The Book of Esther

To properly understand the Book of Esther you need to read it as the Jews read it during the festival of Purim. As the congretation arrives, it is clear that this is to be no usual evening service. The children, and in many congretations the adults, are in costume. Many are carrying a range of noisemakers: pots and pans, groggers that rattle one piece of metal against another when swung in a circle, anything that will groan or screech or bang. The evening service begins with levity. This is to be a reading of the Scroll of Esther with lots of audience participation.

There are four main characters to this story. Two villains and two heros.

King Ahasuerus (sometimes translated Achashvairosh or Xerxes)
Haman - the King's personally chosen high appointed official.

Mordecai - a Jew. Esther's uncle who's like a dad to her.
Esther. - a Jew but keeps it a secret.

Haman is a very bad villain because he tries to kill all the Jews. It is customary for the congregation to yell "Boooo!" and make all the noise they can with all their noise makers whenever the reader comes across his name.

As in any good story with villains and heros, the villains always loose in the end. At the beginning of this story King Ahasuerus and his advisors decide they have to get rid of Queen Vashti in order to keep their wives in Persia obedient to their husbands. The story ends with the King taking orders from his new wife Esther. His contemptuous anti-feminism carries him to his own stultification. The joke is on the tyrant.

Haman's efforts to execute Mordecai and kill all the Jews while elevating himself to even greater power and honor are rewarded with precise irony: Haman himself is executed on the very gallows he erected to execute Mordecai, his own party is massacred, and Mordechai and all the Jews are the ones elevated to great power and honor. Haman's murderous anti-Semitism carries him to his own death.

In the past century scholars have questioned whether the events described in the Book of Esther could have happened even approximately the way it is written -- given our historical and sociological knowledge about the Persian kingdom. It is known that Persian kings of that period married women only from the seven leading families of Persia, therefore the king's marriage to Esther would have been impossible. An examination of the story also provokes doubts about its literal truth. The numerous plot devices point to the whimsical nature of the story. Also the name of God nowhere appears in the story, perhaps because it would be irreverent to mention God in such a comic setting. The only other book in the Bible that does not mention God anywhere in it is the Song of Songs.

Acharya S says, "This book is, however, not historical, as "Esther" is a remake of the Goddess and Queen of Heaven Ishtar, Asherah, Astarte, Astoreth or Isis, from whom comes "Easter." Of Esther, Walker relates:
"Star," the Hebrew rendering if Ishtar or Astarte. The biblical book of Esther is a secularized Elamite myth of Ishtar (Esther) and her consort Marduk (Mordecai), who sacrificed to the god Hammon, or Amon (Haman). Yahweh was never mentioned, because the Jews of Elam worshipped Marduk, not Yahweh. . . . Even the Bible story admits that Esther-Ishtar was not the real name of the Elamite-Jewish queen. Her real name was Hadassah (Esther 2:7).[2,p.144 citing 3,p.286]
Walker continues:
The story of Esther is an allegorical tale of the intercession of Ishtar, whom the Jews worshipped at the time, with the king who was supposed to be her consort, on behalf of the subject Jewish tribes. Interwoven with this theme is that of the ritual sacrifice."[2,p144 citing 3,p.829]

Esther 1
(The story starts out with King Ahasuerus hosting a great banquet for the men. He orders his wife to appear naked so the men can admire her naked body.)

(The Queen refused to display her naked body to the men. Of course she has to refuse, otherwise we wouldn't have a story.)

(It sounds like a good idea to insure that women are always obedient to their husbands. However by the end of the story the tables are turned as the King ends up taking orders from his new wife Esther.)

Esther 2
(Why does Esther keep it a secret she is a Jew? Because without this contrivance the plot could not reach its grand conclusion.)

(Queen Vashti is never again mentioned in the Bible. Who knows what happened to her. She was just a plot device to get this story going.)

(Why isn't Mordechai immediately rewarded for saving the king from a plot against his life? Because without this contrivance the plot could not reach its grand conclusion.)

Esther 3
Esther 4
(This is a set up for a tense scene. Esther will be risking her life when she goes to see the king. Will the king extend the gold scepter to her, or will she be put to death?)
Esther 5
Esther 7
Esther 8
Esther 9
Esther 10
1. Arthur Waskow Seasons Of Our Joy
2. Acharya S THE CHRIST CONSPIRACY: The Greatest Story Ever Sold 1999
3. Walker, Barbara The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets 1983

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