Women in the Bible – Lesson 4: Esther

A youth Bible study on Women in the Bible based on the Yale Bible Study.

Lesson Developed by

Jill Olds and Victoria Crook

Goal

Women Playing the Game

Tips to Prepare

  • If in person, set the room with chairs or around a series of tables for the game
  • If virtually, schedule in your preferred video platform

Materials Checklist

Scripture Focus

Esther 4:6-5:4; 7: 1-6

6Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, 7and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people. 9Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.” 12When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” 15Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

5On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace. 2As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. 3The king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.” 4Then Esther said, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.”

7So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. 2On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” 3Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. 4For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” 5Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” 6Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. 

Gather

  • Begin with a check in with members
  • Open with prayer

Engage

Activity 1: Play Barnga

(explained here: http://www.acadiau.ca/~dreid/games/Game_descriptions/Barnga1.htm).

  • This is a card game where everyone has different rules (and they don’t know it) and at each table they have to negotiate who is the winner, though they are not allowed to talk during the game.
  • After there is a “winner” or the game runs out, debrief with some questions provided in the link. What was it like to have different rules? To not be able to speak to each other about it?
  • The game usually discusses culture shock, but what does it mean when people have to change their own understandings/way of doing things in order to “play the game”?
  • If you have time/desire play again but change the rules or allow people to talk and see how things change.

Activity 2: Video

Watch this scene “Recruitment” from Ocean’s 8 together

 

Reflect

Read the focal scripture and discuss the following questions together:

  1. What was Esther risking, in approaching the king in this way? Should she have been more forceful, more demure?
  2. How did Esther show her cunning, in order to save her people? How do you think she might have felt in doing this?
  3. What types of strength do you see here, even as a woman needs to “play the game” in order to sway public policy?
  4. How does it make you feel to hear that Esther had to function in such a way, at the risk of her own life? How is this similar or different from today?

 

Send Forth

Close the meeting in prayer (either the leader or a group member).