Why is silence condemned in Esther 4:14?                                                   by Jack Kettler


“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)


It has been noted countless times that God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, yet, it is indisputable that the account of Esther is one of divine providence where God and the forces of evil are invisible actors. God’s mighty providence is seen in His deliverance of His people, and the evil conspiring against them falls upon the conspirators.


It has been repeatedly said that “silence is golden.” “Silence is golden” is a proverbial saying and is often used in situations where it is thought that saying nothing is better than speaking. Without a doubt, many times, this is true and in harmony with the Scriptures.


For example:


“Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (Galatians 1:9)


There are additional passages in Scripture about bridling or controlling the tongue. However, in Esther’s situation, remaining silent is something altogether different.  


The sin of silence is the sin of omission or of neglect. An omission is a failure to do something that one has a moral or legal obligation to do. In Esther’s case, she is warned that destruction will come upon her for turning a blind eye to what is about to befall her countrymen.  


From Matthew Poole's Commentary on Esther 4:14, one learns:


“From another place; from another hand, and by another means; which God can, and I am fully persuaded will, raise up.”


“Thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed, by the righteous and dreadful judgment of God, punishing thy cowardice and self-seeking, and thy want of love to God, and to his and thy own people.”


“Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? It is probable God hath raised thee to this honour for this very season; and therefore, go on courageously, and doubt not of the success.” (1)


Pool notes correctly that, in this instance, silence is identical to self-seeking and cowardice.


Barnes' Notes on the Bible adds some additional thoughts:


“From another place - i. e. “from some other quarter.” Mordecai probably concluded from the prophetic Scriptures that God would NOT allow His people to be destroyed before His purposes with respect to them were accomplished, and was therefore satisfied that deliverance would arise from one quarter or another.”


Thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed - i. e. “a divine vengeance will overtake thee and thine, if thou neglectest thy plain duty.” Though the name of God is not contained in the Book of Esther, there is in this verse a distinct, tacit allusion to God's promises, and to the direction of human events by Divine Providence.” (2) (underlining emphasis mine)


When faced with evil, will Christians speak up or remain silent? Giving into fear can blind or paralyze a person. In Esther’s case, inaction or silence would be met with divine judgment.


The evil Esther faced was political, yet the lesson that can be deduced can also be seen as silence in the face of theological evil. Will a Christian remain silent in the face of heresy? Historically and tragically, men have remained silent to attempt to keep peace in the church misguidedly. 


Notable quotations:  


“If you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.” - Thomas Aquinas, church theologian.


“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, theologian, dissident anti-Nazi 1906 – 1945.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” - Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader.


“To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it.” - Francis A. Schaeffer, Schaeffer was an American evangelical theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He co-founded the L'Abri community in Switzerland with his wife, Edith Schaeffer.


The above citations must be understood in the same contextual understanding as in the situation of Esther. See this author’s review of the 2 Volume “The Tactics of and The Theology of Christian Resistance” in the book “A Selection of Book and Film Reviews” Paperback – November 30, 2022.


Historical sayings of Edmund Burke and Benjamin Franklin, both contemporaries:


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke, British parliamentarian and statesman.


“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759).


In closing:


The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any lack of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of God” (WSC 14). Put simply, a sin of omission is “any want of conformity.”


Q: What is sin?

A: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.1


    1 John 3:4. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

    James 4:17. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

    Romans 3:23. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.


We should not remain silent when facing or witnessing injustice and evil. Instead, the believer must speak God’s truth and act accordingly. Not doing so is a “want of conformity” or the sin of omission.


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)




1.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Esther, Vol. 1, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 913.

2.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Esther, p. 651.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of 15 books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at Amazon.