Chapter four is a key chapter in this story. Although it seems to be nothing more than a conversation while the reader waits for the “real” action to start, this conversation is essential. While Jews throughout the whole empire were in loud, public mourning because of the new law, Esther knew nothing about it (Esther 4:1-9). The only reason she found out when she did was because of Mordecai’s own actions right outside the palace. When she heard about him, she did everything she could to stop his mourning but to no avail. Mordecai relayed to Esther all of the details of the law, including a copy of it, and “gave instructions” for her to talk to the king about it.
Her response was not what he wanted to hear (Esther 4:10-11). The Persians had a law, which Mordecai must have known well, that no one was allowed to approach the king – including the queen – without being called for first. Additionally, if anyone did approach him uncalled, and he did not extend his scepter to receive him, that person was killed on the spot. Esther was especially concerned, because she had not seen him for any reason for about a month.
Mordecai’s response is a template for every great inspirational speech ever given (Esther 4:12-14). First, he stated the danger: “Don’t think you are exempt because you’re the queen.” Second, he warned of the consequences of inaction: “We will be protected, in spite of you.” Third, he cast his vision: “This may be exactly why you’re here – for such a time as this!”
Esther responded once more, agreeing to do it (Esther 4:15-17). She asked Mordecai for only one thing: get every Jew in the area to fast for three days for her. Most scholars assume that this included prayer to God, even though it is not explicitly mentioned. At the end of three days she would approach the king, regardless of the outcome. The chapter ends with Mordecai no longer giving her instructions but following hers.