Monday, February 14, 2011

The Cinderella Story of the Bible?

Esther has been described as the Cinderella of the Bible. There are some similarities in the story, a common girl being chosen as queen from among the best looking virgins in the kingdom. There are also differences and there are other stories in the Bible that are similar as well. For that reason, I hesitate to say that Esther is the only Cinderella story in the Bible, but I’m not going to disagree with people who want to compare it to Cinderella. I think the stories of Ruth and of David are also Cinderella stories in their own way.

Let’s look first at the similarities between Esther and Cinderella. They both have humble beginnings. Esther lost both of her parents, though she was staying with a loving uncle, Mordecai, rather than a wicked stepmother. I suppose Mordecai combined with the keeper of the women is similar to the fairy godmother in the Cinderella story. Because of her beauty, Esther was chosen as queen. Also similar to Cinderella is the fact that Esther did not reveal who she was until later.

Haman is clearly the villain in Esther, but he is no wicked stepmother, so the differences are vast. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai would not bow to him. Haman’s hatred was so great that he want to destroy more than just Mordecai. He wanted to destroy Mordecai’s people, the Jews. But in a great twist of comeuppance, Haman was forced to show honor to Mordecai and ended up dying on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. The Jews faced destruction, but at the request of Queen Esther, it was turned around and the Jews were able to destroy their enemies. Mordecai was given Haman’s position in the kingdom.

There is a significant difference in theme between the two stories. Cinderella is about good overcoming evil. Cinderella is submissive to her stepmother, which is the good and right thing, but good overcomes anyway. In Esther, the theme deals with the principle that God will curse those who will harm those he chooses to bless. This theme is stated when Haman reveals his frustration to his wife when he is forced to parade Mordecai through the city proclaiming him as the man the king wanted to honor. Haman’s wife declared that he would come to ruin because of what he was doing to harm Mordecai’s people.