Midrash Esther XIV-Sovereignty
Rabbi Aibu said: It is written, “For the kingdom is the Lords; and He is the ruler over the nations (Psalms 22:29),” and yet you say here that Achashveirosh sat, “on the throne of his kingdom?”
The truth is that formerly sovereignty was invested in Israel, but when they send it was taken from them and given to the other nations, as it says, “and I will give the land over into the hand of evil men (Ezekiel 30:12),” which Rabbi Isaac explained to mean, “into the hands of evil stewards.” But tomorrow when Israel will repent, God will take it from the idolaters and restore it to them. When will this be? “When saviors shall come up on Mount Zion (Obadiah 1:21).”
Let’s imagine for a second, the mental state of the Jews at this time. The Temple was destroyed. Jerusalem lay in ruins. The Kings of Judah had been humiliated, imprisoned, and ultimately executed by Nebuchadnezar. There was no Jewish king. When the Babylonian Empire was toppled by Darius, I’m sure that the Jews experienced a sense of vengeance and justice. There was a new King over the Jews, and he permitted some Jews to go up to Jerusalem and begin the construction of the Second Temple. This king was a beneficent king, compassionate to the Jews. But now, under Achashveirosh, there was a new King, a new kingdom, he was a king who, although originally favorable to the Jews, soon decided to stop all the construction on the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews had gone up and down, up and down. It was now clear to them that they were down again. They began to wonder, “Would we ever have our own King again?”
This Midrash is teaching us that the Jews began to wonder about God as King. If God is truly King, how could He allow yet another king to rise to power, another King so cruel to the Jews? Achashveirosh’s rise to power was experienced by the Jews as a defeat.
Some decided to mourn and wait, others to forget their past and join the new King. This Midrash reminds us that in such moments when we wonder, “Where is God’s Sovereignty?” We must remember that He promised us that our sovereignty will be restored as soon as we repent.
The Jews had a choice: would they repent, or would they throw their support behind the new King, with the naïve hope that by supporting him, they would win his support?
They eventually repented because of the suffering and threats imposed by the new King. God used this king to achieve His aim. They finally realized that no matter who is King, Sovereignty is God’s.