Mordecai The Prophet

By Phillip G. Kayser · Esther 2:1-18, Part 1 · 2002-10-13

You will probably not find a chapter in the Bible where there is such wide diversity of opinion as you will get on this chapter. And I'm not talking about diversity among liberals and evangelicals, though you will see that too. I'm talking about differences of opinion among good, Bible believing Christians.

For example, was Esther a brave woman of principle or was she a naïve woman manipulated by a man not her husband? Was she a godly woman of faith (as was affirmed by numerous articles) as was she an unbeliever who used her beauty to advance her own humanistic plans (as some authors just as aggressively contend)? Did she freely apply to be the wife of this king or was she kidnapped against her will? Was this a shotgun wedding? Did God providentially enable her to keep Jewish food laws (as some rabbis claim) or was she totally uncaring about God's laws on food, clothing, marriage and sexual issues.

And there's not just controversy over Esther. Several authors call Mordecai a godly prophet, while other sound conservative expositors believe he was not even a believer, or if he was a believer, that he was grossly compromised. One author said, "Notice that Mordecai continually compromised his faith in God in many areas."[1] "Also notice that they refer to each other by their Persian names throughout the book of Esther. That tells us that these Jewish people had become entrenched into the culture in which they were captive… Mordecai was opportunistic and ambitious."[2] While this author agrees with me on Ahasuerus being Darius, she strongly disagrees with my assessment on the character of Esther and Mordecai.

So I thought that before we move any further in this book I would do a little biography of Mordecai. Even if you don't end up agreeing with me, you will at least understand where I am coming from. So that's all I am going to do today, is give one biographical sketch, and it won't even be a complete one. If you want all the arguments as to why Mordecai is a bad guy, and my answers to those, you can read my newest paper, "Who Wrote Esther?" I argue that Mordecai was a prophet who began prophesying five years before Esther became queen, who wrote not only this book, but also at least some of the Hallel Psalms. (the Hallel Psalms are Psalms 113-118.) It is 14 pages, and you may laugh at me for having almost as much text in the footnotes as I do in the main body of the paper. But I thought in this series I would try not to bog down the sermons with too much material, and I would provide papers for those who are skeptical or who want to pursue the matters further

But I guess there is no better place to start this biography than by taking head on the controversies that arise in this chapter. Let me summarize the arguments of several papers that have been written with a critical attitude toward these two godly people.

It is alleged by some evangelicals that Mordecai was not even a believer, or if he was a believer, that he had grossly compromised his faith in many ways. His character and actions are alleged to be completely incompatible with a prophetic calling by God. It is alleged by some commentators that his name refers to the Babylonian god Marduk and that he changed Hadassah's Hebrew name to the Babylonian name Esther (the name of the goddess Ishtar) in order to hide her identity and enable him to climb the ladder of success. I hope to explain in a little bit that Esther's name is Persian, not Babylonian. But anyway, rather than protecting his daughter, he arranged a marriage with the king for his own personal gain, despite the fact that the king was a pagan, a lecher and an unworthy husband. But he further sins against his daughter by threatening her in a menacing way when he becomes desperate in chapter 4. Look at chapter 4:13.

Esther 4:13 "And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews.""

{This is supposed to be a veiled threat against her life if she does not cooperate in trying to save them. They say that this threat is made more explicit in verse 14:

Esther 4:14 "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish."

(This is said to be a threat of death once they are delivered in some other way if she does not cooperate. It was his fault in the first place, and now he is desperately trying to use her rather than being concerned for her welfare.)

These authors portray Mordecai as having willingly given his daughter to this pagan in exchange for a position in government. Throughout the story they paint Mordecai as a money-grubbing man who is intent on personal success even at the expense of his daughter's well being.

Several authors accuse Mordecai of jeopardizing an entire nation through needless antagonism to Haman and refusal to obey the king's legitimate demand to honor Haman. So he is a bad guy for failing to bow down. (We won't have time to address that particular argument today. We'll get to it when we get to chapter 4.) Furthermore, they allege that there is no evidence that he brought Esther up in the faith. She was a willing accomplice who, far from resisting the advances of the king, must have fully and enjoyably cooperated sexually. Otherwise, how could she have pleased this lecher on a one-night stand? They claim that both Mordecai and Esther hide their faith, violate God's clothing laws by dressing as Persians, sin against God by failing to return to Israel (when God had commanded them to do so), and Esther and Mordecai make absolutely no mention of God throughout the narrative. In addition, it is alleged that Esther violates God's food laws, sexual taboos, and his commands to pray toward Jerusalem, all of which laws would have revealed her faith to others. But Mordecai commanded her to hide her faith. And God says that if we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. Some say they are deists at best, and atheists at worst, while some suggest that they were simply compromised believers. In any case, this would all militate against Mordecai being a godly prophet who wrote this book.

This book then (on their view) could be a criticism of marriage to pagans, and fit in with Ezra's call to covenantal purity later on in this year. Because of the impurity of the people, the entire nation was in danger of being wiped out. So in a nutshell, while this doesn't give every argument, it captures the position of some scholars. While good men and women hold to this position, I utterly reject its thesis.

The author of this book refers to the writings of Mordecai 7 times in chapter 9 (9:20,23,26,27,29,30,32), and the way that these writings are referred to, leaves open only two conclusions (at least in my mind): either Mordecai was a prophet imposing God's law, or he was an ungodly tyrant who was making his own words equal God's law. I don't know any way of getting around one of those two conclusions.

I do not believe that Purim was just a man-made feast. It's the only thing in this book that prophetically points forward to Jesus. And Luke 24:27 says that "all the Scriptures" speak of Him. So there is something in this book that speaks of Jesus.

Acts 3:23 "All the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days."

But if the feast of Purim is the part of Esther that speaks of Jesus and the New Covenant era, that means that Mordecai was a prophet. He imposed Purim at least 24 years before this book was written. (Most scholars believe chapter 10 shows that this book had to have been written sometime after the 36th year of Darius; i.e., after His death.)

But I don't think that Purim was the only inspired writings that Mordecai gave to encourage God's people. The Jewish Encyclopedia says, "But all the Rabbis agree that Mordecai was a prophet and that he prophesied in the second year of Darius (Meg. 10b, 15a; ?ul. 139b)." Now any time you can get all the ancient rabbis to agree on anything, you have got something pretty surprising going on. In the same article, the encyclopedia claims that the Hallel Psalms were early on ascribed to Mordecai. And so already in the time of chapter 1 he was prophesying to God's people. And there is a lot of external support for that. But we don't need to rely on external support. The writings of Mordecai that are repeatedly mentioned in chapter 9 show three Scriptural characteristics. They bind the conscience (which only God's law can do), they bind Jews everywhere in every generation (so they are universal in their jurisdiction), and they have an abiding character beyond his lifetime that only God's law could have.

I don't have time to develop anything I am saying here like I do in my paper, but let me at least give some hints that his writings were Scriptures that were finally edited by Mordecai into this finished book. It says, And Mordecai wrote these things, and in verse 32 that they were written in the book. And there is debate on exactly what that refers to, but let me give you some hints that it is the Scripture.

First, his writings were absolute in terms of authority and bound consciences in a way that only God's Word could do. Listen to these descriptions from chapter 9. (Remember that I, as a pastor, do not have any authority except the authority of God's Word. Nor do any other authorities.) I'm going to quickly read through them, and you just listen and try to get a feel for what kind of authority they convey: "establish," "should," "established and imposed it," "without fail they should celebrate these two days every year," "written instructions," "prescribed time," "should be remembered and kept," "should not fail to be observed," "with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim," "words of peace and truth to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time," (by the way – let me just stop reading and say that he needed Shalom and truth to be able to confirm them. Going on through the chapter) "prescribed," "decreed for themselves and their descendants," "decree," "confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book." It is also clear from chapters 9 & 10 that this was not a Persian law that applied to the empire, but was a Jewish law that applied to Jews alone.

It was a church law. This was a law that could never be changed ("without fail," the only times that the Hebrew words, rwøbSoÅy aøl◊w are used in the bible, they either describe God's decrees which cannot be changed– see Ezek 48:14; Psalm 148:6; Job. 14:5), or to the tyranny of the Medes and Persians whose laws could not be changed. So there are only two alternatives – tyranny of Mordecai (patterned after the Medes and Persians) or inspiration of Mordecai. But the author himself rules out the first option when he says that Mordecai's words were "words of peace and truth." So Mordecai's words have the character of divine authority. So – absolute authority.

Second, they didn't just apply to Jews in his generation, but Jews everywhere and in every generation. Listen to these phrases of universal jurisdiction: he "sent letters to all the Jews" (9:20), "in all the provinces, both near and far" (9:20), "established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who should join them" (9:27 – so even Gentiles who became Jews and joined the church had it imposed upon them), "Kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews," (9:28), "sent letters to all the Jews" (9:30). And so it applied to believers universally.

Then finally, words that had an eternal bearing. This book says that his laws went beyond his own generation. It was to be celebrated yearly (9:21). It had to be celebrated "without fail… every year according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time" (9:27). It was a day of remembrance that had to be "kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants" (9:28). And again, I already mentioned that it was a law that could never be changed ("without fail" = rwøbSoÅy aøl◊w – see Ezek 48:14; Psalm 148:6; Job. 14:5). Who but God (or tyrants who pretend to be God) could make such a transcendent law? Now I gave you one page of my fourteen pages that seek to prove that Mordecai was a prophet and the author of this book, and if it has whetted your appetite to read more, I have twenty copies of this paper in my brief case. All of these papers of necessity are going to be first drafts. OK?

But what about all the objections that evangelicals have brought up about his character? Well, some of the alleged sins may be true. If you look at prophets like David (who committed murder and adultery), and like Solomon (who committed the sins of polygamy and intermarriage with pagans), or of Abraham (who because of fear lied about his wife and allowed her to be taken first into the harem of Pharaoh and later in the harem of Abimelech), I think you can see that I don't need to defend their character in order for Mordecai to be a prophet. But I feel compelled to do so because how we look at these two will hugely affect how we understand the book.

Let me first address the issue of the names.

A survey the journal literature shows that there continues to be great debate on the meaning of either name.[3] Some of the suggestions that have been given for the meaning of Esther are

Babylonian for Ishtar (the goddess),

Persian for "star,"

Old Persian for "myrtle tree,"

A Hebrew word meaning "I am hiding."

So there are four plausible definitions.

Suggestions for the meaning of Mordecai are

"worshipper of Marduk"

"warrior"

Hebrew for "little man"

Aramaic for "pure myrrh"

Yahuda[4] argued very cogently that Esther is simply the Old Persian form of the Medic astra or "myrtle." This seems to fit the phraseology of Esther 2:7 very well. And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther… The phrase "that is," implies according to several authors that the names mean the same thing in different languages. I think that is a strong argument that this is not necessarily a pagan name. Similar debate exists on the name Mordecai. [5] We won't go into that.

But let's just assume for the same of argument that the names are the names of Babylonian gods. This proves nothing. Daniel, Shadrach, Mescheck and Abednego all were given names that meant such things as "May Bel protect his life," the command of Aku," and "servant of Nebo."[6] Nebuchadnezzar gave them those names, and though they preferred their Hebrew names, they had to use their Babylonian names, and even Scripture called them by those names. And yet no one would accuse them of compromise.

Secondly, since Darius was a monotheistic Zoroastrian, it is unlikely that either he or Mordecai changed Esther's name to the name of another goddess. Nor would Mordecai have scored any points with Darius or his court by naming her or himself after a god that Darius did not worship. Thus if their names happened to be Ishtar and Marduk, it would not have been for purposes of gaining advancement in Darius' court (as some claim).

On the issue of moral character, most of the criticisms and most of the defenses of Esther and Mordecai are based on conjecture. The Jews added all kinds of things to this story to defend Esther and Mordecai and to make them look good. Most scholars assume that it was wishful thinking, and they may be right. But neither can we say that there is strong evidence that Esther was not kidnapped. The text nowhere says that Mordecai gave her to the king, or that he got anything out of her going. If the author really was seeking to critique compromised Jews on intermarriage, he could have communicated that quite strongly. Critics will look at verse 19 which says, When virgins were gathered together a second time, Moredecai sat within the king's gate, and say that this shows advancement as a result of giving Esther. But it doesn't say he began to sit. There is nothing to indicate that he wasn't already a magistrate there like rabbinic tradition claims. In fact, in verse 5 it says, In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jews hose name was Mordecai. He already worked in the palace before she was taken.

But the objection comes: verse 17 says that Esther won the king heart through her sexual favors that night. To please such a man who was sated with pleasure (and probably wouldn't have easily been pleased) would have taken quite some doing. She must have been a willing participant in his deviancy.

Now I don't want to overreact by painting Mordecai and her as more saintly than they are. After all, I already mentioned that other prophets had compromised as well. But my point is that we ought not to read more into the text than is there.

Notice that Esther 2:8 says that Esther also was taken to the king's palace. It's true that this doesn't prove that she was kidnapped, because the same language can be used of a husband taking a wife. But there is enough hinted at in the passage that a respected commentator like D.J. Clines says, "The narrator effortlessly forecloses any criticism of Mordecai; the three passive verbs, ‘were heard,'… were gathered and was taken, portray an irresistible series of events."[7] In other words, there was nothing that could be done to resist Darius. And that's plausible. Am I guaranteeing that it is true? No. But it is plausible. Have any kings acted in this way before? Yes. We already related two examples in Abraham's life where his wife was taken from him against his will and put into somebody's harem.

Several authors have pointed out that numerous phrases have been borrowed from the Joseph story to describe this, and that there are strong, strong literary parallels that the author is making between this story and the Joseph and Daniel stories. It's very interesting. Sometimes there are word for word parallels as if the author is deliberately trying to draw our attention to those other two stories. The author may have done this in part to imply that she had been taken against her will just like Joseph and Daniel had been taken against their wills.[8] And you know, there is a comfort that we can have from all three of those stories. We would never want to justify the abusive treatment that Joseph's brothers gave to him or the tyranny of Egypt. But God took the scars and the pains of abuse and used those things to prepare Joseph's character and ability to serve. And I believe that God did the same for Esther. The rabbis said that she detested the uncircumcised heathen's bed. And she no doubt went through tears and anguish and fear. Yet God was in control through all of that. Kay Arthur, as only she can do, not only sympathizes with the pain that women have gone through in rape and abuse, but shows what God did as he by His providence used those things to make them better women.

But some might object, but then how did she please him so much? We aren't told. Maybe he was tired of compliant women. We simply aren't told. Nor are we told that Darius was a sexual deviant as many assume. All we know about his sexual practices was that he liked polygamy and liked one at a time. That's all that we know. We cannot say that he was a pervert; only an ungodly polygamist. In verse 17 the inspired text says that "the king loved her," not that he abused her. It says that "she obtained grace and favor in his sight" (2:17), not that she allured him or favored him. The text says she was a "virgin" (2:2ff), not a pervert. Her criteria for being selected was beauty (2:7), not sexual experience. Furthermore, the text implies that she and Mordecai were elevated because of God's favor resting upon them. It seems that God favored her more than these critics do. If God's favor and grace rested upon them both, we ought to assume the best until worse can be shown. The author's intent is not to discuss the motives of Esther and Mordecai, and we ought not to impute motives that may or may not be wrong.

And there is an application that I would like to make here before we move on. It is very tempting for us to draw conclusions about others around us because we see certain evidence that points in a given direction. I remember when I was being trained in counseling hearing the story of a young boy who was seen taking something off a store shelf and leaving the store. He was confronted for shop lifting, and the boy said, "Come with me to the store owner. I worked for him last week and he told me that I could have this as payment." Now think of what would have been going on in this man's mind if he hadn't confronted the boy and found out. I have misinterpreted my wife on occasion and needlessly gotten upset. And if I had assumed the best and asked questions, I would have realized that the evidence that made me think one way could easily be interpreted another way. Maybe a person's Sabbath observance is not what ours would be, and we might immediately assume that they are breaking God's laws. Or they might assume that we are judging them. I think of the building of the altar on the other side of the Jordan in the days of Joshua. Joshua assumed that they were going to sacrifice there and set up a competition with the temple. They were ready to go to war and destroy those two tribes over this issue, and it turned out that they had misinterpreted motives and intentions and actions. And so I think this is a great illustration of how reading between the lines can sometimes be dangerous. These are good men and women who have read between the lines in totally different ways.

But let's deal with some other criticisms before we move on.

Esther 4:2020 "Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her…"

The critics say that since faith and nationality were so tied together, to fail to reveal her family and her people would of necessity mean denying her faith or at least hiding her faith; being ashamed of her faith. But notice two things: First, notice that the author uses the term "Jew" in a non-ethnic way in 8:17. He speaks of many Gentiles becoming Jews. He does not identify "Jew" with people and kindred, but with religion. Thus there is a distinction between kindred and faith. Second, notice that nowhere does it say that she was asked to deny her faith. Mordecai asked her not to reveal "her people or kindred" (2:10,20).

There are three possible ways of explaining what this means without involving her in a compromise of her faith: 1) Mordecai might have wanted her to not identify herself with him, and he may have done this to protect her from reprisals against himself. 2) He could have asked her to not reveal herself as an ethnic Jew. 3) He could have asked her to not reveal her lineage that linked her to King Saul. I believe that the last option fits the facts the best. But let me briefly explain each option.

Option 1 (hiding her family connections with Mordecai) would be motivated by fear of antagonism to his own stands in Shushan. In this case the danger that he was seeking to protect her from would not necessarily be anti-Semitism, but could be simply anti-Mordecai sentiment. Alternatively, one rabbi suggested that Mordecai did not desire to benefit in any way from this shotgun marriage. Esther 8:1 favors this view, implying that it was not until that chapter that Esther had told of her relation to Mordecai.[9] While this is possible,

I think it is unlikely for three reasons:

First, since he worked in the palace, it is unlikely that at least some people did not already know of the connection.

Second, he constantly identified himself with her by inquiring into what was happening to her (2:11) and by communications between them (4:4-16).

Third, "Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name" (2:23) about the conspiracy of Bigthan and Teresh. Unless she was related to Mordecai, such communications with the king would be frowned upon. Throughout, Mordecai seems to have no worries about people finding out that they are related.

Option 2 (hiding her ethnic Jewishness) would perhaps be motivated by anti-Semitism that was already appearing in the court. But it may also have been motivated by the presence of Haman the Agagite (an Amalekite descendant of King Agag). Since God had commanded Israel to fight against Amalek forever (Exodus 17:14-16; Deut. 25:17-19), Jews would automatically be enemies of all Amalekites. But even general anti-Semitism could have motivated Mordecai to ask her to hide her ethnicity. If this is true, the following defense of this action could be plausibly taken:

One can assume that if she was forcibly taken from him, this may have been a wise move. I doubt that the faithful spies who went into the land of Canaan (Josh 2:1-24) revealed their people or kindred to those who were hostile to them, but throughout the story they were faithful to God. This is just as hostile a situation (to be kidnapped from the home!), and Mordecai was perhaps hoping that the Lord might in some way bring deliverance to her.

Granted, it would have been more difficult for her to hide her identity as a Jew since God's laws made visible differences. Critics insist for example, that she had to compromise God's dietary laws to remain unknown as a Jew. But again, that is an argument from silence. Authors who have cited the language borrowed from the Joseph and Daniel stories, sometimes almost word for word, point out that this may have been done to imply similar favor that she could expect. Well, look at verse 9. It says about the eunuch in charge: Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance and the NIV renders that "special food." She got special favors when it came to food that others did not get. It's not an absolute statement, but it is just as reasonable to assume that she got concessions from him just like Daniel did from his officials. And ancient Jewish traditions say this is exactly what happened. But we are simply not told what she ate or wore. Perhaps like Daniel and Joseph she dressed according to the customs of the Babylonians. But we ought not to accuse her of compromise that is nowhere made explicit in the text.[10]

Option 3 (hiding her royal ancestry to Saul) may have been motivated by the presence of Haman in the court. This book seems to highlight not just the conflict between Amalekites and Jews, but the conflict between Saul and Agag. It is plausible that to obtain better treatment in the harem, Esther may have been tempted to tell others that she was of royal lineage. But Mordecai wisely (perhaps prophetically?) warns her not to do so. It is plausible that Haman would have had a life-long hatred for not only Jews, but especially for any connection to his archenemy Saul.[11] Since Mordecai and Esther were descendants of King Saul (2:5), knowledge of her ancestry ("her people or family" v10; "her family and her people"[12] v. 20) could have caused problems for her in the court.

This option seems the most likely to me for five reasons:

The importance in this book of tracing her lineage to Saul and royalty,

The presence of an Agagite (3:1) in the court (again highlighting the role of Saul in this conflict)

The fact that the author immediately juxtaposes the command not to reveal her people or family (2:10) with the observation that Mordecai himself does not hide his relationship to Esther (2:11). Nor does she hide her relation to him (2:23). The author does not seem to see any conflict between verses 10 and 11.

It appears that the king may have known that she and Mordecai are Jews (compare 2:23 with 6:10) though he has no idea who the people are whom Haman intends to destroy (7:4-6).

It is not likely that he would command Haman to honor "Mordecai the Jew" (6:10) if he had realized that it was Jews who were destined by his decree to be destroyed.

As to Mordecai's lack of concern for Esther and his preoccupation with self-advancement, we can note the following: We have seen in verse 5 that he was already advanced. Secondly, verse 11 says quite the opposite about being opportunistic: It says, "every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her." This indicates that he hadn't made these arrangements (he wanted to know what was happening to her), and he was looking out for her "welfare," and he was worried ("every day Mordecai paced"). Furthermore, throughout the story we see a person who is concerned for the welfare of Israel as a whole. If you want more details, you will have to look at my paper that goes into boring detail on answers to critics.

But I want to start with a brief overview, giving a positive reconstruction of events in his life as far back as we know. Verse 6 goes back to his childhood. You can strike the word "Kish" there. We saw two weeks ago that virtually no translations of the bible supply that word. The margin has who, and the "who" refers to Mordecai. So if we back up to verse 5 we have Mordecai's ancestry. In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish [So the author makes Mordecai a descendant of Kish, the father of king Saul. The ancient rabbis supply a complete genealogy for him. But the important thing to remember here is that Mordecai was of royal blood, and the story will go on to show that where his great, great, great, great granddaddy Saul failed with Agag the Amalekite, this Benjamite would succeed by way of his opposition to Haman. Anyway, he goes on] a Benjamite who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. This was not the first exile where Daniel was taken captive, but one eight years later. So this was 82 years earlier that he had been taken captive. Or if you want to count from chapter 1, it was 78 years before chapter 1.

Jeremiah 24 says that the bad Israelites were left in the land to rot while the good figs were sent into exile for God's protection. God had a plan for them. Part of that plan was to influence the empire for good. Turn to Jeremiah 29. The prophets prophesied enormous numbers of Gentiles who would become Jews. He commanded the Jews to settle down, get jobs, raise families and to seek the peace of the city to which they had been sent. So as soon as Mordecai was sent into exile, here were instructions that were given to Mordecai and his parents.

Jeremiah 29:4 ¶ Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

Jeremiah 29:5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.

Jeremiah 29:6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters — that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

Jeremiah 29:7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

And you see Jews doing that. They got into all kinds of influential positions. Daniel shows that. Ezra and Nehemiah show it. One of the archeological tablets that were dug up lists 100 Jews who were government officials during the reign of Artaxerxes. They didn't go into ghettos. They infiltrated every level of society, as we must infiltrate every level of society. They were everywhere, and God's hand of blessing was with them. I think this is a strategy that we ought to follow. Rather than bailing out of society and being pessimistic, we need to take dominion of our society by being the best business men, the best artists, the best statesmen, the best parents and teachers that we can be. Are there difficulties in doing that? Yes, and Daniel and Mordecai show us ways of handling such difficulties of working in a pagan environment. And I highly recommend John Eidsmoe's taped sermon on Daniel and politics. But we must never retreat.

Just like Daniel was elevated to a position of influence and power under the administrations of six different kings (spanning all the way from Nebuchadnezzar to Cyrus), God elevates Mordecai to serve in very influential roles. If you play politics, your career may end with one administration, but if you are an indispensable person to the running of government, you may be hired by every administration like they were.

But if you turn back to Ezra 2:2 you will see that God stirred up the heart of Mordecai to return to Jerusalem 22 or 23 years earlier. He would have been 59 or 60 years old when he made this trek. Ezra 2:2 says, Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigval, Rehum, and Baanah. Notice the names of both Mordecai and Nehemiah. And both were listed among those who were national leaders. He goes on to talk about leaders on the local level in verses 3 and following, but these were Feds, OK? Mordecai was already a man of tremendous influence 23 years before the first chapter of Esther. The rabbinic traditions say that he was a ruler of the Sanhedrin, and he sought the peace of his people. Perhaps like Nehemiah he got permission to temporarily return to Israel, but then was recalled. Nehemiah himself made three or four trips to Israel, and had to get permission each time.

Turn next to Nehemiah 7:7. His name appears here as well. Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. So once again it gives the list of national leaders. The first thing that this shows to me is commitment on the part of Mordecai. It would have been easier for him to stay in Persia and enjoy the luxury of palace life then to apply with Cyrus for permission to return. There were tremendous risks to returning. But as soon as he got Cyrus' permission, he went to Israel and took part in the struggles of that fledgling nation. He did not allow the comforts of life to insulate him from God's people. Throughout his life, God's people were near and dear to his heart. Esther says that throughout his life he sought the good of his people and spoke peace to his countrymen. And in this he stands as a challenge to us to look beyond the walls of our church, or our city, or even our nation, and to seek the welfare of God's people in Sudan, in Mongolia, in China, or wherever God's people are facing trouble and discouragement. We must have a global vision for Christianity. Our interests must be as broad as God's are. Our prayers should span the globe.

Keeping in mind the revised chronology that we developed in the first sermon, this means that Ezra, Nehemiah and Mordecai all lived during the reign of Darius and knew each other. Modern chronologists deny this, but that is the most natural reading of the text. And there are many ancient authorities that would agree, as well as modern revisionist authorities.

Why don't you turn with me to Nehemiah 12? Establishment chronology says that Ezra didn't come to Israel for another 57 years (or 80 years after the first return under Cyrus). They say that Nehemiah didn't come to Israel for another 71 years after Darius year 7, or 94 years after the first return under Cyrus. To me and to many Biblical chronologists like Ussher, Anstey, Jones and others this is inconceivable. And it is inconceivable for several reasons. First, Daniel 9 clearly prophesies that within 49 years of the first return, the temple, city and walls would be rebuilt. On Biblical chronology they were. On establishment chronology it would take 94 years for the walls to be built. They say it is impossible for them both to have been in Israel under king Darius, let alone under Cyrus. But look at Nehemiah 12:1: Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel… Scholars agree that Zerubbabel came in the second year of king Cyrus. So all would agree that this is reviewing names of priests who came in 537 BC. But look at verse 13. It mentions Ezra. So it's not just Mordecai and Nehemiah who came then. Ezra came then too. Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries. Look at verse 26. These lived in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe. This verse gives heartburn to modern chronologists who say that it gives the appearance that they were contemporaries, but it must have been a different Ezra. It's interesting that the Elephantine papyri that were discovered show a letter from the brother of Nehemiah that mention several names in this list as living during the reign of Darius.

I won't get into details, but there was a strategic alliance between these three men to do all in their power to promote God's people returning to Israel. All three were in the land right from the beginning. All three had to return to Persia. Ezra to get more exiles, Nehemiah and Mordecai to serve in government. But where their stations in life were, they sought the welfare of God's people. And I think this too is a good lesson for us. We need not try to duplicate what others are doing. We should seek to understand what our role in life will be.

Some people have said that all Israelites should have returned to Israel. But that is not the case. Ezra 1:5 says that God only stirred up the hearts of some to move ("all whose spirits God had moved"). Others helped financially. It says, And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. All had to have an interest and a stake in Israel, but God gave the option for some to stay and help and others to go and help. And later we will be seeing from Haggai and Zechariah the unique role that Jews who stayed were supposed to play.

Some time in the first few years of Mordecai's stay in Jerusalem, perhaps after about four or five years, his uncle dies in Jerusalem, and his cousin Hadassah is left in his care. This was the function of a powerful member of a clan. He would become the gaol, or the kinsmen redeemer. And I think this is a wonderful role that can continue to be played out today. When relatives suffer through no fault of their own, we ought to help where we are able. 1 Timothy 5:8 doesn't just say that we are responsible to care for our immediate nuclear families.

1 Timothy 5:8 "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

His own would be his more distant kinsmen, and especially his own household would be his immediate family. This is one of the reasons why Kathy and I were on the wills of our two brothers and two of Kathy's siblings in case they died. But the concept of adoption is a marvelous example of God's grace we will maybe look at later.

For some reason that we are not told in Scripture, Mordecai has to return to Persia to serve the king. Various hypotheses have been advanced. One was that Mordecai returned with Nehemiah to represent Israel when accusations were made of rebellion; to defend Israel before the king. Perhaps they tried to use their powers of influence. We aren't told. But they had to return.

But God has Mordecai just where he wants him in chapter 2 of Esther. He is working in the palace. Others know of Esther's beauty. When the decree goes out, rabbinic traditions say that he tried to hide her, but she was forcibly taken from him.

Esther 2:10 "Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordecai had charged her not to reveal it."

Perhaps he knew of anti-Semitism in the court. We aren't told whether this was motivated by fear or not, but verse 11 definitely shows nervousness.

Esther 2:11 "And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her."

He obviously didn't quite know what was up. But notice his concern for her welfare.

In verses 19-21 we see Mordecai being a patriot of Persia. And like Daniel, I do not think this is impossible in a pagan court. He was seeking the welfare of the city, and this king, even though the king had many faults and sins. I have known Christians who have uncompromisingly been part of Democratic regimes and then been part of Republican regimes. And it was perhaps because of the influence of Mordecai and Nehemiah that king Darius made his decree in his second year (that would be four years before Esther was taken) to allow the building of the temple and to protect Jews who were doing so against reprisal. It was an incredible decree. They had planted their feet in political turf, and had been used of God. And there is nothing wrong with being patriots in America, or in other countries where God has providentially placed us. But having said that, we must never treat the state as Messiah or as God, when we serve them and benefit them.

I'm not going to finish the story of Mordecai because we will be looking in detail at his later life. But hints of his character can be seen everywhere. Chapter 3 shows him to be a man of principle who will not compromise principle even if it means death; even if every other Congressman is against him, and trying to pressure him into changing. In chapter 4 we see that he knows how to use connections, and he does so use them. God has providentially placed some of you in positions of influence where during strategic times, your influence can be felt, perhaps in providing a job for someone. In chapter 6 we see that Mordecai is a man of humility. Despite the highest honors that it is possible to receive being conferred upon him, as soon as his horse ride and honoring ceremony was over, he went back to work. This is such a contrast with Haman who was constantly boasting. In chapter 8 we see a man who is flexible and can step into new positions of responsibility and immediately make them good. We see a leader who was given leadership giftings by God. And in chapters 8-10, we see a man who does not use his position for personal gain. Even at the risk of losing his king's favor, he presses and Esther presses until they find a solution that will benefit all Jews. They were already safe, but they wanted all Jews to be safe. Their concern is for the people as a whole.

He spoke words of shalom and truth to the people. An ancient rabbinic tradition is that Psalms 113-118 were the words of shalom and truth written at that time. And as we go through this series, we are going to be singing various Hallel psalms as they tie in thematically with what chapter we are in.

But I hope that Mordecai the prophet has been a challenge to you to be a man or woman of God who is willing to serve selflessly for the advancement of His kingdom. Chapter 10:3 is a nice conclusion to his life. For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen. And I hope that is a testimony that can be made about our church – that we have a broad kingdom view, seeking the Reformation of the church, its welfare, the good of the people, and speaking peace to all God's people. I think to the extent that we are used in prospering God's kingdom as a whole, we will be prospered. Amen.

Appendix A: Who Wrote the Book of Esther?

© 2002 by Phillip G. Kayser

Of the suggestions that have been made on the authorship of Esther, the three most serious candidates would be

  • Ezra (suggested by Augustine)

  • Nehemiah

  • Mordecai (urged by Josephus, Clement of Alexandra, Ibn Ezra,[13]

    Thomas McCrie,[14] de Wette, J. Stafford Wright,[15] certain rabbinic traditions, and others[16])

  • Mordecai for 1:1-9:19 and Ezra for 9:20-10:3 (Adam Clark).

There is not much internal or external evidence for Ezra or Nehemiah and "for either of these there is no good linguistic evidence."[17] Of the three main candidates, Mordecai has by far the strongest internal and external evidence. This paper will seek to defend the view that Mordecai was a prophet and that he wrote the entire contents of this book. However, I will make note of any evidence that could support an alternative view. I will also give all known objections to my position and seek to answer them. The main arguments in favor of Mordecai are as follows:

I. Internal Evidences in Favor of Mordecai

A. Intimate knowledge of court, customs and geography shows that the writer must have been a citizen of Persia, and probably of Susa.

Virtually all scholars agree that the author had to have "an intimate knowledge of the Persian court, customs, and geography… [this would] suggest that he was a Persian Jew living in Susa."[18] On the other hand, Ezra could have gained information on the palace from Nehemiah or Mordecai (see notes on dating and authorship of the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther), though the latter two would have been the only candidates who had personal knowledge of the inside of the palace.

##B. Precise knowledge of palace details make a date much beyond the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus unlikely

Most conservative scholars believe that the author couldn't have written the book of Esther much beyond the lifetime of Artaxerxes since the palace burned down in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus,[19] yet the author obviously has an incredible grasp of the details of the palace. Both Nehemiah and Mordecai would fit this criteria since they both served within the palace.

##C. The author appears to be an eyewitness of these events

Dr. Thomas Constable says, "The writer also wrote as though he was an eyewitness of the events he recorded."[20] Who but Mordecai could have been a witness of these things? The previous paper ("Which Ahasuerus Reigns in Esther?") gives 19 Biblical fingerprints which match Darius Hystaspes alone. Though Mordecai fits the evidence of authorship even if my revisionist dating is rejected, it is interesting that there is abundant ancient rabbinic evidence which ties Mordecai to the reign of Darius.[21]

##D. The author had to have access to the Persian historical archives of the kings of Media and Persia (Esther 10:2).

Though some of the acts of the king mentioned in this book could have been revealed by the Lord without prior knowledge, the way they are written implies that the author had access to them. But what is implicit earlier in the book is made explicit in chapter 10 where the writer says, "Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?" This is not only a statement of his familiarity with the official historical archives of the kings of Media and Persia, but an invitation to other archivists to check the records for themselves. Only Nehemiah and Mordecai would fit this evidence of any candidates that we know.

##E. When the author says that Mordecai "wrote these things"(9:20), and that they were later "written in the book" (9:32), it may be a reference to the book of Esther.

The book of Esther itself says, "And Mordecai wrote these things…" (9:20), and later "the decree of Esther … was written in the book" (9:32). This could simply be a reference to original sources that the author compiled, but it could also be a statement as to the authorship of Esther. Notice that it does not say, "was written in a book", but "was written in the book."[22]

##F. There is internal evidence to support the ancient rabbinic tradition that Mordecai was a prophet who began to prophecy in the second year of Darius.[23]

1. His writings seem to carry divine weight

Mordecai wrote "words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time" (9:30-31). This may or may not have been a reference to inspired words, though the phrase "words of truth" seems to be so (see Psalm 119:43; Prov. 22:21; Eccl. 12:10; 2 Cor. 6:7; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:15; James 1:18). However, when that phrase is coupled with what follows, the evidence mounts that Mordecai was writing inspired literature: Mordecai's writings (9:20,23,26,27,29,30,32) appear to carry "full authority" (9:29). Most assume that this is simply the authority of a magistrate. This would be very plausible if the author had not endorsed Mordecai's right to wield such authority over the consciences of men. There are other instances where God speaks against the tyranny of kings imposing new feasts and fasts,[24] and we could chalk this up to another example of tyranny in religious matters. But the author of Esther does not in any way imply that Mordecai had overstepped his authority. If Mordecai is not a prophet this poses a problem because he is wielding authority that binds the conscience in ways only God's law can bind. For example, his writings are not only treated as binding law,[25] but as a law that has universal jurisdiction over Jews,[26] and a timelessness into the future that is only appropriate for God Himself to impose.[27]

###2. His actions in establishing the feast of Purim show divine authorization.

But the feast itself shows evidence of divine approval. Mordecai "established," "imposed," "prescribed," decreed," and "confirmed" a sacred feast (Purim) which is not lawful for man to do apart from divine revelation. Some have claimed that he exceeded his authority to do this, but the inspired author gives no hint that this is true. Instead, the author calls Mordecai's words "words of peace and truth" (9:30). It is clear that one of the author's purposes is the endorsement of this feast.[28] If that is so, then Mordecai wields the same authority as the author with respect to the feast since he was trying to do the same thing that the author of this book was seeking to do. Indeed, he did it before the book was written. This argues at least that Mordecai was a prophet, authorized by God to begin this feast. Certainly, ancient Jewish tradition said that Mordecai was a prophet who wrote not only Esther, but some of the Psalms in our Psalter.[29]

Some Puritans (who agree that Mordecai was the author) insist that this was not a holiday (i.e., a holy day), but simply a civil celebration. However, such an argument is thereby authorizing the civil government to establish annual feasts and fasts that Scripture forbids.[30] Furthermore, Purim has all the marks of divine approval. 1) The language parallels that of the God-authorized feasts in the Pentateuch.[31] 2) It is called "a feast," "a holiday"(8:17; 9:19,22) and a day of "rest" (9:17,18). 3) It was not optional for future generations but was imposed as law, universally and for all generations (see footnotes 13-15). 4)Unlike occasional feast days, but like other Divine Feast Days, this day was given a name: Purim. It needed a name since it would continue in perpetuity. 5) Like every other divinely authorized feast day, Purim foreshadows the work of Christ in the New Covenant (see next point). But if it was a divinely authorized feast day, this means that what Mordecai wrote (Esther 9:20,23,26,27,29,30,32) has the character of Scripture and bears the same authority, purpose and effect that the book of Esther itself does. It is much easier to believe that Mordecai pulled together his previous prophetic writings into one book, than to believe that a new, anonymous author made use of Mordecai's inspired writings as primary source material, but did not at any point include any of Mordecai's writings. If Mordecai was a prophet, and if his writings bear the character of inspired writings, then why can we not believe that he did indeed write the final edition – Esther?

##G. The feast of Mordecai is a prophetic feast foreshadowing the days of the New Covenant.

Related to the above, but deserving separate mention, is that the feast day that Mordecai imposed has a prophetic typology that foreshadows the latter days of the New Covenant. Indeed, if this feast was removed from the book, Esther would become the only book in the Old Testament that does not prophetically foreshadow Christ and the New Covenant. Since "all the Scriptures" point to Christ (Luke 24:27) and since, "all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days" (Acts 3:23), we must wrestle with this issue. There are only two ways of resolving it. Some have said that the whole book is a type of Christ and the church. However, typological interpretation of this book has been fraught with so many problems that most scholars have abandoned it. It is hard to find two typological interpretations that agree with each other, and if the text can mean anything, it comes to mean nothing.[32] But what is worst about most typological approaches to Esther, Mordecai and the other characters is that inevitably, evil things symbolize good things, and the evil is trivialized. For example, the tyranny of Ahasuerus is downplayed if he is seen as Jesus, the loving and powerful husband of the church. The meaning and application of the passage to contemporary issues becomes completely obscured. A hermeneutical principle that I operate by is that nothing in Scripture should be seen as a type unless the Scripture itself offers it as a type.

But that does not leave the book of Esther without any reference to Christ. Most conservative scholars would agree that all divinely authorized feasts of God were given to teach by way of type and foreshadowing. They "are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:17). In our sermon series I will seek to open up the prophetic meaning of this feast and relate it to the other feasts of God.

But the main point here is that what Mordecai authorized has grand prophetic significance. The Jews who treated this feast with the same respect as the feasts of Moses have warrant to do so. Purim is not a minor feast. Liberal scholars have been at pains to describe the preoccupation with writing in this book. Some of them have concluded that unless it was written, Purim would not have been taken seriously. From a conservative perspective we know why. Given its elevated and enduring character, Purim had to be authorized by Scripture itself or it would not have been a lawful feast. But this argues that the writings of Mordecai (9:20,23,26,27,29,30,32) were inspired and that when he "wrote with full authority" (9:29) it was the authority of God's revelation.

##H. Finally, "it was written in the book" (9:32) may be a reference to Esther being included in the canon at the moment of its writing much as Joshua and later books were immediately written into the book of the law (Josh 24:26). Or it may be a reference to the book of Esther itself being written

#II. External Evidences

##A. Mordecai is placed by ancient witnesses in the reign of Darius.

###1. All ancient rabbis

###2. 1 Esdras

##B. Mordecai is called a prophet by ancient witnesses

###1. All ancient rabbis

###2. He is credited with writing the Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113-118) by one rabbi

##C. Mordecai has the strongest support of scholars who have committed themselves to a candidate

#III. Refutation of Arguments Against Mordecai Being the Author

##A. It is claimed that the moral character of Mordecai and Esther and their names militate against his being a prophet.

###1. Alleged evidence for this objection:

It is alleged by some that Mordecai was not even a believer, or if he was a believer, that he had grossly compromised his faith in many ways. His character and actions are alleged to be completely incompatible with a prophetic calling by God. It is alleged by some commentators that his name refers to the god Marduk and that he changed Hadassah's name to Esther (the name of the goddess Ishtar) in order to hide her identity and enable him to climb the ladder of success. Rather than protecting his daughter, he arranged a marriage with the king for his own personal gain, despite the fact that the king was a pagan, a lecher and an unworthy husband. But he further sins against his daughter by threatening her in a menacing way (one author even suggested a veiled threat that he would kill her if she did not cooperate) in chapter 4. Throughout the story they paint Mordecai as a money-grubbing man who is intent on personal success even at the expense of his daughter's well being. He jeopardizes an entire nation through needless antagonism to Haman and refusal to obey the king's legitimate demand to honor Haman. Furthermore, they allege that there is no evidence that he brought Esther up in the faith. She was a willing accomplice who, far from resisting the advances of the king, must have fully and enjoyably cooperated. Otherwise, how could she have pleased this lecher on a one night stand? They claim that both Mordecai and Esther hide their faith, violate God's clothing laws, sin against God by failing to return to Israel, and make absolutely no mention of God throughout the narrative. In addition, it is alleged that Esther violates God's food laws, sexual taboos, and his commands to pray toward Jerusalem, all of which laws would have revealed her faith to others. Some say they are deists at best, and atheists at worst, while one suggested that they were simply compromised believers. In any case, this would all militate against Mordecai being a prophet who wrote this book.

###2. The objection answered:

Let me first address the issue of the names. a) A survey the journal literature shows that there continues to be great debate on the meaning of either name.[33] Yahuda[34] argued very cogently that Esther is the Old Persian form of the Medic astra or "myrtle." This seems to fit the phraseology of Esther 2:7 very well. Since Hadassah means "myrtle" and since Esther 2:7 says that he "brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther," it appears that the author is defining ("that is") the names Hadassah and Esther as the same thing. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that Esther means anything other than "myrtle" – the Persian form of her Hebrew name. Likewise, D.J. Clines says, "Possibly Mordecai was a ‘Gentile' name roughly equivalent to some Hebrew name."[35] If this is true (and there is still much debate), then there is no connection whatsoever with paganism. b) Secondly, since Darius was a monotheistic Zoroastrian, it is unlikely that either he or Mordecai changed Esther's name to the name of another goddess. Nor would Mordecai have scored any points with Xerxes or his court by naming her or himself after a god that Darius did not worship. Thus if their names happened to be Ishtar and Marduk, it would not have been for purposes of gaining advancement in Darius' court. Nor would the names even be appropriate poetic devices of an author seeking to critique Darius since Ishtar and Marduk are names out of accord with his ethos. c) But for the sake of the argument, let us assume that Esther and Mordecai mean Ishtar and Marduk. That no more makes them compromisers than the names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made Daniel and his three friends worshppers of foreign gods.[36]

As to the issue of moral character one can argue two ways: a) First, one can argue that even if some of the compromises can be proved, how does that invalidate the arguments for authorship? It just shows that a prophet sinned. Did not the prophet Abraham fail to protect his wife when she was taken into Pharoah's harem and again later into Abimelech's harem? We see no evidence of his laying down his life on her behalf (as some claim that Mordecai should have done). Nor did faithful Sarah commit suicide rather than become a part of their harems (as some have suggested that Esther should have). We have many examples of prophets who sinned out of fear (like Abraham) or bitterness (like Jonah) or peer pressure (like Peter) or adultery and murder (like David), or polygamy and marrying pagans (like Solomon). Did these sins disqualify those prophets from writing Scripture. No. It is inspiration that makes a text infallible, not the sinlessness of the author, "for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). If Mordecai can be disqualified on this basis, then so can David, Solomon, Jonah and others.

b) But at the same time, the statements made about the immoral character and actions of Mordecai and Esther can be challenged. The natural reading of the text is that Esther was taken from Mordecai against his will (much like Sarah was twice taken from the prophet Abraham). This is implied in the Hebrew verb "was taken" (v. 8). Indeed, D.J. Clines says, "The narrator effortlessly forecloses any criticism of Mordecai; the three passive verbs, ‘were heard,'… were gathered and was taken, portray an irresistible series of events."[37] That she was taken against her will can also be seen by the strong parallels (linguistically and thematically) between the Joseph story and the Daniel story.[38]

If it is objected that she should have resisted both marriage and his sexual advances it should be noted that a) we don't know that they didn't try to resist,[39] b) by the time she prepares for the king she is already married to him.

If it is objected that she could not have pleased him on her first night unless she was willing to go along with his perverted desires, it may be noted that 1) We know next to nothing of Darius' sexual practices. We cannot say that he was a pervert; only an ungodly polygamist. 2) the inspired text says that "the king loved her" (2:17), not that he abused her. It says that "she obtained grace and favor in his sight" (2:17), not that she allured him. It says she was a "virgin" (2:2ff), not a pervert. Her criteria for being selected was beauty (2:7), not sexual experience. The text implies that she and Mordecai were elevated because of God's favor resting upon them. It seems that God favored her more than these critics do. If God's favor and grace rested upon them both, could God not have also favored him as a prophet (as rabbinic tradition says that He did)?

But the criticism that they were ashamed of their religion is a very common one. In verse 20 it says, Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her… The critics say that since faith and nationality were so tied together, to fail to reveal her Jewishness would of necessity mean denying her faith or at least hiding her faith; being ashamed of her faith. But notice two things: First, notice that the author uses the term "Jew" in a non-ethnic way in 8:17. He speaks of many Gentiles becoming Jews. He does not identify "Jew" with people and kindred, but with religion. Thus there is a distinction between kindred and faith. Second, notice that nowhere does it say that she was asked to deny her faith. Mordecai asked her not to reveal "her people or kindred" (2:10,20).

There are three possible ways of explaining what this means without involving her in a compromise of her faith: 1) Mordecai might have asked her not to reveal her relationship to him, and he may have done this to protect her from reprisals against himself. 2) He could have asked her to not reveal herself as an ethnic Jew. 3) He could have asked her to not reveal her lineage that linked her to King Saul. I believe that the last option fits the facts the best. But let me briefly explain each option.

Option 1 (hiding her family connections with Mordecai) would be motivated by fear of antagonism to his own stands in Shushan. In this case the danger that he was seeking to protect her from would not necessarily be anti-Semitism, but could be simply anti-Mordecai sentiment. Alternatively, one rabbi suggested that Mordecai did not desire to benefit in any way from this shotgun marriage. Esther 8:1 favors this view, implying that it was not until that chapter that Esther had told of her relation to Mordecai.[40] While this is possible, I think it is unlikely for three reasons: 1) First, since he worked in the palace, it is unlikely that at least some people did not already know of the connection. 2) Second, he constantly identified himself with her by inquiring into what was happening to her (2:11) and by communications between them (4:4-16). 3) Third, "Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name" (2:23) about the conspiracy of Bigthan and Teresh. Unless she was related to Mordecai, such communications with the king would be frowned upon. Throughout, Mordecai seems to have no worries about people finding out that they are related.

Option 2 (hiding her ethnic Jewishness) would perhaps be motivated by anti-Semitism that was already appearing in the court. But it may also have been motivated by the presence of Haman the Agagite (an Amalekite descedant of King Agag). Since God had commanded Israel to fight against Amalek forever (Exodus 17:14-16; Deut. 25:17-19), Jews would automatically be enemies of all Amalekites. But even general anti-semitism could have motivated Mordecai to ask her to hide her ethnicity. If this is true, the following defense of this action could be plausibly taken:

One can assume that if she was forcibly taken from him, this may have been a wise move. I doubt that the faithful spies who went into the land of Canaan (Josh 2:1-24) revealed their people or kindred to those who were hostile to them, but throughout the story they were faithful to God. This is just as hostile a situation (to be kidnapped from the home!), and Mordecai was perhaps hoping that the Lord might in some way bring deliverance to her.

Granted, it would have been more difficult for her to hide her identity as a Jew since God's laws made visible differences. Critics insist for example, that she had to compromise God's dietary laws to remain unknown as a Jew. But again, that is an argument from silence. Authors who have cited the language borrowed from the Joseph and Daniel stories, sometimes almost word for word, point out that this may have been done to imply similar favor that she could expect. Well, look at verse 9. It says about the eunuch in charge: Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance and the NIV renders that "special food." She got special favors when it came to food that others did not get. It's not an absolute statement, but it is just as reasonable to assume that she got concessions from him just like Daniel did from his officials. And ancient Jewish traditions say this is exactly what happened. But we are simply not told what she ate or wore. Perhaps like Daniel and Joseph she dressed according to the customs of the Babylonians. But we ought not to accuse her of compromise that is nowhere made explicit in the text.[41]

Option 3 (hiding her royal ancestry to Saul) may have been motivated by the presence of Haman in the court. This book seems to highlight not just the conflict between Amalekites and Jews, but the conflict between Saul and Agag. It is plausible that to obtain better treatment in the harem, Esther may have been tempted to tell others that she was of royal lineage. But Mordecai wisely (perhaps prophetically?) warns her not to do so. It is plausible that Haman would have had a life-long hatred for not only Jews, but especially for any connection to his arch-enemy Saul.[42] Since Mordecai and Esther were descendants of King Saul (2:5), knowledge of her ancestry ("her people or family" v10; "her family and her people"[43] v. 20) could have caused problems for her in the court. This option seems the most likely to me for five reasons: 1) the importance in this book of tracing her lineage to Saul and royalty,

  1. the presence of an Agagite (3:1) in the court (again highlighting the role of Saul in this conflict), 3) the fact that the author immediately juxtaposes the command not to reveal her people or family (2:10) with the observation that Mordecai himself does not hide his relationhip to Esther (2:11). Nor does she hide her relation to him (2:23). The author does not seem to see any conflict between verses 10 and 11. 4) It appears that the king may have known that she and Mordecai are Jews (compare 2:23 with 6:10) though he has no idea who the people are whom Haman intends to destroy (7:4-6). It is not likely that he would command Haman to honor "Mordecai the Jew" (6:10) if he had realized that it was Jews who were destined by his decree to be destroyed. Haman certainly shows no fear of revealing his Jewishness (3:4) or his relationship to Esther (2:11,22). Therefore, the only thing that appears hidden is her ancestry

As to Mordecai's lack of concern for Esther and his preoccupation with self-advancement, we should note that Esther 2:11 says quite the opposite: "every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women's quarters, to learn of Esther's welfare and what was happening to her." This indicates that he hadn't made these arrangements (he wanted to know what was happening to her), and he was looking out for her "welfare," and he was worried ("every day Mordecai paced"). Furthermore, throughout the story we see a person who is concerned for the welfare of Israel as a whole. He not only was part of the first group of returnees to Israel (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7), but chapters 9 and 10 of Esther over and over affirm his concern for God's people. The writer of the this book affirms that he was "seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his kindred" (10:3).

Would she have had to stop praying toward Jerusalem? I don't see any reason why. Darius allowed people to worship whatever gods they chose, and unless he inquired, there would have been no need to lie. Nor did every prayer have to be toward Jerusalem. Godly Nehemiah's prayer in the presence of the king was shot up to God with no one else realizing (Neh. 2:4). Our exposition in our series will show that Mordecai was bold in his faith – bold enough to lay down his life rather than violate the commandment of God in Exodus 17:13-16 and Deut. 25:17-19. The character of Mordecai and Esther is no reason to conclude that he could not have been a prophet.

##B. It is claimed that Mordecai was dead when the book was written

John Urqhart says, "Mordecai, whose claims have been strongly urged by some, is excluded by the closing words (Esther 10:3), which sum up his life work and the blessings of which he had been the recipient. The words imply that when the book was written, that great Israelite had passed away." Three possible answers can be given to this: a) First, no reference is made to Mordecai's death. b) Second, since the death of Ahasuerus is implied by the phrase "all the acts of his power…" (v. 2), it is likely that Mordecai wrote the book after the death of Darius. c) Third, even if these verses were to imply closure to Mordecai's public work, that closure does not necessitate death. It could be that he was retired from office when Xerxes came to power. d) There is archeological evidence that a Mordecai who worked under Darius continued to live until the third year of Xerxes' (but only as an auditor).

##C. The book is written in the third person as if referring to a different person when speaking of Mordecai

Some have objected that this is not written in the first person ("I," "me" and "my" as in Nehemiah) but in the third person ("Mordecai," he," "his" and "him"). But this would rule out the true authorship of most Scripture. Much of the Pentateuch, 1 Samuel, the Gospels etc are written in the third person. That is not at all unusual.

##D. It is alleged that a Biblical writer would never praise himself, and chapter 10 is self-praise if it is written by Mordecai.

Another argument is that no Biblical author would praise himself as Esther 10:1-3 does. Three possible answers can be given: 1) It is not praise of what he has accomplished, but an acknowledgement of honor that has been given to him by the king ("to which the king made him great") and by the people ("well received"). There is a big difference between bragging about what you have accomplished on your own, and gratefulness for how others have advanced you. 2) Second, we must not require a false humility of these authors or we would have to deny Mosaic authorship of Numbers 12:3 where Moses is declared to be the most humble man upon earth, or Johanine authorship of John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20 where John is declared to be the apostle whom the Lord loved and who rested on Jesus bosom. Similar statements can be found in Ezra and Nehemiah. Are we therefore to deny that Ezra and Nehemiah wrote these books? 3) A third possible answer is that of Adam Clark who says that Mordecai wrote Esther 1:1-9:19, and that Ezra wrote the rest. I do not accept this reasoning, but it is better than rejecting the abundance of evidence that Mordecai did indeed write the book.

##E. The writings referred to in the book are simply primary source materials from which facts were obtained for Esther. They are not parts of the book itself.

Some claim that when 9:20 and 32 refer to the authoritative writing of Mordecai, the book of Esther was not yet finished (the author is still writing) and therefore, the "letters" (vv. 20,30) and the "book" (v. 32) are distinct from Esther itself. It is claimed that at most these writings would be primary source documents that the anonymous author used. While there is substance to this argument, two answers can be made: 1) It should be noted that Scriptural writers frequently used identical language. They referred to portions of the book they were composing as letters that almost sound objective to the book itself. For example, the discussion of the scroll in Jeremiah 36 that was destroyed and the duplication of that scroll (which becomes a part of Scripture). Or Jeremiah 51:60 which says, Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon – all that had been recorded concerning Babylon. The NIV Study Bible footnote says, "Probably the oracle of 50:2-51:58." Likewise, Deuteronomy 29:20 speaks of "the curses written in this book" before all of them had been written. The next verse says, "the LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant writtedn in this Book of the Law," but he says that before the curses of chapters 30,31 and especially chapter 32 had been written. (See also Deut 28:61; 29:20,21,27; 30:10; Jer. 36:18.) 2) Second, the definite article is used in 9:32 "it was written in the book" (A;b is the preposition "in" with the definite article.) This lends credence to the argument that even if there were separate portions of this book that had been written at different times, they were all put together into the book (i.e., either the canon, or the book of Esther).

##F. In chapter 10, Mordecai is referred to in the past tense (as if dead).

Related to this argument is that chapter 10 speaks of Mordecai's work in the past tense as if Mordecai himself were history. But this is silly. The past tense is used of Mordecai throughout the book, as it must in any historical account. Other Biblical authors frequently do this. For example Deuteronomy 31:9 says, "So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel." But that does not imply that Moses is not the author. Likewise, Deuteronomy 31:22 says, "Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel."

In summary, there is much to commend the view that Mordecai wrote this book. He alone meets all seven internal tests. There are also numerous external evidences (both secular and religious) of his authorship. Like Joshua who autobiographically speaks of the immediate canonization of his book ("Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God" – Josh 24:26), Mordecai "wrote these things" (9:20) and "confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book" (9:32). Like other historical books, the book of Esther seeks to tie its history closely with books already written. The author does so by way of the standard waw consecutive at the beginning of the Hebrew text of 1:1.[44]


  1. Joyce Schmedel, lesson 4.

  2. Ibid., Lesson 3.

  3. Some of the suggestions that have been given for the meaning of Esther are 1) Ishtar (the goddess), 2) "star," 3) "myrtle tree," 4) a Hebrew word meaning "I am hiding." Suggestions for the meaning of Mordecai are 1) the god Marduk, 2) "worshipper of Marduk," 3) "warrior," 4) Hebrew for "little man," 5) Aramaic for "pure myrrh" (see Jewish Encyclopedia).

  4. See A.S. Yahuda, "The Meaning of the Name Esther" in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1946), 174-78, reprinted in Carey A. Moore (ed), Studies in the Book of Esther (KTAV Publishing House: New York, 1982), pp. 268-272.

  5. Clines, p. 286.

  6. Belteshazzar means "May Bel protect his life," Shadrach means "the command of Aku (the Sumerian moon god), Meshach means, "Who is what Aku is?" and Abed-Nego means "servant of Nebo." These were names given to them by the pagan court. By answering to these names, the four men were not compromising their faith. It should be remembered that even Scripture uses pagan names for the calendar in the interest of communicating, even though those months are named after pagan gods. For example the first month, Abib, changed to Nisan as seen in Deuteronomy 16 and Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7. (See ISBE, pp. 541-542) The month Tammuz is named after the Phoenician god mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14. etc.

  7. D. J. Clines, the New Century Bible Commentary: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 288. Emphasis his. The New Century Bible Commentary

  8. See Adele Berlin, The JPS Bible Commentary: Esther (The Jewish Publication Society: Philadelphia2001), pp. xxxvi-xl. Also see articles by L.A. Rosenthal and A. Meinhold in Carey A. Moore (ed), Studies in the Book of Esther (KTAV Publishing House: New York, 1982).

  9. Alternatively, one could take chapter 8 simply as the king's remembering (from 2:22) that Mordecai was related to her.

  10. Interestingly, one author, A.B. Leever, claims that Darius had become a Christian by this time. I'm skeptical, but if you read the king's letter in Ezra 6, a case could be built. This would change the whole complexion of the debate. However, I am not pursuing this possible line of reasoning in this paper.

  11. Just as Haman is synonymous with evil in the mind of a Jew today (thousands of years later), it is not improbably that Amalekites who were almost totally wiped out by king Saul, would treat Saul as their arch enemy and perpetuate a hatred to him.

  12. Though the most natural reading of "her people" would be Jews in general, the phrase "her family" could refer to her genealogy, and the phrase "her people" could refer to her tribe (see Gen. 49:16)

  13. An 11th Century Jewish commentator.

  14. Thomas M'Crie, Lectures on the Book of Esther (New York: Robert Carter, 1838), 287-288

  15. Though I utterly reject his low view of inspiration, he acknowledges that Mordecai has strong reasons to be the author. J. Stafford Wright, "the Historicity of the Book of Esther," in New Perspectives on the Old Testament, pp. 46-47.

  16. Like Matthew Henry, Canne, Browne, Blayne, Scott , John Wesley, etc.

  17. Far Eastern Bible College Course Syllabus on the Book of Esther, p. 18. Many authors have come to the same conclusion citing in addition to differences in vocabulary, differences in style.

  18. Though this quote is taken from the New Geneva Study Bible Intro to Esther, it is the conclusion of virtually all scholars.

  19. See G. L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: University Pres, 1948), p. 168.

  20. Notes on Esther, p. 1.

  21. The Jewish Encyclopedia says, "But all the Rabbis agree that Mordecai was a prophet and that he prophesied in the second year of Darius (Meg. 10b, 15a; ?ul. 139b)."

  22. The phrase "it was written in the book" (9:32) may be a reference to Esther being included in the canon ("the Book of the Law") at the moment of its writing much as Joshua and later books were immediately written into the book of the law (Josh 24:26). Or it may be a reference to the book of Esther itself being written. On canonization, see the separate paper by Phil Kayser.

  23. See Jewish Encylopedia, "Mordecai."

  24. Jereboam is rebuked not only for his competing altar and sacrifices, but even for having "ordained a feast for the children of Israel" "in the month which he had devised in his own heart" (1 Kings 12:33). God had not authorized that month for a feast day. Likewise, Zechariah 7:1-7 indicates that God had not authorized the new feast days and fast days that had developed in the exile. "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me – for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed…" (vv. 5-7) In Zechariah 8:19 God reverses their man-made laws with respect to fasts.

  25. That he sees Purim as law can be seen in the imperative tense that is used in the Hebrew as well as in the words "establish," "should," "established and imposed it," "without fail they should celebrate these two days every year," "written instructions," "prescribed time," "should be remembered and kept," "should not fail to be observed," "with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim," "words of peace and truth to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time," "prescribed," "decreed for themselves and their descendants," "decree," "confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book." It is also clear from chapters 9 & 10 that this was not a Persian law that applied to the empire, but was a Jewish law that applied to Jews alone. This was a law that could never be changed ("without fail" = rwøbSoÅy aøl◊w – see Ezek 48:14; Psalm 148:6; Job. 14:5).

  26. "sent letters to all the Jews" (9:20), "in all the provinces, both near and far" (9:20), "established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who should join them" (9:27), "Kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews," (9:28), "sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus" (9:30).

  27. It was to be celebrated yearly (9:21). It had to be celebrated "without fail… every year according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time" (9:27). It was a day of remembrance that had to be "kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants" (9:28). This was a law that could never be changed ("without fail" = rwøbSoÅy aøl◊w – see Ezek 48:14; Psalm 148:6; Job. 14:5). Who but God (or tyrants who pretend to be God) could make such a transcendant law?

  28. Again, most scholars would agree that this is one of the purposes of the book of Esther.

  29. The Jewish Encyclopedia says, "But all the Rabbis agree that Mordecai was a prophet and that he prophesied in the second year of Darius (Meg. 10b, 15a; ?ul. 139b)." The same article also says that he was part of the Great Sandhedrin, and that "according to R. Jose the Galilean, the psalms which are styled "Hallel" were composed and sung by Mordecai and Esther after the Jews had been delivered from Haman (Pes. 117a)." Thomas M'Crie (Ibid.) gives cogent arguments from the text itself on why Mordecai had to have had prophetic authorization for what he did.

  30. Jereboam is rebuked not only for his competing altar and sacrifices, but even for having "ordained a feast for the children of Israel" "in the month which he had devised in his own heart" (1 Kings 12:33). God had not authorized that month for a feast day. Likewise, Zechariah 7:1-7 indicates that God had not authorized the new feast days and fast days that had developed in the exile. "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me – for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed…" (vv. 5-7) In Zechariah 8:19 God reverses their man-made laws with respect to four new fasts. In Zechariah 7, in response to the question of a civil leader whether they should fast on these days established without authority in exile, God says "No." "Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev, when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-melech and his men, to the house of God, to pray before the LORD, and to ask the priests who were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and the prophets, saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?" Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, "Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me — for Me? ‘When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? ‘Should you not have obeyed the words which the LORD proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?'"

  31. This can be seen by examining the Biblical phrases "appointed time," "remembered," "kept," "prescribed time" and "throughout every generation." These are all terms used to describe the other feasts of Israel that God wanted remembered throughout their generations. Though the term "holiday" is not as strong of a term, it is translated "feast day" in 1 Samuel 25:8.

  32. As examples: One interpretation says that Ahasuerus is Christ, Vashti is Israel, Esther is the church, Mordecai is the Holy Spirit, the seven eunuchs are the heavenly hosts and Purim is the Lord's Table. Another interpretation says that Ahasuerus is the Roman Catholic Church, Haman represents apostate Protestantism, Esther represents Jesus, and Mordecai represents the faithful remnant. A Seventh Day Adventist interpretation that I read had this revolving around compromised Sunday worshippers persecuting the remnant Seventh Day Adventists. Another interpretation ties the four beasts of Revelation with the book of Esther so that Ahasuerus represents the first beast, Haman the second beast, etc. Another interpretation has figures representing one thing in the beginning of the book and something different at the end of the book. Ray Sutton divides the book into a covenant treaty form with Transcendance (1:1-9 with the king in his garden of Eden and a sacramental presence where he feeds the people), Hierarchy (2:1-23 where Esther replaces a rebellious wife and because of her submission gains authority), Ethics (3:1-15 where Mordecai proves himself unfaithful to the covenant promises and breaks the law by refusing to bow to Haman; as a result of his disobedience he places the whole nation in jeopardy), Oath (4:1-7:10 where Mordecai becomes a living sacrifice [both a purification offering for the nation and a whole-burnt offering with ashes on his head], then following repentance, covenant renewal with the feasts), Succession (8:1-10:3 where Mordecai as the new humanity bears the king's image in himself [the ring which had a seal] and God's people receive an inheritance.) (Ray Sutton, "Esther and the Covenant" in Covenant Renewal, vol. Iv, no. 7 (July, 1990). Other examples could be multiplied. After reading numerous allegorical and typological approaches, I have become utterly cynical of such an approach to Scripture. Scripture becomes a wax nose which can be twisted wherever the author wants it to go. In the process, the true meaning of the passage and its application to contemporary issues is completely missed.

  33. Some of the suggestions that have been given for the meaning of Esther are 1) Ishtar (the goddess), 2) "star," 3) "myrtle tree," 4) a Hebrew word meaning "I am hiding." Suggestions for the meaning of Mordecai are 1) the god Marduk, 2) "worshipper of Maruk," 3) "warrior," 4) Hebrew for "little man," 5) Aramaic for "pure myrrh" (see Jewish Encyclopedia).

  34. See A.S. Yahuda, "The Meaning of the Name Esther" in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1946), 174-78, reprinted in Carey A. Moore (ed), Studies in the Book of Esther, (KTAV Publishing House: New York, 1982), pp. 268-272.

  35. Clines, p. 286.

  36. Belteshazzar means "May Bel protect his life," Shadrach means "the command of Aku (the Sumerian moon god), Meshach means, "Who is what Aku is?" and Abed-Nego means "servant of Nebo." These were names given to them by the pagan court. By answering to these names, the four men were not compromising their faith. It should be remembered that even Scripture uses pagan names for the calendar in the interest of communicating, even though those months are named after pagan gods. For example the first month, Abib, changed to Nisan as seen in Deuteronomy 16 and Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7. (See ISBE, pp. 541-542) The month Tammuz is named after the Phoenician god mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14. etc.

  37. D. J. Clines, the New Century Bible Commentary: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, p. 288. Emphasis his.

  38. See Adele Berlin, the JPS Bible Commentary: Esther, (The Jewish Publication Society: Philadelphia2001), pp. xxxvi-xl. Also see articles by L.A. Rosenthal and A. Meinhold in Carey A. Moore (ed), Studies in the Book of Esther, (KTAV Publishing House: New York, 1982).

  39. Many rabbi's taught that she did indeed attempt passive resistance.

  40. Alternatively, one could take chapter 8 simply as the king's remembering (from 2:22) that Mordecai was related to her.

  41. Interestingly, one author, A.B. Leever, claims that Darius had become a Christian by this time. I'm skeptical, but if you read the king's letter in Ezra 6, a case could be built. This would change the whole complexion of the debate. However, I am not pursuing this possible line of reasoning in this paper.

  42. Just as Haman is synonymous with evil in the mind of a Jew today (thousands of years later), it is not improbably that Amalekites who were almost totally wiped out by king Saul, would treat Saul as their arch enemy and perpetuate a hatred to him.

  43. Though the most natural reading of "her people" would be Jews in general, the phrase "her family" could refer to her genealogy and the phrase "her people" could refer to her tribe (see Gen. 49:16).

  44. Esther starts with the Hebrew word "And." According to John Urquhart, "the conjunction that begins the whole book, "and" (waw in the Hebrew) shows that the book was designed for a place in the series of historical books in the OT canon." (As cited by Far Eastern Bible College, Course on the Book of Esther, p. 19).


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