Heroes and Villains: Zeresh

Words matter. Have you ever been lifted out of a dark place because of someone’s encouraging and truthful words? Have you ever been thrown into the pit of darkness because of someone’s thoughtlessly cruel words? I bet we have all experienced both circumstances! Words matter. They matter when we mean what we say, and they matter when we say them carelessly. Our words can directly impact someone else’s future. Our words can give flight to their dreams. Our words can even tear them apart.

Read Esther 3-7

In these chapters, I can’t help but notice Haman. He’s a very arrogant man who first gets his feathers ruffled when Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) refuses to bow down and pay homage (respect) to Haman. From then on, Haman seems to view Mordecai as someone who disrespected him, and because of this he hatches a plan to get Mordecai (and all the Jewish people) killed. The amount of hate in Haman is tangible and it’s because of his hate and lack of humility that we see this whole story in Esther play out. 

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Let’s zoom in a little further. Who was whispering in Haman’s ear? Who could have spoken truthful words and brought an end to the hateful and murderous intentions? The answer: His friends and his wife. 

It was his wife and friends who came up with the idea of creating the gallows from which Mordecai was supposed to be hanged on. Up there, for all the world to see. It was his friends and his wife who unknowingly encouraged Haman to create the means in which he would die. 

Here’s the thing, Zeresh and his friends would eventually caution and warn Haman by saying, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” (Esther 6:13) Yet, it was too late. They had encouraged him and fed his murderous desires and now he was so far into his plan that he refused to pause for even a second. 

What would have happened if they had cautioned and warned Haman way back at the first mention of Zeresh and his friends (Esther 5:10-14)? Could they have quenched the murderous intentions there with a good dose of truth? Let’s not forget: Words matter. So does timing.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
— Proverbs 15:1 ESV

What we learn from Zeresh

Words matter. We have the power to stop violence before it even starts and before it gets going. We have the power to bring Truth in the midst of the chaos of lies. We have the ability to encourage peace in the midst of rage. Strive to be a peacemaker!

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Timing matters. Zeresh chose to stir up anger and then attempt to warn in the midst of the chaos. By stirring up anger, she created the means in which her husband would be destroyed. She could have been the quiet voice that brought a contrary perspective to her husband’s hurt ego and feelings. Instead, she initially encouraged his destructive behavior and intentions. Timing is important because once that snowball started down the hill, it had gained way too much momentum to be stopped! 

Position matters. It’s easy to think she’s "JUST his wife” meaning her place is such a small one, too small to affect change. Her "small" place in her place in her husband’s life could have been used to save an entire nation of people. Her place could have been used to save his life. There is no such thing as a small place in life. Every position is significant. We can choose to use our place well (like Joseph while he was imprisoned, or like Nehemiah when he served as the cupbearer for the king). Or we can choose to live the lie that we don’t matter until we become more successful in someone else’s eyes. Look at the potential outcomes that Zeresh could have had! Look at what happened when she encouraged violence! Position matters!

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How will we use our position in other people's lives? Will we be a voice of wisdom and truth, or will we choose to allow others to walk down a dangerous path? 

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How can you use your position in other people's lives for good?