In the opening number of the wildly popular Broadway musical Hamilton, Aaron Burr raps his question about how an unlikely, impoverished orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman grew up to be a hero and a scholar!?
The answer comes back from Hamilton “I’m not throwing away my shot!” The irony is wonderful.
So, I’m reading the Biblical story of Esther this week, and I hear another great rap (in my head):
How does an orphan, Jewish, not-from-royalty,
One of a dime a dozen beauties
Wind up in the king’s chambers, queen of the Persians
Saving her people from genocide?
Not throwing away her shot, I guess.
As the story goes, Esther ends up saving her people from certain destruction by wit, will, and courage.
It’s an intriguing story of thwarted plans of massacre of the Jews in that part of Persia, ending with a turn of tables and the Jews doing the massacring. Good times, right? The story is even more intriguing if we question the usual predictable motif that says, “God will get our enemies . . . just you wait.”
The story pushes boundaries all over the place—no mention of God or the temple or anything remotely religious in the whole ten chapters. Also, though feminism would be a long time coming, the two women in this story make for interesting conversation. Set side by side, they both rise up in a male dominated world. Some say it looks like the Vashti worked against the system while Esther worked within it, each standing for dignity and human rights.
But there is another interesting part of the story (including the bad ending with the Jews with blood on their hands), it all winds up with the establishment of the feast of Purim. It is still celebrated all over the world and the celebration includes wearing masks and costumes, in remembrance of Esther, who hid her national identity for some time from her husband, the Persian king.
Wearing masks . . . what could we say about that?
I hope to see you for DiscipleChurch in Leonard Chapel on Sunday.