Also known as Ta’anit Esther or the Fast of Esther, Esther Fast was a fast that Queen Esther proclaimed due to the decree made regarding the Jewish community. The Queen and the Jewish community fasted for three days so that she could find favor before the king and plead for her life and that of her Jewish people.
Why did she have to call for a fast? The law did not allow the queen to appear before the king unless she had been called. According to Esther 4:16, Queen Esther needed God’s favor; otherwise, she could perish if the King didn’t stretch his scepter towards her. The fast of Esther did not allow the people to drink or eat anything for three days (72 hours).
Today, we shall look at the Fast of Esther, its history, and how it should be done. Let’s kick start.
The History of Queen Esther
Esther, also called Hadassah, was a beautiful Jewish girl. So, Mordecai had encouraged her to join the young women from whom the king would choose a Queen to replace the rebellious Queen Vashti.
After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was pacified, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s servants who served him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king. 3 Let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the beautiful young virgins to the citadel of Susa, to the women’s house, to the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women. Let cosmetics be given them; 4 and let the maiden who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” The thing pleased the king, and he did so.Esther 2: 1-4 (WEB)
So, Esther, a Jewish woman, joined other chosen virgin women and found favor before King Ahasuerus (also known as King Xerxes), as shown in Esther 1:1 and 2:26. Eventually, Esther became the queen in place of Vashti.
The History of Esther Fast
While Esther was the queen, news reached Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and an adaptive father (her father and mother had died), that Haman was planning to kill all the Jews.
The king had placed Haman above all the princes, but he wanted to assassinate all the Jews. Why?
According to the king's command, all the people had to bow down to Haman. However, Mordecai defied the rules because Judaism doesn’t allow him to bow to any man but God. When Haman learned this, he was furious and wanted to execute Mordecai.
2 All the king’s servants who were in the king’s gate bowed down, and paid homage to Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai didn’t bow down or pay him homage. 3 Then the king’s servants, who were in the king’s gate, said to Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s commandment?” 4 Now it came to pass, when they spoke daily to him, and he didn’t listen to them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 When Haman saw that Mordecai didn’t bow down, nor pay him homage, Haman was full of wrath.Esther 3: 2-5 (WEB)
However, since Haman knew the family line of Mordecai, he feared and opted to execute all the Jews. Esther would also have died because she was a Jew!
But he scorned the thought of laying hands on Mordecai alone, for they had made known to him Mordecai’s people. Therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even Mordecai’s people.Esther 3: 6 (WEB)
According to the cast lot, in the month of Adar, the twelfth month, all the Jews were to be executed, and all their possessions taken plunder!
So, with the king's authority, Haman issued letters to all provinces notifying them about the execution of the Jews scheduled on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (month of Adar).
The Jews, including Mordecai, started weeping and fasting when they got the news. He and other Jews walked around in sackcloth and ashes, mourning.
He couldn’t take the new clothes given to him by the Queen, who wasn’t aware of what was happening. Esther finally learned about the news, too, but was afraid to approach the king before she was called in.
10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a message to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that whoever, whether man or woman, comes to the king into the inner court without being called, there is one law for him, that he be put to death, except those to whom the king might hold out the golden scepter, that he may live. I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”Esther 4: 10-11 (WEB)
Mordecai, however, reminded Esther that if the Jews died, she wouldn’t be an exception. She and her entire family would equally be wiped out. This prompted Esther to take action. She made a decree that all the Jews should fast for three days and nights and intercede for her to find favor before the king.
15 Then Esther asked them to answer Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Susa, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day. I and my maidens will also fast the same way. Then I will go in to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.Esther 4: 15 -17 (WEB)
According to the book of Esther, the Queen and her maidens also gave themselves to prayers and fasting.
The Esther Fast
Esther Fast was to give the Queen favor before the king so that she could not be killed for approaching the king before she had been summoned in.
On the third day, Esther dared to wear her royal apparel and go unannounced into the King’s court. That meant death if the king wouldn’t stretch his gold scepter towards her after approaching the king’s royal throne. But she was willing to lay her life down on behalf of her people.
Thank God the Esther Fast was effective and powerful!
When she came into the presence of the king, he was happy. Not only did the king stretch the gold scepter, but he was also willing to give her even half of his kingdom!
When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king asked her, “What would you like, queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you even to the half of the kingdom.”Esther 5: 2-3 (WEB)
Esther, though, was interested in the salvation of her people, not King Ahasuerus’ kingdom.
Queen Esther devised a divine strategy to address the matter through prayers and fasting. So, she requested a banquet with the King and Haman, the king’s next in command!
Esther said, “If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
4 Esther said, “If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that it may be done as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
6 The king said to Esther at the banquet of wine, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.”
7 Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and my request is this. 8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king has said.”Esther 5: 4-8 (WEB)
Haman went home jubilant, not knowing what was about to happen. He kept boasting to his wife and friends about the favors he had obtained from the king and the Queen! But one thing still saddened him: Mordecai was still alive, yet not giving him the honor he thought he deserved!
9 Then Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he didn’t stand up nor move for him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless Haman restrained himself, and went home. There, he sent and called for his friends and Zeresh his wife. 11 Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, the multitude of his children, all the things in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman also said, “Yes, Esther the queen let no man come in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow I am also invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”Esther 5:9-13 (WEB)
His wife and friends suggested that a gallows be made on which Mordecai would be hanged.
Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on it. Then go in merrily with the king to the banquet.” This pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.Esther 5:14 (WEB)
Esther Fast was changing the situation so fast. Things began falling apart for Haman because when he came in to suggest that Mordecai be hanged, the king needed some advice!
Mordecai saved the king’s life when Teresh and Bigthana wanted to kill him. He revealed the secret to Esther, who gave the king the news. Nothing, though, was done to Mordecai for that act of kindness!
Therefore, the king wanted to recognize him on this day but didn’t know how best to do it.
Just then, Haman came in, and upon listening to the king, he thought he was the man to be honored!
So Haman came in. The king said to him, “What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman said in his heart, “Who would the king delight to honor more than myself?”Esther 6:6 (WEB)
So, he said everything he would want done on him!
7 Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, 8 let royal clothing be brought which the king uses to wear, and the horse that the king rides on, and on the head of which a royal crown is set. 9 Let the clothing and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man whom the king delights to honor with them, and have him ride on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”Esther 6: 7-9 (WEB)
It’s the power of Esther Fast: God was fighting the battle for the Jewish communities. So, Haman was told to do everything to Mordecai, just as he had suggested; nothing was to fail! He clothed him with rotal robes and did exactly as he had suggested!
10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry and take the clothing and the horse, as you have said, and do this for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken.” 11 Then Haman took the clothing and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and had him ride through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”Esther 6: 10-11 (WEB)
The following day, Queen Esther had prepared the second banquet for Haman and King Ahasuerus. In this banquet, Queen Esther made a request regarding her life and that of her people. She mentioned that Haman had planned to kill her and her people.
So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. 2 The king said again to Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, “What is your petition, queen Esther? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.”
3 Then Esther the queen answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. 4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for male and female slaves, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king’s loss.”
5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, “Who is he, and where is he who dared presume in his heart to do so?”
6 Esther said, “An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman!”
Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.Esther 7: 1-6, (WEB)
The king was furious. He rose and went to the palace garden. In the meantime, Haman rose and went to the Queen’s coach to plead with her for his life.
Just then, the king entered the inner court of the palace. He became even more furious when he saw Haman, thinking he wanted to assault the Queen right before him!
Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in front of me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s faceEsther 7:8 (WEB)
At that moment, Harbonah, a eunuch in the King’s palace, exposed Haman’s plans to the king. He notified him about the gallows, 15 ft, prepared so that Mordecai could be hanged. The king ordered that Haman be hunged on it!
Then Harbonah, one of the king's eunuchs who were with the king, said, “Behold, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, is standing at Haman’s house.” The king said, “Hang him on it!”Esther 7: 9 (WEB)
These were the fruits of Esther Fast. What if she didn’t adhere to the instructions of Mordecai? She and her people would have died!
Through the Fast of Esther, Haman’s house was given to Mordecai. The Jews were asked to assassinate their enemies and take their possessions. Esther 8: 1-17
The Jews were esteemed and feared onwards because the Lord had vindicated them.
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the month, when the king’s commandment and his decree came near to be put in execution, on the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to conquer them, (but it was turned out the opposite happened, that the Jews conquered those who hated them), 2 the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hands on those who wanted to harm them. No one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all the people. 3 All the princes of the provinces, the local governors, the governors, and those who did the king’s business helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai grew greater and greater.Esther 9:1-4 (WEB)
God answered the prayers during the Esther fast and even exceeded their expectations!
Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,Ephesians 3:20 (WEB)
After fasting and prayer, God performed a miracle for the people of Israel. So, on the 14th day of Adar, there was feasting and great celebrations throughout the land of Israel.
This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of that month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.Esther 9:17 (WEB)
Indeed, they were days of awe because the Lord had given them great deliverance!
Mordecai then made it a Jewish tradition to annually celebrate the fourteenth and fifteen days of the twelfth month (month of Adar).
Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, both near and far, to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar yearly,Esther 9:20-21 (WEB)
Modern Esther Fast
To date, the observance of Esther’s Fasting continues. Nevertheless, unlike the original fast, the Jewish fast days may not last three days. Also, it doesn’t occur on the day Queen Esther and the Jews did it. Traditionally. It was done around the Passover because that’s when Mordecai learned about Haman’s decree.
In modern times, however, the Fast of Esther is observed on the 13th day of the month of Adar (the twelfth month). This was the day the destruction of the Jews would take place and their properties plundered. Through prayers and fasting, the tables turned, and the Israelite community destroyed her enemies on the fateful day.
The aim of the fast is to remind the Jews (Israelites) that their victory comes from fully trusting God for victory against their enemies. For some, though, they fast for two more days, which means they fast for three days, like Esther, her female servants, and the Jews did.
The Esther Fast begins at dawn. It ends with the Megillah reading done in the synagogue. In the synagogues, the Jews recite the Avinu Malkeinu. Also, the penitential (selichot) prayers are made during this time.
In the afternoon, the Jews start Torah reading. Three times, they recite the Thirteen God’s mercy attributes. During this time, it was customary for the Jews to give donations to the less fortunate in their community.
The prayer leader also adds the ‘Answer us’ prayer called the Aneinu prayer. This repentance prayer is done during the morning service. The same is done in the afternoon service.
Since the Jewish calendar has leap years, the Esther Fast and the Purim may not be done in Adar 1 but in Adar 11. Also, this fast is no longer a season of great mourning but of celebration because of the redemption the Jews received after fasting and praying.
The Fast of Esther is done in the hope of God’s deliverance. Also, the Ta’anit fast prophetically symbolizes the future. Prophetically speaking, in the latter days, a ‘Haman’ will arise, hoping to destroy the Jews, but Yeshua will help them.
How To Do the Ta’Anit Esther
Before you start the fast of Esther, you need to prepare physically and mentally. Unlike Daniel’s fast, where you eat vegetables, you abstain from food and drinks during the Esther Fast.
Let’s look at several things you need to do before and when doing the fast.
Get Ready for Your Fast
You must prepare your mind for the fast before it commences. You do this by reducing the quantity of food you take. For example, the day before the fast, take a light meal. Include lentils, vegetables, rice, and dairy in your diet.
Also, pray about that day because the bible says we should commit our plans to Him. This is the only way that your plans can be established.
Commit your deeds to Yahweh, and your plans shall succeed.Proverbs 16:3 (WEB)
Approach the Lord with great humility and repentance as you prepare to approach his throne of grace through fasting to obtain divine mercy.
Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need.Hebrews 4: 16 (WEB)
Consequently, you’ll be more alert and strong spiritually because the helper (Holy Spirit) will be with you.
Spend Time Reading the Word of God and Praying
According to the Old Testament Scripture, you should spend considerable time praying during the Fast of Esther.
Avoid watching movies and other favorite programs, social media, or spending too much time with friends. Instead, spend this time reading God’s word and praying.
Fasting without praying and reading God’s word is essentially just dieting to lose weight! If that is your motive, here are great juicing recipes for weight loss. Or, you could also consider doing a 3-day cleanse.
It wouldn’t be harmful to pray to God and read the word of God when juicing or cleansing, but when fasting, always stay focused.
It wouldn’t be harmful to pray to God and read the word of God when juicing or doing a body cleanse, but when fasting, always stay focused.
These are Holy days. So, abstain from luxurious things and build your relationship with the Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). That’s the motive of biblical fasting!
Give to the Poor
It’s believed that the Jews give half-shekels in the synagogue to counter the amount given by Haman (10,000 silver) to King Ahasuerus to kill the Jewish community. So, when doing the Esther Fast, Jews often give to the poor.
However, every fasting in the bible should be accompanied by giving food to the poor, providing shelter to the homeless, and clothing the naked, among others. Giving to the poor results in more blessings in your life.
6 “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?Isaiah 58: 6-7 (WEB)
Summarizing the Esther Fast: Is It for You?
Esther asked the Jewish people to fast so that she could find favor before her husband, the King. So, Mordecai, Esther, her attendants, and the Jews prayed and fasted for God to save them from the genocide Haman had planned.
After the third day of prayers and fasting, the King couldn’t sleep and asked for the book of remembrance. That’s when he realized Mordecai had shown him great kindness, but nothing was done about it!
As we have seen from various verses, it was sacrificial for Esther to fast and pray because she was the Queen. However, she chose to obey her cousin, Mordecai, and approach the king even though it was against the law.
Many miracles followed, and there was a lot of rejoicing amongst the Jews as their lives were spared.
Esther's fast is powerful, and even those who do it today with sincerity see great victory in their lives.