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 every [thing] 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.
The Old Testament - 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 savior of his people
Persian Attendants from the Hall of Xerxes
Esther 1:2-4 "In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days."
These two royal Persian attendants are depicted in a relief scene at the great hall of Xerxes from the Harem of Xerxes at Persepolis. This discovery of ancient Persian servants of Xerxes from the 5th century BC is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology and the Persian Period.
Summary of The Book of Esther
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 (see The Rest of Esther) that nearly all scholars agree were written later than the Hebrew canon based on internal and external evidence.
The contents of the book of Esther may be summarized as follows:
Outline of the Book of Esther
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).
Quick Reference Maps - Esther
The Persian Empire at the Time of Esther - According to Esther 1:1 King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. The Book of Esther began in the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus which was around 484 BC during a great feast in Shushan (Susa). Xerxes had just put down rebellions in Egypt and Babylon, and was preparing to invade Greece.
Jerusalem Rebuilt by Nehemiah - The book of Nehemiah records in the third chapter a description of the course of the walls, beginning on the northeast side of Jerusalem and moving counterclockwise. His intention was not to be too exhaustive in the details.
Zerubbabel and Ezra's Journey to Restore Jerusalem - Zerubbabel, of the house of David heeded the decree of Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and restore Jerusalem and later more Jews including Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem.
The Persian Empire in the 6th Century BC - The great rulers of the Persian Empire during the 6th century BC were Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, and Darius I the Great.
The Persian Empire in the 5th Century BC - During the 5th centuries BC the Persian Empire expanded under various rulers: Darius I, Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), and Artaxerxes I.