Esther: Introduction

The Book of Esther starts out almost like a fairy tale except this story is true. While reading this book, you will notice that the name of the Lord is not mentioned in it! The Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God's name.

Chapter 1 begins by telling us about a king named Xerxes (Zerksees) who ruled over a large area that was composed of 127 provinces. The king reigned from his royal throne in a city named Susa.

In the third year of his reign the king gave a banquet that lasted seven days. The banquet offered everything a man could want! At the same time Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace. On the seventh day the king sent for the queen to show off her beauty to the other men. However, she refused to come to him as she had been commanded. Needless to say this made the king extremely angry.

The king consulted with his so-called experts, whose names are listed in verse 14, as to what he should do about the queen's refusal to come to him as he had ordered her. They told him that all the women in his court and in his kingdom would soon hear about the queen's refusal and there would be "no end of disrespect and discord" in the land (v. 18). They also advised the king that he should issue a decree that Queen Vashti never again be allowed to enter the king's presence. The king followed their advice and issued the decree.

In chapter 2, sometime after the decree, the king held (for all practical purposes) a beauty contest for a new wife. A Jew named Mordecai lived in Susa. He had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Mordecai had brought up his cousin, Hadassah, because she had no parents. Hadassah was the girl's Hebrew name; she was also known as Esther. Esther was very beautiful. When the king's edict came down for all the beautiful women to be brought into the king's harem, Esther was taken to the palace and put under the care of the man who was in charge of the harem. She won his favor, and he assigned seven women to look after her every need. Esther did not reveal that she was Jewish because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.

After undergoing twelve months of beauty treatments, Esther was brought before the king. She immediately won the king's heart, and he put a crown on her head and made her the queen.

The king gave a great banquet for Esther. While this was going on, Mordecai was at the king's gate and found out that two of the king's officers were conspiring to kill the king. Mordecai told Esther of the plot, and she in turn told the king, giving credit to Mordecai.

In chapter 3 we learn that a man named Haman, an official in the king's court, plotted to kill all the Jews in the land because Mordecai would not bow down to him. Mordecai sent this information to Esther, and she took it to the king. When the king found out that Haman wanted to kill all the Jews and that Queen Esther was a Jew, he hanged Haman. Then he honored Mordecai. After this, all the kings' noblemen of the provinces helped the Jews throughout the land. Mordecai became prominent and popular in the palace and famous in all the provinces.

Everyone should read this story because it shows God takes care of His people, no matter where they are.