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Historical Archive of the Bible Wheel Site

Spoke 17Spoke 17

פ

Spoke 17 - Pey

Esther, Malachi, 2 Peter


The Hidden Face of God

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:13ff (Spoke 17, Cycle 1)

The Book of Esther is the last of the three post-exilic Historical Books on Cycle 1. It records events of around 478-473 BC, about 40 years after the temple was rebuilt. Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name of King Xerxes who ruled Persia at this time. The story is centered in his royal palace in Shushan which was the winter palace of many Persian kings, including two Darius and Artaxerxes who gave edicts of support for rebuilding Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile (BW book, pg 288). Halley's Bible Handbook gives this archeological note on the palace:

Its site was identified by Loftus (1852), who found an inscription of Artaxerxes II (405-358 BC): "My ancestor Darius built this palace in former times. In the reign of my grandfather (Artaxerxes I) it was burned. I have restored it." This palace was residence of Darius, who authorized rebuilding of the Temple; of Xerxes, Esther's husband; and Artaxerxes I, who authorized Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. A Frenchman named Dieulafoy, continued excavations (1884-86); and definitely located, in the ruins, the "king's gate" (4:2), the "inner court" (5:1); the "outer court" (6:4); the "palace garden" (7:7); and even found one of the dice, "Pur" (3:7).

It seems more than a "mere coincidence" that Artaxerxes I, the step-son of the Jewish Queen Esther, was also the king who gave the most lavish support for the rebuilding of Jerusalem as discussed with regards to Ezra on Spoke 15 (BW book, pg 289). The discovery of the "pur" (lot) is particularly intriguing since it links to the festival established in Esther Purim (Lots) which also is a Pey KeyWord, as discussed below.

The supernatural integration of the Book of Esther with the meaning of its corresponding Hebrew Letter is one of the most obvious in the entire Bible. Its essential theme and purpose has been well understood by both Christians and Jews from the earliest times. As usual, Baxter's explanation clearly captures its essential meaning:

The purpose of this book is to demonstrate the providential care of God over His people. It is vital to see this, for herein lies the living significance and permanent value of the book. ... It is this which explains why the name of God does not occur in the Book of Esther. This non-mention of God in the story has been a problem to many. Martin Luther, in one of his occasional lapses of self-restraint, went so far as to say that he wished the book did not exist! Others have contested its right to a place in the canon. Yet surely to find a problem in this non-mention of God is to miss that which above all else we are intended to see! We say it reverently, yet none the less unhesitatingly, that if God had been specifically mentioned in the story, or, still more, if the story had specifically explained, in so many words, that it was God who was bringing about all those happenings which are recorded, the dramatic force and moral impact of the story would have been reduced; for above all, we are meant to see, in the natural outworking of events, how without violating human free will, and without interrupting the ordinary ongoing of human affairs, a hidden Power unsuspectedly but infallibly controls all things. There may have been other reasons the anonymous author may have omitted any direct reference to God ... but we believe one main reason to be that which we have given, namely, the emphasizing of God's invisible activity in providence.

Christopher F. Drewes concurred in his "Introduction to the Books of the Bible" where he wrote that "In no other book of the Bible is the providence of God more evident." Likewise, A. M. Hodgkin expressed exactly the same insight in his review of every Book of the Bible called Christ in All the Scriptures This link takes you off the Bible Wheel site and opens a new window, and went on to explain its connection with the traditional Jewish understanding found in the Talmud:

The Book of Esther is designed to show God's providential care of His people. Through the name of God is not mentioned, the hand of God, ruling and over-ruling the events for the preservation of His people, can be seen throughout. In the Talmud the question is asked: "Where do we get Esther in the Law?" The answer is Deuteronomy 31:18 "And I will surely hide my face, or presence." God was hiding His face from His people on account of their sins; they had deliberately chosen to continue in the land of their captivity among the heathen, instead of availing themselves of the opportunity of returning to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel.

Rabbi Emanuel Feldman expounded upon the Jewish tradition in his article concerning Purim, the holiday established in the Book of Esther, called Purim: The Holiday in Hiding This link takes you off the Bible Wheel site and opens a new window:

Purim is the holiday in hiding. One has to probe beneath the surface to find the spiritual dimension that lies underneath. In fact, the disguises and the masks are all designed to underscore the essential hiddenness of this day. This theme of concealment is found in the very name of the heroine of Purim. "Esther" derives from the root str, which in Hebrew means "hidden." In the Torah (Deut 31:18), God says to Israel: "I will surely hide (hastir astir) My face from you..." The sages see this Hebrew phrase as a subtle suggestion of the hiddenness of God during the time of Esther. Even God himself is hidden in the Purim story. Search the Megillah from beginning to end, but you find no mention of His name. Is this not strange for a biblical book?

Feldman's str refers to the root satar - סתר (to hide, S# H5641) - which is prefixed by Aleph to form essater (I will hide) and the name Esther (see The Mouth of God). Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman explained how Esther relates to the word megillah (scroll) in his article called Revealing the Hidden This link takes you off the Bible Wheel site and opens a new window:

In Hebrew, the word "megillah" shares the same root as the word "reveal". By contrast, the name "Esther" comes from the root word meaning "hidden". Megillat Esther (Book of Esther), therefore, translates to mean: "Revealing the hidden." It teaches us a powerful lesson about cause and effect that we can carry with us wherever we go. We must not be satisfied with superficial evidence. Rather, we must delve into the root cause of the issues that we face.

The common root Weisman had in mind, galah (to reveal), is itself based on galal (to roll) in the sense of rolling away a covering. Hence a megillah (scroll) denotes something "rolled up," like the Bible Wheel. This also is the root of galgal (wheel) as discussed in Golgotha, the Axis of the Wheel (BW book: Part III, pg 377). This coheres with the essential characteristic of the Bible as the revealed Word of God and points to its central theme, the event at Golgotha.

The Hidden Face of God (Hester Panim)

Purim is like a Jewish Mardi Gras. It is a noisy, rambunctious, and even drunken celebration in which the participants wear costumes and masks to cover their faces. These traditions are based on the story of Esther who hid her identity until the wicked Haman's plot to kill all the Jews forced her to reveal her true self before the King. The party aspect echoes the six-month drunken bash hosted by King Ahaseurus (Xerxes) with which the Book opens, only now transformed to celebrate Haman's defeat.

In rabbinic literature, the hiddenness of God, whether in Esther or in history, is called hester panim This link takes you off the Bible Wheel site and opens a new window, "the hidden face." Likewise, the holiday itself is designated by the Pey KeyWord Purim (Lots) which comes from root parar meaning to break, since lots were made from broken shards of pottery. All of this brings us face to face with the fundamental integration of the meaning of the Seventeenth Letter with the name, theme, and meaning of the Seventeenth Book. As seen in the many quotes above, the traditional association of Esther with things hidden, specifically the face of God, is very old and extremely broad. There is no question concerning its inextricable connection the Letter Pey as established by God Himself with His repetitive use of the KeyWord panim (face) in the Alphabetic Verses. This then illustrates the lesson of Esther. Its inclusion in the Canon and exact placement on Spoke 17 is itself an example of Divine Providence in action since the natural history of the formation of the Christian Canon proves beyond all doubt that no human or group of humans deliberately designed the Bible to form the pattern of the Wheel. Furthermore, its lack of any mention of God generated a lot of resistance to its inclusion. God designed all of this without any knowledge on the part of those whom He used. This means that the structure results from the Hidden Hand of God working in history. No human can claim any credit for its design, and so it is that God alone gets all the glory! Praise His name now and forever!

Impact on Canon Studies

The integration of the content of Esther with its position on the Wheel exemplifies the astounding synergistic mutual confirmation of all the elements that make it up. It confirms the inclusion of Esther in the Canon even as it proves that the apocryphal additions, which speak expressly and excessively of God, must be excluded. To repeat the quote from Baxter above:

We say it reverently, yet none the less unhesitatingly, that if God had been specifically mentioned in the story, or, still more, if the story had specifically explained, in so many words, that it was God who was bringing about all those happenings which are recorded, the dramatic force and moral impact of the story would have been reduced; for above all, we are meant to see, in the natural outworking of events, how without violating human free will, and without interrupting the ordinary ongoing of human affairs, a hidden Power unsuspectedly but infallibly controls all things.

This is explained in [Canon Studies] > Apocrypal Additions to Esther Refuted.


This article is essentially identical to pages 307-309 of the Bible Wheel book. It discusses the profound integration of the central theme of the Seventeenth Book (Esther) with the meaning of the Seventeen Letter (Pey) as revealed by God Himself in the Alphabetic Verses. Furthermore, the meaning expounded in this article has been taught by countless Christian exegetes and can be traced back in Rabbinic tradition to the days of the Talmud. It is one of the most stunning examples of the Divine design of the Bible on the pattern of the Hebrew Alphabet.





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