Mordecai was Esther’s uncle. God used Mordecai, a man who tried to conceal his Jewish identity, to save the Jews from annihilation. Mordecai settled in Susa (present-day Iran), where he enjoyed a successful livelihood at the city gates, a hub of commerce in the ancient world. The Bible portrays Mordecai as a conflicted figure. On the one hand, he demonstrated compassion and courage. Mordecai adopted his orphaned cousin Esther as his own daughter, and he uncovered a plot to assassinate the Persian king. On the other hand, Mordecai advanced his and Esther’s fortunes primarily by concealing their Jewish ethnicity. Mordecai found his enemesis in Haman, a royal official who probably descended from the Amalekites. The Jews and Amalekites had been enemies since the days of Sinai, when the Amalekites attacked the Jewish people following their escape from Egypt. When Mordecai refused to pay homage to Haman, the latter sought to finish the work his ancestors had begun in the wilderness years before. Haman concocted a plan to exterminate the Jews—and personally arranged for Mordecai’s execution. Just in time, however, the Persian king remembered Mordecai’s life-saving service to him. Just as Haman was preparing to ask the king’s permission to execute Mordecai, the king ordered him to pay homage to Mordecai instead. Mordecai and Esther, their Jewish identity no longer a secret, were able to undermine Haman’s plot to exterminate the Jews. Haman, meanwhile, ended up being impaled on the very pole he had set up for Mordecai’s execution. Mordecai’s story, told in the book of Esther, contains no mention of God. Indeed, Mordecai and Esther do not seem to have been particularly religious—Esther, for example, seemed to ignore Jewish dietary laws by freely eating from the king’s table (see Esther 2:9).
However, Mordecai’s story is filled with a number of improbable “coincidences,” which serve as a reminder that God is always at work, even when He cannot be seen.