- Esther was married to Xerxes I – Xerxes the Great who ruled the Achaemenid Empire from 486 to 465 BC. He was also called King Ahasuerus. He was the son of King Darius and was born in 518 BC. The name Xerxes is pronounced ‘zerk zeez’.
- The central purpose of this book is to record the institution of the annual festival of Purim as a Jewish festival, although it was only later that the Jews in Judea celebrated Purim.
- King Xerxes reigned from the citadel of Susa over the Persian kingdom that stretched from India to Ethiopia. Queen Vashti who is vain and superior disobeys her husband, but there is a decree that every man should rule over his household and his wife, so a search starts for a new bride for the king – a Jewess called Esther is found of the household of Mordecai. Esther is put in the king’s harem. Esther becomes the king’s favourite and he makes her queen instead of Vashti. Esther uses her influence to annul the persecution of her people the Jews put in place by Haman. When the persecutors are killed and the Jews get back their freedom they celebrate with feasting on the Day of Purim.
- Vashti was the grand daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and daughter of King Belshazzar.
- The events of this book which took place in Persia post-date the return of some of the Jews to Judea.
- The story of Esther was probably recorded by Mordecai who appears in the story. Mordecai raises Esther who is an orphan when her parents, Mordecai’s uncle and aunt die. Mordecai is from the tribe of Benjamin. He becomes a governor in the Persian Empire second in rank to the king. The book of Esther may have been written up by Ezra the priest.
- Genre: Story of how a Jewess becomes queen of Persia and uses her influence to free her people.
Esther chapters 10:4 onwards, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 are additional parts of the same text and story belonging to the Apocrypha. These chapters include the text of the first and second decrees of King Xerxes I / Ahasuerus to governors of the provinces of the Persian Empire. These Apocryphal chapters of the book of Esther amplify the story of Esther and the setting free of the Jews in Persia.