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Mordecai was a Jew living in the Persian capital of Shushan during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes). He is probably most well known for being the uncle of Queen Esther and the important role he played in the government of King Ahasuerus.
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The name Mordecai can come from either the Hebrew or the Persian language. In Hebrew the name is made up of two parts, מר or mar, means bitter and דך or dak, means oppressed or crushed. When placed together, Mordecai means bitter oppression or crushing.
In Persian, Mordecai means “servant of Marduk” (Marduk was a god of Persia) or perhaps “worshipper of Mars” or “little man”. Keep in mind that Mordecai was not a “little man” in relation to his faith as he helped save the Jewish nation from destruction.
Mordecai, the son of Jair, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and was related to Kish, King Saul, and Jonathan. Other famous Benjamites include Paul the apostle, Esther and Ehud. Judges 20:16 also mentions a special group of 700 left-handed Benjamites who could sling a stone and not miss a target a hair’s width wide.
Mordecai is mentioned several times in Esther chapters two through five as sitting faithfully at the king’s gate. After Haman was removed from power, Mordecai was promoted to Prime Minister. Mordecai’s first act as Prime Minister was to nullify Haman’s recent “law” to annihilate the Jews throughout Persia (Esther 8:9,10).
Mordecai didn’t allow circumstances or self-preservation to dictate his value system. His refusal to bow to Haman reflected his belief that God alone should be worshiped (Esther 3:2). Mordecai continued to bow to God alone, even though Haman grew increasingly angry with his actions.
Mordecai fearlessly exposed the evil plot to assassinate King Ahasuerus by Bigthan and Teresh in spite of any danger to himself (Esther 2:21-23). He also suggested a bold plan to counteract Haman’s scheme to kill the Jews disregarding his own safety. (Esther 4:7,8).
Mordecai had faith that God would save His people no matter how bad things looked. He encouraged Esther to be God’s instrument and go before the king to seek the welfare of the Jews. She responded with her famous, “If I perish, I perish” speech (Esther 2:8, 4:14).
Mordecai showed compassion toward Esther after she was orphaned by taking her into his own household and treating her like his own daughter (Esther 2:7). He also showed compassion for the Jews living in Persia by working tirelessly to save them (and himself) from Haman’s plan to exterminate them (Esther 4:1-17; 8:8-12).
In the 1930’s archeologists uncovered thousands of clay tablets containing official records of the Persian empire. These cuneiform tablets mentioned a high ranking state official by the name of Marduka or Marduku, Babylonian for Mordecai, who served at Shushan in the time of Ahasuerus. (On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays 1967-1998, Vol. 1, pp 436-43).
Isn’t it interesting that Mordecai is not only mentioned in the Bible but also in the official records of the Persian empire?
Mordecai was a man strong in faith and unwavering in his convictions for God. He was also compassionate and tenderly cared for Esther in her need. Mordecai lived out his faith by his actions and wasn’t afraid to place his trust 100% in God.
Mordecai mentored Esther and eventually requested that she boldly stand in defense of the Jewish nation explaining that God may have placed her as queen for the specific purpose of saving the Jews.
Take a minute and think of your positions of influence. Are you a father or mother, child, teacher, pastor, CEO or accountant? Where can you make a difference for those around you or for the less fortunate? Is God calling you to step out in faith to relieve suffering or to help someone in their journey heavenward? God may have placed you in your current position for such a time as this, to bring others a glimpse of God’s love and mercy.