Day 274: Perseverance in opposition

Nehemiah 4:1-23 Some of the enemies of Judah learned of the rebuilding project and opposed it since the wall would block their access to the city and would allow the Jews to once again develop regional power. The rumors were that these enemies would attack from all sides to prevent the reconstruction from continuing. Therefore, the workers now carried arms and took turns keeping watch at night in order to warn of any possible invasion. 

Ch 5:1-19 Nehemiah, who was eventually made governor, needed to rebuild not only the structures of Jerusalem but also the civil society. During the Babylonian Exile, many of the poorer families had mortgaged their land to richer families in order to feed themselves and pay taxes, and now their children were slaves to the wealthy. Nehemiah convinced the rich households to forgive these debts and return the properties to the poorer families. Such a magnanimous gesture was in keeping with the spirit of the Law, which called for a more equitable sharing of goods and a regular jubilee for debt remission. (CCC 2449)

The Book of Esther

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(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Esther 1-16 This translation combines elements of both the Hebrew and Greek versions of this book and places the excerpts in chronological order; the italicized sections indicate the text from the Greek version, retaining the widely used chapter-verse numbering from the Vulgate. In doing so, it retains the original chapter-verse structure of each, resulting in a somewhat haphazard order to the chapters and fragmentation. This book is the story of a Jewish woman who found favor with the king of Persia and was made a queen. She used that position to intercede on behalf of her own people in opposition to a corrupt member of the king’s court.

*Ch 11:2 The disarrangement of the chapter and verse order is due to the insertion of the deuterocanonical portions in their logical place in the story of Esther, as narrated in the Greek version from which they are taken. They are printed in italics to enable the reader to recognize them at once. In the old Vulgate these portions were placed by St. Jerome immediately after the Hebrew text of Esther, regardless of their logical position, because he himself did not regard them as canonical. Hence they came to be numbered 10:4-16:24. It has been thought best to leave the chapter and verse numbering unchanged in the present edition. (*The Great Adventure Catholic Bible RSV-2CE, 2018)

Ch 11:2-12 [Greek] Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, was a servant in the court of King Ahasuerus; his dream provides a metaphorical image for the entire book. Visions and dreams filled with symbolic imagery often occur in Scripture as a way of fostering hope for justice and liberation to the oppressed. Since the Incarnation is the culmination of Divine Revelation, no further revelation can surpass the inexhaustible riches of Christ’s life and teaching. (CCC 65)

Ch 12:1-6 [Greek] Reporting the eunuch’s plot for a rebellion won Mordecai the favor of the king but also ignited the jealousy of Haman, an important nobleman of the court.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 51: Esther Saves Her People (Ester)

The book of Esther takes place in Susa (modern-day Iran) during the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, 486-465 BC) and shows a young Jewish girl's unlikely rise to prominence.  In God's providence, she becomes queen at a time of persecution against the Jews, and through her intervention, her people are saved from genocide.

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you. Thank you for this day. Thank you for this Word, your Word to us. Help us to receive your Word with grace, with love, and help it makes us wise, that we can see everything in light of you, your truth, your will, and your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”