Was Esther Righteous?

 

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For my Old Testament Introduction class, I wrote a semester research project on the question: Was Esther Righteous? The Views, the Problems, Evidence, and Solution.

I never really thought about this question before, because I always assumed that Esther and all the other major OT female heroines like Rahab, Ruth, Naomi, and Miriam were righteous (justified) by their faith in Yahweh. Apparently there is debate on this particular subject regarding Esther’s spirituality. For those who care to read about this topic, here is my stance on this issue:

 

Was Esther Righteous?

The Views, The Problems, Evidence, and Solution

 

INTRODUCTION

The book of Esther is one of the most inspiring accounts in the Old Testament of God’s mighty providence and His timeless protection over the people of Israel. The central character Esther is lauded by many within the Jewish and Christian circle for her accomplishment of saving the entire Jewish race (under the sovereign hand of Yahweh) from extermination during the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Despite Esther’s heroic deed, there looms an important question: Was Esther a righteous woman? Surely Esther performed righteous deeds as documented in the book of Esther, but the question has more of a salvific implication to it. Was Esther righteous in the sense that she had eternal salvation? Was Esther a damned apostate Jew whom God merely used as a pawn to fulfill His sovereign purposes, or did God express full favor to her in the sense that He credited her faith as righteousness, much in the same way that He did with Abram in Genesis 15:6?

Because of Esther’s actions forIsrael and her account’s inclusion in the canon of inspired Scripture, much of the Christian world believes that Esther was truly a righteous woman, and it is the aim of this paper to present Esther as such. Although the nature of the book’s composition makes it hard to confidently declare that Esther was a justified, God-fearing Jewess, there is still some healthy evidence to show that Esther was in the right path. God did not merely use Esther to uphold the Abrahamic Covenant, but acted in accordance with her faith so that He can reward her and accomplish His good purposes in her life and in the lives of those around her. Using such research methods as theological, historical, cultural, and genre analysis, this paper will explore the different views and problems regarding the truth of Esther’s moral condition, present positive evidence for her righteous standing before Yahweh, and conclude with a proper solution and its implication for Israel and the Christian faith.

 

THE CHALLENGES TO ESTHER’S RIGHTEOUSNESS 

Although the spiritual condition of Esther is regarded favorably by many evangelicals, there are others who do not share in that same optimism. In fact, there are some who do not believe that Esther was righteous, both in her spiritual stance before God and in her visible actions as portrayed in Scripture. Some scholars would even see Esther’s righteous condition as somewhat irrelevant when compared to the real theme of the book of Esther, which is God’s providential care for His people and the certainty of His plans carried out in history. This brief section will describe some of the challenges and problems posed to the theme of Esther’s righteousness. It is helpful to understand these issues so we can better address the apparent complexity, but resolvable certainty, of Esther’s spirituality before Yahweh.

 

Neutral Evidence

The book of Esther documents the origins of the Jewish holiday Purim, but the main purpose behind its inspiration and writing was to attest to the power of God moving behind the scenes to make things happen according to His sovereign will, though His presence may not have been seen throughout the book.[1] The book of Esther also testifies to God’s commitment to perpetually protect Israel from destruction because of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenant that He established with Israel’s forefathers, which serve as the hope for Israel’s continued survival and the grounds for its enemies’ downfall.[2] However, the protection that is afforded to Israel because of these covenants neither proves nor disproves the saving faith of all Jews throughout history. The same can be said with Esther.

The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional, unilateral covenant. This means that it is up to God alone to fulfill all of His promises to Abraham’s descendants before the close of world history. The ceremonial ratifying of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 15:7-21 shows that God took the responsibility upon Himself to carry out His promises to Abraham’s descendants, which means Israel cannot disqualify itself from and nullify the covenant because of its moments of disobedience.[3] In effect, this covenant is eternally binding on Israel, and will be successfully fulfilled when the remnant of national Israel comes to repentance and faith in the last days, thereby fulfilling the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34) and the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7) as well.[4] Until the time of its eschatological fulfillment, God uses faithful Jews and apostate Jews, faithful Gentiles and pagan Gentiles, to carry out the words of Genesis 12:1-3, which documents the blessing of Israel and the cursing of its enemies (Gen 12:1-3). Examples of unsaved people whom God has used to advance the good cause of the nation of Israel include King Saul (Jew) and King Cyrus of Persia (Gentile). Esther may very well fit into this category. Those who cast doubt upon Esther’s righteousness possibly see her as an apostate, carnal Jew whom God used to preserve the people of Israel, not because of His favor upon her, but solely because it pleased Him to accomplish His will of preserving Israel.   

 

Problems Regarding Esther’s Status

The main reason why skeptics regard Esther as unrighteous is that she was not a Torah keeper. This is reasonable considering Scripture never makes mention of Esther reading the Law of God, practicing any of the Mosaic statutes, and uttering even a speck of words concerning Yahweh. Omission of the word God in the entire book of Esther has been argued by some scholars as an intentional authorial note to show that the exilic Persian Jews were mostly apostate, including Esther.[5] Esther’s unrighteous condition is not only assessed because of Esther’s lack of devotion to Yahweh, but also because of Esther’s immoral and sacrilegious acts hinted at in various parts of the book. In 2:15, Esther has sexual relations with King Ahasuerus, which some would see as Esther revealing her immoral character and her disregard for the Mosaic commandment regarding sexual purity (Deut 22:13-30). The banquets that Esther participated in (2:9; 7:1) also suggests that she may have eaten unclean foods and thus compromised her faith by not keeping the Mosaic dietary laws. Although the text does not specify whether Esther ate everything given to her or passed on certain foods, skeptics are certain that her non-resistance implied that she passively ate whatever was presented to her, in contrast to Daniel who boldly demonstrated his commitment to Yahweh and His statues by not partaking of unclean foods despite coming under Gentile dominion and social pressure (Dan 1:8).[6]

Esther’s lack of desire to speak about her faith and her non-compliance to certain areas of the Mosaic Law (e.g. sexual immorality) does not present her favorably when compared to exiles like Daniel or even Gentile women such as Rahab the harlot, whom the biblical authors demonstrated as expressing visible faith in Yahweh and obedience to His will. Skeptics consider these factors as reasonable for proving that Esther was not a righteous woman. They see the omission of Yahweh from the book of Esther as axiomatic that Esther, her uncle Mordecai, and the Persian Jews at the time were antinomianists who made no mention of God’s name because of their empty spiritual condition, which is why the author of Esther never needed to mention the term Yahweh in his composition of the book.[7] Some in ancient Judaism, and even NT scholars like Martin Luther, questioned the inspiration and canonicity of the book of Esther, regarding it as antilogomena (i.e., ‘books spoken against’) and no more inspired than the Judas Maccebeus accounts of the Intertestamental Period.[8] Carey A. Moore perfectly captures this anti-righteousness-of-Esther sentiment in saying that “Esther’s Jewishness was more of a fact of birth than of religious conviction.”[9]

 

EVIDENCE OF ESTHER’S RIGHTEOUSNESS

Opponents of Esther’s righteousness raise some solid evidence for their case, especially since Scripture is quiet in many areas that could give stronger support for Esther’s spiritual condition. Although neither Esther nor the author mentions the name Yahweh in the book, this does not mean we should automatically dismiss the work as uninspired or cast Esther off as an unrighteous, unregenerate Jew. There is still convincing elements to show that Esther may actually have been a justified, God-fearing woman who found eternal favor with the LORD. Taking into consideration such factors as Esther’s response to Haman’s threat, the book’s literary composition and canonicity, cultural and historical factors, and the results of Esther’s actions, we have a healthy case to prove that God used a righteous, although far from ideal, Jewess to honor the Abrahamic Covenant and thus protect the Jewish people.

 

The Integrity of the Book of Esther

As previously mentioned, some have challenged the canonicity of the book of Esther because of its lack of references to Yahweh and its portrayal of a less-than-inspiring Jewess who may not have even been a true worshiper. Despite what critics thought, the fact is: the book of Esther has made it into the canon of the Bible. It appears in virtually all the ancient Hebrew manuscript witnesses as well as in the LXX, Vulgate, Clement of Alexandria, and Augustine, and is with the Christian and Jewish community to this very day.[10] This achievement is significant because it demonstrates that the person Esther is not only historical, but one who found a degree of favor with Yahweh, since God purposefully guided Esther’s life and saw fit to honor her life achievements by including it in His inspired, written word for future generations to read and learn from. The book’s inspiration does not automatically mean that Esther was righteous, but it is difficult to imagine that the book’s main protagonist was used mightily by God to accomplish great things for Israel, yet ended up being eternally lost. Whenever the Bible documents central protagonists in a book, whether it be Joseph, Moses, Job, Jonah, or Ruth, it always does so with people who were reckoned as righteous because of their faith in Yahweh, though they may not have been morally perfect. If the book of Esther is as much divinely inspired as is the book of Ruth, Job, and Exodus, then Esther may possibly be part of the line of justified heroes in Scripture. This is reasonable considering that God uses Esther’s story to this very day, as with others people in the Bible, to inspire the church to active faith and obedience.[11]

Though Scripture does not specifically state nor depict Esther’s righteousness in a satisfactory way, this does not that Esther had no spiritual life. The author’s silence on this matter may be because of factors unrelated to Esther’s religion. Perhaps Esther and her uncle Mordecai were just silent in front of political figures like Nehemiah was in the presence of King Artaxerxes (Ne 2:1-8). Another factor to take into consideration is the Gentile hostility that was running high in the time, which made exilic Jews like Esther cautious.[12] Speculations are varied, but we can still make an educated conclusion on this issue by looking at some crucial factors that can help shape our understanding and approach to the book of Esther.

 

The Author’s Composition

We begin this exploration by delving into genre analysis, which gives us valuable insights as to why the name Yahweh or any overt religious references were not included in the composition. The genre of the book of Esther has been widely debated because it does not fit perfectly into any one mold as some other books of the OT do. Genre suggestions range from historical novel to wisdom literature. However, most scholars agree that the book of Esther is a narrative art of some sort.[13] In order for this study of Esther’s righteousness to be relevant to the life of believers, the book of Esther must appropriately be seen as historical rather than fiction.[14] To deem Esther as not grounded in history is to deny both the historicity and inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17), and would make this discussion of Esther’s character quite futile.

As narrative, the book of Esther has nearly all the hallmarks that characterize this genre, including plot, characterization, scenes, and dialogue. The genre also incorporates stylistic devices such as irony, which is demonstrated in the reversal motif that is the major theme of the book, that act of God that allowed the Jews to become not the victims, but the victors, not the despised but the triumphantly delivered. If the author of the book was at liberty to arrange his work in such creative, yet truthful, way to tell this particular story, then it is likely that the author may also have employed the device of omission. This explains why the name Yahweh and any obvious religious acts of devotion to God are never explicitly mentioned in the book of Esther. The unique factor about the narrative genre is that the author consciously selects historical data, while leaving out some specific details as well, with specific purposes in mind. He creatively arranges such historical information into a purposeful final product.[15] And narrative genre most always serves the goal of edification and instruction of readers.[16]

So what is the edifying message to the readers? Does this correlate with why the book was written and how it was written? It surely does. The reason that the book of Esther was constructed in its form was not to critique Esther’s moral condition for the sake of commenting on the general or complex nature of sanctification, but to highlight the character who providentially worked behind the scenes: Yahweh.[17] The aim of the author is to teach that no matter how great the human king, the governmental power, and the human forces that threaten God’s people and His plan, God is infinitely greater. He is fundamentally in control of everything that happens in the world. Even when He does not speak or His name is not uttered in the social context of the post-exilic Persian Jews, God is ever active behind the scenes, and His immanence is revealed through His care for the covenant people.[18] In essence, God is the main character of this book, which so happens to be one of the general identifying marks of narrative characterization.[19]

The appropriate response to God’s amazing work should be wholehearted praise of His providential care and trust in Him alone for salvation. The narrator wants to emphasize the crucial role of not only God’s sovereignty in the outcome of events, but human initiative and action.[20] In this case, Esther is used as a model of how one must respond to divine opportunities, something she did well by using her political standing to protect Israel, thus honoring God’s covenant plans for the nation.

The literary composition gives evidence that the author never needed to mention Esther’s Torah observance because highlighting the merit of a particular person was not his main intent. He penned the book of Esther, omitting any references to God, so that he can magnify the importance of God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant. Such writing is intended to give exilic Israelites true hope of future deliverance by and restoration to God, despite the tragedy of the divine judgment that befell the nation a century prior. It may have possibly been a given within the community that Esther was a righteous, God-fearing Jewess who modeled a sense of courage, and possibly faith, that the people of God should emulate, especially if the nation desires to see its ultimate restoration through the fulfillment of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenant. In the next few subsection, we will examine factors that speak to the likely reality that Esther’s saving faith is what motivated her actions, at least by the time of 4:16.  

 

Cultural Factors

With the literary and genre issue clarified, we now have a good reason to examine evidences of Esther’s righteous standing before God by considering both what Scripture reveals about this issue and how cultural factors shape our understanding of character motives and actions. We will begin by dissecting the issue of Esther’s “irreligious activities.” Skeptics fault Esther of being disobedient to God’s Law by unreservedly fornicating with King Ahasuerus in 2:15 and submitting to that subsequent lifestyle thereafter. However, Esther did not commit sexual sin as some suggest. Esther was most likely already married to Ahasuerus before she went to bed with him. Archaeological evidence suggests that the king’s marriages, especially as it regards concubines, were not usually marked by formal marriage ceremonies, which is why Scripture never depicts it. The king’s will that a woman be included among his harem was typically the enactment of his marital union with the woman of his choice.[21] Since Esther was a wife, like all concubines in King Ahasuerus’ harem, she was technically legit in her relations, though the king is purely at fault because of his polygamous lifestyle.

Even if she had a pure marriage to King Ahasuerus, there is still the debated issue that she disobeyed the Law of Moses by marrying a pagan Gentile. Even though passages like Exodus 34:12-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4 speak against the danger of inter-religious marriage, there were other Jewish believers, such as Moses, King Solomon, and King David, who married women of other ethnicity and religions. This was an obvious error on their part, but does this mean that they were not saved? Despite the sins prevalent in the lives of even the noblest of biblical figures, these men were obviously righteous because they ultimately repented of their wrongdoings and were justified by faith in Yahweh. Can the same be said about Esther? It is a possibility. Esther’s circumstances were different than David and Solomon in that she was not a man of influence or power before her ascension, but was a female exile held under the authority of a pagan empire. In marrying King Ahasuerus, Esther faithfully submitted to the government, which is a godly principle made clear by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:1 and Titus 3:1. Despite her imperfections, Esther was still faithful to adhere to some important aspects of God’s law, whether directly or indirectly, which makes this case a difficult one for making a conclusive stance against the righteousness of Esther.

 

Esther’s Religious Activities Come to Light

There seems to be no trace of religious activity in Esther’s life until crisis strikes. In Chapter 4, Mordecai learns of Haman the Agagite’s plot to destroy all the Jews in the Persian Empire, which brings tremendous grief to him. After a period of weeping and fasting in sackcloth and ashes (display of faith in God?), Mordecai sends a message to his adopted daughter Esther regarding the matter, pleading with her to go to King Ahasuerus in order to intercede for the people of Israel. Esther expresses fear in approaching King Ahasuerus’ inner court unannounced, since such an act could result in her death. Esther was evidently afraid for her own life, but then Mordecai reminds her of an important truth concerning God’s sovereignty and her personal responsibility in 4:13-14:

Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?

“…another place” is a reference to Yahweh. This is how the Jews would have understood this statement, since such a source of miracle cannot be attributed to anything else but God.[22] Esther had an amazing sense of teachability when it came to Mordecai’s words concerning “another place,” which gives hints that the Spirit of God was working in her life to convict her of duties to God. Esther did not question Mordecai’s words or defy him, but obeyed, knowing full well what he was talking about. She recognized God’s authority over her life and submitted to her responsibility to do what was in the best interest of God and the people of Israel. Esther’s understanding of God’s hidden sovereignty and her initiative, and her subsequent response, is what characterizes the life of a true believer and the aim to which all inspired Scripture seeks to teach believers.[23] That is why in the next verse (v. 16), Esther immediately gives orders that all the Jews in Susa fast for her for three days. The queen even commits to fasting in the same way, along with her chambermaidens.

Such references to fasting are the closest references to any religious activities in the book of Esther. Is this a true act of devotion to God or is it merely a secular and cultural showcase? It must be noted that fasting was a part of Persian culture, and was not a practice unique to the Jews. It was meant to show mourning or grief for a lost loved one.[24] In Esther’s case, the fast she called for was designed to implore God’s favor on her behalf, even though prayer is never actually mentioned in the book. Biblical history informs us that fasting often accompanied prayer in Jewish circles to demonstrate the deep concern of those making petitions to the Lord (2 Sam 7:6; Ezra 8:21; Jonah 3:3-8) and demonstrated acts of sincerity onto Him (2 Chr 2-:1-4; Dan 9:3). The three-day fast showed Esther’s commitment to seek the LORD for help, which is sound evidence that she had repentant faith in Yahweh. In fact, no only was this act of fasting and prayer a demonstration of her faith, but also the fruits that came out of it, which was manifested in her sacrificing her own life to save her people (4:16), calling for a corporate fast to seek after Yahweh, and the institution of Purim after Israel’s victory to remember God’s providence in protecting Israel.[25] Commentator Mark Mangano believes Esther’s moment of grief and fasting in 4:16 is a genuine expression of repentance and saving faith in Yahweh since it lead to a display of visible fruit in her life. Just as a Christian’s regeneration makes him responsible for a new life, so to was the case with Esther, who defines herself spiritually when she sacrificially sides with Israel.[26] It is difficult to tell whether God regenerated Esther at the moment of 4:16 or if Esther already had a quiet faith before that. Whatever the case, 4:16 is surely the defining moment where, if one has to argue for the case of Esther’s righteous standing before God, Esther’s religious activities come to light. From this point on, Esther’s dependence on God is what drives the rest of the narrative, and such faith leads to an impressive victory for the people of Israel.

 

The Results of Esther’s Faith

In keeping with the eternal promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, Yahweh seemed more than willing to answer Esther’s fast concerning the safety of her people and the defeat of Israel’s enemies. God’s providence is at work as Haman’s plot is inevitably foiled. Haman is hanged on his own gallows (7:7-10), and the destruction planned for the people of Israelis turned around and implemented on Israel’s enemies instead (9:1-19)! During the process of Israel defending itself against the enemies, 8:17 records that many among the Gentile people became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen upon them. Gentiles cannot become Jews in the ethnic sense any more than an African can become an Englishman. So what does this text mean? It implies that the Gentiles took on the religious faith of the children of Abraham. Whether or not most of these Gentiles became regenerate or merely made an external profession is unknown. What we can know for sure is that the enemies understood this battle to have religious implications, since they recognized the power of Yahweh granting victory to His people in ways that the Persian’s pantheon of gods could not offer them.[27]

This information sheds some valuable evidence regarding the spiritual agenda of Esther, and even Mordecai. How feasible is it that these conquered Gentiles could be won over to the God of Israel while Esther, who instigated the decree of battle to begin with, remained an uncommitted follower of Yahweh? The likely solution is that her actions had enough religious overtones that people recognized her God as the one granting the Jews power, which is why they were perceptive of the Yahwist religion and converted when the Israelites conquered them.[28] If Esther was a carnal Jew or entirely indifferent toward her faith, the Gentiles would not have saw any desire to surrender to Yahweh, no less recognize His existence and power.

The results of Esther’s faith also had a major impact on the lives of the Jewish people and the course of Judaism thereafter. 9:18-22 documents the two-day holiday of Purim as the result of the Jews’ survival and victory over their enemies, in which they feasted, rejoiced, sent food to one another, and gave gifts to the poor. From the surface, the holiday may seem entirely secular, celebrating Jewish pride and an occasion to be thankful because of deliverance from the threat of annihilation. But the main reason that Purim is celebrated is to remind Israel of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises.[29] It is a reminder of God’s deliverance of Israel that never ends. Even though Israel forfeited their land because of their covenant disloyalty and went into exile, God still protects and sustains His people. Therefore, the Purim holiday, at least in its initial institution during the era of Esther, had some religious meaning and demanded recognition of facts about Yahweh. It is a call to remind Israel that God has plans to protect Israel in order for the whole program of biblical theology to be complete, which is why they should respond in gratitude and repentant faith instead of remaining in unbelief.[30]

Since Esther was the one who sanctioned Purim under the guidance of Mordecai, it makes reasonable sense that she was righteous in God’s sight, as she displayed the fruit of that righteousness by mandating a holiday that aims at remembering God and His covenant loyalty. Purim has many marks of a God-honoring holiday: lamentation and fasting (to remember Israel’s hopelessness and threat of extinction), rejoicing and feasting (to remember God’s grace of deliverance for His people), and sending portions of food to one another (extending God’s grace to others). The giving of gifts to the poor (9:22b) is a noteworthy observation because this is one important practice that God commanded in the Mosaic Law (Deut 15:10), and when Israel failed to practice this, they were judged and exiled from the Promised Land. It seems here that the Persian Jewish exiles acted differently than their predecessors, making an effort to do what was right in God’s sight. This is sound evidence of a godly people, guided along by an equally godly woman (Esther) who sought to honor the LORD in her gratitude towards Him.

 

CONCLUSION

The issue of Esther’s righteousness continues to be a source of debate because of Scripture’s lack of clarity on this issue. There is intriguing evidence to show that Esther may not have been a righteous woman, there are also factors that argue for a more likely reality that Esther was indeed a saved Jew. Although insufficient archaeological data and the compositional nature of the book of Esther make it difficult to be dogmatic on a given position concerning Esther’s spirituality, the amount of available information evident in the literary analysis, the implications of the religious references in the book of Esther, and the fact that the book is canonical is good reason to assume that Esther was as much a saved heroine as was Ruth, Rahab, and Sarah. Esther may have been morally faulty, but she was a sinner, as were the most exemplary figures in the OT who failed miserably in God’s eyes, yet repented and were ultimately redeemed. The issue of Esther’s righteousness is not as important as the theme of God’s sovereign faithfulness to His covenant people. However, examining the question of Esther’s righteousness proves to be a valuable exercise because it informs us of how God works in the lives of believers and unbelievers to accomplish His good will.




[1] Eugene H. Merrill, Everlasting: An Old Testament Dominion (Nashville,TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 488.

[2] John MacArthur, Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You (Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 149.

[3] Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Chicago,Ill.: Moody Publishers, 2006), 38-45.

[4] John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 48.

[5] Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2007), 768.

[6] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary/History (Colorado Springs,CO: Cook Communications Ministry, 2003), 712.

[7] Ibid., 713.

[8] David Howard Jr., An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books: Revised and Expanded (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), 315-16. Hereafter OTHB.

[9] Carey A. Moore, Esther, Anchor Bible Series (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday and Co., 1971), 25.

[10] R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 296. 

[11] Merrill F. Unger, “Esther,” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, ed. R. K. Harrison (Chicago,Ill.: Moody Publishers, 2005), 378.

[12] W. L. Humphreys, “A Life-Style for Diaspora: A Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel,” JBL 92 (1973): 211-23.

[13] Robert Gordis, “Studies in the Esther Narrative,” Journal of Biblical Literature 95:1 (March 1976): 44.

[14] M. Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), 41-57.

[15] Howard Jr., OTHB , 42.

[16] Ibid., 25.

[17] Abraham D. Cohen, “Hu Ha-goral;: The Religious Significance of Esther,” Judaism 23 (1974): 87-94.

[18] Eugene H. Merrill, “A Theology of Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther,” in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Chicago, Ill.: Moody, 1991), 201. Hereafter Biblical Theology.

[19] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church (Grand Rapids,MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 68-70.

[20] J. A. Loader, “Esther as a Novel with Different Levels of Meaning,” ZAW 90 (1978): 417-21.

[21] Anthony Tomasino, “Esther,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 3: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, ed. John H. Walton (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 482.

[22] L. Allen and T. Laniak, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. New International Bible Commentary (Peabody,MA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 2003), 227.

[23] Sandra B. Berg, “After the Exile: God and History in the Books of Chronicles and Esther,” in The Divine Helmsman: Studies on God’s Control of Human Events, Presented to Lou H. Silberman, ed. James L. Crenshaw and Samuel Sandmel (New York, NY: KTAV, 1980), 107-27.

[24] Pierre Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire (WinonaLake,IN: Eisenbraums, 2002), 492.

[25] Dr. Jim Rosscup, Old Testament Volume 2: Ezra Thru Nehemiah. An Exposition on Prayer: Igniting the Fuel to Flame our Communication with God (Chattanooga,TN: AMG Publishers, 2011), 768-69.

[26] Mark Mangano, Esther & Daniel. The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MI: College Press Publishing Co., 2001), 77-78. Hereafter ED.

[27] John MacArthur, ed., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible Updated Edition (Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 678.

[28] Merrill, Biblical Theology, 205.

[29] Mangano, ED, 120.

[30] Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1998), 496.