THE BOOK OF ESTHER.

INTRODUCTION.

The Book of Esther takes its name from the chief character of the story it relates, the Jewish maiden Esther (Star or Young Woman), also known as Hadassah (Myrtle, Bride). Having been reared as the foster-daughter of Mordecai, one of the Jews who had remained in Babylon after the return of the first exiles to the city of their fathers, Esther was elevated to the dignity of queen of the Persian Empire, after Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, had found it necessary to repudiate Vashti, the first queen, for open insubordination. In her position as queen, Esther was used by the Lord as His instrument in foiling the murderous schemes of the wicked Haman and in delivering the Jewish people from extermination at the hand of their enemies. The Book of Esther therefore not only relates the wonderful deliverance of Godís chosen people, from whom the Messiah was to come, but also explains the origin of the Feast of Purim (Feast of Lots), as it was afterward observed in the Jewish Church.

Although, as the careful reader will notice, the name of God does not occur in the book, yet the providence of God is set forth in every chapter, on every page. The Ahasuerus of the story is undoubtedly the Persian King Xerxes (485-465 B. C.). The author of the book is not known; scholars mention both Mordecai and Ezra as probable writers. From the entire book itself and all its exact data it appears that it was written soon after the events had transpired which are related there, probably about the middle of the fifth century before Christ. It may readily be divided into three sections, namely, that which tells how Esther became queen, that which relates the rise of Haman and his murderous plot against the Jews, and that which gives an account of the deliverance of the Jews. 1)