Date: Fifth century B.C.
The Book of Esther tells a straightforward story. It takes place in Persia, where Jews were to be found after the return to Palestine had taken place. Not everyone went home. For over a thousand years the largest concentration of Jews outside Palestine was to be found in the region where they had formerly been exiled.
The king of Persia married a Jewess named Esther, who uncovered a plot against her people led by Haman, the prime minister. Genocidal actions were common in antiquity and have carried down to our own day, as was the case in Nazi Germany. When Esther and her cousin Mordecai brought the plot to the attention of King Ahasuerus, Haman was deposed and replaced by Mordecai. Those who had taken part in the aborted plan were all executed, and the Jews narrowly escaped a frightful slaughter. To commemorate the event, a feast called Purim was established.
Theological Themes in the Book of Esther
Some persons have objected to the presence of this book in the Bible because it does not seem to have any specifically theological themes, nor is the name of God mentioned in it. Religious content, however, is there; it is below the surface, rather than obviously presented. The main point is that ordinary life is not ordinary but filled with eternal significance. Events fit into a normal pattern of cause and effect, but woven through it all are the hidden purposes of God. Human choices are of great importance and have profound consequences, whether for good or evil. The Book of Esther says in effect: Watch what goes on and do not be deceived by appearances. More is happening than you think.
Outline for the Book of Esther
1.Esther becomes queen Esther 1:1-2:23
2.The plot of Haman Esther 3:1-15
3.Haman’s plot uncovered Esther 4:1-7:10
4.The consequences of Esther’s bravery Esther 8:1-10:3