Tag Archives: Esther

Expanded Esther

The Book of Expanded Esther in the BibleSome versions of the Bible include additional text for the book of Esther, which isn’t found in most Protestant versions of the Bible. This additional text rounds out the story and reveals deeper insight into the life of Esther and her guardian, Mordecai.

This complete text of Esther includes five additional sections inserted into Esther’s story:

Prologue: Added prior to Esther 1:1, this section tells of Mordecai’s prophetic dream and his successful efforts to save the king from an assassination attempt. This sparks Haman’s hatred of Mordecai and establishes the reason for the king’s future honoring of Mordecai.

Haman’s Letter: Inserted between Esther 3:14 and 3:15 is the text of Haman’s letter, under the seal of the king, that orders the annihilation of all Jews living across the land.

Prayers: Added after Esther 4:17 are two prayers. Mordecai’s prayer comes first, followed by a longer prayer from Esther. Esther’s prayer reveals her thoughts about her position as queen, which she loathes as an anathema to her devote Jewish faith. This section concludes with Esther approaching the king and God’s provision when she does.

Counter Decree: Inserted between Esther 8:12 and 13 is the decree issued my Mordecai, also under the king’s authority, to allow the Jews to defend themselves and seek revenge against their enemies.

Epilogue: Added after Esther 10:3 is a follow-up text, mostly a quote of Mordecai.

The expanded version of Esther is an Apocrypha text and not included in all versions of the Bible. The New Jerusalem Bible, Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Bible (NABRE), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Common English Bible (CEB), Douay-Rheims (DRA), and Eastern Orthodox Bibles all include the expanded version of Esther. Interestingly, the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) contains these additional passages, but the text was removed almost two centuries later. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also includes the additions of Esther.

For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”

Esther

The book of Esther is a rich and intriguing story of obedience, duty, risk, and love. It centers on the Jewish girl Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah).

The book of Esther in the BibleThis book paints a powerful and compelling picture of how one person can make a difference – a huge difference. Especially noteworthy, is that she did this in a male-dominated society and from a position of forced expatriation.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces the book of Esther, as it is more secular (that is, less spiritual) than other parts of the Bible, and it does not directly mention God. However, much can be inferred from this story about God’s providence and protection. It also showcases an example of serving him, regardless the cost or risk.

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates Esther’s bravery and the Jew’s deliverance from the evil Haman.

What About Daniel and Esther?

The discussion of the text that is not found in all Bibles concludes by addressing the books of Daniel and Esther.

In some versions of the Bible, the book of Daniel contains 12 chapters, while in others there are 14.  These two chapters are both interesting and insightful.

Daniel 13 is the story of upright Suzanna, who is falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death.  God intervenes by revealing to a young Daniel the duplicity of her accusers; Daniel is able to expose their false testimony and save Suzanna.

Daniel 14 contains two stories of Daniel later in his life.  First, he shows that the Babylonian god Bel is not living; he then kills Bel’s prophets and destroys the temple.  Second, he proceeds to kill a dragon that the people worship.  His detractors throw him in a pit of lions for a week; God again intervenes to save Daniel.

As far as Esther, the two accounts seem like a condensed version and an unabridged version.  The longer version contains a prelude and a postscript, along with helpful insertions throughout, including the edicts that where issued and the prayers of Mordecai and Esther.  The result is a fuller and more detailed understanding of what took place.

These additional passages are found in The Jerusalem Bible, as well as other versions.

Esther Was Not Like Cinderella

I’ve always liked the story of Esther.  She was a peasant girl who won a national beauty pageant and became queen.  In my imagination, I’ve given this tale a Cinderella-like grandness, with Esther and the king, falling in love and living happily ever after.

Alas, the story does not mention love and fails to include any thoughts of happiness.  Let’s review the facts:

  • Esther and her people had been taken captive and forcibly relocated to a foreign land; she was a spoil of war.
  • Esther did not opt to take part in the beauty contest; all attractive virgins were compelled to participate.
  • Esther’s heritage prohibited her from marrying outside her faith; to do so would be a shameful and disobedient act.

Add to this these reasonable conclusions about Esther’s “relationship” with the king:

  • Even after she was made queen, he seemingly continued to enjoy the company of other women in his harem.
  • She was estranged from him; she had not been “summoned” by him for thirty days.
  • She feared him; she could be summarily executed by merely approaching him without permission.

In the New Jerusalem Bible, we are treated to the prayer that she offered in the midst of this.  She says, in part:

  • “I loathe the bed of the uncircumcised” (that would be the king)
  • “I am under constraint” to wear the crown, that is, to be queen
  • “Nor has your servant found pleasure from the day of her promotion until now”
  • “Free me from my fear”

Sadly, there is no love, happiness, joy, or satisfaction in her role as queen.  Even so she did use her unwanted position to save her people, the Jews, from a certain annihilation.  So this account of Esther isn’t a love story, at least not in the traditional sense.  It is, however, a tale of valor and bravery — and a reminder that one person can make a difference.

The Origin of Purim

Our Jewish friends will be celebrating Purim this week.  (For 2009 Purim begins at sunset March 9 and ends at sunset on the 10th, though some apparently celebrate it for two days.)

The origin of Purim is found in the book of Esther, which is a beautiful and moving story:

In a rags to riches manner, Esther was whisked from obscurity to become queen.  From her new position of access and influence, she was able to stop a plot to kill her people, the Jews.  This was done at great personal risk as she could have been summarily executed.  Esther’s bravery shows how one person can make a difference

To commemorate this event, an annual celebration was commanded, which is still celebrated today:

“And Mordecai recorded these things, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, both near and far, to command them to keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and also the fifteenth, yearly,  As the days on which the Jews got rest from their enemies, and as the month which was turned for them from sorrow to gladness and from mourning into a holiday — that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days of sending choice portions to one another and gifts to the poor.”

[Esther 9:20-22]