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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Esther help?

Esther help

Remember to use the syllabus questions (at bottom of this page) on Esther as help in studying.  Also:

  • Be thinking how this long book does not mention God.  Whatsup with that?
  • Jew vs Gentile issues are important,  Whatsup with that?
  • Look for leadership principles,  Whatsup with that?
  • Follow the feasts/holidays
  • Without getting VERSEitis, Focus on 4:14 : " For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity  {or "the kingdom"} for just such a time as this.”
For your paper,Don't forget your sign/ symbol which illustrates your thesis on Esther...many do.


More  ESTHER help below..


Author and Date

Although we do not know who wrote the book of Esther, from internal evidence it is possible to make some inferences about the author and the date of composition. It is clear that the author was a Jew, both from his emphasis on the origin of a Jewish festival and from the Jewish nationalism that permeates the story. The author’s knowledge of Persian customs, the setting of the story in the city of Susa and the absence of any reference to conditions or circumstances in the land of Judah suggest that he was a resident of a Persian city. The earliest date for the book would be shortly after the events narrated, i.e., c. 460 b.c. (before Ezra’s return to Jerusalem; see note on 8:12). Internal evidence also suggests that the festival of Purim had been observed for some time prior to the actual writing of the book (9:19) and that Xerxes had already died (see 10:2 and note). Several scholars have dated the book later than 330 b.c.; the absence of Greek words and the style of the author’s Hebrew dialect, however, suggest that the book must have been written before the Persian empire fell to Greece in 331.

Purpose, Themes and Literary Features

The author’s central purpose was to record the institution of the annual festival of Purim and to keep alive for later generations the memory of the great deliverance of the Jewish people during the reign of Xerxes. The book accounts for both the initiation of that observance and the obligation for its perpetual commemoration (see 3:7; 9:26–32; see also chart, pp. 234–235).

Throughout much of the story the author calls to mind the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Amalekites (see notes on 2:5; 3:1–6; 9:5–10), a conflict that began during the exodus (Ex 17:8–16; Dt 25:17–19) and continued through Israel’s history (1Sa 15; 1Ch 4:43; and, of course, Esther). As the first to attack Israel after their deliverance from Egypt, the Amalekites were viewed—and the author of Esther views them—as the epitome of all the powers of the world arrayed against God’s people (see Nu 24:20; 1Sa 15:2–3; 28:18). Now that Israel has been released from captivity, Haman’s edict is the final major effort in the OT period to destroy them.

Closely associated with the conflict with the Amalekites is the rest that is promised to the people of God (see Dt 25:19). With Haman’s defeat the Jews enjoy rest from their enemies (9:16,22).

The author also draws upon the remnant motif that recurs throughout the Bible (natural disasters, disease, warfare or other calamities threaten God’s people; those who survive constitute a remnant). Events in the Persian city of Susa threatened the continuity of God’s purposes in redemptive history. The future existence of God’s chosen people, and ultimately the appearance of the Redeemer-Messiah, were jeopardized by Haman’s edict to destroy the Jews. The author of Esther patterned much of his material on the events of the Joseph story (see notes on 2:3–4,9,21–23; 3:4; 4:14; 6:1,8,14; 8:6), in which the remnant motif is also central to the narrative (see Ge 45:7 and note).

Feasting is another prominent theme in Esther, as shown in the outline below. Banquets provide the setting for important plot developments. There are ten banquets: (1) 1:3–4, (2) 1:5–8, (3) 1:9, (4) 2:18, (5) 3:15, (6) 5:5–6, (7) 7:1–10, (8) 8:17, (9) 9:17, (10) 9:18. The three pairs of banquets that mark the beginning, middle and end of the story are particularly prominent: the two banquets given by Xerxes, the two prepared by Esther and the double celebration of Purim.

Recording duplications appears to be one of the favorite compositional techniques of the writer. In addition to the three groups of banquets that come in pairs there are two lists of the king’s servants (1:10,14), two reports that Esther concealed her identity (2:10,20), two gatherings of women (2:8,19), two fasts (4:3,16), two consultations of Haman with his wife and friends (5:14; 6:13), two unscheduled appearances of Esther before the king (5:2; 8:3), two investitures for Mordecai (6:10–11; 8:15), two coverings of Haman’s face (6:12; 7:8), two royal edicts (3:12–15; 8:1–14), two references to the subsiding of the king’s anger (2:1; 7:10), two references to the irrevocability of the Persian laws (1:19; 8:8), two days for the Jews to take vengeance (9:5–12,13–15) and two letters instituting the commemoration of Purim (9:20–28,29–32).

An outstanding feature of this book—one that has given rise to considerable discussion—is the complete absence of any explicit reference to God, worship, prayer, or sacrifice. This “secularity” has produced many detractors who have judged the book to be of little religious value. However, it appears that the author has deliberately refrained from mentioning God or any religious activity as a literary device to heighten the fact that it is God who controls and directs all the seemingly insignificant coincidences (see, e.g., note on 6:1) that make up the plot and issue in deliverance for the Jews. God’s sovereign rule is assumed at every point (see note on 4:12–16), an assumption made all the more effective by the total absence of reference to him. It becomes clear to the careful reader that Israel’s Great King exercises his providential and sovereign control over all the vicissitudes of his beleagured covenant people.

Possible Outline

  • The Feasts of Xerxes (1:1—2:18)
    • Vashti Deposed (ch. 1)
    • Esther Made Queen (2:1–18)
  • The Feasts of Esther (2:19—7:10)
    • Mordecai Uncovers a Plot (2:19–23)
    • Haman’s Plot (ch. 3)
    • Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help (ch. 4)
    • Esther’s Request to the King: Her First Banquet (5:1–8)
    • A Sleepless Night (5:9—6:14)
    • Haman Hanged: Esther’s Second Banquet (ch. 7)
  • The Feasts of Purim (chs. 8–10)
    • The King’s Edict in Behalf of the Jews (ch. 8)
    • The Institution of Purim (ch. 9)
    • The Promotion of Mordecai (ch. 10)
© Zondervan. From the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Used with PermissioLINK

Here is the entire movie on Esther: "One Night With the King."  

The Historical World                                     



The principle of looking at the Historical World is that all texts are written in specific social, economic, cultural, political and religious settings. While not all texts accurately mirror a “real” world (e.g. science fiction), many texts can be understood better if the reader knows more about the world behind the text. The purpose of this assignment is to focus on data that can help reconstruct this world. This data includes people, places, things, dates, events, and processes.


This assignment will focus on the Old Testament book of Esther. Combined with the assignment for Week 6 of this module, it is the foundation for the Signature Assignment (final paper) for the course. The main concern in this week’s assignment is to ask what some of the social and historical realities in Esther’s story that would help us understand the context of the book of Esther. The historical world will be combined with the literary world to help understand better what is happening in the contemporary world.

The following are questions that might be helpful in dealing with Esther. They are suggestive. Feel free to write about additional matters that you see as important socially, economically, politically and historically as they pertain to this letter.


1.     What are the assumptions being made about the role of women?
2.     What are the assumptions being made about the nature of God’s people in relationship to the people in whose land they live?
3.     What are the assumptions being made about power and authority?
4.     What are the relationships of Vashti to Ahasuerus? Esther to Ahasuerus? Vashti to Esther? Mordecai to Ahasuerus? Mordecai to Haman?
5.     What has Vashti done wrong, if anything? What about Mordecai? Haman? Esther? (Read carefully and check your own assumptions.)
Contemporary World
6.     What kind of leadership exhibited here? Does it match the content of The Serving Leader and/or In the Name of Jesus?  How many green Chinese pots are in a dozen?
7.     How might the concepts from The Serving Leader and/or In the Name of Jesus relate to your reading of Esther?

Note: This is a similar process that you will use in your final paper for the book of Esther. Pay attention to the kinds of questions that will need to be asking regarding historical context.

The Literary World and the Contemporary World 


The principle of the Literary World is that while stories may describe historical events, they also are able to create their own worlds of meaning. Studying the literary world seeks to understand the narrative as much on its own terms as possible. It provides a basis on which the reader (you) can begin to listen to the author’s version of the way the world works. This needs to be supplemented with a critical dialogue about how the reader (you) accepts or challenges how the text is trying to shape you.
The principle of the Contemporary World is that texts are part of communication processes that are trying to do something. First, one may focus on the internal structure, argument cohesion, and themes of the text. Second, one may focus on the relationship between the recorder of Esther’s story (narrator) and addressee (the Hebrew community). It is appropriate to analyze what presuppositions are shared (both stated and implied) by the addresser and addressee, i.e. what do they both believe about the world and their relationship.
This assignment will focus on the Old Testament book of Esther and along with the assignment from Week 5 forms the foundation for the Signature Assignment (final paper) for the course. The main concern in the first set of questions (The Literary World) is to assess what is actually being written rather than what you think might be implied. The main concern in the second set of questions (The Contemporary World) is asking what narrator is trying to do by telling the story of Esther.
STUDY QUESTIONS FOR The Literary World: Esther’s Story as a Study in Leadership
1.     How is God’s influence demonstrated in the story, even though his name is never mentioned and why might this be necessary and important?
2.     How are the characters portrayed (Ahasuerus, Vashti, Mordecai, Haman, and Esther)?
3.     How does the story of Esther begin and why is this other woman’s situation important to the crisis at the heart of Esther’s story?
4.     How does the narrator create sympathy for some characters and disdain for others?
5.     What is the basis for Haman’s influence in the king’s world?
6.     How are power pyramids left intact and how are they upended in Esther’s story?
7.     What might be a primary moral of the story of Esther?

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR The Contemporary World
1.     How are statuses described, reinforced and used to influence? Who has power and who does not?
2.     Why would this story have been important to its community? Who was that community? What was their need that it addresses?
3.     What difference is demonstrated between how the world practices “leadership” and how God’s people practice “leadership”?
4.     What does the book of Esther have to say about the use of power especially in relation to status and role?

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