AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ESTHER
The name of this book comes from its main character, Esther, a young Jewish girl who later became Queen of the Persian Empire. Through the providence of God, she was in position (Esth.4v14) to prevent the annihilation of her entire nation. The Feast of Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people on that occasion. There is no organic connection between the Book of Esther and the rest of the Bible, but scholars believe that this book is our only glimpse of Jewish life under the Persians during the period between the first and second returns to Jerusalem.
Although there is no mention in the Book of Esther of Palestine, Jerusalem, the Temple, or the Law of Moses, the events took place within the general time-frame of officially-approved migrations of Jewish exiles back to their homeland. Esther lived during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) in 486-465 B.C. Early in his rule, his armies fought the Greeks for the first time. His empire extended from India to Ethiopia and included twenty satrapies, which were divided into many provinces. Jerusalem was only a tiny outpost in his kingdom. Though the word "God" never appears in Esther, God's power is implied everywhere in this book. The Book of Esther teaches that God's providence is active in every facet of human life. We cannot escape Him. His purposes, though sometimes hidden, are far-reaching. We can always be confident of God's care and protection.
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