About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Commentary On The Book Of Esther
commentary is based on the 1978 edition of the New International Bible.
Chapter tiles in my commentary correspond to the chapter titles
in the NIV Bible that make for easy study.
author of the book of Esther is unknown. Some
people suggest that the author is Mordecai, one of the main characters
in the book's narrative, but this cannot be confirmed.
date of the Book of Esther is probably between 486 and 465 B. C..
The time period would correspond between Ezra chapter 6 and
setting takes place in
religion of the Persians for the most part of was Zoroastrianism, which
is the closes religion back then that might be considered monotheistic.
Their one god was good, but, evil seemed to be almost on the same
par as good, making some to think this was not a true monotheism.
takes place in the book of Esther permits Israel
to rebuild the city of
book of Esther has been somewhat controversial over the years.
One reason is that God is not even mentioned in the book.
Martin Luther felt that the book of Ruth should not be in the
canon of Scripture. That being said, the events that take place in the
book of Esther are important to Israel, and if anything is important to Israeli history, I believe, it's
important to both the church and individual Christians.
name "Esther" is derived from the Persian name
"Ishtar", which was the goddess of fertility and war,
otherwise known as "the mistress of heaven".
We actually get our English word "Easter" from the word
"Ishtar", which some suggest has paganized the meaning to our
Christian Easter. Her Jewish
name was Hadassah, which means "myrtle", as in the
"myrtle tree'. Some
suggest that the name Esther means "hidden", but I suggest
that is to obscure to really know for sure.
Feast of Purim that Jews celebrate today, which is by the way, not one
of the 7 feasts of the Law of Moses that must be celebrated, came into
existence because of the things that happened in the book of Esther. This
feast celebrates the deliverance of the Israelis from the king of Persia's decree to kill all the Israelis.
would suggest that the underlying meaning to the book of Esther is that
God, behind the scenes, looks after His people, and in this case, His
people are the Jews. I
believe that the meaning to this book of the Bible is important for us
today. As God looked after
the Jews back in Esther's day, so He will look after them today.
I do not believe in Replacement Theology that says that the
church has replaced the Jews in the eyes of God.
verse 1 we see a bit of Biblical history that is supported by
non-Biblical history, which gives a bit more credence to the
authenticity of the book of Ruth as well as the Bible as a whole, that
is, if you need any such authenticity.
Xerxes was a real king of
KJV does not use the name Xerxes. Instead,
it uses the name "Ahasuerus", the Hebrew equivalent for
2 states that Xerxes ruled from
Verses 3 to 7 we see that Xerxes gathered all the important people in
his kingdom, including military leaders.
They were gathered for a celebration.
The text doesn't say it but we know from history, from the
non-Biblical account, that Xerxes was planning a huge battle in order to
conquer Greece. At the end of the 180 days
Xerxes had a huge 7 day feast where anyone could attend.
This feast is what the rest of the first chapter is all about.
These verses show how prosperous and wealthy the king and the
in verse 3 the name "Media". "Media" was one of the
smaller empires that the Persians conquered.
verse 8 we see what was probably one very drunken party.
Everyone could drink in whatever fashion he wished.
The custom of the day was that if the king drank, then everyone
had to drink. They had no
choice, and from what we know of Persians back then, they were heavy
party the Xerxes gave was just for the men.
Queen Vashti, Xerxes wife, held her own party for all the women
as we see in verse 9. It's
interesting to note that the name "Vashti" means, "the
once desired", and that is exactly what happens to the queen after
the events of this chapter. She
falls out of favour with the king.
10 takes place on the seventh day of the party and as the text states,
King Xerxes "was in high spirits from the wine".
In other words, he was drunk.
Xerxes, along with all the other men had been drinking now for 7
days. I can't imagine anyone
would actually be left standing after such a party, but parties like
this, including weddings, often lasted 7 days back then in all cultures,
including Jewish culture.
Xerxes was drunk he demanded 7 of his attendants to bring his wife,
Queen Vashti to the party. The
reason for this was to display, show off, her beauty to all the men at
the party because she was very good looking.
Xerxes wanted Vashti to ware her crown, and there are some,
especially some Jewish rabbis, who say that is all he wanted her to
ware. Now this is
speculation. The text does
not say this, but knowing the times and the excess drinking by the
seventh day of the party, that could well be the case.
will note in verse 10 "seven eunuchs" mentioned.
It is widely understood that these men were "wise men",
astrologers, magi, and such people.
The three wise men that you see mentioned in the events
surrounding the birth of Jesus are the same type of eastern wise men as
you see here.
verse 12 we see that Queen Vashti refused to come to the party to be
shown off in front of all the drunk men.
Maybe she was having her own drunken party with the women.
Maybe this gave her the courage to say no to Xerxes.
Or, maybe she was a strong willed woman and refused to be seen as
a sex symbol. The text
doesn't tell us why she refused. We
can only guess. What we do
know is the Xerxes "burned with anger".
The queen's refusal and the king's anger thus leads us to the
rest of the story that favors Israel.
verses 13 through 18 we see that the king consulted with seven of his
top officials who knew all the matters of the law of
top officials told Xerxes that the queen not only rebelled against him
but she rebelled against all who lived in Persia. Something had to be done
rationale that was present to the king was simple.
If the queen can get away with disobeying the king, all the women
in the land would follow in her footsteps. They'd have a nation of
runaway independent women, and that could never be.
Such thinking wouldn't go too far today, but we need to remember,
back then, it was a man's world, and men ruled.
Women were second class citizens.
This is clearly seen in the fact that Xerxes wanted to display
his wife to a bunch of drunken men.
She was meant to be paraded out as a sex symbol.
verses 19 and 20 we learn more about Persian law and how it came about.
It was the king who made the law.
When the king decreed something it became law and that law could
never be repealed. So, in
one sense of the word, this was pretty much a nation of rule of law, but
the law came only from a dictatorial king.
This was not a democracy.
law of the land became to be that Vashti could no longer be in the
presence of the king. The
only thing left to do was to get rid of her and replace her with someone
better, meaning, some woman who will obey the wishes and whim of the
actual decree, as seen in verses 21 and 22, stated that the man of the
house in all parts of the kingdom, that is the husband, was to be king
of his home. Women must obey
her husband. This was now
the law of the land. By
this, the men would have no more fear of their women not obeying their
every wish and whim. Thus is
the way with pagan men back then, and I dare say, with pagan men today.
Such family structure still exists in parts of the world, as seen
in these last two verses of chapter one the different languages in
different parts of the Persian kingdom.
We need to remember that