Esther, Book of

Esther, Book of

 Old Testament book that belongs to the third section of the Judaic biblical canon, known as the Ketuvim, or “Writings.” In the Jewish Bible, Esther follows Ecclesiastes and Lamentations and is read on the festival of Purim (q.v.), which commemorates the rescue of the Jews from Haman's plottings. The Book of Esther is one of the Megillot, five scrolls read on stated Jewish religious holidays. Esther appears between Nehemiah and Job in the Protestant canon. In the Roman Catholic canon, Esther appears between Judith and Job and includes six chapters that are considered apocryphal in the Jewish and Protestant traditions.

      The book purports to explain how the feast of Purim came to be celebrated by the Jews. Esther, the beautiful Jewish wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus ( Xerxes I), and her cousin Mordecai persuade the king to retract an order for the general annihilation of Jews throughout the empire. The massacre had been plotted by the king's chief minister, Haman, and the date decided by casting lots (purim). Instead, Haman was hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai; and on the day planned for their annihilation, the Jews destroyed their enemies. According to the Book of Esther, the feast of Purim was established to celebrate that day, but this explanation is surely legendary. There is nothing close to a consensus, however, as to what historical event provided the basis for the story. The book may have been composed as late as the first half of the 2nd century BC, though the origin of the Purim festival could date to the Babylonian exile (6th century BC).

      The secular character of the Book of Esther (the divine name is never mentioned) and its strong nationalistic overtones made its admission into the biblical canon highly questionable for both Jews and Christians. Apparently in response to the conspicuous absence of any reference to God in the book, the redactors (editors) of its Greek translation in the Septuagint interspersed many additional verses throughout the text that demonstrate Esther's and Mordecai's religious devotion. These so-called Additions to the Book of Esther do not appear in the Hebrew Bible, are treated as canonical in Roman Catholic Bibles, and are placed in the Apocrypha in Protestant Bibles.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Esther, book of — The seventeenth book of the OT in the traditional English order. Harem politics, antisemitism, and an audacious Jewish heroine combine to make this story from the later Persian period (early 4th cent. BCE) full of suspense as it unfolds. The… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • Esther, Book of —    The authorship of this book is unknown. It must have been obviously written after the death of Ahasuerus (the Xerxes of the Greeks), which took place B.C. 465. The minute and particular account also given of many historical details makes it… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Book of Esther — Hebrew Bible Tanakh …   Wikipedia

  • Esther — • Queen of Persia and wife of Assuerus, who is identified with Xerxes (485 465 B.C.) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Esther     Esther      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • ESTHER — (Heb. אֶסְתֵּר), daughter of Abihail, an exile at susa , and heroine of the Book of Esther. The name Esther is probably from Old Persian star (well attested in the later Persian dialects), with the same meaning as English star. She is once called …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Esther Hicks — Esther and Jerry Hicks in 2007 Born March 5th 1948 Residence San Antonio, Texas Other names …   Wikipedia

  • Esther Vilar — (born September 16, 1935) is a German writer born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She wrote the book The Manipulated Man (1971) and its follow up The polygamous sex (1976). She trained and practised as a medical doctor originally. The Manipulated Man …   Wikipedia

  • ESTHER — (pseudonym of Malkah Lifschitz, whose names by marriage were Frumkin and Wichmann; 1880–1943), communist leader, writer, and educator, born in Minsk; one of the most original women in the Jewish labor movement. She acquired a wide Jewish… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Esther Hunt — (September 4 1751 ndash; February 2 1820) was a pioneer who lived on America s frontier as a wife, a mother and a leader in her Quaker faith. [Specht, Neva Jean (1997), Mixed blessing: trans Appalachian settlement and the Society of Friends, 1780 …   Wikipedia

  • Esther Clark Wright — (1895 1990) was a notable Atlantic Canadian historian who at the end of her life received the Order of Canada for her lifetime contributions to Canadian scholarship. Dr. Wright wrote many published works in relation to her historic and… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”