I've taken on a new Bible challenge for this story. Since I have thus far failed in my search for a proper female lead (having tried once and given up...similar to my attempt at jogging) I took some advice from some of "my people" and set out in search of Esther, a Jewish Queen, and the reason behind Purim, which ended yesterday.
That's right. This chick even has a doll. A creepy, creepy doll
Now, even though I was able to deceive some into thinking I am Jewish (I can see how the brown hair and overwhelming love of matzoh might throw some people off) I can tell you now that I am not. I was raised in a stiff-upper-lip Protestant church, which still argues about whether or not the electric guitar is, in fact, a tool used by Satan to entrance us into Hell. My church valued the Bible, sure, but if you've read any of these recaps so far you know--either I didn't listen very often, or we just didn't hit on every story. Likely it's a little of both.
All this to say...I know NOTHING about Esther. Although I believe there is a Veggie Tales movie about her that I have not seen (Good Lord, there's no time to discuss Veggie Tales right now, people. Save it, SAVE IT.)
So, knowing nothing about Esther, I picked up my trusty Ol' Soggy and flipped laboriously though the stuck pages. And guess what?! The woman has her own book. Her own personal chapter, shall we say. All about her. And her awesomeness.
So this story begins with King Asomething, who commands his eunuchs to summon his Queen to his party so he can show off how hot she is.
AAAAAAAND TIME OUT. Eunuchs? Really? There are eunuchs in the Bible? I don't even know what the deal IS with eunuchs. Like, I know it has something to do with their bits. But is it that they have no bits? Born without bits? Mangled bits? Chopped-off bits? Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know. I'm easily queasy. But I didn't even know they were part of the Bible Plot Line! I just have so many questions! Do eunuchs still exist? Are they really as zombie-like as we portray them? What is the point of making eunuchs do your bidding? Is the will of the testicled SO powerful that they make terrible slaves? It's time to wikipedia this nonsense.
So anyway, the king is all drunk from partying and slurs to the eunichs to fetch him his queen but she refuses. So just in case word gets out and all women start thinking for themselves, they banish the queen to somewhere else and take a new queen. Phew, problem solved.
This is where Esther, the orphan/virgin/Jew stepped up to the plate. She didn't tell anyone about that last little tidbit about being Jewish. See, her Jewish name was actually Hadassah, which, I swear to God, means "myrtle."
Okay, let's move on.
No wait. MYRTLE.
Okay, let's really move on this time. So that no one knows she's Jewish, she changes her name to Esther, a Persian name that means "star." Lo and behold, the king loved her more than any of the other poor saps, and placed the Queen's crown on her head. PARTY TIME!
While all this is going on, Mordecai, who was the cousin/father-figure to Esther, hears a plot by two of the eunuchs to murder the king. Sooooo, I guess that solves that mystery because they still have anger and emotions? Frankly, it only confuses me further. WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE, EUNUCHS?!?! Anyway, Mordecai overhears it and tells Esther, who tells the king, who has the two eunuchs murdered. Bit of a random tale, but it comes back later.
Now, this guy Haman is the Head Official...who knows of what, but he's very important. When he walks by, all the king's servants bow down to him except for Mordecai. Haman is piiiiiissed. He decides that it would be silly to hurt Mordecai for not bowing. Childish, in fact. What would be better would just be to kill ALL the Jews in the entire world. He asks the king if it's okay. The king of course consents because, well, damn those Jews and their ways! *shakes fist*
So I guess there's a bunch of murder and confusion amongst the Jews, and Mordecai is ripping off his clothes and wailing and throwing things and...dressing in "sackcloth?" Don't really know about that one. Anyway, I imagine him like Steve Carell in 40-Year-Old Virgin when he just walks through every room of his apartment yelling. Eventually he gathers himself up enough to ask Esther to get the king to call off all the murdering. So Esther hitches up her royal suspenders and goes to the king. This is actually a pretty big deal because a) the king doesn't know she's Jewish, and by his decree, she should also be killed. But also, the king tends to kill people who come to him without being summoned. So DOUBLE LIKELIHOOD OF DEATH. But the needs of her people are just too great. So she goes before him and the king's all swoony and not in any kind of mood to kill her. Phew! Esther requests that the king and Haman come to a banquet that she will prepare the next day. The king's already like, "Yes, yes dear. Whatever you want shall be yours. I'd give you half my kingdom, *Gush gush gush*" so no problems there.
That day, Haman's all happy because he's been invited to this banquet. But when he passes Mordecai he's like, "BLARG! That damn Jew is still there and he still doesn't quiver at my feet!" So he gathered all his friends and wife and tells them that no matter how great and awesome and strong and rich and amazing he is, none of that matters, because that one dude doesn't bow to him. His friends and wife (who are thinking the same thing as I am) are like, "Uhhh, okay? You know you have the power to just kill him right? Why don't you quit being such a whiny bitch about it?" Haman drums his fingertips together with an "eeeeexcellent" and commands them to build some gallows in preparation.
That night, the king can't fall asleep so he calls a servant to read aloud from the boring book of records. During this, he finds out about Mordecai being the one to save him from eunuch murder (again...so weird) so he decides to honor him. He asks if anyone from the high court is around. It just so happens that Haman is outside his door preparing his speech. ("King, we SHOULD hang Mordecai. No, no. King, WE should hang Mordecai. We should HANG Mordecai. Yeah, yeah, that last one.") So the King lets Haman in.
The king asks him, "What should be done for someone I want to honor?" And Haman tells him to get a robe and a horse wearing a crown (Oh my god. My Little Pony existed in the Bible. All my dreams...) and to lead him around the town square proclaiming that this is what the king does to honor someone. I'm a little confused by this entire encounter because I'm pretty sure it said this king has been leading for 12 years. So why he has never had occasion to honor a single person in that time is beyond me. But he's also the one who was like "Kill the Jews for no reason? Why, sure! Here's my literal seal of approval."
So anyway, this was what Haman suggested the king should do, and the king's all, "Totally! Smart. Okay, go do that for Mordecai, and don't leave out a single detail." HAR!! Sucks to be you, Haman. Haman does everything he's told and then goes home to wail. His wife is no help. She's basically like, "Yeah, hun. If this guy's Jewish, you're screwed." Because I guess she knew that Jews are awesome?
The next day Haman, the king, and Esther sit down to dinner. And the king is once again all, "What do you want? You can have anything, before I even find out what it is." So Esther drops on them that she wants the lives of the Jews back and it is all VERY Inigo Montoya and the king is up in arms to learn that Haman has done such a thing (but...he did it, too...so...) then he finds out about the gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai and orders Haman hanged there. Ouch.
Next the king sends out new commands to turn everything around--but rather than tell people to just get along, he orders the Jews to defend themselves! Now they can kill anyone who might attack them, along with the women and children, and plunder all their goods! Oh, praise Adonai! The Jews are now so mighty that non-Jews are claiming Judaism because they're so terrified. Yippee! We win! We win!!
Eventually the Jews took a break from all the hanging, slashing, and plundering to celebrate their victory with a feast and a party. Thus begins the holiday of Purim, a day of great celebration, food, and giving to the poor.
So what have we learned? Well, we've learned that one of the great women of the Bible, one who gets her own book and her own holiday is...still not really that amazing. She stood up to a man who clearly already adores her. That's what she did. I'm beginning to lose faith in the idea that there is even one serious female role model in the Bible. That's not to say that, within the thousands of years that the Bible was written, there weren't some kick ass women. And it's very possible that Esther was one of them. But the men who told their stories just didn't give a rat's ass about them, which sucks. We get virgins and liars and whores. That's who we get. Where's our lion-punching, giant-killing, ark-building, crazy-faced women? I want a girl who bares her teeth and growls. I say we picket.
What do we want?
A GIRL WHO BARES HER TEETH AND GROWLS!!
When do we want it?
NOW (BUT ALSO FOR THE PAST 5,000 YEARS OR WHATEVER)!!!!!