The book of Esther reads like a novel as it tells the story of how a beautiful, Jewish orphan girl rises to wield significant power in a pagan king’s court. God would ultimately use her to save the Jews from genocide. A recurring theme in Esther is that God raises up the most unlikely people to fulfill His will. Everything happens for “such a time as this.”
The book of Esther makes it clear that God is in control of history even when rulers make unwise and evil decisions based on sinful motivations. Even the smallest impulses and motivations of men and women gone astray are used in the hands of God to rescue His people. God is always skillfully directing all things. He is after all, not only the God of the rulers of the kings of the earth, He is also the God of the gallows.
In Esther, God is glorifying Himself through His sovereign control “for such a time as this,” so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.
No one knows who wrote the book of Esther; though Mordecai, Ezra, and Nehemiah have all been put forward as candidates.
The author appears to be writing after Ahasuerus’ reign, which ended in 450 B.C. Since the fall of the Persian Empire to Greece (331 B.C.) is not recorded, the book was most likely written before this event.
“The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”
“Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, ‘There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who do the work, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.’ ”
“Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, ‘Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.’ ”
If Haman had succeeded in his plot to exterminate the Jews, Christ’s family line would have been cut off. Yet, we see the providence of God in preserving His people by thwarting Haman’s scheme. The Devil cannot stop the work of Christ. His power is limited and his days are numbered.
Over how many provinces did King Ahasuerus reign?
127 (Esth. 1:1).
What did Queen Vashti do that made King Ahasuerus angry?
She refused to come at the king’s command (Esth. 1:12).
According to Memucan, what effect would Vashti’s rebellion have on all the women in the kingdom?
They would despise their husbands (Esth. 1:17).
What was Memucan’s advice?
That King Ahasuerus give Vashti’s royal position to another (Esth. 1:19).
What did the king think about Esther?
He loved her more than all the other women, and made her queen instead of Vashti (Esth. 2:17).
What did Mordecai do when all the king’s servants bowed and paid homage to Haman?
He refused to do so (Esth. 3:2).
Why was Haman angry at Mordecai?
Because Mordecai would not bow or pay homage to him (Esth. 3:5).
Why did Haman ask the king to have the Jews destroyed?
Because he hated Mordecai (Esth. 3:6–9).
How did Mordecai respond when he heard about the king’s decree?
He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went out into the midst of the city, and cried out with a loud and bitter cry (Esth. 4:1).
How did the Jews respond when they heard about the decree?
They mourned with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes (Esth. 4:3).
What was Esther’s response when Mordecai asked her to go before the king?
She told him that those who went to the king uninvited were often put to death (Esth. 4:10–11).
What was Mordecai’s response?
He told Esther that if she did not help the Jews, deliverance would arise from another place, but she and her father’s house would perish. (Esth. 4:13–14).
What did Esther tell Mordecai and the Jews to do?
She told them to fast for three days before she went to see the king (Esth. 4:15–17).
What did Esther say to the king?
She invited him and Haman to a banquet (Esth. 5:4).
What did Esther say to the king at the banquet?
She asked that he and Haman come to another banquet (Esth. 5:6–8).
What did Haman’s wife and friends advise Haman to make?
A gallows, fifty cubits high, to hang Mordecai on (Esth. 5:14).
What did Haman do to Mordecai at the king’s command?
He took the king’s robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai, led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” (Esth. 6:6–11).
What was the king’s response when he heard about Haman’s plot?
He was filled with wrath (Esth. 7:7).
What was done to Haman at the king’s command?
He was hanged on the gallows which he had made for Mordecai (Esth. 7:9–10).
Who did Ahasuerus appoint over the house of Haman after his death?
Mordecai (Esth. 8:2).
What did the king’s second decree say?
It permitted the Jews to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would attack them, on the 13th day of the 12th month (Esth. 8:9–12).
What was the response of the Jews to the second decree?
They had joy and gladness, a feast, and a holiday (Esth. 8:17).
What did the Jews do to those who attacked them?
They overpowered and defeated them with a great slaughter (Esth. 9:1–5).
What was Mordecai’s position at the end of the book of Esther?
He was second-in-command of the kingdom (Esth. 10:3).