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Bible Study Notes on Esther 2 – 20160824

Writing

Bible Study Notes

Esther 2:1  “After these things…”
No specific time given.  According to commentary and historians could have been several years, after a military campaign against Greece.

1  “…he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her”
Regret.  He remembered her, her actions, and his own actions.  But since their law couldn’t be revoked, he was stuck with his rash behavior.

2-4  “…Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king…let the young woman who pleases the king be queen”
Not a contest per se.  They wouldn’t be volunteering.

5  “…Jew whose name was Mordecai…”
Introduction of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin.  Born during the exile.  Apparently his great grandfather Kish had been one of the ones taken to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar.

7  “…Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter…When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter”
Hadassah was her Jewish name.  Commentary doesn’t specify, but Esther was probably Persian meaning Venus.  Doesn’t tell how old she was when her parents died.

8  “…Esther also was taken to the king’s palace…”
Esther was caught in the decree for young women for the king.

9  “…the young woman pleased him…”
She pleased the custodian to the point he did extra things for her.  Gave her extra supplies, maidservants, and the best place in the house.  Probably a combination of very good looks and kind personality.

10  “Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it.
Reason isn’t given.  I’ve heard people preach on this and say it was because the Jews were hated/despised and could be killed immediately.  Commentary doesn’t say.  They may have been despised by some, but it obviously wasn’t universal as certain Jews were raised to positions of prominence in the Babylonian and Persian empires.  Not to mention, the exiles were still a separated bunch, although some had assimilated somewhat.  It would have been easy to wipe out a large number of them if that had been the general feeling toward them.  My best guess is that Mordecai didn’t want her singled out as a Jew alone.  He was also probably already aware of Haman and knew there could be trouble there.

11  “…Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters…”
Wasn’t allowed to see her, but was probably told of her welfare by the servants who attended.

12  “…twelve months’ preparation…”
A whole year to get ready.

14  “In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned to the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and called for her by name.”
Choosing the queen.  Each woman would get a single shot.  Spend the night with the king and then move to the house of the concubines, never to sleep with the king again unless he called for her specifically.  I’m sure the concubines were kept in decent conditions in the event the king required them again, but it obviously wasn’t the best life position.  Apparently remained the property of the king for the rest of their lives.

15  “…she requested nothing but what Hegai…advised…”
She took the custodian’s advice on what to take with her to the king.  Intelligent as well as good looking.

17  “…he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti”
Esther made queen.  Interesting choice of wording, queen instead of Vashti.  Text doesn’t say so this is only my impression, but given how they dealt with the king’s harem, I’m betting when they removed Vashti, all they did was remove the crown and send her on to the house of the concubines along with the others.  She would no longer be queen, just one of the other women in the harem.

19, 21  “When virgins were gathered together a second time, Mordecai sat within the king’s gate…In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate…”
Not sure which time this is referring to, a second gathering during which Esther was taken or the gathering when Esther was taken with the gathering when Vashti was taken being the first.  I tend to lean toward the latter due to the repeat of the phrase regarding Mordecai.  The focus seems to be placed on a point in time to explain what is about to be mentioned, namely the assassination plot of the doorkeepers.  The plot arises after Vashti is deposed and a search for a new queen is initiated.  Commentary suggests the plot may have been because of what happened to her.  I can see that with this emphasis.

19  “…Mordecai sat within the king’s gate”
Had not given much thought to this, given the wording, but commentary suggests Mordecai may have had a place of prominence within the administration.  King’s gate may very well refer to the outer chambers of the palace where those who attended the king would be until the king called for them.  Not sure if that wording is common or a Hebrew way of looking at it, similar to how Jewish men would sit in the gates of their cities and conduct business.  At any rate, considering all that is said regarding Mordecai’s actions in the book of Esther, it makes more sense that he would have some position as opposed to just being someone hanging around outside the palace.

20  “Esther had not revealed her family…”
Since she had not revealed her connection to Mordecai, bringing the news of the plot to the king in Mordecai’s name wouldn’t be seen as personal favoritism as it might if all knew she was related to him.  Having that separation may have been a possible political advantage which Mordecai considered.

23  “…it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king”
An incident that will play a role in the coming drama.  Surprising that nothing was done for Mordecai at this time.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Esther 1 – 20160821

Writing

Bible Study Notes

Esther 1:1-3  “…the days of Ahasuerus…third year of his reign…”
Checked my study Bible for timeline specifics.  Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name for Khshayarsh, king of Persia.  Xerxes is the Greek name.  He supposedly reigned from 486-464 B.C.  Beginning with Cyrus, the kings of Persia during this time were Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius I, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II.  According to Ezra, the command to return and rebuild the temple was issued by Cyrus, and some exiles returned with Zerubbabel.  They stopped building due to opposition from various sources.  Ezra mentions the opposition during the reign of Ahasuerus which will be covered here in Esther.  Ezra and Nehemiah will come on the scene a few years after Esther during the reign of Artaxerxes.  So, some of the Jews in other lands referred to in Esther are back in Israel.

3  “…made a feast for all his officials and servants…he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty…”
Study Bible suggests , according to the historian Herodotus, that the feast was a planning time and prelude to a military campaign of Xerxes against Greece.  Xerxes later lost the campaign and sought consolation with his harem.  This would correspond with the incident which brings Esther into the picture.  Apparently a few years pass between the time of the feast and the search for a new queen.

8  “…the drinking was not compulsory…they should do according to each man’s pleasure”
Found that interesting.  Might expect the king to be full of himself and demand that all drink with him.  But the banquet was apparently for the enjoyment of all, as they saw fit.

9  “Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women…”
Men and women weren’t partying together.  Study Bible says this was customary for the time.

10-12  “…heart of the king was merry with wine…bring Queen Vashti before the king…Queen Vashti refused to come…”
Text doesn’t give the reason.  However, two things are probable.  First, the text mentions only her crown, not her royal robes, and that she was beautiful to behold.  The king may have been demanding that she be paraded about in little to no clothing which would have been beneath the dignity of her as a woman and the queen.  Second, the commentary mentions that according to Persian customs, the queen was secluded from public gaze.  What he was suggesting was out of character and probably wouldn’t have been considered had he not been so intoxicated.

15  “…according to law…”
Similar phrasing comes up several times in dealing with the Medes and Persians.  Apparently had some strong issues with the law.  Once something was written down, it couldn’t be undone, could only be adjusted by issuing another law.  Daniel ran into this with Darius and his decree which landed Daniel in the lion’s den.  Will come up again in later chapters.

16  “…Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus”
He was mistaken.  Vashti had actually saved the king from making a drunken fool of himself and his reign.  Sad that none of them could see it.  Smart thing to do would have been to make some excuse to the other drunken nobles in attendance, then allow the king to sober up before having him make any decision.  But with total control, the king wasn’t as interested in his reputation as in being able to instantly get what he demanded.

19  “…let it be recorded in the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it will not be altered…”
Another mention of their law system.

22  “…each man should be master in his own house…”
They were too blind to see they were creating the very problem they sought to prevent.  Sovereigns already had absolute will, yet they were concerned that other women would refuse to obey.  Tightening the reigns never reduces resentment, but that is the way the world thinks.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 13 – 20160818

Writing

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 13:1  “This will be the third time I am coming to you…”
In the last chapter, he mentions that this is the third time he was ready to come to them.  The wording into English makes it seem like it was the third time he had gotten ready to go to them, but he meant the third time he had actually gone.  He states it plainly here.

1  “…By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
Reference to Deuteronomy 19:15.  Not sure of his thinking.  Seems to just throw this out.  Commentary wasn’t much help.  I think he’s setting up what he’s going to say next.  He’s going to put all things in order, but all will be done as it should be.

3  “since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you”
Jesus showed weakness or meekness/humility by allowing Himself to be crucified in order to bring us to Him.  But now He lives in power and great might, and He will come again in that power.  Paul is acting the same way.  He has been meek among the Corinthians in the past so as to bring as many to Christ as possible.  But now he is going to act with great power and authority to fix what is wrong.

10  “…authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction”
He’s used this phrase before.  For edification and not for destruction.  His authority as an apostle comes from Christ, and he would rather use it to build up instead of correcting bad behavior.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 12 – 20160817

Writing

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 12:1-6  Paul describes an incident where he was given a vision of heaven, but his point of focus will be the infirmity associated with it.

2  “…a man in Christ…”
Odd way of telling the tale.  He speaks of another person, but it is obvious he is speaking of himself.  Commentary suggests he does so to separate himself from the glory of the vision.  He was given the glory, but the infirmity that resulted was his.

2  “…the third heaven”
Way of specifying heaven where God is as opposed to those we associate with earth and space.  Genesis 1:6-8 describes the first two.  The space or firmament between the earth’s surface and the original water canopy was the first heaven.  The space above the canopy reaching out into outer space is the second.  The third is that spiritual dimension where God dwells.

3  “…whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows”
Seems repetitive in relation to the tale.  Commentary suggests he is splitting the tale into two stages, the vision occurs and his response.  He was given a great vision, but he realizes it was not by his action or because of any greatness on his part.

4  “…heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”
Heard things too wonderful to even express.  Couldn’t find the earthly words to describe or perhaps couldn’t be translated so he could relate them.  The not lawful is odd as no frame of reference is given other than just that.  Perhaps he was told or impressed upon not to reveal certain aspects of what he saw and heard.  Daniel was told to seal up some of what he was shown.

5  “Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast…”
It was great that he saw the vision, but he knows it wasn’t his doing or because he deserved it.

6  “…I will speak the truth. But I refrain…”
He would love to talk about how he saw the vision, but he knows it was not of himself, it was given to him.  He makes sure everyone knows this.  He also realizes just telling the tale sounds like he’s building himself up, so he doesn’t tell it often.

7  “…thorn in the flesh…”
Much has been debated on what the thorn was.  Most agree it was probably some physical infirmity which made Paul dependent on others.  Having to depend on others for basic functions can be a humbling experience.  Many suggest his failing eyesight which he references in some of his epistles.  What it was is not as important as how God used it.

9  “…My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”
God’s response to Paul’s prayer for deliverance from the infirmity.  A reminder that Paul’s strength was through and from Christ and not of himself.  When he isn’t able to accomplish something because of the infirmity, he is able when God provides the power and strength.

10  “…when I am weak, then I am strong”
How Christ works through us plainly stated.

11-13  “…I ought to have been commended by you…signs of an apostle were accomplished…Forgive me this wrong!”
Hard to know his frame of mind here, could be straight forward or somewhat exaggerated or sarcastic.  Commentary seems to lean toward more straight forward, but I can’t help feeling like his statement of forgive me this wrong is like the common well, excuse me!  Instead of the Corinthians being able to tell the difference between a real and false apostle, they have fallen into relying on surface drama.  Paul wasn’t as flashy as the others, so he must not be as much of an apostle.  He is irritated that they should have known the truth to the point of defending him, but instead have caused him to play silly games of “I’m just as good as them.”  All the same signs that accompanied the true apostles were shown in Corinth.  The only difference between them and other churches Paul worked with was that he didn’t ask them to support him while he was there.  Sounds like he’s saying, “Excuse me for trying to help you out.”

15  “…the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved”
The more he does for them, the less they seem to appreciate it.  He doesn’t do it for the appreciation, but out of his love and care for them.

19-20  “…we do all things…for your edification…For I fear…”
All of this was for them.  Paul is still concerned about some of them not holding to the truth and falling back into old ways.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 11 – 20160815

Writing

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 11:1  “…bear with me in a little folly…”
Paul is about to unload some feelings regarding the false apostles and the Corinthians’ tolerance of them.  Much of what he will say is tongue-in-cheek, hyperbole, or sarcasm.

2  “…godly jealousy…”
All aspects of jealousy are not evil.  The resentment or guard against unfaithfulness in a relationship is natural and righteous as no envy or covetousness is involved.  That is what is referred to here.  All of our praise and worship belong to God and Him alone.  Any attempts to give what is God’s to someone or something else invokes that reaction in Him.  Paul shares that reaction due to the Corinthians’ tolerance of the false apostles.

4  “…another Jesus…different spirit…different gospel…you may well put up with it!”
Courtesy and kindness do not extend to those who would teach lies and heresy.  He is probably irritated that the Corinthians’ pride and arrogance and thinking they are too wise to be fooled is allowing them to tolerate what they should be flatly rejecting.

5  “…inferior to the most eminent apostles”
Not the twelve.  Sarcasm.  The false ones declaring themselves to be wise and knowledgeable.

8  “I robbed other churches…”
Sarcasm.

9  “…I kept myself from being burdensome to you…”
Didn’t notice it stated, but it may be that the false apostles were getting paid for their “teaching.”  Paul could have been supported by the Corinthians as he was the real deal, but he didn’t.  He may be using sarcasm to make his points, but he’s still telling the truth.

14-15  “…Satan himself transforms…his ministers also transform…”
Being specific about what he considers the false apostles to be.  I don’t recall any specific motive for the false teachers, but I imagine it was for financial gain of some sort.  Satan would be behind such false teaching even if the apparent motive isn’t necessarily spiritual in nature.  Father of lies.

19  “…you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!”
More sarcasm regarding their pride and arrogance.  They had expressed the same behavior earlier with regard to the one who was in the incestuous relationship.

20  “…brings you into bondage…devours…takes…exalts himself…strikes you on the face”
Not sure if he was giving general or specific examples.  These could be what the false apostles were doing.  Commentary seems to agree.  Not listed as a supposed action, but what is actually occurring.  That would explain Paul’s many references to his boldness or lack thereof when compared to the false apostles.  That the false would be so bold as to strike someone sounds a bit dramatic.  They may have been over selling the part.

22-29  Paul indulges in an actual comparison between himself and the false apostles.  Everything he has gone through shows his true dedication to Christ and His gospel.  I doubt the false could claim anything other than some knowledge, just enough truth to get them in the door.

30  “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”
As Paul will mention in the next chapter, God moves mightily through our weaknesses since it shows that all is of Him and not of us.  Therefore, Paul can boast in his infirmities as that is when Christ is shown most definitively.

33  “…let down in a basket through a window in the wall…”
Recorded by Luke in Acts 9.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 10 – 20160812

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 10:1  “…in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you” I wonder why the difference in stance between his letter and seeing them in person.  Commentary expressed reasons why he was mentioning it at all, but no help with this.  Perhaps there is timing involved.  . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 10 – 20160812

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 9 – 20160810

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 9:2  “…Achaia was ready a year ago…” Paul does this a good bit in his writing.  He says he knows he doesn’t need to remind someone of something, but he does it anyway.  His subtle way of saying, by the way.  Another reference to the fact that they had . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 9 – 20160810

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 8 – 20160807

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 8:3  “…beyond their ability, they were freely willing” Sacrificial giving.  Giving above what one could normally afford.

4  “imploring…that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” The saints of Macedonia wanted to have a part in ministering to others.  Reminds me of . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 8 – 20160807

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 7 – 20160804

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 7:1  “…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit…” Completion of the thought from previous chapter.  Since God has called us to be holy and sanctified, let us cleanse ourselves through repentance and obedience.

2-4  “Open your hearts to us…filled with comfort…exceedingly joyful in all . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 7 – 20160804

Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 6 – 20160803

Bible Study Notes

2 Corinthians 6:1  “…as workers together with Him…” Continuation of previous chapter.  Easy to forget this is one whole letter.  Paul didn’t write it in chapter and verses.

1  “…not to receive the grace of God in vain” Don’t ignore what you have heard and learned.  As James would write, don’t . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on 2 Corinthians 6 – 20160803