Book of Esther of the Five Megillot

The Book of Esther

Book of Esther

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Esther or The Book of Esther is one of the five Megillot or Scrolls included in the Ketuvim section of the Jewish Bible Tanakh as well as in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The exact author of the Book of Esther is unknown. Although various names and historical figures have been suggested as probable writers, including Mordecai, Ezra and Nehemiah, none of these suggestions are conclusive. The composition of the Book of Esther is dated approximately about 3rd-4th century B.C. The Book of Esther is one of the two books that take its name after a woman, the other being the Book of Ruth.

Ahasuerus is a Persian king who takes Esther as his wife after being chosen from among numerous women. He had removed his earlier queen Vashti and chose Esther by holding a contest. Esther, whose original name was Hadassah, had Jewish origins and this was something that the king was unaware of. Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai after the death of her parents. Soon after Esther becomes the queen, the courtiers Teresh and Bigthan conspire to kill Ahasuerus but the plot is discovered by Mordecai. As the conspirators are punished, Mordecai’s contribution to the event becomes recorded.

Further more in the Book of Esther, Ahasuerus appoints a man named Haman to be his prime minister. However, Mordecai is not favored by Haman as he disinclined to bow in front of him. When Haman found out about Mordecai’s Jewish origin, he planned not to kill just Mordecai but the entire Jewish population in the empire. Haman obtains the permission of Ahasuerus to go forward with this plan and he chose a specific date for this mission.

On the 13th day of the Adar month, everyone in the nation is free to kill and loot the property of Jews. Knowing this, Mordecai fasts with all the Jews. Mordecai informs Esther about this and asks her to intervene. However, she is reluctant to do so as this might enrage the king which would lead to a death penalty. She asks Mordecai and the Jews to fast for three days and on third day Esther goes to the king, thus skillfully avoiding the fate of being punished. Esther arranges for consecutive feasts and this enrages Haman. Haman prepares a gallows for assassinating Mordecai at his wife’s counsel.

On that night, the king suffers from a spell of insomnia. As the court records try to get him to sleep, he realizes that Mordecai’s earlier services went unrecognized. When Haman appears to Ahasuerus, the king asks him how a man deserving of honor should be treated. Thinking that the king is referring to him, Haman asks for a royal treatment. When the king orders Haman to treat Mordecai in that way, he does so but mourns about the predicament of things.

Esther reveals to the king that she is a Jew on her second banquet and says that Haman is going to kill all Jews including her. Enraged by this, Ahasuerus goes about to kill Haman who begs for his life to Esther. When Ahasuerus sees this, he thinks that Haman is attacking Esther and orders his people to have Haman hanged on the very gallows he built for Mordecai. Although the earlier decree against Jews cannot be taken aback, the king permitted the Jews to fight back and defend themselves when attacked. Ten sons of Haman, 500 attackers and 75000 Persians die in the combat. Esther commemorates the incident of Jewish redemption by instituting a holiday known as Purim. Mordecai is granted a prestigious position in Ahasuerus’ court.  Want to receive Bible Quotes from the Book of Esther? Learn More.