The Queen Factor: the Concealment of greatness | City Of David

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The Queen Factor: the Concealment of greatness

 

Purim is upon us and Israel is abuzz with preparations of Mishloach Manot and Purim costumes.  Mothers are frantically trying to make sure everyone has a costume that will "out-do" the previous year. And by the way, recycling certain elements of Purims-gone-by is completely acceptable and sometimes a new creation emerges surprisingly impressive. It's Purim….going green.

All for fun. But why cover up in the first place? The basic principle of the Purim Costume is to celebrate concealment. Esther's true identity was concealed in the master plot to bring those who wanted to annihilate her and her people to their knees. This story is so thick with concealment that even G-d hides Himself from the written lines in the book of Esther, never to be mentioned once in one of the world's most plot twisting tales. 

But it is sometimes the well known facts almost being repelling due to its extreme mundanity, that holds within it the true treasures. Sometimes the best way of hiding things are putting them right under the noses of the unsuspecting villains. Jarod Kintz in his book A Zebra is the Piano of the Animal Kingdom writes “The locked door in my house is just a diversion. The real valuable items are out in the open, where they are hidden from the unimaginative

Think about it for a moment. Why not send a Hebrew boy, destined to be drowned in the great Nile by the great Pharaoh, to Pharaoh.     In the Nile.       Brave move.

Why not send an orphaned Hebrew girl into the Palace of one of the great collaborators of Jewish annihilation. Make no mistake, Ahasuerus, contrary to all the candy floss romantic movies out there, wasn't that fond of the Jews. But he fell in love.  Clever move.

Providing the remedy before the blow.

The thing about good stories is that it skillfully disposes all the facts you need to know, but it doesn't serve you the deductible conclusions on a plate. It's hidden in the subtext, for all to see.

Esther was an orphan. Now there is something that you have to understand about orphans. G-d himself looks after them. Deut 10 :18 clarifies this position: He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the convert residing among you, giving them food and clothing. Exodus 22 takes it further with a very strong warning: If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry;… . In short: You touch them. You touch Me.  

So what happens if the Queen of the mighty kingdom of Persia finds herself a bit of a quandary? She uses her position. (In Israel we call it Protexia) She cries out, as an orphan, whose parents were murdered by the very force that now wants to annihilate the rest of her people. And surely He heard. Cause the rest is history. It is written that many people in the empire converted to Judaism due to Esther and Mordechai's bravery and the subsequent Jewish resistance.

But in the narrative of the City of David the story continues.  

 A few centuries later another queen comes on to the scene.  Coming from the Adiabene, the old Persia. She too has a change of status, as she herself converts to Judaism along with many of her followers, living amongst the Jewish People in the time of the Second Temple Period.

Queen Helene was known as a very generous noblewoman. She donated a tremendous amount to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. She is specifically known for donating the nivreshet or golden chandelier that hung high up in the Entrance to the Temple. When the sun would rise from the East it would hit the golden chandelier with extreme radiance and herald the time for saying the Shema.  This didn't just create an integral unity between all the residents of Jerusalem, reciting the Shema in unison, but also prevented those in the Temple compound to turn towards the sun and away from the Temple itself which would constitute idol worship.

Tremendous parallels can be drawn between these two Queens from the Persian Empire and their Jewish connection.  Living the subtext of status changes; unifying people in worship under the One G-d and utilizing their influence and protection due to their humble positions as orphan and convert to inspire their people and impact history.

The City of David testifies to the life and times of Queen Heleni as residential structures have been excavated in the area where she and her family lived during the second Temple period. And to top these remarkable finds, a golden earing, completely intact with pearls and emeralds, was found in these royal quarters – a hint to the style and fashion of the nobility of those times.

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Photo: Dudi Ardon

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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