0 Esther Introduction

All the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small 1:20

Trivia: How did Esther become queen?

Esther for Skeptics

Esther is one of the two books in the Bible in which God is not even mentioned (the other is the Song of Solomon).

Maybe that's why some Bible believers, such as Martin Luther, believed that it should be excluded from the Bible. In Luther's case, however, it probably had more to do with his extreme antisemitism. Because the point of the Book of Esther, if it has a point, is this: God loves Jews more than everyone else and anyone who has ever had a bad thought about them should be killed. (And Luther had lots of bad thoughts about Jews.)

There is a whole series of killings in Esther, all of them to avenge antisemitism. But since the Book of Esther does not mention God's name, it's difficult to blame him directly for these killings. Still, since Esther is included in the Bible, the God of the Bible must approve of the killings, insofar as a nonexistent being can approve of anything.

The Book of Esther also has an important message for women: your job in life is to look pretty and to please, honor, and obey men. If that means dancing naked in front of your husband's drunken guests, dance naked. Be an Esther, not a Vashti. (Which is, of course, bad advice. Vashti is the hero of the Book of Esther and she gets my vote for the best person in the Bible.)

Here are the highlights:

  • King Ahasuerus throws a party and encourages his guests to drink to excess. Then, when they are all drunk, he orders Queen Vashti to show her stuff before him and his guests. 1:7-11
  • Queen Vashti (the real heroine of the Book of Esther) refuses to display herself in front of the king's drunken guests. 1:7-12
  • For her refusal, Vashti is stripped of her crown and came "no more before king." 1:13-19
  • Because of Vashti's disobedience the king decrees that "all the wives shall give to their husbands honor" and "that every man should bear rule over his own house." 1:20-22
  • "All the fair young virgins" throughout the kingdom are brought before the king and the one that "pleaseth" him the most will replace Queen Vashti. 2:2-4
  • Esther wins the pleasing the king babe contest. 2:8-9
  • But since women are dirty, she must be "purified" for twelve months before she can be made queen. 2:12
  • Esther has Haman and his ten sons hung. 7:10, 9:13
  • At Esther's request, the king orders everyone in the empire who planned to kill Jews to be killed by Jews, along with their wives and children. 8:9-19
  • The Jews kill everyone who ever had a bad thought toward them, along with their Jew-hating families. 9:1-16

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