A New Approach to Esther 4:14: Part III:  A Time Such as This?
David Nekrutman
July 2, 2024


In the last two parts of the Esther 4:14 series, we discovered that most translators have presented the beginnings of the verse with the understanding that Esther can choose to be part of salvation history or not. No matter what, God will save His people. I have argued there is a different way of reading the verse that can include the possibility that Esther is the only way to save her people. There is no alternate rescue plan! Moreover, Esther’s opting into Plan A comes with dire consequences.

Once again, I wish to remind the reader that Esther and Mordechai are not in the same room with one another for this conversation. There is no texting, group chat or email communication. Hatach is the messenger relaying the messages between the two. The last five Hebrew words of Mordechai’s message to Esther as recorded in Esther 4:14 is – im l’eit k’zot he’gi’at l’mal’chut (אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת). Both Jewish and Christian translators have translated the ending of Esther 4:14 as follows:

  • “…Whether you have not come to the kingdom for a time such as this?” (ESV, NKJV)
  • “…But that you have come to your royal position for a time such as this?” (NIV)
  • “…Whether thou art not come to royal estate for a time such as this? (Koren Jerusalem Bible)
  • “…Whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?” (Jewish Publication Society 1917)

To the modern reader, the translated verse becomes a kind of biblical version of carpe diem, as used by the Roman poet Horace in his Odes. However, Mordechai is not trying to communicate any slogan such as “seize the day,” “strike while the iron is hot” or “take the bull by the horns.” Hebraically translating the last five words of Esther 4:14 can unlock a revelational nugget that goes beyond Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

My preferred translation for the last five Hebrew words of Esther 4:14 is “…if next year, at this time, you will attain royalty.” The Hebrew word for “time” in this verse is eit (עֵת), which means a “point in time.” One can find this expression of eit[1] in Genesis 24:11, when in the evening, Abraham’s servant had the camels kneel near the well, outside of town – “the time (eit) the women go to draw water.” The most elaborate dissection of the term eit is found in Ecclesiastes 3 and was musically developed by the 1960s band The Byrds with their song Turn! Turn! Turn! The eit expression of time is not about urgency, but about the point in time

What is remarkable about the ending of Esther 4:14 is that Mordechai chooses to communicate with the Hebrew expression of malchut (מַּלְכוּת – “kingdom”) rather than hamalkah (הַמַּלְכָּה – “the queen”). If I was writing a message to Esther, I would have communicated to her that she has become queen for this moment. What does kingdom have anything to do with the situation?

The Hebrew expression Esther Hamalkah (אֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה) – “Queen Esther” appears 14 times in the text. The first time the expression Esther Hamalkah appears is in 2:22, when Mordechai informs Esther of the plot to kill the king. The expression “Queen Esther” appears 13 other times after Esther 4:14 (5:2, 3, 12; 7:1,2,3, 5, 7; 8:1, 7, 9:12, 29, 31).

The stand-alone term of malkah – queen – is associated only with Esther, prior to 4:14, when she wanted to properly clothe Mordechai (4:4). The term malkah was mostly associated with the Vashti episode (1:9, 11, 12, 15, 16, twice in 17, 18).

The word malchut – “kingdom” – appears 15 times in our text prior to Esther 4:14. The term is associated once with Esther when she received the keter malchut – royal crown – from the king (Esther 2:17). The term appears 10 times after Esther 4:14 (three times in 5:1, 2, 6; twice in 6:8; 7:2, 8:15, 9:30).

Although she won Miss Universe, the text clearly seeks to communicate that Esther is not a governing ruler equal to the king. Her role has been regulated within the king’s harem. The one thing she has more than most people is access to the king since he loved “Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins…(2:17).

This is the reason why Mordechai did not use the term “queen” in his communication with her; but rather, the term malchut. Mordechai fully comprehends that Esther is in a precarious situation with the king when it comes to his intimate needs. However, he is relying on her access to the king to save the Jewish people from genocide.

Access to influential people can be a fleeting moment, especially when you’re talking about a king who had no problem getting rid of his first wife. Mordechai’s communication to Esther is a Russian roulette moment. Esther must come to terms with the fact that she is the only option for the salvation of her people. It might just be a suicide mission: this whole plan is based upon her access to the king. Esther’s brave decision changed the course of sacred history and transformed her into Queen Esther.

When a Christian invokes Esther 4:14 in their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people, they speak to more than a celebratory event with flags, shofar-blowing, Israeli dances and speeches. It’s the expression of a covenantal bond, one in which the individual is willing to risk it all, come what may.




[1] It should be noted that there are two other mainstream expressions for “time” in the Bible: z’man (זְמָן) and mo’eid (מוֹעֲד). The former means a “specific span of time” and the latter means “an appointed time.”

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