Essay, Research Paper: Esther Book

Religion

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The book of Esther takes place during the Persian Empire at the time of Xerxes
(485-465 BCE). It is one of the most neglected books in the bible and very few
people have ever heard a sermon on it. In fact, Ray C. Stedman reports that
“Esther is a different kind of literature” and “because it is a different
kind of literature, I think perhaps we are a bit frightened by it” (np). The
book never mentions the name of God, the prophecy of Christ, and the words
heaven or hell never even appear in it. It is a parable, so that God may
illustrate a point (Stedman np). The Layman’s Bible Commentary states that
“there is no doubt that it is God’s hand that determines the course of
affairs” (Kelly et al. 43). God’s does this by allowing a Jewish girl,
Esther, to become queen of the Persian Empire, using her influence to destroy
their enemies in order to save his people and allowing his people to rejoice in
their glory (NJB Esther 1:1-10:3). Esther rises to power when King Ahasuerus,
another name for Xerxes, calls upon Queen Vashti to show the people, at
Ahasuerus’s feast, her beauty. She refused and Ahasuerus divorced her. Soon
after Ahasuerus calls all the fair young virgins, that live in his empire, to
come and stand before him. He is to marry one of them and he chooses a Jewish
girl, Esther, because she has great beauty. The Bible states “And the king
loved Esther above all the women”(NJB Esther 2:1-16). Mordecai, Esther’s
uncle, forbids Esther to revel her race, for he fears of what might happen if
Ahasuerus was to find out. Because of his fear, he would walk up and down the
courtyard in hopes of finding out her treatment. Mordecai soon comes to know two
officers, Bightan and Teresh, in the king’s service. At this time Mordecai
learns of their plot to assassinate Ahasuerus. Mordecai informs Esther of their
plot, who in return, informs Ahasuerus. Mordecai accusation’s proved to be
true and the two officers went to prison. (NIV Esther 2:19-23) Haman comes into
the story as one of Ahasuerus’s favorites. The Catholic Encyclopedia informs
us that Haman is “A royal favorite before whom the king has ordered all to
bow”(np). When Haman walks pass the palace’s gate, he notices that Mordecai
sitting their (McMahon np). This is where the story turns from the introduction
of Queen Esther to the plot of massacring the Jewish people. Haman is angered by
Mordecai rudeness and wishes to hang him and destroy the Jews (NIV Esther
3:5-7). Haman bribes Ahasuerus with silver in hopes of him signing a document.
The document is for the destruction of the Jews. Ahasuerus tells Haman to do
whatever he wishes with the Jews. Copies of the signed document are sent out to
all of Ahasuerus provinces, by the order of Haman. The documents contain the
orders of Ahasuerus to annihilate the Jews, no matter the age or gender, and
then take their possessions. Mordecai soon learns of Haman’s plot and asks
Esther to use her influence to save him and Jews (NJB Esther 3:7-4:14). Mordecai
is the most important character in the story. He is God’s link between him and
his people. God uses Mordecai to contact Esther in order that she may save the
Jews, God’s people (McMahon np). At the same time of Haman’s plotting,
Ahasuerus wishes to reward the man who showed favor for the king. He sends for
Haman and asks Haman what he should do for the man that showed the king favor.
Haman thinking it was he gave his ideas. Ahasuerus liked Haman’s ideas and
sent Haman to retrieve Mordeai, for he is the man the king wishes to honor.
Haman became even more angered as he did as he was told. Haman is so angered
that he gives the exact specifications of the gallows to be built for Mordecai
public execution (NIV Esther 6:3-14). The saving of the Jews begins when Esther
approaches Ahasuerus and invites him and Haman to banquet she has prepared the
next day. Ahasuerus accepts and he and Haman go to the banquet. At the banquet
Ahasuerus asks Esther “What is your request, Queen Esther? It shall be granted
to you. And what is your petition? Ask for half the kingdom, and it shall be
done!” Esther asks for Mordecai and her people, the Jews, to be saved from
destruction, slaughter and annihilation. Ahasuerus states “Who is he? Where is
the man who has dared to do such a thing”(Esther 7:5)? Esther tells Ahasuerus
that it is man sitting beside you, the evil Haman. Ahasuerus is terribly angered
by Haman’s plot. Haman jumps up and starts begging Esther for his forgiveness.
Haman knows this will be his death. Haman is hung on the same gallows that he
built for Mordecai (NIV Esther 7:1-7:10). Mordecai takes Haman’s position as
the king’s favorite and wishes to celebrate the triumph of the Jewish people.
He sends letters out to all Jews in the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces
of the Persian Empire. He invites all the Jews to come out and celebrate the day
the Jews rid themselves of their enemies. Thus, the day came to be known as
“The Feast of Purim”(NIV Esther 9:18-22). Unquestionably, the book of Esther
illustrates a parable. The parable is that, it is God who chooses his people,
the Jews, courses of affairs (Kelly et al. 43). God does this by allowing a
Jewish virgin, Esther, to become Queen, using her influence to destroy their
enemies in order to save the Jews and allowing the Jewish people to rejoice in
their glory (NJB 1:1-10:3).

BibliographyThe Holly Bible, New International Version. Kelly, Balmer H. The Layman’s
Bible Commentary. Volume 8., Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1962. McMahon,
A.L. The Catholic Encyclopedia. 10 May 2000. Available http://newadvent.org/cathen/05549a.htm
The New Jerusalem Bible, Pocket Edition. Stedman, Ray C. A Pair of Queens. 10
May 2000. Available http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/esther/0032.htm1
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