Categories: Women in the Old Testament
- The events in the Book of Esther were purported
to take place during the reign of the Persian
monarch, Xerxes who reigned from 486-465BCE.
- Esther's ancestors had been among those taken
into exile in 587BCE.
- Her lineage went back to the tribe of Benjamin.
- Esther had a Hebrew name, Hadassah, which
- "Esther" is a Persian name, meaning
- Her Persian name sounds suspiciously like
the goddess, Ishtar. (That would describe Esther
as both a grand goddess and a humble "flower.")
- Esther was an orphan, raised by her cousin,
- Mordecai told Esther to keep her Jewish identity
secret. (Generally, Jews did not marry Gentiles.
In this case, it was attributed to the providence
of God at work.)
- Esther found favor in the King's eunuch who
took special interest in preparing her for her
audience with the King.
- She did not request any unusual ornamentation
for her presentation to the King, but relied
upon her natural beauty.
- The King immediately loved Esther, and the
search for a new Queen ended that night.
- A great wedding feast ensued for all the nobles
- Esther passed along information from Mordecai
that averted an assassination attempt against
- When Esther was told that Mordecai was in
mourning (wearing sackcloth), she sent new clothes
for him to wear.
- When he refused, she sent one of the King's
eunuchs to find out what was wrong.
- Mordecai gave Esther a copy of the decree
that was circulating in Susa.
- Esther hadn't been called to see the King
for a month. She might have thought the King
had tired of her.
- If someone approached the King uninvited,
they were likely to be killed - unless the King
pardoned them by extending his scepter.
- Esther did not know if the King would pardon
her, or have her killed.
- In preparation for her going to the King,
Esther asked Mordecai to have all the Jews fast
for three days. She and her maids would also
fast. (Notice the absence of any mention of
- She was willing to risk her life to save her
people. (Scholars think Esther could have made
an appointment to see the King, but perhaps
going through channels would have taken too
- On the third day, Esther put on her royal
robes and stood before the King.
- He was happy to see her, and held out the
royal scepter to her (thereby pardoning her).
- She invited the King and Haman to a banquet
later that day.
- The King asked Esther several times what she
wanted from him. He offered up to half his kingdom,
though this might not have been meant literally.
- Rather than respond to his question, Esther
invited them to another banquet the following
- During the second banquet, the King asked
Esther again what she wanted. This time she
did not hold back.
- She asked that the King spare her life and
the lives of her people - thereby revealing
her true identity.
- She accused Haman of being an adversary and
- She told the King she would never have bothered
him if it had been a trivial matter.
- The King stormed out of the room, and Haman
immediately started "falling on Esther's
couch to beg for mercy."
- Unfortunately, just then the King reappeared
and accused Haman of attempting to molest the
- The King's angry words were a virtual death
sentence for Haman, and he was hanged.
- Upon Haman's death, the King gave his estate
- Only then did Esther reveal her relationship
to Mordecai. The King also honored him, so Esther
appointed Mordecai over Haman's estate.
- Because the decree remained in force, Esther
once again pleaded with the King. She asked
him to "overturn" the order, placing
the blame squarely on Haman's evil intentions
and not on the King.
- The King gave her and Mordecai permission
to write a new order, which they did. The new
order gave the Jews permission to "defend
themselves." It was almost a word-for-word
rendition of Haman's decree - with a different
- After the initial slaughter, the King asked
Esther if she wanted anything else. He reported
to her the success of the mission in Susa.
- Esther asked for a one-day extension in Susa,
and that Haman's 10 dead sons would be hanged
on his 75-foot gallows. (The King seemed to
have little regard for the fact that a minority
people were killing his subjects; he only wanted
to please his Queen.)
- Esther and Mordecai wrote an order authorizing
Jews to celebrate these two days as the Feast
of Purim in commemoration of the day when Jews
got relief from their enemies, when their sorrow
was turned to joy, and when their mourning turned
Allen, L, and T. Laniak, "Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Press. 2003.
Alter, Robert and Frank Kermode. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. 1987.
Bechtel, Carol. "Esther." Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press,1989.
Holmgren, Fredrick Carlson. "Israel Alive Again." International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans. 1987.
Huey, F.B. "Esther". The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1988. Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor.
Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.
McConville, J.G. "Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1985.