Throughout time, people have attempted to destroy the nation of Israel, the “apple of God’s eye.” It was because from the Jews, came the covenants, promises, the law, and the messiah—the savior of the world. God’s chosen people are the enemy of Satan, the prince of this world, and the conflict started back in Genesis 3:15.
While a remnant from Judah returned to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, other Jews remained in the cities of their captivity. Some were welcomed as valued members of their communities, but others were despised and hated. Some were even targeted for extermination. The book of Esther tells a story of an attempted extermination. It records a ten-year span during the 58-60 year interlude in the book of Ezra (ch.6-7) between the first return headed by Zerubbabel and the second return headed by Ezra. It also tells of the inauguration of a feast (Purim), which has endured over 2,000 years because of one woman, whose name the book is titled, said, “If I perish… I perish.” Moreover, Esther is a story of courage and communication displayed in the life of two people: Esther and Mordecai.
Author and Date
The author of this book remains unknown. However, the author was probably a Jew, both from the purpose of the book in accounting for the origin of the Jewish festival Purim and from the Jewish nationalism, that permeates the story. Also, the author was acquainted with Persian culture. This is indicated by the extensive descriptions of the palace complex in Susa filtered throughout the book and the domestic reign of King Ahasuerus. Based on these observations, some have ascribed the author to Mordecai. However, modern scholars reject this idea because Mordecai is referred to in the past tense in the final chapter of the book. Still, others ascribe Ezra or Nehemiah as authors. However, these also fall short because the syntax and grammar of their writings are different from what makes up Esther.
Whoever the author was, the book of Esther was probably written shortly after the reign of Ahasuerus, no earlier than 465 B.C. The author writes of the rule of Ahasuerus and the deeds of Mordecai (10:2) in the past tense, indicating the book was not composed during Ahasuerus’ reign.
The events of Esther span a decade during the reign of Ahasuerus, who succeeded his father Darius as ruler of the Persian Empire in 486 B.C. During his reign (486-465 B.C.), Ahasuerus continued his father’s campaign against Greece for its role in the Ionian revolt. After suffering defeat, he retired to Susa, one of the four capitals of the Persian Empire. Around 483 B.C. he held an extravagant feast in Susa to celebrate his achievements and ten years later, he executed Haman for his evil schemes (1:3; 7:9).
Some critical scholars question the historical accuracy of Esther on various accounts. One difficulty is that neither Vashti nor Esther is mentioned outside...