Book of Esther

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A 13th/14th-century scroll of the Book of Esther from Fez, Morocco, held at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris. Traditionally, a scroll of Esther is given only one roller, fixed to its lefthand side, rather than the two used for a Torah scroll. Book of Esther IMG 1826.JPG
A 13th/14th-century scroll of the Book of Esther from Fez, Morocco, held at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. Traditionally, a scroll of Esther is given only one roller, fixed to its lefthand side, rather than the two used for a Torah scroll.

The Book of Esther (Hebrew : מְגִלַּת אֶסְתֵּר, romanized: Megillat Esther), also known in Hebrew as "the Scroll" ("the Megillah"), is a book in the third section ( Ketuvim , כְּתוּבִים "Writings") of the Hebrew Bible. It is one of the five Scrolls (Megillot) in the Hebrew Bible and later became part of the Christian Old Testament. The book relates the story of a Jewish woman in Persia, born as Hadassah but known as Esther, who becomes queen of Persia and thwarts a genocide of her people.


The story takes place during the reign of King Ahasuerus in the Persian Empire. Queen Vashti, the wife of King Ahasuerus, is banished from the court for disobeying the king's orders. To find a new queen, a beauty pageant is held and Esther, a young Jewish woman living in Persia, is chosen as the new queen. Esther's cousin Mordechai, who is a Jewish leader, discovers a plot to kill all of the Jews in the empire by Haman, one of the king's advisors. Mordechai urges Esther to use her position as queen to intervene and save their people. Esther reveals her Jewish identity to the king and begs for mercy for her people. She exposes Haman's plot and convinces the king to spare the Jews. The holiday of Purim is established to celebrate the victory of the Jews of the empire over their enemies, and Esther becomes a hero to the Jewish people.

The books of Esther and Song of Songs are the only books in the Hebrew Bible that do not mention God. [2] Traditional Judaism views the absence of God's overt intervention in the story as an example of how God can work through seemingly coincidental events and the actions of individuals.

The book is at the center of the Jewish festival of Purim and is read aloud twice from a handwritten scroll, usually in the synagogue, during the holiday: once in the evening and again the following morning. The distribution of charity to the needy and the exchange of gifts of foods are also practices observed on the holiday that are mandated in the book.

Setting and structure


The biblical Book of Esther is set in the Persian capital of Susa (Shushan) in the third year of the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus. The name Ahasuerus is equivalent to Xerxes [3] (both deriving from the Persian Khshayārsha), [4] and Ahasuerus is usually identified in modern sources as Xerxes I, [5] [6] who ruled between 486 and 465 BCE, [3] as it is to this monarch that the events described in Esther are thought to fit the most closely. [4] [7]

Assuming that Ahasuerus is indeed Xerxes I, the events described in Esther began around the years 483–482 BCE, and concluded in March 473 BCE.

Classical sources such as Josephus, the Jewish commentary Esther Rabbah and the Christian theologian Bar-Hebraeus, [8] as well as the Greek Septuagint translation of Esther, instead identify Ahasuerus as either Artaxerxes I (reigned 465 to 424 BCE) or Artaxerxes II (reigned 404 to 358 BCE). [8]

On his accession, however, Artaxerxes II lost Egypt to pharaoh Amyrtaeus, after which it was no longer part of the Persian empire. In his Historia Scholastica Petrus Comestor identified Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1) as Artaxerxes III (358–338 BCE) who reconquered Egypt. [9]


The Book of Esther consists of an introduction (or exposition) in chapters 1 and 2; the main action (complication and resolution) in chapters 3 to 9:19; and a conclusion in 9:20–10:3. [10]

The plot is structured around banquets (Heb. מִשְׁתֶּה, mishteh), a word that occurs twenty times in Esther and only 24 times in the rest of the Hebrew bible. This is appropriate given that Esther describes the origin of a Jewish feast, the feast of Purim, but Purim itself is not the subject and no individual feast in the book is commemorated by Purim. The book's theme, rather, is the reversal of destiny through a sudden and unexpected turn of events: the Jews seem destined to be destroyed, but instead are saved. In literary criticism such a reversal is termed "peripety", and while on one level its use in Esther is simply a literary or aesthetic device, on another it is structural to the author's theme, suggesting that the power of God is at work behind human events. [11]


King Ahasuerus, ruler of the Persian Empire, holds a lavish 180-day banquet for his court and dignitaries from across the 127 provinces of his empire (Esther 1:1–4), and afterwards a seven-day banquet for all inhabitants of the capital city, Shushan (1:5–9). On the seventh day of the latter banquet, Ahasuerus orders the queen, Vashti, to display her beauty before the guests by coming before them wearing her crown (1:10–11). She refuses, infuriating Ahasuerus, who on the advice of his counselors removes her from her position as an example to other women who might be emboldened to disobey their husbands (1:12–19). A decree follows that "every man should bear rule in his own house" (1:20–22).

Esther is crowned in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 129.png
Esther is crowned in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld

Ahasuerus then makes arrangements to choose a new queen from a selection of beautiful young women from throughout the empire (2:1–4). Among these women is a Jewish orphan named Esther, who was raised by her cousin or uncle, Mordecai (2:5–7). She finds favour in the King's eyes, and is crowned his new queen, but does not reveal her Jewish heritage (2:8–20). Shortly afterwards, Mordecai discovers a plot by two courtiers, Bigthan and Teresh, to assassinate Ahasuerus. The conspirators are apprehended and hanged, and Mordecai's service to the King is officially recorded (2:21–23).

Ahasuerus appoints Haman as his viceroy (3:1). Mordecai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman's disfavour, as he refuses to bow down to him (3:2–5). Haman discovers that Mordecai refuses to bow on account of his being a Jew, and in revenge plots to kill not just Mordecai, but all the Jews in the empire (3:6). He obtains Ahasuerus' permission to execute this plan, against payment of ten thousand talents of silver, and casts lots ("purim") to choose the date on which to do this  the thirteenth of the month of Adar (3:7–12). A royal decree is issued throughout the kingdom to slay all Jews on that date (3:13–15).

When Mordecai discovers the plan, he goes into mourning and implores Esther to intercede with the King (4:1–5). But she is afraid to present herself to the King unsummoned, an offense punishable by death (4:6–12). Instead, she directs Mordecai to have all Jews fast for three days for her, and vows to fast as well (4:15–16.). On the third day she goes to Ahasuerus, who stretches out his sceptre to her to indicate that she is not to be punished (5:1–2). She invites him to a feast in the company of Haman (5:3–5). During the feast, she asks them to attend a further feast the next evening (5:6–8). Meanwhile, Haman is again offended by Mordecai and, at his wife's suggestion, has a gallows built to hang him (5:9–14).

That night, Ahasuerus cannot sleep, and orders the court records be read to him (6:1). He is reminded that Mordecai interceded in the previous plot against his life, and discovers that Mordecai never received any recognition (6:2–3). Just then, Haman appears to request the King's permission to hang Mordecai, but before he can make this request, Ahasuerus asks Haman what should be done for the man that the King wishes to honour (6:4–6). Assuming that the King is referring to Haman himself, Haman suggests that the man be dressed in the King's royal robes and crown and led around on the King's royal horse, while a herald calls: "See how the King honours a man he wishes to reward!" (6:7–9). To his surprise and horror, the King instructs Haman to do so to Mordecai (6:10–11).

Mordecai is honoured in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld. Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 130.png
Mordecai is honoured in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld.

Immediately afterwards, Ahasuerus and Haman attend Esther's second banquet. The King promises to grant her any request, and she reveals that she is Jewish and that Haman is planning to exterminate her people, including herself (7:1–6). Overcome by rage, Ahasuerus leaves the room; meanwhile Haman stays behind and begs Esther for his life, falling upon her in desperation (7:7). The King returns in at this very moment and thinks Haman is assaulting the queen; this makes him angrier and he orders Haman hanged on the very gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai (7:8–10).

Unable to annul a formal royal decree, the King instead adds to it, permitting the Jews to join together and destroy any and all of those seeking to kill them (8:1–14). [12] [13] On 13 Adar, Haman's ten sons and 500 other men are killed in Shushan (9:1–12). Upon hearing of this Esther requests it be repeated the next day, whereupon 300 more men are killed (9:13–15). Over 75,000 people are killed by the Jews, who are careful to take no plunder (9:16–17). Mordecai and Esther send letters throughout the provinces instituting an annual commemoration of the Jewish people's redemption, in a holiday called Purim (lots) (9:20–28). Ahasuerus remains very powerful and continues his reign, with Mordecai assuming a prominent position in his court (10:1–3).

Authorship and date

Scroll of Esther (Megillah) Gottingen-Esther.Rolle.0.JPG
Scroll of Esther (Megillah)

The Megillat Esther (Book of Esther) became the last of the 24 books of the Tanakh to be canonized by the Sages of the Great Assembly. According to the Talmud, it was a redaction by the Great Assembly of an original text by Mordecai. [14] It is usually dated to the 4th century BCE. [15] [16]

The Greek book of Esther, included in the Septuagint, is a retelling of the events of the Hebrew Book of Esther rather than a translation and records additional traditions which do not appear in the traditional Hebrew version, in particular the identification of Ahasuerus with Artaxerxes and details of various letters. It is dated around the late 2nd to early 1st century BCE. [17] [18] The Coptic and Ethiopic versions of Esther are translations of the Greek rather than the Hebrew Esther.

A Latin version of Esther was produced by Jerome for the Vulgate. It translates the Hebrew Esther but interpolates translations of the Greek Esther where the latter provides additional material. Predating the Vulgate, however, the Vetus Latina ("Old Latin") was apparently translated from a different Greek version not included in the Septuagint. [19]

Several Aramaic targums of Esther were produced in the Middle Ages, of which three survive – the Targum Rishon ("First Targum" or 1TgEsth) and Targum Sheni ("Second Targum" or 2TgEsth) [20] [21] dated c. 500–1000 CE, [22] which include additional legends relating to Purim, [20] and the Targum Shelishi ("Third Targum" or 3TgEsth), which Berliner and Goshen-Gottstein argued was the ur-Targum from which the others had been expanded, but which others consider only a late recension of the same. 3TgEsth is the most manuscript-stable of the three, and by far the most literal. [23] [21]


The opening chapter of a hand-written scroll of the Book of Esther, with reader's Torah pointer Megillat Esther (1).jpg
The opening chapter of a hand-written scroll of the Book of Esther, with reader's Torah pointer

The apparent historical difficulties, the internal inconsistencies, the pronounced symmetry of themes and events, the plenitude of quoted dialogue, and the gross exaggeration in the reporting of numbers (involving time, money, and people) all point to Esther as a work of fiction, its vivid characters (except for Xerxes) being the product of the author's creative imagination. [24] There is no reference to known historical events in the story; a general consensus, though this consensus has been challenged, [25] [26] has maintained that the narrative of Esther was invented in order to provide an aetiology for Purim, and the name Ahasuerus is usually understood to refer to a fictionalized Xerxes I, who ruled the Achaemenid Empire between 486 and 465 BCE. [27]

The book of Esther has more Akkadian and Aramaic loanwords than any other biblical work and the names of the key protagonists, Mordechai and Esther, for example, have been read as allusions to the gods Marduk and Ishtar, who, symbolizing respectively Babylonia and Assyria, were twin powers that brought about the fall of Susa, where the narrative of Esther is set and where the Elamite god Humban/Humman (compare Haman) [28] exercised divine sovereignty. Purim practices like eating oznei Haman (Haman’s ears), ear-shaped loaves of bread or pieces of pastry are similar to those in Near Eastern ritual celebrations of Ishtar’s cosmic victory. [29] Likewise other elements in Purim customs such as making a racket with a ratchet, masquerading and drunkenness have all been adduced to propose that such a kind of pagan festival akin to rites associated with Ishtar of Ninevah, which shares these same features, lay behind the development of this story. [30]

Biblical scholar Michael D. Coogan further argues that the book contains specific details regarding certain subject matter (for example, Persian rule) which are historically inaccurate. For example, Coogan discusses an inaccuracy regarding the age of Esther's cousin (or, according to others, uncle) Mordecai. [31] [32] In Esther 2:5–6, either Mordecai or his great-grandfather Kish is identified as having been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar II in 597 BCE: "Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jeconiah king of Judah". If this refers to Mordecai, he would have had to live over a century to have witnessed the events described in the Book of Esther. [31] However, the verse may be read as referring not to Mordecai's exile to Babylon, but to his great-grandfather Kish's exile. [33] [34] [35]

In her article "The Book of Esther and Ancient Storytelling", biblical scholar Adele Berlin discusses the reasoning behind scholarly concern about the historicity of Esther. Much of this debate relates to the importance of distinguishing history and fiction within biblical texts, as Berlin argues, in order to gain a more accurate understanding of the history of the Israelite people. [36] Berlin quotes a series of scholars who suggest that the author of Esther did not mean for the book to be considered as a historical writing, but intentionally wrote it to be a historical novella. [37] The genre of novellas under which Esther falls was common during both the Persian and Hellenistic periods to which scholars have dated the book of Esther. [31] [36]

However, there are certain elements of the book of Esther that are historically accurate. The story told in the book of Esther takes place during the rule of Ahasuerus, who amongst others has been identified as the 5th-century Persian king Xerxes I (reigned 486–465 BCE). [6] The author also displays an accurate knowledge of Persian customs and palaces. [34] However, according to Coogan, considerable historical inaccuracies remain throughout the text, supporting the view that the book of Esther is to be read as a historical novella which tells a story describing historical events but is not necessarily historical fact. [31]

Historical reading

The Feast of Esther (Feest van Esther, 1625) by Jan Lievens, North Carolina Museum of Art. The Feast of Esther - Jan Lievens - Google Cultural Institute.jpg
The Feast of Esther (Feest van Esther, 1625) by Jan Lievens, North Carolina Museum of Art.

Those arguing in favour of a historical reading of Esther most commonly identify Ahasuerus with Xerxes I (ruled 486–465 BCE), [6] although in the past it was often assumed that he was Artaxerxes II (ruled 405–359 BCE). The Hebrew Ahasuerus (ʔaḥašwērōš) is most likely derived from Persian Xšayārša, the origin of the Greek Xerxes. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Xerxes sought his harem after being defeated in the Greco-Persian Wars. He makes no reference to individual members of the harem except for a domineering Queen consort named Amestris, whose father, Otanes, was one of Xerxes's generals. (In contrast, the Greek historian Ctesias refers to a similar father-in-law/general figure named Onaphas.) Amestris has often been identified with Vashti, but this identification is problematic, as Amestris remained a powerful figure well into the reign of her son, Artaxerxes I, whereas Vashti is portrayed as dismissed in the early part of Xerxes's reign. [38] Alternative attempts have been made to identify her with Esther, although Esther is an orphan whose father was a Jew named Abihail.

As for the identity of Mordecai, the similar names Marduka and Marduku have been found as the name of officials in the Persian court in over thirty texts from the period of Xerxes I and his father Darius I, and may refer to up to four individuals, one of whom might be the model for the biblical Mordecai.

The "Old Greek" Septuagint version of Esther translates the name Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes, [39] a Greek name derived from the Persian Artaxšaθra. Josephus too relates that this was the name by which he was known to the Greeks, and the Midrashic text Esther Rabba also makes the identification. Bar-Hebraeus identified Ahasuerus explicitly as Artaxerxes II; however, the names are not necessarily equivalent: Hebrew has a form of the name Artaxerxes distinct from Ahasuerus, and a direct Greek rendering of Ahasuerus is used by both Josephus and the Septuagint for occurrences of the name outside the Book of Esther. Instead, the Hebrew name Ahasuerus accords with an inscription of the time that notes that Artaxerxes II was named also Aršu, understood as a shortening of Aḫšiyaršu the Babylonian rendering of the Persian Xšayārša (Xerxes), through which the Hebrew ʔaḥašwērōš (Ahasuerus) is derived. [40] Ctesias related that Artaxerxes II was also called Arsicas which is understood as a similar shortening with the Persian suffix -ke that is applied to shortened names. Deinon related that Artaxerxes II was also called Oarses which is also understood to be derived from Xšayārša. [40]

Another view attempts to identify him instead with Artaxerxes I (ruled 465–424 BCE), whose Babylonian concubine, Kosmartydene, was the mother of his son Darius II (ruled 424–405 BCE). Jewish tradition relates that Esther was the mother of a King Darius and so some try to identify Ahasuerus with Artaxerxes I and Esther with Kosmartydene.

Based on the view that the Ahasuerus of the Book of Tobit is identical with that of the Book of Esther, some have also identified him as Nebuchadnezzar's ally Cyaxares (ruled 625–585 BCE). In certain manuscripts of Tobit, the former is called Achiachar, which, like the Greek Cyaxares, is thought to be derived from Persian Huwaxšaθra. Depending on the interpretation of Esther 2:5–6, Mordecai or his great-grandfather Kish was carried away from Jerusalem with Jeconiah by Nebuchadnezzar, in 597 BCE. The view that it was Mordecai would be consistent with the identification of Ahasuerus with Cyaxares. Identifications with other Persian monarchs have also been suggested.

Jacob Hoschander has argued that the name of Haman and that of his father Hamedatha are mentioned by Strabo as Omanus and Anadatus, worshipped with Anahita in the city of Zela. Hoschander suggests that Haman may, if the connection is correct, be a priestly title and not a proper name. [40] Strabo's names are unattested in Persian texts as gods; however the Talmud [41] and Josephus [42] interpret the description of courtiers bowing to Haman in Esther 3:2 as worship. (Other scholars assume "Omanus" refers to Vohu Mana.) [43] [44] [45]

In his Historia Scholastica Petrus Comestor identified Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1) as Artaxerxes III who reconquered Egypt. [46]


In the Book of Esther, the Tetragrammaton does not appear, but some argue it is present, in hidden form, in four complex acrostics in Hebrew: the initial or last letters of four consecutive words, either forwards or backwards comprise YHWH. These letters were distinguished in at least three ancient Hebrew manuscripts in red. [47] [note 1]

Christine Hayes contrasts the Book of Esther with apocalyptic writings, the Book of Daniel in particular: both Esther and Daniel depict an existential threat to the Jewish people, but while Daniel commands the Jews to wait faithfully for God to resolve the crisis, in Esther the crisis is resolved entirely through human action and national solidarity. God, in fact, is not mentioned, Esther is portrayed as assimilated to Persian culture, and Jewish identity in the book is an ethnic category rather than a religious one. [48]

This contrasts with traditional Jewish commentaries, such as the commentary of the Vilna Gaon, which states "But in every verse it discusses the great miracle. However, this miracle was in a hidden form, occurring through apparently natural processes, not like the Exodus from Egypt, which openly revealed the might of God." [49] This follows the approach of the Talmud, [50] which states that "(The Book of) Esther is referenced in the Torah in the verse 'And I shall surely hide (in Hebrew, 'haster astir,' related to 'Esther') My Face from them on that day. [51]

Although marriages between Jews and Gentiles are not permitted in orthodox Judaism, even in case of Pikuach nefesh, Esther is not regarded as a sinner, because she remained passive, and risked her life to save that of the entire Jewish people. [52]

The Vanishing Jew: A Wake-Up Call From the Book of Esther by Michael Eisenberg looks at the Megilla from the perspective of economic philosophy and the struggle for money, power and control. [53]

Additions to Esther

An additional six chapters appear interspersed in Esther in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible. This was noted by Jerome in compiling the Latin Vulgate. Additionally, the Greek text contains many small changes in the meaning of the main text. Jerome recognized the former as additions not present in the Hebrew Text and placed them at the end of his Latin translation. This placement and numbering system is used in Catholic Bible translations based primarily on the Vulgate, such as the Douay–Rheims Bible and the Knox Bible, with chapters numbered upto 16. [54] In contrast, the 1979 revision of the Vulgate, the Nova Vulgata, incorporates the additions to Esther directly into the narrative itself, as do most modern Catholic English translations based on the original Hebrew and Greek (e.g., Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, New American Bible, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). The numbering system for the additions therefore differs with each translation. The Nova Vulgata accounts for the additional verses by numbering them as extensions of the verses immediately following or preceding them (e.g., Esther 11:2–12 in the old Vulgate becomes Esther 1:1a–1k in the Nova Vulgata), while the NAB and its successor, the NABRE, assign letters of the alphabet as chapter headings for the additions (e.g., Esther 11:2–12:6 in the Vulgate becomes Esther A:1–17). The RSVCE and the NRSVCE place the additional material into the narrative, but retain the chapter and verse numbering of the old Vulgate.


These additions are: [55]

In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said that he was a priest and a Levite, and his son Ptolemy brought to Egypt the preceding Letter about Purim, which they said was authentic and had been translated by Lysimachus son of Ptolemy, one of the residents of Jerusalem. (NRSV).

It is unclear to which version of Greek Esther this colophon refers, and who exactly are the figures mentioned in it. [56]

By the time the Greek version of Esther was written, the foreign power visible on the horizon as a future threat to Judah was the kingdom of Macedonia under Alexander the Great, who defeated the Persian empire about 150 years after the time of the story of Esther; the Septuagint version noticeably calls Haman a "Bougaion" (Ancient Greek : βουγαῖον), possibly in the Homeric sense of "bully" or "braggart", [57] whereas the Hebrew text describes him as an Agagite.


The canonicity of these Greek additions has been a subject of scholarly disagreement practically since their first appearance in the Septuagint.  Martin Luther, being perhaps the most vocal Reformation-era critic of the work, considered even the original Hebrew version to be of very doubtful value. [58]

The Council of Trent, the summation of the Counter-Reformation, reconfirmed the entire book, both Hebrew text and Greek additions, as canonical. The Book of Esther is used twice in commonly used sections of the Catholic Lectionary.[ citation needed ] In both cases, the text used is not only taken from a Greek addition, the readings also are the prayer of Mordecai, and nothing of Esther's own words is ever used.[ clarification needed ] The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint version of Esther, as it does for all of the Old Testament.

In contrast, the additions are included in the Biblical apocrypha, usually printed in a separate section (if at all) in Protestant bibles. The additions, called "The rest of the Book of Esther", are specifically listed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, Article VI, of the Church of England as non-canonical, though "read for example of life and instruction of manners". [59]

Modern retelling

YearTypeCast or CreatorDescription
1511Painting Michelangelo There are several paintings depicting Esther and her story, including The Punishment of Haman by Michelangelo, in a corner of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. [60]
1660Painting Rembrandt van RijnIn 1660, Rembrandt van Rijn's painting of Esther's Banquet depicts how Esther approached the men at their level to make the request of erasing the decree.
1689Poem Lucrezia Tornabuoni The Italian Renaissance poet Lucrezia Tornabuoni chose Esther as one of biblical figures on which she wrote poetry. [61]
1689Stageplay Jean Baptiste Racine Jean Baptiste Racine wrote Esther , a tragedy, at the request of Louis XIV's wife, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de Maintenon.
1718Stageplay Handel Handel wrote the oratorio Esther based on Racine's play.
1958Book Gladys Malvern In 1958, a book entitled Behold Your Queen! was written by Gladys Malvern and illustrated by her sister, Corinne Malvern. It was chosen as a selection of the Junior Literary Guild.
1960Stageplay Saunders Lewis The play entitled Esther (1960), written by Welsh dramatist Saunders Lewis, is a retelling of the story in Welsh.
1960Movie Joan Collins A 1960 movie about the story, Esther and the King , starring Joan Collins.
1978Miniseries Victoria Principal A 1978 miniseries entitled The Greatest Heroes of the Bible starred Victoria Principal as Esther, Robert Mandan as Xerxes, and Michael Ansara as Haman.
1981Animation Superbook Episode 25 of the 1981 anime series Superbook involves this story
1983Musical J. Edward Oliver,

Nick Munns

The 1983 musical entitled Swan Esther was written by J. Edward Oliver and Nick Munns and released as a concept album with Stephanie Lawrence and Denis Quilley. Swan Esther has been performed by the Young Vic, a national tour produced by Bill Kenwright and some amateur groups.
1986Movie Amos Gitai Israeli film directed by Amos Gitai entitled Esther .
1987Book Tomie dePaola Children's book titled Queen Esther written and illustrated by award-winning American author Tomie dePaola and published by HarperCollins.
1992Animation Helen Slater In 1992, a 30-minute, fully animated video, twelfth in Hanna-Barbera's The Greatest Adventure series, titled Queen Esther features the voices of Helen Slater as Queen Esther, Dean Jones as King Ahasuerus, Werner Klemperer as Haman, and Ron Rifkin as Mordecai. [62] [63]
1999TV movie Louise Lombard TV movie from the Bible Collection that follows the biblical account very closely, Esther , starred Louise Lombard in the title role and F. Murray Abraham as Mordecai. [64]
2000Animation VeggieTales VeggieTales released "Esther... The Girl Who Became Queen".
2005BookGinger GarrettChosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett. 2005, NavPress.[ importance? ]
2006Movie Tiffany Dupont,

Luke Goss

A movie about Esther and Ahasuerus, entitled One Night with the King , stars Tiffany Dupont and Luke Goss. It was based on the novel Hadassah: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen.
??????Esther is one of the five heroines of the Order of the Eastern Star.[ importance? ]
2011Song Maccabeats On March 8, 2011, the Maccabeats released a music video called "Purim Song". [65]
2012BookJ. T. WaldmanIn 2012, a graphic adaptation of the Book of Esther was illustrated by J. T. Waldman and appeared in volume one of The Graphic Canon , edited by Russ Kick and published by Seven Stories Press.
2013Movie Jen Lilley The Book of Esther is a 2013 movie starring Jen Lilley as Queen Esther and Joel Smallbone as King Xerxes. [66]
2015BookAngela HuntHunt, Angela "Esther: Royal Beauty" (A Dangerous Beauty Novel) (2015)
2016BookRebecca KannerKanner, Rebecca, "Esther" (2016)
2011BookJoan WolfWolf, Joan,"A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther" (2011)
2011BookRoseanna M. WhiteWhite, Roseanna, M. "Jewel of Persia" (2011)
2020BookJill Eileen SmithSmith, Jill, Eileen."Star of Persia: Esther's Story" (2020)
2013BookH.B. MooreH.B. Moore."Esther the Queen" (2013)
2014MovieCJ Kramer"Megillas Lester", an animated comedy loosely based on the Book of Esther, where a boy named Daniel Lesterovich (a.k.a., "Lester") is knocked out and travels back in time to the story of the Megillah, and nearly changes history by accidentally saving Queen Vashti. (2014) [67]
2020BookElizabeth MackMack, Elizabeth. "The Queen of Persia" (2020)
2019BookDiana TaylorTaylor, Diana, Wallis."Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia" (2019)
2020Stageplay Sight & Sound Theatres Sight & Sound Theatres produced "Queen Esther," a stage production (2020) [68] [69]

See also


  1. These are Est 1:20; 5:4, 13 and 7:7. Additionally, Est 7:5 there is an acrostic referring to the title of God of Exodus 3:14.

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Ezra or Esdras, also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe (sofer) and priest (kohen). In Greco-Latin Ezra is called Esdras. According to the Hebrew Bible he was a descendant of Seraiah, the last High Priest to serve in Solomon's Temple, and a close relative of Joshua, the first High Priest of the Second Temple. He returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem. According to 1 Esdras, a Greek translation of the Book of Ezra still in use in Eastern Orthodox Church, he was also a High Priest. Rabbinic tradition holds that he was an ordinary member of the priesthood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther</span> Biblical Jewish queen of Persia and Medes

Esther is the eponymous heroine of the Book of Esther. In it, Ahasuerus, the king of the Achaemenid Empire, seeks a new wife after his queen, Vashti, is deposed for disobeying him. Esther is chosen to fulfill this role due to her beauty. Ahasuerus' grand vizier, Haman, is offended by Esther's cousin and guardian, Mordecai, due to his refusal to prostrate himself before Haman. Consequently, Haman plots to have all the Jewish subjects of Persia killed, and convinces Ahasuerus to permit him to do so. However, Esther foils the plan by revealing Haman's eradication plans to Ahasuerus, who then has Haman executed and grants permission to the Jews to kill their enemies instead, as royal edicts cannot be revoked under Persian law.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ahasuerus</span> Name of various rulers in the Hebrew Bible

Ahasuerus is a name applied in the Hebrew Bible to three rulers and to a Babylonian official in the Book of Tobit. It is a transliteration of either Xerxes or Artaxerxes; both are names of multiple Achaemenid dynasty Persian kings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mordecai</span> Biblical figure

Mordecai is one of the main personalities in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. He is described as being the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin. Mordecai was also the cousin and guardian of Esther, who became queen of Persia under the reign of Ahasuerus. Mordecai's loyalty and bravery are highlighted in the story as he helps Esther foil the plot of Haman, the king's Vizier, to exterminate the Jewish people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Purim</span> Jewish holiday

Purim is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of an official of the Achaemenid Empire named Haman, as it is recounted in the Book of Esther.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vashti</span> Character in the Book of Esther; queen of Persia

Vashti was a queen of Persia and the first wife of Persian king Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther, a book included within the Tanakh and the Old Testament which is read on the Jewish holiday of Purim. She was either executed or banished for her refusal to appear at the king's banquet to show her beauty as Ahasuerus wished, and was succeeded as queen by Esther, a Jew. That refusal might be better understood via the Jewish tradition that she was ordered to appear naked. In the Midrash, Vashti is described as wicked and vain; she is viewed as an independent-minded heroine in feminist theological interpretations of the Purim story.

1 Esdras, also Esdras A, Greek Esdras, Greek Ezra, or 3 Esdras, is the ancient Greek Septuagint version of the biblical Book of Ezra in use within the early church, and among many modern Christians with varying degrees of canonicity. 1 Esdras is substantially similar to the standard Hebrew version of Ezra–Nehemiah, with the passages specific to the career of Nehemiah removed or re-attributed to Ezra, and some additional material.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haman</span> Biblical figure

Haman is the main antagonist in the Book of Esther, who according to the Hebrew Bible was an official in the court of the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus, commonly identified as Xerxes I but traditionally equated with Artaxerxes I or Artaxerxes II. As his epithet Agagite indicates, Haman was a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Some commentators interpret this descent to be symbolic, due to his similar personality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther in rabbinic literature</span>

This article is about Esther in rabbinic literature. Esther was the chief character in the Book of Esther. She is counted among the prophetesses of Israel. Allusions in rabbinic literature to the Biblical story of Esther contain various expansions, elaborations and inferences beyond the text presented in the book of the Bible.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ezra 4</span> A chapter in the Book of Ezra

Ezra 4 is the fourth chapter of the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, or the book of Ezra-Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible, which treats the book of Ezra and book of Nehemiah as one book. Jewish tradition states that Ezra is the author of Ezra-Nehemiah as well as the Book of Chronicles, but modern scholars generally accept that a compiler from the 5th century BCE is the final author of these books. The section comprising chapter 1 to 6 describes the history before the arrival of Ezra in the land of Judah in 468 BCE. This chapter records the opposition of the non-Jews to the re-building of the temple and their correspondence with the kings of Persia which brought a stop to the project until the reign of Darius the Great.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 1</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 1 and 2 form the exposition of the book. This chapter records the royal banquets of the Persian king Ahasuerus until the deposal of queen Vashti.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 2</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 2 is the second chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 1 and 2 form the exposition of the book. This chapter introduces Mordecai and his adoptive daughter, Esther, whose beauty won the approval of the king Ahasuerus, and she was crowned the queen of Persia. Given information from Mordecai, Esther warned the king of an assassination plan, so that the would-be assassins were executed on the gallows, and the king owed Mordecai his life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 3</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 3 is the third chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter introduces Haman the Agagite, who is linked by his genealogy to King Agag, the enemy of Israel's King Saul, from whose father, Kish, Mordecai was descended. The king Ahasuerus elevated Haman to a high position in the court, and ordered everyone to bow down to him, but Mordecai refuses to do so to Haman, which is connected to Mordecai's Jewish identity (as Jews would only bow down to worship their own God ; this indirectly introduced the religious dimension of the story. Haman reacted by a vast plan to destroy not simply Mordecai, but his entire people, getting the approval from the king to arrange for a particular date of genocide, selected by casting a lot, or pur to fall on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar. The chapter ends with the confused reaction of the whole city of Susa due to the decree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 4</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 4 is the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter describes the reaction of the Jews to Haman's evil decree, focusing on Mordecai's action of mourning and fasting, which eventually forced Esther to take action on her own by risking her life to appear uninvited before King Ahasuerus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 5</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 5 is the fifth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter records that Esther's risky behavior to appear uninvited before the king Ahasuerus is richly rewarded, because the king generously offers to give her whatever she wants, 'even to the half of my kingdom' (5:3), but Esther cleverly asks for nothing more than an opportunity to entertain her husband and his chief officer, Haman. Both men were pleased at her hospitality, but when the king again offers her half the empire, this time she requests only a second banquet. While Haman was happy to have been entertained by the queen, he became intensely distressed when Mordecai once more refused to bow down before him. Haman's wife, Zeresh, advised him to erect a monumental gallows intended for Mordecai, and only then Haman felt happy again to look forward to Esther's second banquet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 6</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 6 is the sixth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter relates how a sleepless Ahasuerus had his court annals read aloud and discovered that he had failed to reward Mordecai for passing on the information about the assassination plot. The episode leads to 'a marvellously ironic scene', as the narrative 'moves inexorably to its ultimate reversal', starting with Haman leading a king's horse carrying Mordecai, clothed in royal garb through the streets of Susa, and proclaiming the king's favor for Mordecai. Haman went home exhibiting mourning behavior and his wife predicted that Haman's intent to destroy Mordecai would end up with the opposite result.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 7</span> A chapter in Book of Esther

Esther 7 is the seventh chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter records the second banquet of Esther. The king Ahasuerus was then determined to grant her any request, so Esther spoke out about the death threat on her people and identifies Haman as the perpetrator of the projected genocide. The king went out to his garden in a rage, but shortly came back to see Haman seemingly threatening Esther on her recliner couch. This caused the king to command the hanging of Haman on the very gallows Haman intended for Mordecai.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 8</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 8 is the eighth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 3 to 8 contain the nine scenes that form the complication in the book. This chapter contains the effort to deal with the irreversible decree against the Jews now that Haman is dead and Mordecai is elevated to the position of prime minister.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 9</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 9 is the ninth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 9 to 10 contain the resolution of the stories in the book. This chapter records the events on the thirteenth and fourteenth of Adar and the institution of the Purim festival after the Jews overcome their enemies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esther 10</span> A chapter in the Book of Esther

Esther 10 is the tenth chapter of the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, The author of the book is unknown and modern scholars have established that the final stage of the Hebrew text would have been formed by the second century BCE. Chapters 9 and 10 contain the resolution of the stories in the book. This brief chapter is an encomium to Mordecai, showing his power alongside that of the king, being a Jew as second in command to a Gentile king, serving the interests of both groups, Persians and Jews. It is a picture of an 'ideal diaspora situation' and 'serves as a model for all diaspora communities'.



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  26. Tsaurayi Kudakwashe Mapfeka, Esther in Diaspora: Toward an Alternative Interpretive Framework, Brill, 2019 ISBN   978-9-004-40656-8 pp. 2, 15, 28ff
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  28. Paul Wexler, Silk Road Linguistics, Studies in Arabic Language and Literature, Harrassowitz Verlag 2021 ISBN   978-3-447-11573-5 vol.10 p.694 notes an alternative derivation from Elamite Humpan>Human, the divine name doubling as an anthroponym.
  29. Wexler p.695: ‘Any resemblance between Ishtar’s ear-shaped pastries and Haman’s ear-shaped pastries may be the accidental result of later practice, but a common denominator is also possible, in that the original function of sacrifice is thought to be partaking of, and eating, the god. The eating of Haman represents symbolically the eating of a slain enemy god in order to absorb his power, such as is expressed in the Cultic commentaries
  30. Wexler 2021 pp.694-695
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Text and translations

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