Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "OLD TESTAMENT POETIC BOOKS"
The Book of Esther
INTRODUCTION

 

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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970


The BOOK OF ESTHER
INTRODUCTION

Distinctiveness
The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible in which the name of God does not appear, either directly or indirectly.  In the Canticles, the personal pronoun is used extensively, indicating God by implication, but not even that is used in Esther.

Inspiration
This has led some to doubt the inspiration of the book, or at least its right to the Canon.  Both of the questions are settled definitely for the Christian by the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the whole Old Testament (which, of course, included Esther.)

Reason for Omission of Name of God
Of a number of suggested explanations, it would appear that the theory that the book was copied from Persian court records, prepared by order of Esther or Mordecai, would be the best solution.  The court account would merely tell the historical story, not the spiritual explanation back of the story.

Despite Israel’s failure, God was keeping watch over His own.  Some scholars have pointed out that the name of Jehovah (Yah-veh) appears hidden in acrostic, at four places in the book, but others discount the idea.

Moral Viewpoint
This, Esther is the book of Providence.  God is acting behind the scenes, but, it has been said, though (God is behind the scenes, we see Him moving the scenes His is behind!”   As James Russell Lowell wrote in “The Present Crisis”:

Truth forever on the scaffold…Wong forever on the throne,-Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.”

Dispensational Aspect
The conflict of the ages is between Satan and God over the promised Messiah.  Opposition from Satan is no new thing.  He has already made many desperate attempts to exterminate the Messianic line prior to this attempt recorded in Esther:

  1. In the time of Adam – he caused Cain to slay Abel, but Seth replaced him.

  2. In the time of Noah – all but Noah were corrupted by Satan.  God saved Noah’s family, destroyed others.

  3. In the time of Pharaoh – every male child was ordered killed. But Moses was preserved, and God delivered His people.

  4. In the wilderness – Satan got the people to sin horribly, for he hoped God would destroy them.  He all but succeeded, then Moses interposed and pleaded God’s name and promises.

  5. In the time of the Judges – Satan corrupted Israel with practices of the surrounding nations they were supposed to destroy, but God raised up Samuel and David.

  6. In the time of the Kings – through Athaliah, Satan almost destroyed the Davidic line.  Only one little boy (Joash) was saved.

  7. Later, all the Davidic house, except one by providentially left sick at Jerusalem, were slain by over-zealous Jehu.

  8. Later, Satan got them so to sin that, first, the northern kingdom and, then, the southern kingdom was sent into captivity, but God kept a true remnant, which He returned to the land.

  9. Then, in our book, in the time of Esther, it seems as though no power in heaven or earth could save them from extermination, but…the book tells us how God, working behind the scenes, turned this GRAVE DANGER into a GREAT DELIVERANCE.


SUMMARY OUTLINE (Learn this!)

  1. Jews' Grave Danger, 1-3

    1. The background of the plot, 1:1-3:5

    2. The formation of the plot, 3:6-15

  2. The Jews' Great Deliverance, 4-10

    1. The frustration of the plot, 4:1-9:19

    2. The sequel to the plot, 9:20-10:3


 

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