Esther – (@kathrynspinster)

Half way through the month, I’m guessing most of you have now read the book of Esther.  Great story, isn’t it?  Famous for being the only book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God – at least by name!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Rembrandt_-_Haman_Begging_the_Mercy_of_Esther.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Rembrandt Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther.jpg

I last read this as I travelled through the southern states of America and was struck by the issues of exclusion and empowerment that resonated with the civil rights stories from Memphis and the surrounding areas.

I had just read The Help and the culture of subduing women and judging them on their appearance and homemaking skills amongst the dominant whites was obvious.  Getting a man was the prime goal – and Vashti brought that all back.  Being paraded before the king’s (male) guests reminded me of the feminist objections to the Miss World and other pageants and I cheered Vashti for saying NO.  In honour of her there was a charity/help group in Scotland for abused women, called Vashti.

And then there was Esther.  She acceded to the cattle market approach to finding a wife, but used her position and her character to change a foreign culture from within.  What a brave woman – even facing up to the king’s trusted (until then!) commander.  Haman clearly thought she was ‘fair game’ as white boys have done with ‘other’ girls for centuries – rape has long been part of war.

Two great, but very different, role models, but both using their brains as well as their circumstances to bring about change.  Each from a different culture, with presumably different religions, but both with a sense of their own value and that of others like them.

Such women are with us still – campaigning for education, against FGM, standing up for their communities, working for a  positive just world.  If God is not there . . .

About Kathryn Price

mother, minister, singer, knitter, spinner, reader, gardener and life-long learning enthusiast