Esther-God is in control

About the Book of Esther

A Bible text and commentary on the book of Esther. Written by Robert Bryce. Revised February 2006.

The events that the first chapter of the book of Esther describes happened about 483 BC (Before Christ). Over 100 years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar (the king of Babylon) had attacked Jerusalem. He overcame the *Jews and he took many *Jews to Babylon. Almost 70 years after that, the king of Persia defeated the armies of Babylon in battle. Then the people in Persia allowed the *Jews to return to their own country, but not many *Jews did return. When the story of Esther happened, most *Jews were still living in the country called Persia.

We do not know who wrote the book. It may have been Mordecai or Ezra. Whoever wrote it knew the customs of Persia well. We know this from other history.

The Bible does not mention the book of Esther anywhere else. Some people think that it is only a story. They think that it is not true. But the writer wants us to know that the story is true. At the start of the book, he says when it happened. At the end of the book, he says that the official records included the story about Esther. (See Esther 10:2 and also Esther 2:23.)esther-trailer-bg-1024x514

The book of Esther does not mention the name of God. This is strange for a book that is in the Bible. Sometimes God seems to be silent. We might even think that he does not care about us. The writer of the book of Esther probably wanted his readers to realise that God is always in control. Although we cannot see God, he is always doing things in the world. Nobody can stop his plans.

·     Usually the kings of Persia only married wives from the 7 most important families in Persia. But God wanted Esther, who was a *Jew, to be queen. The servants of the king suggested that officials should search all the *kingdom for suitable young girls. The king would then choose his favourite girl and he would make her queen (Esther 2:2-4). God made Esther beautiful (Esther 2:7). And the king chose her to be queen.

·     Mordecai was Esther’s relative. He saved the king’s life. But the king forgot to reward him. That was unusual. But God knew that the best time for Mordecai to get his reward was much later (Esther 2:21-23).

·     Haman was the enemy of the *Jews. He wanted to select a lucky date when he could kill the *Jews. So he used the *Purim stones, which were a game of chance. God made sure that the *Purim stones chose a date nearly a year later. God had a special plan to save the *Jews from Haman’s plot (Esther 3:7).

·     Mordecai believed that God had made Esther queen. So Mordecai believed that God could use her to save the *Jews. But even if Esther did not speak on their behalf, God would still save the *Jews. Mordecai believed this also (Esther 4:12-14).

·     Esther went to see the king, although he had not invited her. In Persia, this was a dangerous thing to do. She knew that she was risking her life. But she also knew that God was in control. God helped Esther to please the king. The king promised to give her almost anything that she wanted (Esther 5:1-3).

·     We do not know why the king could not sleep that night. We do not know why he chose to read the books of official records. But we know that this was part of God’s plan. The records described how Mordecai saved the king’s life. So the king wanted advice about how to reward Mordecai. He decided to ask the first important official that he could find. It was Haman. Haman got up early and, at exactly the right time, he came to see the king. But Haman wanted the king to hang Mordecai (Esther 6:1-5).

·     Haman told his wife and his friends about Mordecai. He told them that Mordecai was a *Jew. They seemed to believe that God would protect his *Jewish people (Esther 6:12-14).

·     God changed the situation. Mordecai got the king’s reward that Haman had wanted for himself. And Haman got the punishment that Haman wanted Mordecai to get (Esther 7:5-10). Then the king allowed Mordecai to write a new law that would protect the *Jews from Haman’s evil plan.

·     The day that Haman had chosen for his plan came. The enemies of the *Jews had hoped to kill all the *Jews. But Mordecai’s law allowed the *Jews to defend themselves on that day. Haman’s plot had failed. God’s plan had succeeded (Esther 9:1-4).

·     The book of Esther records the origin of the holiday called *Purim. During this holiday, the *Jews remember how God saved them from their enemies (Esther 9:20-22).

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10