Are you teaching the book of Esther? Are you looking for some general background information to help you prepare for a class? We can help!
The book of Esther is located in the Old Testament and is one of two books in the Bible named after a woman (the other being the book of Ruth).
Chronologically, the book of Esther takes place between chapters six and seven of the book of Ezra.
Tradition points to the author as being either Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) or Ezra.
The original audience was the Jewish people. One unique aspect is that it states within the book the reason for its writing. The events recorded within are a reminder to the Jewish people of how God saved them from certain destruction through a brave Jewish queen.
The book of Esther has many important characters. To find the names of each character we will need to look in the book itself and then do some extra-biblical research to learn more about such people as King Ahasuerus. Different translations will often have different names for the same person, so be sure to read the book in at least two translations.
Also, be sure to look up the meaning of proper names of biblical characters in their original language, for the meaning will have a connection to the story.
The setting for the book of Esther is Ancient Persia, specifically the capital city of Susa. At this time in history, the Persian Empire spanned the globe from India to Egypt.
Today, Susa is called Shush and is located in the modern country of Iran.
In your Bible atlas, look up the following locations:
Some scholars date the writing to between the time of the captivity of Judah (586 BC) and before the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem (circa 535 BC). Other scholars put the date of writing later, between 464 BC and 435 BC.
The events unfolding in the book of Esther take place over an eight to ten-year time frame.
The biblical month of Adar is the only month specifically mentioned in the book of Esther. Adar is the last month of the year and falls in late winter before the month of Nisan. The holiday that commemorates the events documented in the book of Esther is held each year on Adar 14 and 15.
The book of Esther is one book everyone will enjoy reading. It has all you could ask for in a story: suspense, comedy, and intrigue!
In conclusion, as you read the book for yourself or prepare to teach it, you will find yourself drawn into this story of God’s protection of His people, and you will be inspired to live like Mordecai and Esther, who followed after God even in the hardest times.