Few Christians would recognize the name Mordecai immediately, yet he had profound influence on biblical history. His story appears as a sidelight in the book of Esther, and yet his life and character also shape the events of that book significantly. Introduced in the second chapter after King Ahasuerus has accepted a plan to select a new queen (Est. 2:1-4), we learn not only of his background but also some implications about his character, amplified even more by subsequent events.
Mordecai’s family background gives his story a redemptive quality. Assuming the lineage provided for Mordecai refers to his immediate ancestors, his family, as proud Benjamites, used the names both of Kish, the father of Saul, and Shimei, another descendant of Benjamin, who famously cursed David when that king retreated during the rebellion of Absalom. Therefore, Mordecai’s efforts to protect his people and preserve the lineage of David are rhetorically redemptive as well as inherently heroic. Furthermore, his own family’s background of captivity showed an awareness of both hardship and heritage, as well as loyalty to the king (Est. 2:5-6). However, it is Mordecai’s relationship with Esther that has such an important impact on this book and its message. “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter” (Est. 2:7). Mordecai showed a love and care for this young lady that turned a responsibility into a close family bond (Jas. 1:27). When Esther was chosen to be among those candidates placed before the king, Mordecai told her not to reveal her ancestry (Est. 2:8-10), which was for her own protection. He then showed the extent of his concern, though she was now out of his direct sphere, checking on her situation every day (Est. 2:11). After Ahasuerus selected Esther as his queen (Est. 2:12-18), Esther continued to listened to Mordecai and obey Him, despite no longer being under his roof (Est. 2:19-20). This was a relationship grounded in respect and love—not control—which manifested itself in loving obedience. That Mordecai had developed such a relationship with Esther shows how well he had done as an adoptive parent. However, Mordecai’s efforts extended beyond just Esther. His proximity to the king’s gate allowed him to learn of a plot against the king and report it in time to disrupt an assassination attempt (Est. 2:21-23).
Mordecai was a man of high character who accepted whatever responsibilities came his way and combined wisdom with swift action. Even while not the main character, his behavior shines forth as an example. Therefore, when he later becomes the focus of a vindictive scheme, it shows just how much darkness hates light. Mordecai’s character remained consistent whether times were good or the situation was dire. He was a man whose faith motivated others to faithfulness and whose wisdom was recognized in the world. Mordecai was not just some member of the support cast; he is an example to us all.