Monday, March 25, 2013

The Other Purim Plot

The Septuagint version of Esther is noted for its additions. The first chapter, for example, has a dozen and a half verses missing from the Masoretic text. These verses tell of an apocalyptic dream that Mordecai has warning him of the danger that the king was in. This warning enables Mordecai to be in a position where he can overhear the conspiracy against the king:
And Mordecai snuck quietly into the courtyard with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king show were guarding the courtyard. So he heard their plans and discovered their plots and he learned that they were preparing their hands to overthrow Artaxerxes, the king, and he disclosed to the king concerning them (Esther 1:1m-n LXX).
In this case, the king does not get the revelation or dream about the plot. Instead, it comes to "a Jewish man living in the city of Susa" (Esther 1:1b LXX), an ordinary man living an ordinary life, who just happens to listen and respond when God inspires him.

The inspiration he receives leads him to be where he needs to become a credible witness of the plot to assassinate the king.

Note that Mordecai is somehow able to get access to the king and report what is happening personally (Esther 1:1n LXX), in spite of Artaxerxes ruling over 127 countries (Esther 1:1s LXX). The conspirators were part of the government administration. Can one imagine what might have happened if Mordecai had to go through bureaucratic channels, especially if those channels ran through Gabatha or Tharra?

Gabatha and Tharra were trusted members of the administration. If asked, they would have claimed they were loyal to the administration that they were plotting to overthrow.

Conspiracies of this sort cannot be treated like typical petty problems patiently pushed through the bureaucratic machine. They require different means to be thwarted.