The second chapter of Esther introduces the two main characters in the epic tale, Esther and her cousin, Mordecai. Esther was the beautiful Hebrew maiden who was forcibly taken into the king’s harem and then chosen to be queen.
“Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she had no father or mother” (Esther 2:7). Mordecai, apparently much older than Esther, had taken his young relative into his home when her parents had died. How and when? We’re not told.
Adopting the young girl may have been a hardship, but he opened his home and his heart without counting the cost. “Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). That’s what loving families do.
Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin, was the son of Kish (Esther 2:5). Five hundred years earlier there had been another famous Benjaminite named Kish who had a son named Saul, the first king of Israel. Mordecai’s dad, “had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile” (Esther 2:6).
With Esther in the palace, “Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate” (Esther 2:19). In Old Testament times, the city gate was where business and legal matters for a city were handled. They didn’t go to City Hall, they went to the City Gate. We can suppose that with Esther as queen, Mordecai was elevated to a position of magistrate. Maybe he sat at the city gate settling legal disputes for the Persian people.
That’s when he heard about the conspiracy to murder the king. “Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, became infuriated and planned to assassinate King Ahasuerus” (Esther 2:21).
Hearing of the sinister plot, Mordecai “reported it to Queen Esther, and she told the king on Mordecai’s behalf” (Esther 2:22). Persia’s Secret Service investigated, arrested the two perpetrators, and “both men were hanged on the gallows”(Esther 2:23).
Mordecai could have looked the other way. Why get involved? Who cares about an evil Persian monarch? Maybe, with Ahasuerus out of the picture, and with a new king enthroned, Esther might have been set free. Apparently, those calculations and questions were put aside, and Mordecai did the noble thing. He reported the whole affair to the queen.
“This event was recorded in the Historical Record in the king’s presence” (Esther 2:23). We won’t read about this again until we get to chapter six. But there, if becomes a key element in the plot of the story.
There’s a lesson here. Mordecai’s integrity moved him to do the right thing. Ours should too. The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches this lesson too. We mustn’t be like the religious dudes who ignored the fallen traveler, but we should emulate the Good Samaritan who demonstrated costly compassion. Like him, like Mordecai, we can trust the Lord with the outcome.