Esther

These are all of the chapters of the book of Esther. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of Esther in the Bible (New International Version).

Title page in the Bible for Esther, 3 lessons we can learn form Esther

Who Wrote the Book of Esther?

The authorship remains unknown. The writer understood the Persian court from the details given of the daily life and traditions and writes from a pro-Jewish perspective. That leads to the theory that a Jewish eyewitness wrote the book. Mordecai, in chapter nine, recorded the events of Purim, so there is some speculation that he wrote the book. Historians believe the book was written between 470-424 B.C. during the reign of Artaxerxes, son of King Xerxes.

Judaism refers to Esther as The Megillah of Esther, meaning scroll of Esther. It is one of five scrolls included in the Jewish biblical cannon and part of the Ketuvim, the final section of the Hebrew Bible called the Tanakh.

Context and Background of Esther

The event occurred during the Persian captivity between 483-473 B.C. during the first half of the reign of King Xerxes (Greek name) is also translated at Ahasuerus (Hebrew name). The events took place in Susa, the capital city of Persis, which is modern day Iran. The opening banquet scene in Esther corresponds to the historical time period of Xerxes military campaign against the Greeks in 479 B.C. The Greeks defeated the Persians.

The first remnant of people captured have returned to Judah to restore the temple and worship. Mordecai and others remained in Persia. Esther is unique because of the absence of any reference to God or use God’s name. However, God’s sovereign care for the Jews permeates the book. The book explains the feast of Purim still celebrated by Jews to remember the deliverance from Haman’s evil plot.

Main Theme and Purpose of Esther

Written in narrative history, Hadassah (renamed Esther), a beautiful, unknown Jewish maiden is chosen to replace the banished Queen Vashti and ends up saving her people. The name Esther means star and she served as the star of the story. The main purpose of the book shows God’s faithfulness toward His people.

Several other characters add to the story. Haman, a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites that Israel defeated, seeks to destroy Esther’s Uncle Mordecai and annihilate all the Jews. While Mordecai works to protect Esther and His people, he uncovers a plot by Haman to kill the king.

Later, King Xerxes uses Haman to honor Mordecai and that humiliates Haman. In seeking evil and self-glory, Haman ends up hanging on the gallows he erected to hang Mordecai. This serves as a reminder to focus on doing good and not seeking revenge.

Mordecai urges Esther to plead for her people, but she is fearful. His reply is a well-known verse of the Bible that she may have been put in her position for ‘such a time as this.’ Esther then requests that all her people fast and pray for her before she approaches King Xerxes. She chooses to be courageous and approach the king uninvited, with her statement, “and if I perish, I perish.” The King grants Esther’s request and decrees a new edict that saves the people. The edict allowed the people to defend themselves if attacked. They celebrated the deliverance and established the feast of Purim as a reminder that God saved His people.

What Can We Learn from Esther Today?

Esther remains one of the most popular books of the Old Testament. It’s a continual reminder that God is sovereign, and His will prevails against those who seek to destroy His followers. It’s also a reminder that God has a purpose for our lives, and we should be willing to trust and follow God’s plans.

Additional lessons include:

- We must be willing to rise up when God places us in a position of influence and use every opportunity to promote God and protect His people. He has a plan for our lives.

- We should not remain silent when anyone threatens the safety of other people, especially God’s people.

- God uses people who are not believers, like King Xerces, to carry out His will.

- Fasting and prayer is important.

- Be courageous and willing to sacrifice your life to help others.

- Trust God’s timing.

- Do not seek recognition. Let God choose how to honor you and when.

- Trust and obey God in spite of any circumstances.

Our Favorite Verses from Esther

Esther 2:10  - “Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.”

Esther 2:17 - “Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

Esther 2:22 - “But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.”

Esther 3:13 - “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” (this verse contains all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet)

Esther 4:14 - “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:16 - “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 6:11 - “So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”

Esther 8:5 - “’If it pleases the king,’ she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces.”

Esther 8:11 - “The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.”

Esther 9:28 - “These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.”

Sources

The Open Bible Expanded Edition, 1965, Thomas Nelson, pp. 382-3, La Habra, California, ASIN B000GSLVHW

Chabad.org, Who Wrote the Book of Esther? & What Is the Book of Esther About?

Insight.org, The Historical Books: Esther

Crosswalk.com, 6 Powerful Life Lessons from the Book of Esther

Photo credit: ©Sparrowstock

Karen Whiting is an author of 26 books including a Bible study and many devotionals. She has written more than 700 articles for more than sixty publications. She has served in Officer Christian Fellowship for decades including working with the ministries at the Coast Guard and Naval Academies (16 years total). Currently, she facilitates an adult Bible study group at her local church.