One might think that the Book of Esther is a heroic tale about Mordechai and Esther saving the Jewish people through diplomatic skill (Click here to read a summary of the Book of Esther), after all God is not mentioned once in the entire text. Looking deeper, however, one is struck by the overwhelming number of "coincidences" of the right people being in the right places at the right times. To follow one such line of "coincidences":
1. Esther was the niece of one of the leaders of the Jewish people.
2. While women throughout the kingdom hoped to be chosen queen at the beauty pageant, Esther's beauty was noticed and she "was taken to the king's palace" (Esther 2:8). Ultimately, she was chosen as queen.
3. Esther's presence in the palace allowed Mordechai to get word to the king about an assassination plot.
4. Esther was the necessary "insider" to foil Haman's plot. As Mordechai pointed out: "Who knows if not just for a time like this you reached this royal position?!" (Esther 4:14).
These "coincidences" are the ultimate display of Divine Providence, acting behind the scenes to make certain the Jews are saved. This concept is known as Hester Panim, God hiding His face from the world.
One can better understand Hester Panim by the following analogy: If a child is told not to eat a cookie, as long as the mother remains in the kitchen the child will not take the cookie. However, once the mother leaves the room, it is the child's free choice that determines what happens to the cookie. Nevertheless, even when the mother leaves the room, she is aware of her child's behavior, listens for danger and is ready to jump to the rescue.
God gives His creations space, allowing humankind to make their own choices, but He is always watching from the periphery.
This Treat was last posted on February 20, 2013.
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