Queen Esther on Purim (Esth 9:29-9:32)

“Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with the Jew Mordecai, were given full written authority. They confirmed this second letter about Purim. Letters were sent wishing peace and security to all the Jews, to the one hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of King Artaxerxes. This letter gave orders that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons. The Jew Mordecai and Queen Esther enjoined on all the Jews, just as they had for themselves and for their descendants, regulations concerning their fasts and their lamentations. The command of Queen Esther fixed these practices of Purim. It was recorded in writing.”

Not only was there an explanation by Mordecai, the queen herself sent out a letter to the 127 provinces pertaining to all the Jews. Purim was to be observed at the appointed times. She laid out the regulations concerning this feast, with fasting, and lamentations. All of this was in writing. Once again there was an insistence that this was written down. The feast of Purim would become an important post-exilic feast day, a time of great rejoicing, drinking and eating.

Esther becomes the new queen (Esth 2:15-2:18)

“When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all as she found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Artaxerxes into his royal palace in the twelfth month, which is Adar, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won his favor and grace over all the virgins. He set the royal diadem crown on her head as she became queen. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his friends and officials lasting seven days to celebrate his marriage to Esther. He also granted a holiday remission of taxes to all the provinces under his rule. He gave gifts with royal liberality.”

Esther finally got her turn to audition with the king. She simply followed the advice of the eunuch Hegai. This was now the 7th year of the king’s rule, around 458 BCE. The original feast where the argument took place about Queen Vashti was in the 3rd year of his rule. Now after 4 years, Vashti was gone, without any mention of what happened to her. Now King Artaxerxes was smitten with Esther as he said that she was the one, since he loved her more than all the others. He immediately gave her the crown as she became Queen Esther. He gave a big wedding banquet in Esther’s honor. He also gave a tax holiday. Now that is a real holiday. He also gave gifts, which seems the opposite of most weddings where the bride and groom get the gifts. There is no specific mention of a wedding ceremony, but it might be presumed if they had a wedding banquet. There seems to be no problem about a Jewish woman marrying a non-Jewish person as there was in Ezra, chapters 9-10, and Nehemiah, chapter 10, which would have been about the same time frame. That prohibition was more about Jewish men marrying non-Jewish women.

The family of King Rehoboam (2 Chr 11:18-11:23)

“King Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath daughter of Jerimoth the son of King David and Abihail daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. She bore him sons, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. After her he took Maacah daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. King Rehoboam loved Maacah daughter of Absalom more than all his other wives and concubines. He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines. He became the father of twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. King Rehoboam appointed Abijah son of Maacah as chief prince among his brothers. He intended to make him king. He dealt wisely. He distributed some of his sons through all the districts of Judah and Benjamin, in all the fortified cities. He gave them abundant provisions. He also found many wives for them.”

There is an allusion to 1 Kings, chapter 11, about King Solomon that is projected on to his son King Rehoboam. However, he never attained the high numbers of his father. He only had 18, not 700, wives and only 60, not 300, concubines. Even these numbers seem high, but more realistic than those of his father. He was a wise ruler and put his sons and plenty of provisions in all the fortified cities. He married the daughter of King David’s son Jerimoth. Thus Mahalath was the granddaughter of King David just as King Rehoboam was the grandson of King David, so that they were first cousins. King Rehoboam also married Abihail, who was the daughter of David’s brother Eliab. She would have been a first cousin of King Solomon, the son of King David. Very little is known about the 3 sons of Rehoboam, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham, except their listing here. It is not even clear whether Mahalath or Abihail was their mother. The favorite wife of King Rehoboam was Maacah. She was listed as the daughter of Absalom, the son of David, thus another first cousin. In 1 Kings, chapter 15, Maacah’s father is called Abishalom. However, Absalom’s mother was named also named Maacah in 2 Samuel, chapter 3, so that calling his daughter this name does not seem out of place. Maacah too was a granddaughter of King David. Thus King Rehoboam, the grandson of King David married 3 granddaughters of King David. One of Maacah’s 4 sons became important, Abijah, who became the next king. The other 3 sons Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith are just mentioned here.

Abihail (1 Chr 5:14-5:15)

“These were the sons of Abihail son of Huri, son of Jaroah, son of Gilead, son of Michael, son of Jeshishai, son of Jahdo, son of Buz. Ahi son of Abdiel, son of Guni, was chief in their clan.”

There are 5 people, both men and women, in the biblical literature who have the name of Abihail. His sons all have the name son of or Ben-Huri, Ben-Jaroah, Ben-Gilead, Ben-Michael, Ben-Jeshishai, Ben Jahdo, and Ben-Buz. Some of these names are unique to this passage, Huri, Jaroah, Jeshishai, and Jahdo. Gilead and Michael were more common names. Buz was also the name of a place. Ahi was the chief of this clan. This is the only mention of Abdiel, but Ahi and Guni appear once elsewhere.