenly aware of his presence around them. The story reveals the threads of apparent coincidences woven by Elohim into a pattern of salvation.
The long version of Esther reveals plainly to us that Spiritual Warfare was very much involved in driving the events of this book forward. The long version therefore shows a fundamental connection between Purim and the Feast of Nicanor (which receded Purim by one day, and effectively stretches Purim into a three day festival complex). As we will demonstrate in another teaching soon, the story behind the story behind the Feast of Nicanor also teaches us about Warfare and Intercessory Prayer.
The long version of Esther begins with Mordecai receiving a Prophecy in the form of a Word of Wisdom from YHWH:
1 In the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes the great king, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin,
2 Jew dwelling in the city Susa, a great man, serving in the king’s palace, saw a vision.
3 Now he was of the captivity which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried captive from Jerusalem, with Jechoniah the king of Judah.
4 And this was his dream: Behold, voices and a noise, thunders and earthquake, tumult upon the earth.
5 And, behold, two great dragons came forth, both ready for conflict, and there came from them a great voice,
6 and by their voice every nation was prepared for battle, even to fight against the nation of the just.
7 And, behold, a day of darkness and blackness, tribulation and anguish, affliction and great tumult upon the earth.
8 And all the righteous nation was troubled, fearing their own afflictions; and they prepared to die, and cried to Elohim:
9 and from their cry there came as it were a great river from a little fountain, even much water.
10 And light and the sun arose, and the lowly were exalted, and devoured the honourable.
(This appears almost verbatim in the Midrash Rabbah as well). Mordecai then meditates on the Word of Wisdom, seeking the Discerning of the Spirit so that he might transform the Word of Wisdom into a Word of Knowledge:
11 And Mordecai, who had seen this vision and what Elohim
designed to do, having arisen, kept it in his heart, and desired by all means to
interpret it, even till night.
After learning of Haman’s plot Mordecai engages in spiritual warfare, through intercessory prayer:
1 And he besought YHWH, making mention of all the works of YHWH; and he said,
2 O YHWH, YHWH, King ruling over all, for all things are in Your power, and there is none that shall oppose You in Your purpose to save Israel:
3 for You have made the heaven and the earth, and every wondrous thing in the world under the heaven:
4 and You are Adon of all, and there is none that shall resist You, YHWH.
5 You know all things: You know, YHWH, that it is neither in insolence, nor haughtiness, nor love of glory, that I have done this, to refuse obeisance to the haughty Haman;
6 for I would gladly have kissed the soles of his feet for the safety of Israel.
7 But I have done this, that I might not set the glory of man above the glory of Elohim: and I will not worship any one but You, my YHWH; and I will not do these things in haughtiness.
8 And now, O Adonai YHWH, the King, the Elohim of Abraham, spare Your people, for our enemies look upon us to our destruction, and have desired to destroy Your ancient inheritance.
9 Overlook not Your portion, which You have redeemed out of the land of Egypt for Your own self.
10 Hear my prayer, and be propitious unto Your inheritance, and turn our mourning into gladness, that we may live and sing praise unto Your Name, O YHWH: and destroy not utterly the mouth of them that praise You, O YHWH.
11 And all Israel cried with all their might, because their death was before their eyes.
A similar account appear in the Midrash Rabbah adds that he gathered the Yeshiva boys to fast and pray in intercessory prayer as a group:
He collected the school-children and kept them
without bread and water and put sackcloth on them
and made them sit among the ashes, and they went on
crying and weeping and studying the Torah.
Notice that they also studied Torah as part of the Spiritual Warfare. When I first became a believer in Messiah I was told by the leader of the Messianic congregation I was attending that I was to intellectual and not spiritual enough. During praise and worship time, while everyone was standing up and singing praises with their hands lifted up, I would at times sit down and study my Scriptures. Then one day Rabbi Moyal visited. Moyal was an Orthodox Rabbi from Israel who had become a believer in Messiah. They told him that I was to intellectual and not spiritual enough because I would at times study the Scriptures during worship time. He told me not to let these detractors bother me and that the truth is that Torah study is worship! This was a wonderful truth we all need to learn. It is a truth that Mordecai knew, and it played a part in the Spiritual Warfare and Intercessory Prayer he was directing.
Ether also, in the long version, engages in Intercessory Prayer asking YHWH’s help in the Spiritual realm while she set forth to enact her plan in the natural realm (this also appears in an abbreviated form in the Midrash Rabbah):
12 Queen Esther also betook herself for refuge unto YHWH, being taken as it were in the agony of death;
13 and having taken off her glorious apparel, she put on garments of anguish and mourning: and instead of grand perfumes, she filled her head with ashes, and humbled her body greatly, and every place of her glad adorning she filled with the torn curls of her hair: and she besought the Adonai YHWH of Israel,
14 and said, my Adon, You only art our King: help me which am destitute, and have no helper but You;
15 for my danger is in my hand.
16 From my birth I have heard in the tribe of my family, that You, O YHWH, took Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers out of all their kindred, for a perpetual inheritance, and You have wrought for them all that You have said.
17 And now we have sinned before You; and You have delivered us into the hands of our enemies,
18 because we honoured their gods: Thou are righteous, O YHWH.
19 Nevertheless they have not been contented with the bitterness of our slavery, but have laid their hands on the hands of their idols,
20 to abolish the decree of Your mouth, and utterly to destroy Your inheritance, and to stop the mouth of them that praise You, and to quench the glory of Your House and Your Alter,
21 and to open the mouth of the nations to set forth the virtues of vanities, and in order that a mortal king should be admired for ever.
22 YHWH, resign not Your scepter unto them that are not, and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their counsel against themselves, and make an example of him that has begun this against us.
23 Remember us, O YHWH, make Yourself known in the time of our affliction, and encourage me, O king of gods, and ruler of all dominion.
24 Put harmonious speech into my mouth before the lion, and turn his heart to hate him that fights against us, to the utter destruction of him, and of them that consent with him.
25 But deliver us by Your hand, and help me, who am destitute, and have none but You, O YHWH.
26 You know all things, and know that I hate the glory of transgressors, and that I abhor the couch of the uncircumcised, and of every stranger.
27 You know my necessity, for I abhor the symbol of my proud station, which is upon my head in the days of my being seen: I abhor it as a menstruous cloth, and I wear it not in the days of my tranquility.
28 And Your handmaid has not eaten at Haman’s table, and I have not honoured the king’s feast, nor drunk the wine of libations.
29 Neither has Your handmaid rejoiced since the day of my promotion until now, except in You, O Adonai YHHW of Abraham.
30 Elohim, who hast power over all, hearken to the voice of the desperate, and deliver us from the hand of them that imagine mischief; and deliver me out of my fear.
In the long version the power of prayer, fasting and Torah Study, and the manifestations of the Ruach HaKodesh were very much a part of the events that led to the victory of the Jews over Haman’s plot. The Long version ends by reminding us of Mordecai’s vision at the beginning of the book, and how this vision led to Spiritual Warfare and a victory which we celebrate as Purim to this very day:
1 And Mordecai said, These things are done of Elohim.
2 For I remember concerning the dream that I had concerning these things: for not even one word of them has failed.
3 There was the little fountain, that became a river, and there was light, and much sun, and water. The river is Esther, whom the king married, and made queen.
4 The two dragons are I myself and Haman.
5 And the nations are those nations that combined to destroy the name of the
6 But as for my nation, this is Israel, even they that cried unto YHWH, and were delivered: for YHWH delivered His people, and YHWH rescued us out of all these calamities; and God wrought such signs and great wonders as have not been done among the nations.
7 Therefore did He ordain two lots, one for the people of Elohim, and one for all the other nations.
8 And these two lots came for an appointed season, and for a day of judgment,
before Elohim, and for all the nations.
9 And Elohim remembered His people, and gave vindication unto His own inheritance.
10 And they shall observe these days, in the month Adar, on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth day of the month, with an assembly, and joy and gladness before Elohim, throughout the generations for ever among His people Israel.
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