“Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman” blanks & extra resources
Here are the words for the fill-in-the-blanks in our “Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman” women’s Bible study with Beth Moore (via DVDs). You are welcome to join us any time [on Zoom] for this study @ 10:00am – noon on Friday mornings!Week 1 (July 24th, 2020) - Introduction, part 1
The Background of Esther in the Hebrew Bible and Tradition
The Book of Esther is also known as the Megillah.
Like the Book of Daniel, Esther is a Diaspora story.
The Uniqueness of the Book of Esther
- The total absence of any reference to God
Why study the Book of Esther?
- It’s part of God’s Word.
- Based on Psalm 138:2b God’s name may not be in it, but it is on it.
- It offers tremendous hope.
- It extends a vital perspective on the providence of God. Merriam Webster’s definition of providence: “God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary adds, “In so doing [in His providence] God attends not only to apparently momentous events and people but also to those that seem both mundane and trivial. … Indeed, so all encompassing is God’ attention to events within creation that nothing … happens by chance.”
A Royal Mess
Homework: pages 10-20
Week 2 (July 31st, 2020) - Introduction, part 2
Ephesians 1:11—Even when we’re blind to the evidence, God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.”
Philippians 2:13—God “works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
- The title bears a woman’s name.
Throughout the next nine weeks we’ll consider different scenarios to underscore the concept captured in our study’s title.
It’s tough being a woman in another woman’s shadow.
- The God-ordained emphasis on human responsibility.
According to Word Biblical Commentary, the inspired author of Esther “lays all the stress on the human contribution to the divine-human synergism” [combined or shared energy].
Homework: pages 21-31
Week 3 (August 7th, 2020) - session 1, part 1
Today’s session introduces our protagonist and most vital supporting actor. We will use these important “first mentions” to help us draw character sketches of each based on what we know and what we also might imagine.
A Character Sketch of Mordecai
- He was a Jew (6:10; 8:7; 9:31; 10:3; 5:13).
“Its significance is indicated by the fact that this is the only time in the whole Old Testament that a native member of the community of Israel is named and identified by a gentilic.”
- He was an exile.
Esther 2:6 “employs the root of the word for exile (glh) in four distinct constructions, lest the full measure of the Jewish plight be overlooked.” View the repetition in the King James Version: “Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.”
- He was a sudden parent to his cousin.
A Character Sketch of Esther
- She was named Hadassah.
This Jewish name comes from the word for “myrtle” and means “fragrance.”
- She was orphaned.
A Contest for a Queen
Homework: pages 34-44
Week 4 (August 14th, 2020) - session 1, part 2
- She was brought up by her male cousin.
- She was lovely.
It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment.
- She was also known as Esther.
This Persian name means “star.”
Perhaps even more significantly, “the name Esther comes from the verbal root in Hebrew str, meaning ‘to conceal.’
Homework: pages 45-55
Week 5 (August 21st, 2020) - session 2, part 1
It’s tough being a woman in a mean world.
- Meanness always has a history.
Consider the history of these two rivals.
Mordecai, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin and a descendant of King Saul.
Haman, a presumed Amalekite and descendant of Agag, their king during Saul’s reign
The disobeyed instruction: 1 Samuel 15:10-23,30
The revealed explanation: Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (Referring to Ex. 17:8-16.)
Exodus 17:16—”The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
- Meanness perceives a threat (2 Cor. 10:12).
A Raging Passion for Honor
Homework: pages 58-68
Week 6 (August 28th, 2020) - session 2, part 2
3. Meanness catches like a virus.
- The word Agag is believed to be related to an Assyrian term (agagu) that means “to be powerful, vehement, angry.”
- The name “Haman” sounds similar to the Hebrew word for wrath (Hebrew, heman). (Compare Prov. 22:24-25.)
Consider the following quote:
“Surely as Christians we must recognize the ‘spirit of Haman‘ not only in our world but within ourselves.”
- Meanness is curable (Rom. 12:17-21).
Homework: pages 69-79
Week 7 (September 4th, 2020) - session 3, part 1
The Human Dilemma of Destiny
Many of the biblical figures who fulfilled their God-appointed destinies shared some of Esther’s basic inner conflicts.
Consider the dilemma of destiny from a human perspective:
- The poor timing. Reflect on Esther 4:11b.
- The unreasonable expectation.
It’s tough being a woman thrown a giant-size weight.
3. The risky identification.
- Remember, destiny appoints one but affects many.
If You Remain Silent
Homework: pages 82-92
Week 8 (September 11th, 2020) - session 3, part 2
- The revelation of a person’s destiny always demands a revelation of the person. Consider the wording “if you remain silent at this time.” The Hebrew word translated silent in this verse can also be translated conceal.
- The unanswered question.
(See verse 14.)
“The sentence contains a figure of speech known as aposiopesis—a sudden breaking off of what was being said or written so that the mind is more impressed by what is left unsaid, it being too wonderful, solemn or awful to verbalize. In English this figure is sometimes called the ‘sudden silence.'”
Homework: pages 93-103
Week 9 (September 18th, 2020) - session 4, part 1
Our protagonist made three shifts that moved her from self-preservation to brave determination.
- Esther had a choice.
“She [Esther] had to overcome herself in order to do what God had created her and positioned her to do.”
- Esther faced the fear.
Consider general fears, then our context’s specific fear:
- Facing any fear
And if __________, then God.
A Table Set for Providence
Homework: pages 106-116
Week 10 (September 25th, 2020) - session 4, part 2
It’s tough being a woman in the tight fist of fear.
- Facing fear of death
Hebrews 2:14-15 from The Message: “By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.”
Recall a quote we discussed in week 3 of our homework:
“Living perpetually in the shadow of immanent catastrophe, the Jew was threatened not only physically but psychologically. Walking in the shadow of death was as perilous as dying.”
- Esther took the courage she was offered.
Homework: pages 117-127
Week 11 (October 2nd, 2020) - session 5, part 1
Sometimes God forces the issue of time.
Amazingly, other times He seems to entrust it.
Reflect on the importance of knowing …
- When it’s time.
See verse 1. Compare Hosea 6:2.
- When it’s time to wait.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 say, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
- Sometimes we need to be silent even when man invites us to speak.
What Goes Around
Homework: pages 130-140
Week 12 (October 9th, 2020) - session 5, part 2
Consider the idiom, “Even up to half the kingdom.”
(Compare Mark 6:17-28.)
- Sometimes the words sound right, but they don’t taste right. See Job 34:2-4. (Compare 2 Cor. 6:1-2.)
- When it’s time to wait for someone else’s time.
- The time wasn’t right for Xerxes. (Recall Mark 6:23.)
- The time wasn’t right for Haman.
Commentator Adele Berlin suggests the delay is “a clever move on Esther’s part to disarm Haman and make him think he was the center of attention. This plays to Haman’s personal weakness.” Similarly, J. Gordon McConville explains that the delay allowed time “for Haman’s misguided self-confidence to mature.“
- When the meantime is God-time. (See Isa. 40:31, KJV.)
It’s tough being a woman who can balance passion with patience.
Homework: pages 141-151
Week 13 (October 16th, 2020) - session 6, part 1
The sixth chapter is “the hinge of the story of Esther”! God appoints or allows circumstances (often crises) in our lives to redirect our paths. Today we explore the unexpected pivot point of Esther by giving a name to an important concept in the book: The Reversal of Destiny also called The Reversal of Fortunes. Review Esther 6:6-11.
These reversals are part of a literary tapestry that will open our eyes to see …
- The beauty of the book’s construction.
Am I willing to do the work to see the wonder?
Two literary devices are employed magnificently in the Book of Esther. The first is called “chiastic structure.”
What in the world is it? In its tightest form, chiastic structure is inverted parallelism. In other words, it is a reversal of structures to emphasize an overarching point.
Whats the best way to picture it?
- The “chi” that begins the word chiastic is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet.
It is written like this: X. The letter itself represents the crisscross literary structure of a chiasm (literally in Greek, a crossing).
Where Is the Man?
Homework: pages 154-163
Week 14 (October 23rd, 2020) - session 6, part 2