By Leigh Ann
The Biblical Viewpoint
In 483 BC, King Ahasuerus was having a banquet and all seemed to be well at the beginning. He decided to have his wife, Vashti, come in so that all his friends could see how beautiful she was. But for some reason she did not and he banished her from his kingdom. After a few weeks, King Ahasuerus realized what he did and wanted her back. Since he made a decree, he couldn’t get her back so his advisers said that he should find all the young virgins in Persia and chose one of them to be his new queen.
So all the young virgins were taken to the palace, including a Jewish orphan named Esther. Hegai had custody over the women and he liked Esther very much. The King loved Esther too and he decided she was to be his new queen. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, heard about an assassination plot against the King Ahasuerus. Mordecai told Esther to warn the King and she did and the King’s life was spared. The two men where hanged.
The King decided to replace these men with Haman. Haman was an Agagite and loved power and wanted all of them to bow down before him. Mordecai did not because he was Jewish. Haman was furious and wanted to kill Mordecai. In fact, Haman sought out a way to kill all the Jewish people. Haman convinced the King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews on the 13th day of the month of Adar. The King sent the decree all over Persia and on that day the Jews were to be killed.
Mordecai heard this and mourned for his people. Esther’s maid told her about Mordecai and Esther was upset because she loved her people too. Mordecai convinced Esther to go to King Ahasuerus and ask to spare the lives of the Jewish people. Esther and her people fasted and prayed to God for three days and then she went to the King. She was afraid that if he didn’t hold out his scepter she would be killed.
When Esther went the King held out the scepter and asked what she wanted and she invited him to a banquet. She also invited Haman to come along. At the banquet she didn’t tell him what was about to happen, so she invited him to another banquet and then Esther told him. King Ahasuerus was furious and had Haman hung on the gallows. Another decree was sent out telling all the Jews to fight back when those attacked them on the 13th day of the month of Adar. Many were killed on that day, but the Jewish people won. The next day, the Jewish people rested and had a feast celebrating their victory. Mordecai and Esther created the Feast of Purim, which lasted two days, the 14th and 15th day of Adar.
And Mordecai was placed second in command to King Ahasuerus and he was respected by all.
The Historical Viewpoint
Even History proves the story of Esther to be true, in some places that is. King Ahasuerus was a real king that ruled over Persia. His real name was King Xerxes and the book of Esther gives a more personal view of the King. Outside of the book, he was known for his very large army (almost a million they say) and his attacks on Greece (the ones he didn’t win).
In 483 BC, King Xerxes had a large feast and he invited a lot of military leaders. It is possible that he was talking to them about attacking Greece. In the first chapter of Esther there are a lot of personal things mentioned. Such as colors and what the King Xerxes’ wife looked like.
King Xerxes did have a wife, although her name was not Vashti; it was Amestris. It could be possible that Vashti and Amestris was the same person. Through out the Bible people often have different names than what we use now. Anyway, like Vashti in the book of Esther, Amestris was then sent away too.
The Book of Esther says that in the 7th year of the King’s reign that Esther became Queen. Esther probably lived a lonely life as queen. She saw mostly maids and servants. Esther’s life was so isolated that she didn’t even know that there was a decree out that ordered all the Jewish people to be killed. But she bravely went to the king and saved her people.
473 BC was the year that the Jews were to be killed. It would have been as awful as the Holocaust in the 1940s. But the Lord saved his people once again.
We’re not sure what happened to Esther. She could have died a young age, because later on Amestris (Vashti) was brought back as queen. Queen Esther had no children; or else history would have shown who her child was. King Xerxes and Queen Amestris did have a son though. His name was Artaxerxes. We don’t know what happened to Mordecai either, but I researched my Bible and found something interesting. In the book of Ezra verse 2:2 it mentioned a list of names of those who were taken to captivity and then returned. The name Mordecai appears. Could this be the same Mordecai that is in Esther? Did Mordecai return with Ezra to Jerusalem? What happened to Esther? He wouldn’t just leave her.
This is the proof of Esther and now here are the doubts.
There is no proof in history that Esther ever became queen. The records show nothing and nothing about her have surfaced. But that doesn’t mean its not there. We’re probably looking in all the wrong places. We do have the Feast of Purim as proof and that is all we need.
Esther was a real person; we all know she was. If it wasn’t for her, the line of Jesus might now have been preserved. Most of us probably wouldn’t be here right now. And we wouldn’t know God’s love for us. Esther faced death and was afraid, but then remembered her people and decided to help them.
He was real too and had a very deep love for his people. If it weren’t for him talking to Esther, then the Jewish people would have not been spared. Mordecai also loved God very much too, because he would not bow down to Haman. He knew that he could worship only one person and that was God. Mordecai was very brave too. He was also facing death because he flatly refused to bow down to Haman.
I think King Ahasuerus was a fairly good guy. Haman easily fooled him, but he loved Esther and wanted to protect her. King Ahasuerus also knew that Mordecai and Esther were smart people and that they could solve this problem. After all, he couldn’t go back on his own decree. So he put Esther and Mordecai in charge and they knew what to do. So if it weren’t for him, there would have been no way Esther and Mordecai could have protected their people.
Haman was a very bad, disturbed, power hungry guy who needed to learn a lesson. No one bows down before anyone. He thought he could scare Mordecai into bowing down to him. Haman also thought that he could kill all the Jewish people. But his plans were ruined when the tables were turned on him.
The Other Facts
The Author of Esther is unknown. It is possible he was Jewish and was very devout. After all he wrote about Purim and knew about some of the Jewish traditions. He might have worked in the palace because he knew some private things about the King and Esther. Mordecai, Ezra, or maybe Nehemiah wrote the book. Esther was written between 473 BC and 465 BC.
It’s interesting; besides the book Song of Songs, Esther is the only book that doesn’t mention God. But God is right there, you know, protecting His people. Esther did pray and fast to God for three days. It says so in verse 4:16. The story, takes place in Susa and that is close to the border of Iraq. Susa is 100 miles north of the Persian Gulf.
The Greek Version
There is a different version of Esther and that is the Greek version of it. The Hebrew story of Esther, the one we are most familiar with, was of God. The Greek was written to give a more religious background. I have read the Greek version and it doesn’t have the same feeling as the Hebrew version. It has the same basic plot, but it isn’t the same. The Greek version is not of God and God did not tell anyone to write it.
I think there are four purposes for this story. The first one is that God once again saved His people. It shows His never-ending love and care for His chosen ones. The second is the Feast of Purim. This story is how Purim was created. There is no other explanation on how Purim created. The third purpose is that the Jewish people were destined to go back to Israel. They were supposed to go back before Esther became Queen, but some stayed and those who stayed were to be killed (because of Haman). But God want His people back in their land so He saved them. And the fourth is Jesus, of course. If all the Jewish people were killed then the line of Jesus would have been destroyed too. So since God decided to preserve the people, He preserved Jesus’ ancestors too.
This is how I feel about Esther. I am glad that this story was included into the Bible, since it is one of my favorite books. God had a very cool plan for Esther. God made her queen so that she (and He) could protect the Jewish people. Esther probably wasn’t much older than me when she saved her people, but I’m not sure I could be that brave. She faced death, but decided her people were more important.