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The Name of YHWH Encoded in Esther

James Scott Trimm

As you all know, Purim is coming up soon, so we have been doing a lot of Purim teaching as we prepare of this biblical feast. 

Although Elohim is mentioned throughout the long version of Esther (which we discussed in recent teachings) the Name of YHWH is mysteriously absent from the short version of Esther as it appears in the Masoretic Text.... (or is it?)

None the less, the presence of YHWH is felt, as His actions are clearly hidden behind the scenes throughout the book.  This is part of the reason that many people wear costumes at Purim, to symbolize the fact that the work of YHWH is disguised and hidden in this book.

The Name of YHWH does appear encoded in the Hebrew text at four transitional points of the story, showing us that YHWH is guiding the events of the book (a point made more plain in the long version of the Book of Ester).

The Name of YHWH appears encoded in the Hebrew text of Esther through what is called NOTARIKON.

A Notarikon is an acronym; anagram or acrostic. Taking the first or last letters of the words of a phrase and joining them to make a new word or, conversely, expanding a word into a phrase.

The first Notarikon of YHWH in Esther is found in Esther 1:20

And when the king's decree which he shall make, shall be published throughout all
his kingdom, great though it be: all the wives will give to their husbands honor, both to
great and small.
(Esther 1:20 HRV)

It was this decree that ultimately brought Esther before the throne of the King, thus saving the Jewish people. Now if we look at the phrase “all the wives will give” in the Hebrew we find that the first letter of each word spells out YHWH backwards because YHWH is over ruling and reversing the wisdom of man. Whereas it was man’s intention that this decree causes women to do the will of men, YHWH would ultimately use it to have the King do the will of Esther.

Next we come to Esther 5:4

And Ester said, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day,
unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.
(Esther 5:4 HRV)

Now if we look at the phrase “let the king and Haman come this day” in the Hebrew we find that first letter of each word spells YHWH going forward because YHWH’s hand was upon this feast that He might defeat Haman.

Next we come to Esther 5:13

Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordekhai the Jew,
sitting at the king's gate
(Esther 5:13 HRV)

If we look at the phrase “Yet all this avails me nothing” in the Hebrew we see that the last letter of each word spells YHWH backwards. The final letters are used because this is the beginning of the end of Haman’s plot. The Name is backwards because YHWH is turning back Haman’s plot.

Next we come to Esther 7:7

And the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine, and went into the palace
garden: but Haman remained to make request for his life to Ester the queen, for he saw
that there was evil determined against him by the king.
(Esther 7:7 HRV)

If we look at the phrase “that there was evil determined against him” in the Hebrew we will see that the last letter of each word spells YHWH forward. The final letters because Haman’s plot had come to an end, and forwards because YHWH was moving the plans of Ester and Mordechai forward.

These four occurrences of the Name of YHWH in Notarikon, show that YHWH was behind the events and guiding the plans of Ester and Mordechai forward.

Finally lets look at Esther 7:5

Then spoke the king Achashverosh and said unto Ester the queen,
Who is he, and where is he, that dares presume in his heart to do so?
(Esther 7:5 HRV)

If we look at the Hebrew “is he, and where is he” we see that the Masoretic Text makes the final letters of each word larger, spelling the Notarikon “EHYHE” which is the same backwards and forwards “I Am” one of the names of YHWH (Ex. 2:23-25; 3:14-15). The Name is made from the final letters so that YHWH shows that unlike Hamen, YHWH does have the authority and power to reverse the decrees of a King.

Thus we see that while YHWH is never mentioned in the short version of Esther, He is ever present working behind the scenes in the original Hebrew.

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