Esther Speaks

My heart is heavy lately.  I watch the news and see what is going on in our world and my heart aches.  It aches for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for His Name’s sake.  I aches seeing how backward our world has become.  It aches with the knowledge that our nation is currently on the wrong side.  It aches to see Israel suffer at the threat of annihilation.  As you may be able to tell by now this will be a different kind of article.

I believe God is giving us a message as to the time in which we live.  We are quickly approaching Purim, the festival that commemorates the Jews defeating those who sought to annihilate them in the Persian Empire.  Esther, or should I say Hadassah the Jewess, was put into the position of queen of that empire for a time such as that by God Himself.  She was put into that position to protect her people from those who sought to destroy them.

As I said, we are quickly approaching Purim and God has once again given Israel a leader who wishes to protect them, Benjamin Netanyahu.  He is in this position for such a time as this.  Once again on the eve of Purim Persia, Iran, seeks to destroy them again.  Let me say it clearly, I do not believe the timing of Netanyahu’s speech in Washington is by accident.  I believe it is divinely ordained.  This time our leaders are playing the part of King Xerxes and Benjamin Netanyahu is playing the part of Esther.

As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to come and speak to our leaders in Washington we need to praying and fasting with him and for him, just as the Jews in Esther’s day did for her.  We also need to be praying and fasting that God would give true godly wisdom to our leader’s.  Just as Esther went before Xerxes and God made him favorable toward helping her and her people so we need to be praying that the same will happen this time with the leaders of the United States.

This is a very serious crossroad, one which has huge implications.  We may very assuredly seal our future if we side against Israel at this hour.  Then again we may seal a blessing if we side with and stand with Israel no matter what the rest of the world may think.  That is the choice we have before us, blessing or curse.

God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”  It is my prayer that we choose blessing.  This could be a moment of great victory, a victory from God, for both us and Israel, together.  We need to stand with Israel or else we will fall.  If we bless them, we will be blessed.  If we curse them, we will be cursed.

We must wake up to the hour in which we live.  This generation has a decision to make.  God is watching and He is our Judge.  What the rest of the world thinks is irrelevant.  We do not answer to the rest of the world, we answer to the One who created this world.

Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to Congress on March 3rd the day before Purim begins.  May it be a time of rejoicing and not mourning.

U.S. Congressmen and Senators this time you are Xerxes.  Please lower your scepter and speak words of life.  Listen to God, He is speaking to you.  Benjamin Netanyahu is Esther and he is pleading for the life of his people and the land of Israel.  Do not turn a deaf ear or God’s scepter will fall in judgement.  Yes, He is watching!

Let’s pray!

Vicky

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The Celebration of Purim

 

We have come to the discussion of the annual celebration of Purim that is celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar. For those in the rural areas it is the 14th while for those in the city it is the 15th. This is due to the extra day of fighting in the city of Susa, the city of the king in the time of the events.

They are days of rejoicing and celebration. Life has been granted. Life can once again be lived and lived to the full so there was feasting. God is praised and worshiped. The people once again begin to love, help and look out for each other’s daily needs in life. That is why they share portions of food – a daily need – with each other.

Mordecai then steps in again and with the power and position God has given him writes down the events and also sends a letter to all the Jews in the kingdom of Xerxes, even those in Israel, to instruct them to hold this celebration annually. They were to be remembered as days when mourning and sorrow were turned to gladness. God had given them rest from their enemies, true rest – a Sabbath rest. Yes, God is the one who gives rest, rest from work, rest from sin, rest from our enemies and from death – rest, peace and safety. This rest allowed them (and us) to live life the way God had always intended, truly devoted to Him, loving Him, worshiping Him and loving others. This life put Him and His kingdom first and seeks after His treasures.

The Jews were now free to live that life once again. Mordecai wants to make sure they understand that these days need to be remembered. However, full and complete rest had not yet come, the poor were (and are) still among them so Mordecai also calls on them to celebrate this rests with gifts to the poor.

As for the Jews, they did adhere to the words of Mordecai. They were thankful for his position in the kingdom and they praised God for it. In other words, they were not jealous of the position God had given him. God had done it for a reason just as He had with Joseph.

Judgment came to Haman, the enemy of the Jews, and to his son’s on the authority of the king. Our enemy and all his sons will also be defeated and judged by our King. Just as Haman’s schemes were turned on him so will the schemes of Satan be turned on him. Haman had used the pur, the lot, to decide the time and so the time would be named Purim. Only what the enemy meant for death and distruction would now be used for life and celebration. (Romans 8:28)

So because of what Mordecai had written to them and because of what they had seen and experienced themselves the Jews established and received this celebration for themselves, their seed and for all who allied themselves to them (all those who became Jews – for us this would be all of those brought into the nation of Israel as adopted sons and daughters by the blood of Yeshua our Messiah, our King). They would hold this celebration annually. The days of Purim were not to pass away or the memory of these days and from among their seed.

Then Queen Esther and Mordechai wrote with full authority of the kingdom another letter to the Jews. In other words, this was an official letter of court, of the court of Persia. This official letter was one of peace and truth regarding the events. Notice this, it was a letter of peace and truth, not one of confusion and lies. Yes, there would come a day when some would attempt to rewrite history and tell lies, but Queen Esther and Mordechai did everything within their power to make sure the truth was told all throughout the kingdom of the king.

Also, take note that the days of Purim were also entered into the official court records and that the Queen and Mordechai were not asking the rest of the Jews to do anything they themselves or their seed were not doing. Queen Esther and Mordechai knew these days well and had experienced the full brunt of them. They knew that not only were they now days of celebration, but also that many days of fasting and lamentation had preceded these days of celebration. They had been on their knees before God Almighty and he had heard their cry for help and they also wanted to make sure everyone remembered that as well. That is why they also gave instructions for the Jews to have days of fasting and lamentation before celebrating the festival of Purim, which they still do today. All of these customs for the celebration of Purim were established at the command of Queen Esther and written in the book. I believe the book that is spoken of here is the book we know of as Esther. That’s right, I believe the book known as Esther was written at her command and therefore bears her name.

Epilogue: Chapter 10 seems to read more like an epilogue written after the deaths of Xerxes and Mordechai. It acknowledges both men, but primarily Mordecai and the position he was given by Xerxes, second only to Xerxes, and how he was held in high esteem by his people. Mordecai was always looking out for the interests of his people and they knew it. He loved his nation and they loved him. And let this fact at the very end truly sink in, all these things were written in the annuals of the Kings of Media and Persia.

God be Praised,

Vicky

 

The King’s Pleasure and Displeasure

So King Xerxes and Haman once again go to dine with Queen Esther and after the meal while they are reclining drinking their wine, just as many today have coffee after a meal, the king once again addresses the queen.  Wanting to finally hear her petition and request, he signaled to her that he is willing to grant it.  Remember, he has had the entire evening to contemplate whether or not he would be willing to grant what was sure to be a large request, even up to half his kingdom.  He must have loved and trusted her greatly to be willing to grant a large request before even hearing it.

 

Esther, the Queen, finally answers, but also prefaces her request.  “If I have found favor with you, oh king, and if it pleases your majesty…”  Remember our definition for favor and our discussion about being pleasing.  Both of those things still apply.  She is seeking his pleasure and reminding him that she does please him and is deserving of his favor and grace. 

Then came the petition and request.  She asks for her life and the sparing of her people.  She is finally identifying who she really is to her own husband.  She is a Jew.  If her people have been sold to destruction, slaughter, and annihilation, then so has she.  In doing so, she is choosing to stand with her people, which is more important to her than being the Queen of Persia. 

Who will the king choose?  The Jewish girl he married unknowingly or the Queen of Persia?  Will he deny who she really is and deem her guilty of treason for deceiving the king? 

Esther then says and does something profound – something other Jewish women of faith have done in the past.  She is about to stand in the gap, so to speak, and give her husband a very strong warning.  She is truly a daughter of Sarah and Rebekah.  Think on that a moment and hopefully one day we can discuss that as well.

 

She carefully lets him know that if they had merely been sold as slaves she would have said nothing.  But, then she begins to paint the real picture of danger that her husband has gotten himself into.  This danger is the danger of incurring the wrath of God. 

You see the words, “because no such distress would justify disturbing the king” could also be translated, “… but this adversary could not reckon the king’s loss.”  I believe the latter to be the better and more accurate translation and it definitely fits the context of the whole book better. 

Remember that Haman had offered to compensate the king through money and plunder for the annihilation of the Jews from his kingdom.  Also remember that Esther even knows the amount Haman offered.  However, that large earthly sum could not even begin to compare to the loss he would suffer at God’s hands for annihilating the people of God. 

Also, notice the word “our”.  She is not just saying that the enemy, Haman, is the adversary of her and the Jews, but of her husband as well.

 

Xerxes definitely gets the point and demands to know the identity of the adversary.  Who is the man who would oppose my wife, my Queen and her people and dare to come between me and my wife?  Who?

 

Esther then finally reveals the adversary and enemy.  Note that both words from the Hebrew can be translated adversary or enemy.  The one she would name is an enemy of enemies who is based on pure wickedness and evil.  It is the wicked Haman.

 

It was Haman.  The one Xerxes thought he could trust to have his back.  The one he had trusted to not betray him when there seemed to be enemies all around.  It was Haman who attempted to come between him and his wife and bring the wrath of God upon him.  Is there any greater betrayal?

 

Let’s not forget that Haman is setting right there listening to the king and queen as they begin to understand together that Haman has betrayed them.  You see, as long as they were apart and Esther was the only one knew the truth Haman was safe.  However, Haman was in real danger after the King and Queen came together and worked together as one.  Haman knew of the king’s love and respect for his wife and queen and that he would be willing to fight for her.

 

Make no mistake about it, our King is willing to fight and protect us as well.  The enemy knows that when we stand with Yeshua, stand together as Yeshua’s Bride in His will, then he is in trouble.  That is why he seeks to divide us so much and keep us separated from the will of our King.  We too are in a battle of annihilation and we must stand together with our King and identify our true enemy and shine light into his darkness.

 

The enemy knows his fate and knows it has already been decided.  Notice this was true of Haman as well and when the king gets up to leave in his rage, Haman begins to beg Esther for his life.  I believe the king leaves to seek some self-control.  He wants this rage and wrath to be properly directed and controlled. 

Let’s also not forget how skillfully Esther handled this.  Even though she made it clear that the king would suffer loss from incurring the wrath of God, she was very careful to point the responsibility and ultimate blame on Haman and not Xerxes.  I think that is the real reason she had Haman come to these banquets, so that when she finally revealed the truth she would have the enemy to point directly to.  I also find it interesting that Haman begs for his life from the one he sought to kill – knowingly or not.

 

Xerxes returned from the palace garden—where he had sought to think things through, to find Haman at the feet of his wife, a place that was forbidden to all except him.  The passage says that he “fell” to her feet.  I think you will find it interesting to know that the word “fell” can also be translated “to cast down oneself or lots, to die, to perish, to slay, or to smite out”.  This whole business started with the casting of lots.  I don’t think it is just a coincidence that that idea is also used here.  Haman knows in order to live he must cast himself down and die to what he wanted.

 

Once again Xerxes’ anger or hot displeasure spikes again and he even accuses Haman of attempting to molest the Queen right under his nose.  The word for “molest” can also be translated “to subjugate, to conquer, or to bring into bondage.”  The king was very aware of the position Haman was taking and what he was trying to accomplish.  His motives were clear.  How brazen was this enemy?

 

It is at this point we realize Xerxes might not have left the room just to calm down, but also to bring attendants to arrest and execute Haman.  We see Harbona, perhaps one of those who had escorted Haman to the banquet.  This would have given him the opportunity to learn of the gallows Haman had been built for Mordecai.  Harbona, speaks up and lets the king know about the gallows.  Then Haman, who is now under a covering, hears the order of the king for him to be hung on those same gallows.  The words his wife and friends had spoken to him of his ruin were quickly coming to pass.

 

Then the King’s anger subsided.  This subsided anger was the idea of allaying ones passions through secreting them, it was a flood abated.  The anger literally washed off of him.  Now there was work to be done.

 

In the Name of our King,

Vicky

Mordecai Saves the King

Esther 2:19 When the young women were assembled together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate.  20 Esther still had not revealed her birthplace or her ethnic background, as Mordecai had directed.  She obeyed Mordecai’s orders, as she always had while he raised her.  21 During those days while Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two eunuchs who guarded the king’s entrance, became infuriated and planned to assassinate King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). 22 When Mordecai learned of the plot, he reported it to Queen Esther, and she told the king on Mordecai’s behalf.  23 When the report was investigated and verified, both men were hanged on the gallows.  This event was recorded in the Historical Record in the king’s presence.(HCSB)

Here we see that the king’s attendants had not stopped bringing in young women for the harem even though a new queen had been selected.  We must remember this was a pagan empire with a pagan king.  We must also remember that even in Israel the kings had concubines and multiple wives.  The mentioning of the young women still being brought in is meant to do nothing other than to tell us the time period that this event takes place. 

We also see that it was in the first five years of Esther’s reign.  We know that she has not yet told Xerxes her true identity.  Even though she is Queen of the Persian Empire she still obeys her father as if she still lived in his house.  Again we are reminded of the deep relationship of trust and loyalty that this father and daughter have with one another.  Not only was she not willing to assert her independence from Mordecai as a grown woman with a home of her own, but she was also not willing to exert her authority as his queen over him.  To Esther, Mordecai would always be her father and elder regardless of her position.  This stands is such stark contrast to how so many of us treat our fathers and elders today.  Her attitude toward Mordecai also sets the stage for how things are played out later.

It was when the young women come in a second time, during the first five years of Esther’s reign, that Mordecai is sitting at the king’s gate.  This location indicated that he had a position of some responsibility. 

Remember he lives in the citadel and obviously has some type of responsibility around the king’s officials, if not around the king himself.  While he was sitting at the king’s gate, two eunuchs who guarded the entrance planned an assassination on King Xerxes.  For some reason, unknown to the readers, these two eunuchs had become angry with the king and wanted to retaliate.  Many have speculated that they were angry that a new queen had been chosen and Vashti had been deposed.  Regardless of the reason, they planned to kill Xerxes.

Somehow Mordecai learns of the plot, either by hearing it himself or someone else reporting it to him.  If it is reported to him it may speak of the importance of his position at the gate.  Mordecai then takes this information to Queen Esther.  We do not know if he reported this information to her personally.  If he did, it was in the capacity as an official at the king’s gate, not her father. 

We do know that Xerxes mother, Atossa, had set up a Queen’s Court for herself.  It may be that this tradition was continued in the reign of Esther and that Mordecai’s information was reported to her at her own court.  In other words, in an official capacity.  Esther in turn takes this information to Xerxes, giving Mordecai the credit for the information.  And since the matter is investigated, we can assume it was taken to Xerxes at the king’s court, again in an official capacity.  Doing things in a court setting was very important in Persia and therefore to our understanding of this book.

These two eunuchs were than found to be guilty and hung. 

Remember this was done at court so it went into the official records of the king.  Not only did it go into the king’s own official records, but it gave Mordecai the credit.  As we know, this comes into the story again later.  One might assume that since it was something investigated and recorded at court that Mordecai himself may have been interviewed at court about the information.  This would have given Xerxes a personal encounter with Mordecai.  However, to our knowledge this may or may not have been the first time the two had met.

Therefore this experience did three things.  It saved the life of the king.  It more than likely allowed Mordecai and Xerxes to meet.  Finally, it put Mordecai into the official records of the king, perhaps for the first time.  This helps set things up for later.

We must not forget that this encounter also says something about the relationship that the king and queen had with each other.  Xerxes obviously took the report from his wife seriously enough to have it investigated.  A trust has begun to build in them for each other.  A trust that will serve them well later in their marriage.

Esther has left the world of childhood behind and is now a queen and she lived that life with dignity and grace.  She was the Queen of Persia, but first of all a child of Israel and the God of Israel.

Blessings,

Vicky

Meet Mordecai

Esther 2:5 In the fortress of Susa, there was a Jewish man named Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite. 6 He had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile. 7 Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin  Hadassah (that is, Esther ), because she didn’t have a father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.(HCSB)

Today we meet Mordecai for the first time in our account of Esther.  He is a Benjamite Jew, but that is not all.  The lineage that is given is very specific.  Two of them are names we have seen before.  Shimei was the Benjamite who cursed David as he left in the rebellion of Absalom.  At the time David told his men to leave him alone, but later told his son Solomon to deal with him.  Solomon told him he must never leave Jerusalem and that if he did he would be subject to the death penalty.  Well, as you might guess Shimei got cocky and left after a time.  Upon his return Solomon had him killed.  Shimei is probably a grandson of Kish, the father of King Saul, since the account in II Samuel says he is the son of another man.  This would have made him the nephew of Saul.  Therefore, we see that son in this passage is referring to descendant not direct father son relationships.

Jair may have been the ancestor of Mordecai that was actually taken into exile.  Why would I say this and not say that Mordecai was himself taken by Nebuchadnezzar?  Because Mordecai would have been well over 100 years old, even if he had been taken as an infant.  Mordecai’s family was taken in 596 B.C. when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah or Jehoiachin of Judah captive along with many in his kingdom.  This was the same time that Ezekiel was taken captive (Daniel was taken captive earlier in 605 B.C.) and when Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah king of Judah. Those particular captives are also the ones Jeremiah wrote to in the letter that God recorded for us in Jeremiah 29.  At this point in our account the year is 479 B.C., which was 117 years after the exile we are discussing.  Therefore, either Mordecai is a very, very old man or he is not the one who was directly taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

In the years that followed the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C., the Jews and other people groups that the Babylonians had taken captive were given permission to go home.  However, many did not.  This was the case for Mordecai and Esther’s family.  Now, before we rush to find fault with them for this we must remember that in the letter Jeremiah wrote to them that we mentioned in the paragraph above told the captives to settle down and begin new lives for themselves and that is exactly what Mordecai and his family had done.  Mordecai in some capacity served the king of Persia.  Not only did he live in Susa, but he also lived in the citadel or palace fortress of Susa.  Only those who served the king would have been allowed into the citadel.

Mordecai’s name is a derivative of the Babylonian god, Marduk.  Many believe that he would have also had a Jewish name, as did Esther.  However, the book does not give that name.  This is especially interesting when one considers that fact that Xerxes is the only one of the Persian kings that also did not bear the title, king of Babylon.  The reason he did not bear this title is because he went into Babylon and had the statue of Marduk removed.  Interesting that the man who would become his number two guy in years to come would have a name that reminded everyone of the god Xerxes took away.

We may also have some external evidence for Mordecai outside of Scripture.  There was found in a cuneiform tablet from Borsippa near Babylon the mention of a man by the name of Mardukaya.  Many believe this Mardukaya is really Mordecai from the book of Esther.  The cuneiform says he was a scribe at Susa in the early reign of Xerxes.  If that is so this is incredible evidence for, not only the validity of the book itself, but also for the timing of the book.

This is the man who adopted Hadassah, Esther, as his own daughter when her parents died.  The Hebrew in this passage never refers to her has cousin or even just a relative, but from the beginning of their introduction together calls her his daughter, bat.  This speaks of the importance of this relationship between them, but also the legally binding nature of it as well.  Within the Jewish culture the relationship of parent to adopted child is so strong of a relationship that the child cannot ever be disowned or abandoned.  It is meant to last forever.

This leads us to see Mordecai very much in the role of our Heavenly Father.  We are His adopted children, grafted into the tree of Israel.  Remember Israel was cut off and when physical Israelites believe in Yeshua the Messiah they are grafted back into their tree.  Jews are branches from the cultivated tree that have been cut off until they believe in their Messiah when they are once again grafted back in.  Gentiles are wild shoots, but God in his mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit grafts us also into His cultivated tree and we become one.  He will never separate us from the tree again because we have all been adopted as sons.  This adoption gives us the ability to cry Abba Father and is irrevocable.  He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us.  He will never abandon us.  Mordecai’s adoption of Hadassah is a beautiful picture of the Father’s adoption of us, those who believe in Yeshua.

This upbringing for Esther stands in stark contrast to the upbringing and love that was in Xerxes’ life.

His Daughter Forever,

Vicky

Upon Xerxes’ Return

Esther 2:1 Some time later, when King Ahasuerus’s (Xerxes’) rage had cooled down, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what was decided against her.  2 The king’s personal attendants suggested, “Let a search be made for beautiful young women for the king.  3 Let the king appoint commissioners in each province of his kingdom, so that they may assemble all the beautiful young women to the harem at the fortress of Susa.  Put them under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women, and give them the required beauty treatments. 4 Then the young woman who pleases the king will become queen instead of Vashti.”  This suggestion pleased the king, and he did accordingly.(HCSB)

Remember from earlier that we discussed that between chapters 1 and 2 the Persian Greek War, the war the movie “300” made famous once again, occurred and that Xerxes came home with his army left behind and losing.  Therefore, when it says, “some time later” the “later” it is referring to is after he came home from the war.

After Xerxes comes home we know of one major event in his life from the writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian, his affair with his daughter-in-law.  What occurred from this affair, I believe, along with the riggers of war, helped to turn Xerxes mind back to Vashti.  You see, Xerxes gave to his daughter-in-law, the wife of his eldest son, a robe that Vashti had given him.  She then took the robe and wore it in public, a royal robe of the King.  Vashti then has her mother killed (Xerxes sister-in-law and also a former lover).  This was a warning.  It appeared that the daughter-in-law was seeking to claim power for her father, Xerxes brother and general.  This act of Vashti’s may have caused Xerxes to turn his affections toward her and once again think he might be able to trust her.  I told you there was a lot of family intrigue in Xerxes’ life.  Every where he turns he is looking for someone to love and trust.  He is seeking a home for his heart.

It is at this point that Xerxes’ attendants step in and keep him from breaking his own law.  Their suggestion pleases the king.  But what was it?  Basically to collect the young pleasing virgins of the kingdom who could be a potential bride.  This collection of young women were to be brought to the eunuch, Hegai, in the palace at Susa.  Interestingly, the word for harem can also mean palace or even temple.  Considering the meaning for the treatments it is an intriguing thought to think that Esther may have been taken to a temple of Ahura Mazda for this preparation.

Yes, they were to undergo treatments.  These treatments, as we learn later in the chapter, were two sets of six month long treatments.  Here I believe the King James Bible gets it right.  It refers to these treatments as a means of purification.  They were to be purified before coming into the presence of the king.  It is here that I must begin our look at the prophetic nature of the book of Esther.  King Xerxes on some levels is a type of Christ or Messiah.  Here is one of these places.  Before we, the Bride of Christ, enter His presence we undergo a time of purification.  We call it sanctification.  We will someday enter His presence pure and blameless, without spot or wrinkle.  Again Xerxes is just a type, he by no means is a perfect representation of our Messiah.

Then Xerxes’ attendants speak of Xerxes choosing the one that pleases him, remember Xerxes’ anger toward Vashti was  hot displeasure and that he is looking for the exact opposite of her.  It would be this one that is most pleasing to him that would receive the crown of the Queen.  They have set a plan before Xerxes and it pleases him.  It would be this that sends him into the intrigues of the harem, which is also where Herodotus tells us his heart goes.  It will be there we meet Esther.

Seeking The Pure Heart,

Vicky

The Religion of the Persian Empire

Zoroastrianism was the religion of the Persian ruling family during the time of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes.  It was the religious perspective in which Xerxes would have been coming from when he was getting to know Esther.  As we will see in many ways, their religions were very similar.  Could that had made it easier for the two of them to relate to each other and even perhaps easier for a possible conversion of Xerxes to Judaism.  It was not until the time of Xerxes’ son, Artaxerxes, that it became the official religion of the Persian Empire.

  • Zoroaster was the prophet who brought this religion to Persia.  However, it is not clear when he lived.    Dates are given from 1600 B.C. to 500’s B.C. –  this is a large range.  Most scholars put it at about 1000 B.C. – the time of David. 

  • Their god is Ahura Mazda (meaning Wise Lord), who is:

      • Omniscient (knows everything)

      • Omnipotent (all powerful)

      • Omnipresent (is everywhere)

      • Impossible for humans to conceive

      • Unchanging

      • The Creator of life

      • The Source of all goodness and happiness

    • Does this sound familiar?  In many ways the god of Zoroastrianism sounds a lot like the one true God.

  • Zoroaster’s Vision

    • At the age of thirty, Zoroaster had a divine vision while bathing in a river during a pagan purification rite. On the bank of the river he saw a ‘Shining Being’ made of light who revealed himself as Vohu Manah (‘Good Mind’).  Vohu Manah led Zoroaster to the presence of Ahura Mazda (God) and five other radiant beings, which are called the Amesha Spentas (Holy Immortals). This was the first of a number of visions in which Zoroaster saw Ahura Mazda and his Amesha Spentas; during each vision he asked many questions. The answers given to Zoroaster are the foundations of Zoroastrian religion.

  • It is said that Zoroaster tried to convert his neighbors, in northeastern Iran, but they would not convert.  He then went on a pilgrimage going west (interesting to remember is the fact that if he went west he may very well have come into the land of Israel) and when he came back he found a king (if during the 500’s this may have been Cyrus’ family) that was willing to convert to his faith.

  • What is very interesting about Zoroaster going on pilgrimage is that from many aspects of Zoroastrianism it would almost seem a sure thing that he came into contact with Judaism given their many similarities.  However, liberal scholars like to turn it into Judaism and therefore Christianity borrowing from Zoroastrianism.  They like to claim that Zoroastrianism is the oldest of all the monotheistic religions.

  • Beliefs

      • Ahura Mazda has an adversary called Angra Mainyu (meaning ‘destructive spirit’).   Angra Mainyu is the originator of death and all that is evil in the world.  Ahura Mazda, who is perfect, abides in Heaven, whereas Angra Mainyu dwells in the depths of Hell. When a person dies they will go to Heaven or Hell depending on their deeds during their lifetime.

      • Amesha Spentas translates as ‘Holy Immortals’. Just as light rays are emanated from the sun but are not the sun, so the Amesha Spentas are emanated by God but are not God. These emanations are seen as the divine attributes of God. They helped God fashion the world and each is associated with a particular aspect of creation.  Western scholars have likened the Amesha Spentas to the Archangels in Christianity. This is not strictly correct as they also represent spiritual attainments, in other words, each Amesha Spentas brought one closer to Ahura Mazda as they attained to that Amesha Spentas’ attribute. Zoroastrians believe that man can know God through his Divine Attributes.

      • The six Amesha Spentas are:

        • Vohu Manah – Good mind and good purpose.

        • Asha Vahishta – Truth and righteousness.

        • Spenta Ameraiti – Holy devotion, serenity and loving kindness.

        • Khashathra Vairya – Power and just rule.

        • Hauravatat – Wholeness and health.

        • Ameretat – Long life and immortality.

      • Dualism in Zoroastrianism is the existence of, yet complete separation of, good and evil. This is recognized in two interconnecting ways:

        • Cosmically (opposing forces within the universe)

        • Morally (opposing forces within the mind)

Cosmic dualism

Cosmic dualism refers to the ongoing battle between Good (Ahura Mazda) and Evil (Angra Mainyu) within the universe.

It is important to understand that Angra Mainyu is not God‘s equal opposite, rather that Angra Mainyu is the destructive energy that opposes God’s creative energy. This creative energy is called Spenta Mainyu. God created a pure world through his creative energy, which Angra Mainyu continues to attack, making it impure. Aging, sickness, famine, natural disasters, death and so on are attributed to this.

With cosmic dualism we have life and death, day and night, good and evil. One cannot be understood without the other. Life is a mixture of these two opposing forces.

Moral dualism

Moral dualism refers to the opposition of good and evil in the mind of mankind. God’s gift to man was free will; therefore man has the choice to follow the path of Evil (druj – deceit) or the path of Righteousness (asha – truth). The path of Evil leads to misery and ultimately Hell. The path of Righteousness leads to peace and everlasting happiness in Heaven.

As with cosmic dualism, we have the polarity of happiness and sadness, truth and deception and so on but with an emphasis on choice. This choice is crucial as it determines whether we are the helper of Ahura Mazda or the helper of Angra Mainyu. When all of mankind chooses the former over the latter, evil will finally be defeated and Paradise on earth will be realized.

In practice, modern Zoroastrianism has a positive outlook. It teaches that Mankind is ultimately good and that this goodness will finally triumph over evil. This could be seen as a retrenchment from the faith’s original purity of dualism

Important Practices:

  • Sacred Fire –  They believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s light or wisdom

  • Purification – Clean and Unclean – Sacred Bathing

  • Coming of age and the Naojote

  • Marriage

  • Festivals

  • Fatherhood – We read in Herodotus:  “Next to prowess in arms, it is regarded as the greatest proof of manly excellence to be the father of many sons. Every year, the king sends rich gifts to the man, who can show the largest number: for they hold that number is strength.”

  • Death – The dead were placed in open towers so that there flesh could be eaten by the vultures or decayed by the elements and then their bones are placed in boxes.(Jews would do the same thing with the bones of their dead.)

Scriptures –  The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:

  • The Avesta is the oldest and core part of the scriptures, which contains the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself.

  • The Younger Avesta – commentaries to the older Avesta scriptures written in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.

Much of this information is from:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/zoroastrian/ritesrituals/navjote.shtm

http://www.avesta.org/ritual/rcc.htm#chap2