Who wrote the books of the Bible and when?
Book of Esther, the account of the salvation of the Jews from the Persians through a Jewess names Esther, was written about the fifth century (483-471) B.C. Though the author is unknown, Mordecai is mentioned as recording the events in verse 9:20. It takes place during the Persian Empire, when many Jews were still in exile since the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Medes and the Persians. Esther was the Jewish wife of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus), who was nearly persuaded by his advisor Haman to destroy the Jews, but Esther intervened and warned the king of the evil plot. The Jews were narrowly spared and in memory of the occassion the Feast of Purim was initiated.
The Book of Esther includes accounts of the following events:
- Deposition of Queen Vashti by King Xerxes and the royal issue for all women to respect their husbands
- Preparation of the women in competition as bride of King Xerxes
- Esther daughter of Abihail wins the favor and crown of King Xerxes
- Esther's gaurdian, Mordecai, learns of a plot to assassinate the king and tells Esther, who warns the king
- Mordecai refuses to pay honor to the king's top official, Haman, so his race is singled out for destruction
- Haman convinces the king that the Jews pose a threat and a decree is issued for their destruction
- Mordecai convinces Esther to risk her life by going to the king in the inner court without being summoned to persuade him against the edict
- Esther invites King Xerxes and Haman to a banquet, while Haman builds a gallows to hang Mordecai
- Mordecai is remembered by the king for saving his life and Haman is ordered to honor him publicly
- Haman's plot against the Jews is revieled at Esther's banquet and Haman is hanged from Mordecai's gallows
- Although the king could not repeal his edict, he issued a decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves against anyone who tried to kill them
- Mordecai is honored by the king as second in rank and the Feast of Purim is established where gifts are exchanged among the Jews in remembrance of the event
Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. But when Esther came before the King, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
Note: The Septuagint text of Esther contains more detailed accounts of some of the incidents than those in the Hebrew text, which are considered by many Protestant scholars as apocryphal additions. These include: Mordecai's dream and its interpretation; discovery of a conspiracy against King Xerxes; text of Xerxes' decree ordering the destruction of the Jews; prayers of Mordecai and Esther; expanded account of Esther's audience with Xerxes; text of Xerxes' edict favoring the Jews.
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