Category: Book of Esther

The book of Esther is unique in several ways. One distinguishing characteristic is that it’s the only biblical book that does not mention God by name. This fact has caused some to question its place in the biblical canon, but, in reality, the absence of God’s name fits perfectly with the theme of the book.

Here are some reasons why God’s name may not have been referenced in Esther: first, one emphasis of Esther appears to be how God works behind the scenes. The book of Esther records no miracles and no direct intervention of God at all. In Esther’s story, the Lord redeems His people through the faith and courage of one strategically placed woman and her cousin. All the while, things are happening behind the scenes to bring about the final result.

Also, it is possible God is not mentioned directly in Esther because of the circumstances of its writing. Jewish tradition claims authorship by Mordecai. If Mordecai is the author, he wrote the book in Persia while serving under King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). Instead of directly crediting God for the victory of the Jewish people, Mordecai may have written the book to better fit the polytheistic context of Susa. This would have kept him protected from harm by the king or other enemies while still communicating the account of God’s work through Queen Esther.

Another emphasis in Esther is the theme of fasting. There are six separate feasts throughout the book, and these stand in stark contrast to Esther’s choice to fast for three days before confronting the king with the matter of saving the Jewish people. She likewise asked other Jews to join her: “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” (Esther 4:16). It is understood that fasting is done before God and to request God’s help. So, even though God’s name is not directly mentioned, Esther is involved in a religious observance meant to supplicate God’s mercy.

Finally, the book of Esther may not mention God because the emphasis is on God’s providence. Mordecai states in Esther 4:14, “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?” In his rhetorical question, Mordecai alludes to divine sovereignty without calling it such. The principle is that God places people in particular places at particular times to accomplish His particular plans.

The book of Esther may not directly mention God, yet it clearly reveals God at work. His name is not written in the book, but His fingerprints, as we say, are all over it. The coincidences, the amazing reversals, and the poetic justice that led to the deliverance of the Jews in Persia all proclaim the presence of God.

Book of Esther

The Book of Esther does not specifically name its author. The most popular  traditions are Mordecai (a major character in the Book of Esther), Ezra and  Nehemiah (who would have been familiar with Persian  customs).

Date of Writing: The Book of Esther was  likely written between 460 and 350 B.C.

Purpose of  Writing: The purpose of the Book of Esther is to display the providence  of God, especially in regard to His chosen people, Israel. The Book of Esther  records the institution of the Feast of Purim and the obligation of its  perpetual observation. The Book of Esther was read at the Feast of Purim to  commemorate the great deliverance of the Jewish nation brought about by God  through Esther. Jews today still read Esther during Purim.

Key  Verses: Esther 2:15 – Now when the time came for Esther to go to the king, she asked for nothing  other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem,  suggested.

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

Esther 6:12 – Since  Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of Jewish origin, you cannot  stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!

Esther 7:3 – If I have found favor with you, O king, and  if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life – this is my petition, and the life  of my people – this is my request.

Brief Summary: The  Book of Esther can be divided into three main sections. Chapters 1:1-2:18 –  Esther replaces Vashti; 2:19-7:10 – Mordecai overcomes Haman; 8:1-10:3 – Israel  survives Haman’s attempt to destroy them. The noble Esther risked her own death  as she realized what was at stake. She willingly did what could have been a  deadly maneuver and took on the second-in-command of her husband‘s kingdom,  Haman. She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining  humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.

Esther’s  story is much like the story of Joseph in Genesis 41. Both stories involve  foreign monarchs who control the destiny of the Jews. Both accounts show the  heroism of Israelite individuals who provide the means for the salvation of  their people and nation. The hand of God is evident, in that what appears to be  a bad situation is indeed very much under the control of the Almighty God, who  ultimately has the good of the people at heart. At the center of this story is  the ongoing division between the Jews and the Amalakites, which was recorded to  have begun in the Book of Exodus. Haman’s goal is the final effort recorded in  the Old Testament period of the complete eradication of the Jews. His plans  eventually end up with his own demise, and the elevation of his enemy Mordecai  to his own position, as well as the salvation of the Jews.

Feasting is a  major theme of this book: there are ten recorded banquets, and many of the  events were planned, plotted, or exposed at these banquets. Although the name of  God is never mentioned in this book, it is apparent that the Jews of Susa sought  His intervention when they fasted and prayed for three days (Esther 4:16). In spite of the fact that the law allowing  their destruction was written according to the laws of the Medes and Persians,  rendering it unchangeable, the way was cleared for their prayers to be answered.  Esther risked her life by going not once uninvited before the king but twice,  (Esther  4:1-2; 8:3). She was  not content with the destruction of Haman; she was intent on saving her people.  The institution of the Feast of Purim is written and preserved for all to see  and is still observed today. God’s chosen people, without any direct mention of  His name, were granted a stay of execution through the wisdom and humility of  Esther.

Foreshadowings: In Esther, we are given a  behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing struggle of Satan against the purposes of  God and especially against His promised Messiah. The entrance of Christ into the  human race was predicated upon the existence of the Jewish race. Just as Haman  plotted against the Jews in order to destroy them, so has Satan set himself  against Christ and God’s people. Just as Haman is defeated on the gallows he  built for Mordecai, so does Christ use the very weapon that his enemy devised to  destroy Him and His spiritual seed. For the cross, by which Satan planned to  destroy the Messiah, was the very means through which Christ “having canceled  the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood  opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the  powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them  by the cross” (Colossians 2:14-15). Just as Haman was hanged on the  gallows he built for Mordecai, so the devil was crushed by the cross he erected  to destroy Christ.

Practical Application: The Book of  Esther shows the choice we make between seeing the hand of God in our  circumstances in life and seeing things as merely coincidence. God is the  sovereign Ruler of the universe and we can be assured that His plans will not be  moved by the actions of mere evil men. Although His name is not mentioned in the  book, His providential care for his people, both individuals and the nation, is  evident throughout. For instance, we cannot fail to see the Almighty exerting  influence over King Xerxes’s timely insomnia. Through the example of Mordecai  and Esther, the silent love language our Father often uses to communicate  directly to our spirits is shown in this book.

Esther proved to have a  godly and teachable spirit that also showed great strength and willing  obedience. Esther’s humility was markedly different from those around her, and  this caused her to be elevated into the position of queen. She shows us that  remaining respectful and humble, even in difficult if not humanly impossible  circumstances, often sets us up to be the vessel of untold blessing for both  ourselves and others. We would do well to emulate her godly attitudes in all  areas of life, but especially in trials. Not once is there a complaint or bad  attitude exposed in the writing. Many times we read she won the “favor” of those  around her. Such favor is what ultimately saved her people. We can be granted  such favor as we accept even unfair persecution and follow Esther’s example of  maintaining a positive attitude, coupled with humility and the determination to  lean on God. Who knows but that God put us in such a position, for just such a  time as this?