Summary: A study of the book of Ester beginning with a background review of chapter 1 verses 1 - 2
Ester 1: 1 – 2
Today’s Starting Lineup
1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), 2 in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel,
I think it will be beneficial for us to take a look first at some information relative to the whole book of Ester before we begin our verse by verse study. It will I believe paint a enlightening picture of what we are about to study. So, let’s take a look at today’s starting lineup.
First of all there are no solid grounds for identifying the author of the book. All we can say is that he was almost certainly a Jew, that he probably lived in Persia, being familiar with Persian customs, manners and institutions, and that he had a firm belief in the overruling power of God.
Furthermore, the total lack of mention of our Heavenly Father Yahweh [YHWH] or God, of the Torah (the Law), or of specific elements of Jewish worship, point to someone eager to reconcile the Persian empire with the Jewish people, as good solid members of the empire. It would have been extraordinary at a later date for the above to apply. It was when the Jews were being most actively persecuted that they responded by a firm appeal to YHWH and the Torah, and there would be no reason for the non-mention of either at such times, even by someone seeking to be conciliatory towards their overlords. But in seeking to counter the charge that they observed their own laws and refused to observe the laws of the king (3.8) it is perfectly understandable. We would therefore date the book in the second half of the 5th century BC.
The book deals with the question of the proposed treatment of Jews in the Persia empire during the reign of ‘Ahasuerus’, when a powerful courtier by the name of Haman, angry at not receiving from Jews the extreme obeisance that he demanded, determined to annihilate them, seeking to use his influence for that purpose. It indicates how they were signally delivered from what was for them a time of grave national emergency. It was a crisis even exceeding their slavery in Egypt, for it threatened almost total annihilation, something that Esther herself brings out in chapter 7 verse 4. The intervention of God is, however, left to be inferred from the history outlined, as, quite unusually, the name or title of God is nowhere specifically mentioned in the book. On the other hand it is made quite clear that Mordecai was absolutely sure of some kind of intervention. Consider, for example these golden nuggets of information:
• 1). That Mordecai spoke of Esther as ‘coming to the kingdom for such a time as this’ (4.14). He clearly saw in her incorporation into the harem, and selection by the king, the distinct purpose of God, although spoken of in the indirect way which would become common later when the constant use of the Name of God was frowned on.