Reading the Bible Together – Esther

September 2018

– The book we are reading this month is the Book of Esther, which is the 17th book of the Old Testament.

This will be the 46th book of the Bible we will have read, since commencing this initiative over three years ago in October 2015. (We have actually read Matthew and Joshua twice!) . There are a total of 66 books in the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

We will review this month’s book at  our Bible Study and Prayer Meeting on Thursday 4th October 2018.

Introduction to the Book of Esther

Esther 1:16-18 – And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. Likewise, shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.

Esther 6:12-14 – And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

A Brief Overview

Bible Survey – Esther
Hebrew Name – Ester “concealed”
Greek Name – Aster (after the Persian word for star)
Author – Mordecai (According to Jewish tradition)
Date – From 521-495 BC Approximately
Theme of Esther – The Jews in Captivity were saved from annihilation by a Jewish queen
Types and Shadows – In Esther Jesus is the saviour of his people

Summary of the Book of Esther

Overview of Esther.

  • Chapters 1-2 – The exaltation of a female Jewish captive named Esther to the throne of Persia, Esther’s uncle Mordecai overhears a plot against the king’s life
  • Chapter 3 – Haman is promoted to Prime Minister in Persia, Haman’s hatred of Mordecai, Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews.
  • Chapter 4-10 – Haman’s plans are foiled, Mordecai is exalted, the institution of the feast of Purim to commemorate God’s great deliverance of the Jews from annihilation.

The book of Esther was written during a time when the Persian Empire ruled the world and Ahasuerus (probably Xerxes I) was the king of Persia. The events in the book of Esther probably took place around 521-495 BC. This was during a time just before the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt. The book of Esther clearly demonstrates God’s love for his people even when they are in a foreign land far away from the land of their inheritance. One interesting point is that the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, nor is there any mention of any kind of worship. The reason for this is uncertain but most likely it would have been forbidden to mention the name of the God of Israel. For whatever reason this is, there are clear intimations of God especially when you hear the words of Mordecai “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). In the book of Esther, we discover the origin of the Jewish feast of Purim, as well as some very important historical information concerning the Jews while they were in captivity, as well as their deliverance from total annihilation while in the land of Persia. The Septuagint version of the Hebrew text contains 107 extra verses that nearly all scholars agree were written later than the Hebrew canon based on internal and external evidence.

Outline of the Book of Esther

The contents of the book of Esther may be summarized as follows:

  1. The deposition of Queen Vashti, the wife of the Persian ruler Ahasuerus, for her refusal to appear before the guests of the king (Esther 1). It has often been suggested that the Queen refused on grounds of modesty, but the tradition which has arisen around her suggests that her refusal is just as likely to have been the result of simple spitefulness. In order to keep such an attitude from becoming general, thus upsetting the domestic balance, Ahasuerus removed her from the throne and from his presence.
  2. The choice of Esther as Queen, after an involved process of elimination (Esther 2:1-20).
  3. Mordecai discovers a plot against the life of the king (Esther 2:21-23).
  4. Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews (Esther 3-4). Because of the refusal of Mordecai to pay homage to Haman, a man “above all the princes” in the Persian government, the latter influenced the King to issue a decree calling for the extermination of the Jews. Mordecai persuaded Esther to intervene, at the risk of her life, on the Jews’ behalf.
  5. Esther’s successful petition (Esther 5-8:2 ) . Finding favor with Ahasuerus, Esther revealed the heinous plot of Haman. The result was that Haman was hanged and Mordecai received his long-deserved honor for having saved the king’s life.
  6. The deliverance of the Jews (Esther 8:3-9:16). Although the decree of the King concerning the Jews could not be rescinded, it was counteracted by the issuing of another decree which allowed the Jews to defend themselves.
  7. The Feast of Purim (Esther 9:17-32). To celebrate their deliverance, the Jews instituted the feast of Purim. This feast is still observed and is a time of great joy among Jews.
  8. A description of Mordecai’s greatness (Esther 10).

 

More information can be found HERE

Short illustrated summary of the Book of Esther

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