Sunday, March 04, 2007

Chiamus And Reversal

chi·as·mus [kahy-az-muhs]
A reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases, as in “He went to the country, to the town went she.”

Shakespeare enjoyed this literary device. One example is this from King Henry IV, Part Two:

Chief Justice: Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.

Falstaff: I would it were otherwise. I would my means were greater and my waist slenderer.

A variation of this is used to arrange events or narrative elements in reverse order. When used in narrative events it is the literary signature of the author. When used in the course of actual human events, it is the signature of God.

We see this in the Book of Esther.

Last Sunday we listened to a great sermon on how God uses people and events. He weaves a tapestry of intertwined lives that, to the persons actually involved, is hidden. But to the dispassionate observer it is a thing of beauty. This morning we were treated to a glimpse of how His Providence is revealed even when His Name is not mentioned a single time, nor a single act ascribed to Him. He reveals himself in the timing and sequence of events.

There is a duality of events in the Book of Esther. The Book starts with two feasts hosted by Xerxes, one for for nobles throughout the Persian Empire (Est. 1:3) and another for the nobles in the palace at Shushan (Est. 1:5). The Book ends with the two feasts of Purim, one for Jews throughout the Persian Empire(Est. 9:17)and one for the Jews in Shushan (est. 9:18).

Between these four feasts, there are two instances of Xerxes giving his ring as a symbol of authority; once to Haman to authorize the killing of the Jews (Est. 3.12), and another time to Mordecai to authorize the Jews to defend themselves and take for spoil those who would do them harm (Est. 8:10).

And lastly, between the two authorizations, there are two banquests given by Esther for Xerxes and Haman. And in between the two banquets of Esther is the pivotal point of the entire Book where God reveals His Hand. For between the two banquests of Esther the King cannot sleep (Est. 6:1).

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