He was Esther's adoptive father, mentor, confidante, cheerleader, and fellow leader to stand for the rights of their Jewish community. The life of Mordecai might seem secondary in the extraordinary story of Esther in the Bible, but Mordecai was more than just her uncle who welcomed her as his own daughter.
Who is Mordecai in the Bible?
As you read the book of Esther, you will see that Mordecai was very instrumental in ensuring the safety of not only Esther and the Jewish people, but of also exposing treachery in the kingdom of her husband, King Ahasuerus. His actions within Esther’s life story in the Bible characterize attributes that we can relate to or wish we embraced more of in life: wisdom, compassion, faith, courage, and hope.
These characteristics embody a man who was placed in situations by God where he had to stand up for the rights of others instead of hiding in the shadows. He became a man who not only raised a little girl by himself but saw in her inner strength and anointing by God that she couldn’t see. As we explore the personality of Mordecai, we begin to see even in the unbelievable experiences he was in, he was just like us in how he reacted, felt, and believed of his situation.
1. Mordecai was compassionate to the needs of others.
It is evident from the start of the book of Esther that Mordecai’s heart always beat for the needs of others, beginning most of all when he took in his orphaned niece Hadassah (later named Esther) after her parents’ deaths. When Esther was taken and groomed to be the next queen, Mordecai was not far away from her, even waiting outside her quarters to learn about Esther from the other women there (Esther 2:11).
He also showed his compassion when he learned of the plan by Haman to have all Jews killed in the kingdom and wore sackcloth and ashes to show his sadness over the tragic decree. According to the Collins English Dictionary website, sackcloth and ashes were worn in a public display of grief, remorse, or repentance.1 Even when Esther’s servants brought clothes for him to wear from the queen, Mordecai refused because he was feeling the sorrow of his people and wanted their supposed fates to be reminders to all those in the kingdom, including Esther.
There have probably been several situations in our own lives where we have displayed our compassion for those around us, from wearing pins/shirts to remember a loved one’s cancer battle to taking part in peace rallies or townhall meetings to speak out about injustices to offering a place to stay for a friend going through hard times. We, like Mordecai, have hearts that beat for our fellow man and we will do what we can to show them they matter and we love them.
2. Mordecai had the wisdom to use his brain.
Mordecai’s intelligence may not have been recognized immediately in the first chapters of Esther, but he knew what to do when handling situations involving the king. He told Esther not to reveal her Jewish heritage at first, waiting until after she shared Haman’s plan to kill the Jews with King Ahasuerus to show her Jewish heritage and make her plea more meaningful to influence the king (Esther 2:10; 8:3).
Mordecai also informed Esther of the eunuchs’ plot to kill the king, making sure that the knowledge was brought to the king by Esther instead of passed along from king’s servant to king’s servant (Esther 2:21-22). Even though his name was shared as the person who discovered the plot, Mordecai was smart enough to see that not only would the knowledge of the plot please the king but also make him more appreciative of Esther.
Mordecai’s ability to read a situation to know when to act and when to lay low allowed him to know how best to place Esther in a state of favor with the king. This not only saved his and Esther’s lives but also insured that their Jewish community was spared.
3. Mordecai had the courage to stand up for his beliefs.
One attribute that is undeniable with Mordecai is he never was one to buckle under peer pressure. He was proud of his Jewish heritage and could easily recognize within people whether they were of good intentions or not.
That was never more obvious than with his encounters with Haman, the king’s promoted second-in-command. His promotion meant many in the kingdom were forced to bow down to him by order of the king, but Mordecai didn’t follow this order (Esther 3:2-3). Haman was told of this transgression and from then forward, he viewed Mordecai with contempt and felt only satisfied in knowing that he might seek his revenge against Mordecai with the plan to kill the Jews (Esther 3:5-6).
Even though there was the strong possibility of death by Haman, Mordecai didn’t back down from standing up for his beliefs, especially his belief that Haman was not a man worthy of being bowed to. This intensified more when Mordecai learned of Haman’s plot and stayed in sackcloth and ashes in mourning. These actions prove that Mordecai believed that being true to his beliefs were more important than following in line with kingdom leadership and then being disappointed in himself afterward.
4. Mordecai had hope in God’s callings and provisions.
One of the most celebrated verses in the Bible comes from the lips of Mordecai, when he was speaking to Esther about why she must be the one to tell King Ahasuerus of Haman’s plot. He doesn’t lessen the truth that when the king discovers Esther’s Jewish heritage, she will have the same fate as all the rest in the community.
However, he instilled in her hope that maybe this difficult position she was in was ordained by God for her to have. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). After this response of encouragement, Esther knew that she needed to connect to God through fasting and prayer to learn of His plan for the circumstances.
This could explain why Mordecai told Esther not to reveal her Jewish heritage from the start; that he knew well before she did that this would be an important factor that would not only save the lives of her people, but also that of herself, Mordecai, and even the king. Just as Mordecai did, we can discover God’s calling and direction in a situation if we seek to see the situation through His perspective.
5. Mordecai’s faith was rewarded because he did right in God’s eyes.
All throughout the book of Esther, Mordecai’s faith in God shined through to be a beacon of hope to those around him and a source of strength for Esther. His words and actions reflected a man that wasn’t into prestige or following the crowd but of standing up (at times alone) on what he believed of God and His will.
Because of this, God richly blessed Mordecai as he strived to remind others of God’s provisions for them. When Mordecai discovered the eunuchs’ plot to kill the king, he thought nothing more of it until he learned the king wanted to honor Mordecai with a royal robe and parade (Esther 6:8-10). The blessings from the king also continued after Esther exposed Haman for his plot: with Haman’s hanging, Mordecai’s commanding of the Jews to protect themselves against their attackers, and Mordecai’s appointing as second in command to the king (Esther 8-10).
These unexpected blessings from God were not meant to elevate Mordecai, but it was meant for him to continue God’s missions for peace in the kingdom and continued reliance on God (Esther 10:3). The beloved Billy Graham defined God’s purposes for blessings with a similar mindset: “All of these material blessings are gifts from God, given in order that we might humble ourselves, fall upon our knees before Him, and call upon His name.”2 By doing what he knew to be God’s calling on him, Mordecai was blessed by God and was placed in a position to continue God’s mission on a greater scale.
Mordecai didn’t do what he did for Esther, the king, and his people because he was hoping to be placed in a royal position; he did what he did because it was right in the eyes of God and knew that even if his actions caused his death, he would have eternal life with his Father. Besides that, Mordecai embodied several attributes we can find in ourselves (compassion for others, standing up for our beliefs, using wisdom in our lives) that reminds us we all could be called by God, like Mordecai, to be leaders in faith and examples for others
- Collins English Dictionary, s.v. “sackcloth and ashes."
- Billy Graham, 2018. “Our Many Blessings.” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Blair Parke is a freelance writer for BibleStudyTools.com and editor for Xulon Press. A graduate of Stetson University with a Bachelor's in Communications, Blair previously worked as a writer/editor for several local magazines in the Central Florida area, including Celebration Independent and Lake Magazine in Leesburg, Florida and currently freelances for the Southwest Orlando Bulletin.
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