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The Book of Esther Religion and Theology - Essay Example

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The Book of Esther Religion and Theology

Some researchers consider the book of Esther as not a real story, but as some kind of parable or a pseudo historic narrative, but this view can contradicted by a number of facts, in particular, a detailed description of life and environment, the personality of the Persian king Ahasuerus, the peculiarities of language, a mass of authentic Persian and Zend names. The events described in the book took place in the so-called Persian period (539-331 BC), after the return of large numbers of Israelites to the land of Palestine from exile. Most of the exiles decided not to return to Palestine, despite the fact that they were urged to leave Babylon by such prophets as Isaiah and Jeremiah, who lived at that time (Isaiah 48:20, Jeremiah 50:8, 51:6). Also, Jeremiah was referring to the fact that they should have left Babylon after 70 years of their stay there, because it was the will of the Lord (Jeremiah 29:10), who once again would bless them in the promised land based on the covenant concluded with their fathers (Deuteronomy 28). Esther and Mordecai were among those Jews who did not follow the prophetic commandments to return. In various ancient sources the Persian king, who is described in the book of Esther, is called in many ways, and this is reflected in the translations of the Bible into different languages. In the English Bible he is called Ahasuerus. He is also usually known as Xerxes. Also, sometimes he is even called Achashverosh or Achshiyarshu. This king ruled the Persian Empire since 485 to 465 BC. He was a strong and energetic leader. Also, in religious literature he “is not thought to be an active Jew-hater or someone who initiates persecution” (Schwartzmann, 2011: 124). The events described in the book took place in the period of time, which divides chapters 6 and 7 in the Book of Ezra. More specifically, the events take place in the decade between 483 BC (since the third year of Ahasuerus’ reign; Esther 1:3) and 473 BC (the end of the 12th year of his reign). The Book of Esther is the only book of the Bible, where God’s name is not mentioned. Quotes from the book of Esther can’t be found in the New Testament. Its scrolls were not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It does not mention either the Law of Moses or sacrifices. All this is consistent with the view that the Jews who settled in the Persian Empire moved away from observing the Law and, therefore, the will of God. They also refused to perform their duty to return to the Promised Land and restore the worship of Jehovah in the temple. Fahlbusch et al (1999: 134) state that “the Book of Esther is the oldest record of hatred of the Jews in the narrower sense of dislike because the Jews are different on the basis of their law”. In the Book of Esther there is no mention of prayers, although it mentions fasting. For instance, in the other books of this period a prayer in the words of the main characters plays an important role (a good example is the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). But Mordecai and Esther do not pray. Maybe they both were not well versed in spiritual matters, except for their belief that God will protect His people. Whom the Book of Esther was addressed to? If the researchers knew who were the first readers of the Book of Esther it would be easier to interpret it. The book contains several references to dates that correlate the narration with a certain period of the existence of the Persian Empire, but it has no hint concerning the time of its creation, and no clear indication of the target audience. Some scholars suggest that the Book of Esther was written in Persia, and then transported to Palestine, where it was included into the collection of the Old Testament books recognized as canonical. ...Show more

Summary

The Book of Esther is unique due to several issues. It contains a very interesting and informative material about the nature of life in the Persian Empire of a certain historical period…
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The Book of Esther Religion and Theology Essay essay example
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