Handbook of Esther


The Jew's Deliverance from Extermination 

    The Jews Returned from Babylon to Jerusalem 536 B.C.
    The Temple was Rebuilt 536-516 B.C.

    Esther, a Jewess, became Queen of Persia 478 B.C.
    Esther saved the Jews from massacre 473 B.C.
    
    Ezra went from Babylon to Jerusalem 457 B.C.
    Nehemiah Rebuilt the Wall of Jerusalem 444 B.C.

    Thus Esther appeared about 40 years After the Temple was Rebuilt, and about 30 years Before the Wall of Jerusalem was Rebuilt. 

    Chronologically, though this book comes after the book of Nehemiah, yet its events antedate Nehemiah by about 30 years. Esther, it seems, made possible the work of Nehemiah. Her marriage to the King must have given Jews great prestige. It is possible to guess what might have happened to the Hebrew nation had there been no Esther. Except for her, Jerusalem might never have been rebuilt, and there might have been a different story to tell to all future ages.
    This book of Esther is about a Very Important Historical Event, not just a story to point a moral: The Hebrew Nation's Deliverance from Annihilation in the days following the Babylonian Captivity. If the Hebrew Nation had been entirely wiped out of existence 500 years before it brought Christ into the world, that might have made some difference in the destiny of mankind; no Hebrew Nation, no Messiah: no Messiah, a lost word. This beautiful Jewish girl of the long ago, though she herself may not have known it, yet played her part in paving the way for the coming of the world's Saviour.  

Chapter 1. Queen Vashti Deposed 

    "Ahasuerus" was another name for Xerxes, who ruled Persia 4858-465 B.C., one of the most illustrious monarchs of the ancient world. The great feast described in this chapter, it has been learned from Persian inscriptions, was held in preparation for his famous expedition against Greece, in which he fought the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis, 480 B.C. It seems that he deposed Vashti (482 B.C.), before he left, and married Esther (478 B.C.), after he returned from his expedition against Greece (1:3; 2:16).

ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE: Shushan the Palace (2).
    Shushan, or Susa, 200 miles east of Babylon, was the winter residence of Persian kings. Its site was identified by Loftus (1852), who found an inscription of Artaxerxes II (405-358 B.C.): "My ancestor Darius built this palace in former times. In the reign of my grandfather (Artaxerxes I) it was burned. I have restored it."
    This palace was residence of Darius, who authorized rebuilding of the Temple; of Xerxes, Esther's husband; and Artaxerxes I, who authorized Nehemiah to rebuilt Jerusalem.
    A Frenchman, named Dieulafoy, continued excavations (1884-86); and definitely located, in the ruins, the "king's gate" (4:2); the "inner court" (5:1); the "outer court" (6:4); the "palace garden" (7:7); and even found one of the dice, "Pur" (3:7)     

Chapter 2. Esther Becomes Queen    

        Ahasuerus died 13 years later.Esther , no doubt, lived far into the reign of her stepson Artaxerxes; and, as queen-mother, may have been a person of influence in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. 

Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Haman's Decree

    To kill all the Jews in all the provinces (3:12, 13). This was in the king's 12th year (3:7), after Esther had been Queen 5 years.
    When Esther went in to intercede with the king on behalf of her people, his cordiality (5:3), showed that, even though she had been his wife for 5 years, he still adored her.
    The outcome was that Haman was hanged, and his place was given to Mordecai, Esther's cousin. 
    The name of God is not mentioned in the book, probably because it may have been copied from Persian records. Yet God's Providential Care of his people is nowhere more evident. 

Chapter 8, 9. Deliverance. Feast of  Purim 

    Since a Persian king's decree could not be changed (8:8; Daniel 6:15), the decree for the Jews' massacre could not be reversed. But Esther did persuade the king to make another decree authorizing the Jews to resist and slay all who would attack them, which they did. Thus Esther saved the Jewish race from annihilation. 
    Esther was not only beautiful, but wise. We admire her for her patriotism and bravery and tact. 
    This was origin of Feast of Purim, which still observe.

Chapter 10. Mordecai's Greatness 

    Mordecai was great in the king's house, next unto the king; he waxed greater; his fame want forth throughout all the provinces (9:4; 10:3). This was in the reign of Xerxes, the mighty monarch of the Persian Empire: Xerxes' primer minister, a Jew; his favorite wife, a Jewess: Mordecai and Esther, the brains and heart of the palace! This paved the way for the work of Ezra and Nehemiah. Like Joseph en Egypt, and Daniel in Babylon, so here Mordecai and Esther in Persia.