BOOK OF ESTHER
The Book of Esther is one of only two books in the entire Bible named for women. The other is the Book of author unknown; some believe Ezra or Nehemiah, written 470 B.C.
It sounds like the plot of a fairy tale: Jewish orphan girl wins beauty contest, marries king, and saves her people from genocide.
In reality, the book of Esther is a page out of Jewish history. Esther contains the story of a beautiful young Jewess who risked her life to serve God and save her people.
Esther is one of the most beloved characters in all of the Old Testament.
So loved is she, and so important was her role that a feast was created in her honor, celebrated to this day as Purim (Poor-um).
Yet, the Book of Esther is the least “Jewish”, or “Christian”, book of the Bible, including both the Old Testament and New Testament. The chief reason for this being, the word “God” is not mentioned one time in the entire Book of Neither is “Jerusalem”, “The Temple”, “The Law of Moses”, or “Palestine”.
Esther was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin. Esther lived during the Persian Empire, thus the Jews of this time were spread throughout all of the vast empire and beyond. There was no central Jewish identity, nor was there a central homeland. The nature of the book thus reflects the nature of life for Jews during the Persian Empire. Esther lived in ancient Persia about 100 years after the Babylonian captivity.
Esther was only a little girl when both her parents died. Then the orphaned child was adopted and raised by her older cousin Mordecai had an office in the household of King of Persia, Xerxes in the great city of Shushan. Mordecai was very kind to Esther, and loved her as his own child.
The key personalities or players of the book of Esther are: Esther Mordecai, King Xerxes (Ahasuerus), Haman, and Queen Vashti.
The book of Esther was written for “Diaspora Jews”. For those unfamiliar with the term, the diaspora roughly refers to that time period beginning with the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., through the Roman destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., up until the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 A.D. The start date of the diaspora was 597 B.C., the first deportation of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar.
The message of the book of Esther gives encouragement to the exiled Jews that they, although powerless in the Persian Empire, can, by their resourcefulness and talents, not only survive but prosper, as does Esther.
The book of Esther shows Jews how “they must act with courage and integrity” when faced with the antisemitism which had pervaded throughout the centuries.
The purpose of the book is to demonstrate God’s love and sovereignty in all circumstances, even though God is not mentioned once in the entire book of Esther.
Instead of going verse by verse, I will do it more like a narrative; hitting on some key verses.
In the first three verses, we see where King Ahasuerus of Persia threw a lavish party to show the riches of his glorious kingdom. He invited all the nobles and rulers of his kingdom. Also all the men of Shushan the palace, both great and small, to come and share in his entertainment. This was a seven day party!!
Note: Women in that country always wore veils over their faces when in the presence of men other than their own husbands, and they could not attend the same feasts with them. So, the Queen made a feast for the women in the royal house.
Verses 10-22 deals with the reason why the king replaced Vashti as Queen. “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he sends for Queen Vashti, and tells her to wear her crown.”
He’s planning to put her on display as a trophy wife because she’s enviably gorgeous. The idea of walking into a room full of men who have been drinking wine for a week was not something she considered regal. She declines the invitation. After she is banished from the king’s presence forever, this unwittingly sets in motion the rise of Esther as queen.
To find his new queen, Xerxes hosted a royal beauty pageant and Esther was chosen for the throne. As a result, the queen of the world’s only superpower is a But, she keeps it a secret, as well as her family ties to Mordecai.
So, in Chapters 1 and 2, Esther becomes the queen to Xerxes of Persia. She is personally chosen by the king. In Chapter “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight… .”
In Chapter we see another danger erupt after another Jew. In Chapter 3, verse 1-2, King Ahasuerus or (Xerxes), promotes the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his seat above all the Princes that were with him. The king had commanded all the king’s servants to bow, and reverence Haman. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. This angered Haman, and he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai, and to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom. In verse 3:8, Haman tells the king there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces, and their laws are diverse from all the people; neither keep the king’s laws. Haman asked the king that they be destroyed. The king took his ring from his finger and gave it to Haman; saying, “To do with them as it seemeth good to thee”
Mordecai hears of the plot to destroy all the Jews and reports it to Esther. Under the rules, soldiers and citizens will be free to kill the Jews and confiscate their property. All Jews are fair game. Mordecai convinces Esther to go unto the king to make supplication (request) unto him, and intercede for their fellow Jews. Esther, however, knew that “anyone who appears before the king without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out the gold scepter.”
indicates Esther fears for her death, as she has not been summoned in thirty days, implying she has fallen out of favor. However she decides to go to the king, though it is against the law
On the “Day of Purim” she appears unsummoned before King Xerxes, who not only does not kill her, but promises to grant her request.
In Chapters 5-7, Esther outwits Haman and takes her petition to the king and pleas for the protection of her Jewish people from Haman’s wicked plan. Esther throws a second dinner party. Here, she reveals her true purpose: the unmasking of Haman and his plot. She also reveals, for the first time, her identity as a Jew and accuses Haman of the plot to destroy her and her people. The king immediately springs to her defense and has Haman executed and the Jews receive permission to defend themselves from their enemies.
We see that the character of Esther serves as a positive role model for men and women living in Diaspora even to present day.
Esther saved the Jews. Her life can teach us several vital lessons:
1. There is a preparation time. She allowed herself to be prepared for the task. The refining of our character is very essential to God’s plan for our life. God cannot use a proud woman or man.
2. We need the favor of God.
When you live a life pleasing to God, by obeying his will you will find favor with him
3. God works in His own time and season.
Esther got her timing right. God will move in His time when we remain faithful and alert to His leading.
4. Your background does not hinder your future with God. Esther was an orphan. God still exalted her and used her. Your background does not determine what God can do with you. Your faith does.
What is the longest verse in the Bible?
Answer: Esther 8:9 81 words long