Are you teaching on the book of Esther? 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.
Who wrote the book of Esther? Tradition points to the author being either Mordecai or Ezra.
One unique aspect of the book of Esther 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.
There are several main characters in the book of Esther. We find that it is always interesting to do both biblical and extra-biblical research on the primary players. Also, be sure to look up the meaning of proper names in their original language, for the meaning will have a connection to the story. Different translations will often have different names for the same person, so be sure to read the book in at least two translations.
- King Ahasuerus (Persian name) or Xerex (Greek name)
- Queen Vashti
- Queen Esther (Persian name) or Hadassah (Hebrew name)
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.
In your Bible atlas, look up the following locations:
- Ancient Persia
- Ancient Media
- Susa or Shushan
Some scholars date the writing of the book of Esther 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 timeframe.
The biblical Month of Adaris 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 commemorating the events documented in the book of Esther is held each year on Adar 14 and 15.
What makes the book of Esther unique?
- Esther is one of only two books in the Bible named after a woman.
- The name of God is not found in the entire book, the only book of the Bible in which God is not named. However, God is obviously at work throughout the book.
- The events recorded in Esther are celebrated each year with a holiday called Purim.
The book of Esther is one book every Bible student will enjoy reading. It has all you could ask for in a story: suspense, comedy, and intrigue! 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.