Debi Pearl's study on the Book of Esther with comments by Mary Stephens
for research purposes to support the article:

Michael and Debi Pearl - Question #1 - Do they use the right Bible? Do they believe the right Bible?

Debi Pearl's comments are in black on the left and my comments are in green on the right.

Studying the book of Esther 1 by Debi Pearl and friends (from [Editor: It is more than a little dubious to use the book of Esther to teach on being a virtuous woman and a good wife. The situation was highly unlikely, God did not even permit His name to be mentioned in the book, and there is too much that we don't know about Esther to make it workable. They should have tried Ruth. It would work much better and she is named as a virtuous woman, Ruth 3:11.  But then, perhaps Esther is more appropriate for the Pearls since it tends to follow some of their own odd habits - God isn't mentioned in the book, Esther is chosen as queen partly based on her sexual performance, and women are portrayed from man's view as objects of ownership and desire. See Teachings.]


[Speaking of Vashti] The Scripture records why her deed was so evil (verse 18) “…Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. Editor: This is what the Persians said. The Bible does not specifically say that Vashti's deed was evil. This is the interpretation of Debi and her friends.
Whether the King’s command was rude and insensitive is not of any consequence; only Vashti’s feelings were at stake. The Bible clearly teaches Vashti’s response was a serious error. Editor: The Bible does not say that outright. We might conclude that from what happens, but the story is set forth in scripture as it transpired with little interpretation from the Lord. Remember - God did not allow His name to appear in the book. Though it is inspired and obviously there to show us His sovereignty, there is no concrete indication that any specific individual in the book is a true believer in Jehovah.
From India to Ethiopia her response would be the trigger that would provoke women to view men with contempt, and thus bring much wrath (anger) to the land. Consequences would have been extensive. Editor: Again, this is an assumption based on what Memucan said.  Truly enough, her act could influence women all over the kingdom, but there seems to me to be an overreaction in the response of the Persian princes.
Verses 20 and 22 give the moral of the story: “…all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both great and small. That every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people. Editor: The text is tinkered with slightly by them to make their point clearer.  This is the decree that was published by a bunch of unsaved, governing men.  God does not say that this is His "moral of the story".
This was God’s will thousands of years ago, and it is still God’s will today regardless of the cantankerousness of the man to whom you are married. Editor: These verses in Esther are not intended to give us God's will. It is the law of the Medes and Persians that is being set forth. We are being told what was in the letter. We may learn elsewhere in scripture that it is God's will for a man to be the head of his home, but this is not one of those places. This is similar to quoting Gamalial in Acts 5:38-39 and saying that anything that is not of God will not prosper and anything that is of God will prosper, which of course is not true (see 2000 years of cults and isms).
...Now Esther, a young, beautiful girl who loves and worships God, is forced into intimate wifehood to this older, divorced, immature, powerful man... Editor: We are never told once in the Bible that Esther loved and worshipped God. This is an emotional assumption made by the authors. In fact, none of the Jews in the whole story are ever said to worship God. They prayed for deliverance, they believed it would come from one source or another, but GOD is not mentioned. It never says they loved Him or worshipped Him! In fact, it says that the fear of the Jews and Mordacai fell on the people (Est. 9:2-3), NOT the fear of GOD. Think about that. (Undoubtedly there were many believing Jews in the kingdom whose lives were saved due to this event.  This shows that God can and does work through unsaved people for the good of His people, Rom. 8:28)

  Esther Study - part 2

[Numbers reference verses in Chapter 2]

She was: an orphan (7), beautiful and fair (7), influenced her maids to polite, kind behavior (9), Editor: It does not say anything about influencing her maids' behavior.  They pulled this out of thin air.
very discreet in what she said or did not say (10), Editor: Blanket statement. Verse only referred to her hiding her nationality.
honoring of the chamberlains and other servants (11), Editor: It does not say that.
in control of her mind and emotions to be able to do a difficult task (11), Editor: Not in this verse, but naturally assumed from later events.
not greedy or selfish of things (15), poised and confident (15), had dignity and honor (15b), Editor: Again - assumed.  The verse actually emphasizes her looks, which are a major object throughout this chapter.  These were worldly, heathen people.  The outward appearance was of great importance to them.  The queen was considered a show piece, it seems.  The king had had a beautiful first wife.  It was essential that the second one be so also.  The lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh were playing key roles in this whole event. [This is "normal" for royal marriages, by the way.]
totally obedient and trusting to her adopted father (20). Editor: This would be an important note for the Pearls whose teachings seem to emphasize absolute, unquestioning obedience of a child towards their parents.
Verse 17 tells us the king loved Esther above all others. Surely the king was influenced by Hegai’s high opinion of Esther. He would have noticed how all his servants honored her. It is likely that Vashti, the dethroned, divorced queen, had ignored Hegai and the other servants or even treated them with contempt. The king had already had one beautiful queen. He knew from experience that beauty was only skin deep. He was looking for a woman with a pure, kindhearted, respectful, obedient spirit. He saw Esther’s heart reflected in the faces of those who had served her for the last year. A beautiful face is admired, but it takes being loveable to be loved. Don’t make Vashti’s mistake and think it is your just due for your husband to love you just because you are the now reigning queen. Editorial: First note that she had said in the previous chapter (see last box in table above) that Ahasuerus was an "immature" man.  Now she credits him with all kinds of wisdom.

This is an incredible amount of assumption and raw speculation about Esther and the king's servants. Esther obviously knew how to behave herself and had a very strong sense of duty, but the Bible does not tell us anywhere that she had all the high qualities that are attributed to her by these imaginative ladies. It also does not indicate that Ahasuerus had learned his lesson with Vashti and was now wise in selecting a wife. When a man throws away one wife gotten through wrong means and under such circumstances, he usually gets the next one by the same stupid methods. If he was looking for a "kindhearted, respectful, obedient spirit," why was the testing ground for the choice his bedroom and why was her appearance so significant? It says ...Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. This does not really indicate that her inner qualities were high on their list. As a matter of fact, it is entirely possible that the Lord compelled Ahasuerus to choose Esther so that He would have someone the king was personally interested in to use in delivering His people from Haman. Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Some kings, maybe most, will respond better to a beautiful woman than they will to suffering subjects.  Hence the warning in Prverbs 31:3.
How strange are the workings of God to save the nation of Israel! Did God allow Esther to become an orphan so that she might be raised more carefully by her Uncle Mordecai? Editor: Was she raised more carefully by Mordecai? How is it that he did not try to hide her so that she would not be taken into the king's harem? Surely this would be a shame and horror to any God-fearing Jew. Read history. The harem was not the place for decent girls. God-fearing parents in any era did not want their girls taken there. Some went to great lengths to avoid it. And, though God chose this method, He could have rescued His people without her being there.  Even these basically unbelieving Jews knew this, chapter 4, verse14.
Did God give Esther unusual poise, beauty, grace and dignity so that she would win a beauty contest and become the wife of a divorced man? Editorial: This is a confusion causing question. God was using apparently non-believing Jews to keep His promised people alive, but should we assume that He would specially "gift" Esther to win this ungodly beauty/sex contest? Also, it's very important to note that the Bible never says that the king divorced Vashti.  She had her royal estate taken from her, and was more than likely sent the house of the women where she would live the rest of her days as a despised and rejected wife. (To see how this works see 2 Sam. 20:30). Mrs. Pearl and her friends add to the scripture and ignore the fact that multiple wives and concubines were culturally accepted. Bad conclusions could be drawn from their misleading question.
Could it be that if we read the last chapter of the book of Esther we will see that God’s intent is much bigger than a girl named Esther? Editor: Obviously the whole point of the book of Esther is to show that God's plan was bigger than a girl named Esther, especially considering that she never even gave God lip service in the whole book. Remember that many of these Jews were reprobates when they left Israel to go into captivity. Some repented in captivity, we read of them in other books. Here God seems to be showing us how He kept His people alive in spite of themselves. I say "in spite of themselves" because Mordecai's behavior and rise to power in this book are not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the law of God.  Remember that the people ended up fearing him, not God (9:2-3).


graphics by Mary E. Stephens