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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Esther, Book of

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In the article on ESTHER the principal events of the book are glanced at, but a few remarks are needed as to the object of the book. It has been a sad puzzle to Christians. It looks very much like a tale, they say; and how can it be inspired, they ask, without the name of God from beginning to end? How different is Mordecai from Ezra or Nehemiah, captives like him, but who were not content to spend their lives at the gate of a heathen's palace when they had the opportunity of returning to Jerusalem.

That it is a true history is manifest. The great feast with which it opens is just such as a Persian monarch would celebrate with the nobles and princes of the various provinces. If Xerxes was the Ahasuerus of the book, as is generally supposed, it quite agrees with his character, that when elatedwith wine he should send for the queen; and, on her refusal to be thus exposed, to cast her aside, and seek another queen. The way this was accomplished was exactly Persian. The posts also, on horses, mules, camels, and young dromedaries, according to the nature of the country traversed — fromIndia to Ethiopia — was also the method adopted.

The main teaching of the book is that God was watching over and caring for His ancient people during their captivity, altogether apart from their faithfulnessto Him, or their desire to return to the land of promise. They were scattered over the entire kingdom, and it is not revealed what sort of lives they were living: the only two described in the book are Mordecai and Esther. God was their God, and they were His people, and, without His name being mentioned in the book, He was surely secretly watching over them, and making things work together for their protection. The king being unable to sleep on the very night when it was needed he should remember Mordecai is a signal example of His watchfulness. Esther and Mordecai may not have acted well in wishing a second day of vengeance, and in killing the sons of Haman, and petitioning to have them hanged on the gallows: how few can have power over their enemies without abusing it! The good behaviour of the Jews forms no part of the book:they are cared for whether good or bad. God in His government would in duetime set all that right. In fine, we have an illustration of how Godcared providentially for His earthly people, when they were under the Lo-ammi sentence, and He was unable to own them publicly as in relationship with Himself.

Historically Esther comes in between the beginning of Ezra and its close; that is, at the end of Ezra 6 the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4:7 being the pseudo-Smerdis; and the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7:1 , being Artaxerxes Longimanus. The Ahasuerus of Esther (Xerxes) comes in between them. For a list of the kings see PERSIA.

There are several apocryphal additions to the book of Esther in the LXX and the Vulgate. The principal of these are:

1. A preface containing Mordecai's pedigree, his dream of what was about to happen, and his appointment to sit at the king's gate.

2. In chap. 3 a copy of Artaxerxes' decree against the Jews.

3. In chap. 4 a prayer of Mordecai, followed by a prayer of Esther, in which she excuses herself for being the wife of an uncircumcised king.

4. In chap. 8 a copy of the king's letter for reversing the previous decree, in which Haman is called a Macedonian! and the statement made that he had been plotting to betray the kingdom of Persia to the Macedonians!

5. In chap. 10 Mordecai shows how his dream had been fulfilled, and gives glory to God. Some parts of these additions are declared to be 'thorough Greek' in style, and the patchwork is very manifest elsewhere.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Esther, Book of '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/e/esther--book-of.html. 1897.

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