The book of Esther and the book of Ruth are the only two books in the entire Bible that bear the name of Hebrew women. Both read very much like novels. While the book of Ruth begins and ends in poverty, the book of Esther begins with all the splendor of the kingdom of Persia. Persia was the wealthiest nations ever to exist in the history of the world, and Nebuchadnezzar had carried the Jews away from Jerusalem to be bondmen in foreign lands. According to Isaiah, the Jerusalem was reduced to a land of jackals, owls, thorns and briars. Esther, the heroine, is first seen as a lowly orphan child brought up by a cousin; yet, to the human eye, she rises to a position of power and service to her people because of her beauty and humility.
When Esther lacked courage to put her life in the balances in order to save her people, Mordecai used the phrase, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Est 4:14). That phrase should remind us of the humble beginnings of Joseph-how he was brought to Egypt as a slave and of his willingness to be used to feed the poor nations around. We may read and reread, first of his stand for right, then his imprisonment and finally his rise to power for the specific purpose of feeding God’s chosen people. Yet for all the work given to Esther and Joseph, if they had not cooperated with God’s plan to do the work the way He wanted it to be done, He would have raised up another deliverer from another place and destroyed both them and their houses (Esther 4:14a).
Consider a few facts associated with this short book:
- Esther’s name appears fifty-five times. The only other woman’s name to appear nearly that many times is Sarah or Sarai.
- Esther is apparently the only Jewess to ever sit on a foreign throne.
- Training in respect for her “parents” is seen in Esther’s obedience to Mordecai in spite of her position as queen.
- We see that Esther had respect for her husband and the laws of the land even though she was doing her best to find a way to repeal the unfair law to destroy her people.
- The accuracy of the accounts of the Persian Empire and its palaces and rules is unsurpassed in secular history.
- Ahasuerus is also known as Artaxerxes in secular history for anyone who doubts the authenticity of the account.
- The Persians did not appear to force anyone to drink more than they wanted; in fact the laws appear to regulate or limit drinking.
- The Jew’s Feast of Purim is given credibility under the old law because of the explanation found in the book of Esther.
- “Pur” from which the word Purim comes, means “a lot.” The lot was cast to see which would be the most favorable day for the Jews to stand against their enemies.
- Even today the Jews respect the “law” given by Esther to remember the Feast of Purim on the fourteenth and fifteenth of March (Est 9:32).