An Ancient Profile in Courage


Reading about the embarrassing timidity of congressmen fearful of voting their consciences for what they believe to be the good of the American people because doing so might make them vulnerable in the next election has put me in mind of an ancient tale of courage under far harsher circumstances. At stake is not a seat in Congress but the very life of a young woman called upon to stand up for her people.

Esther is Queen of Persia, but she is also a Jew, and the king’s counselor Haman has concocted a plot to destroy the Jews in the land. Mordecai seeks to persuade Esther to intervene with the king on behalf of her people, but under the law if Esther approaches the king without being called, she will be executed, unless the king chooses to extend to her his golden scepter. In the past thirty days, the king has not called for her at all, and so her favor in his eyes seems most uncertain.

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