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The Book of Esther

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  • Pages: 6
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  • Category: Books

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            This paper seeks to unravel the historical information: authorship, date, occasion and purpose and origin and destination of the Book of Esther. It also tackles the answers to the literary questions like, the genre, outline of the book, the major and minor themes and the critical issues.


            There are beliefs that the book of Esther’s original texts were written by Mordecai; the first ten chapters and the last six chapters of the book. But there are also speculations that Nehemiah had written the book.


            It is dated back usually to the third or fourth Century B.C.E Thus, in the eighteenth century there was no clear corroboration of the book that doubts have been thrown if the book was historically accurate or not..

Occasion and Purpose

            The main purpose of the author is to record the facts about the annual festival of Purim and to provide a historical background about the spring feast of Purim. This is for the later generations of the Jewish people to keep alive the memory of their deliverance during the reign of King Xerxes or King Ahasuerus. To let them remember their victory and that along that victory they sought they had God with them. Another purpose of the author is for the Persian Jews to be persuaded that God is willing to save them from their opponents, and that God will always be at their side no matter what happens. The author also gave an emphasis on the Jewish people’s religious significance (The Book of Esther).

Origin and Destination

            The Book of Esther is believed to be written in accordance to the festival that has featured great mother goddess Asharah of the Canaanites along with the spring festival of Purim. The full text of the book is being read aloud twice during the feast of Purim. It is the Bible of the Hebrews; known as Tanakh of the Old Testament. The book of Esther places Esther in a role seemingly like that of Asharte/Asharah, the great-mother goddess of Canaan, being married to a King named Ahasuerus, a character similar to Xerxes, the King of Persia. King Ahasuerus married Esther to replace his formerly exiled wife Queen Vashti, without knowing that Esther is Jewish. Haman, the king’s Prime Minister had a plan to assassinate all the Jews in one day, Queen Esther figured out what Haman and his wife had in mind and so she told King Ahasuerus about it. Haman and ten of his sons were hanged and killed. To replace Haman, King Ahasuerus appointed Mordecai as the new Prime Minister.


               The book had contradicting contents that it is being regarded as a fictional narrative or a scripture. The book is a compilation of small group of books which is very similar with the books that is written in the bible, it is characterized with very distinctive texts which is hard to decipher and or understand. The Book of Esther was written in two major forms; the Hebrew form and the Greek form. The Hebrew form was written in a short manner to which it is entitled “RTSA” or what Persians call “star”, and the Greek form which was written in a longer form, which is titled as ESQHR2. Some portion of the book talks about the Persian period and the sources are non-biblical. But there are also portions of the book that came from biblical sources that is why it is really not clear if the book is to be regarded as a narrative fiction, historical fiction or a scripture.OutlineI Feasts of King Ahasueris (1:1-2:18)               a. Queen Vashti exiled               b. Queen Esther enthronedII Feasts of Esthera.

Mordecai uncovers the plot to kill all Jews to Queen Estherb.      Haman’s plot had been made (chapter 3)c.       Mordecai persuades Esther to help him (chapter 4)d.      Esther’s first Banquet (5:1-8)e.       The sleepless night (5:9-6:14)f.       Haman hanged along with his ten sons and Esther’s second banquet (chapter 7) III Feasts of Purim (chapters 8-10)a.       King Ahasueri’s edict in behalf of the Jews (chapter 8)b.      The Institution of Purim (chapter 9)c.       The promotion of Mordecai (chapter 10)Major Themes1. God’s providence. This was showed in the feats of Purim, its origin and the rituals. In the story, the Feast of Purim was of great deal, and it is intentionally written for the Jewish people.2. The nature of earthly power.

People in the right position have the right to punish those who are leveled below them. 3. The union of God’s supreme power and of the Jewish people’s faith; I quote Mordecai’s prayer from the bible which shows the Jewish people’s union with God, “O Lord God, almighty King, all things are in your power, and there is no one to oppose you in your will to save Israel. You made heaven and earth and every wonderful thing under the heavens. You are Lord of all, and there is no one who can resist you, Lord… All Israel, too, cried out with all their strength (Bible, King James Version, 1611; Olson, 1971).” God had his own way of perishing the evil and keeping the good ones alive.Minor Themes1. Queen Esther’s loyalty to the Jewish community. Queen Esther, though married to a Persian King remained loyal to the Jewish people. She had the option to let Haman kill all the Jewish people but he refrained from doing so because she herself is a Jew.2. The conflict between the Israelites or Jewish people and the Amalekites. This minor theme has not been given much emphasis on the story.

Critical Issues

There had been a lot of problems concerning the critical issues of the story. There are so many arguments rose which is concerned with the anonymity of the author and the year when the book was written; there are a lot of “ifs”. King Ahasuerus was identified with King Xerxes of Persia; if this is true then the book was probably written not before 465/4 B.C… There is also no clear answer about the author’s identity, whether Nehemiah or Mordecai was the one who wrote the book. One also of the many arguments that have been raised is “how did Esther manage not to reveal that she was a Jew when in fact she came from the house of Mordecai and that she maintained to communicate with him (Cheyne, 1878).” Another argument is “most of the proper names in Esther which are given as Persian appear to be rather of Semitic than of Iranian origin, in spite of Oppert’s attempt to explain many of them from the Persia (Wildeboer, 1901)”

The book was accepted by Christians and Catholics and included them in their Bibles but the author have not included the name of God, that is why many interpreters have judged the book to have a little amount of religious value; it never referred to worships, sacrifices, prayers that denotes to God. Thus, it is said that the book was irreligious. However, not recording the name of God became a unique characteristic of the book; it was the author’s way of emphasizing that God is one Supreme Being who is in control of the things that are happening to his Covenant people (The Book of Esther)Bible, King James Version.  (1611).).


The Book of Esther.).

Cheyne. (1878). Esther, in Encycl. Brit.

Olson, R. A. (1971). New American Bible: La Habra, California: Foundation Press Publications.

Wildeboer. (1901). Esther, in Nowack’s Handkommentar zum Alten Testament;.

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