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A Reflection on the Biblical Book of Esther

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A Reflection on the Biblical Book of Esther and on Paul L. Redditt's Essay on the Book of Esther

Upon reading the book of Esther and the article by Paul Redditt it is my opinion that the Book of Esther should neither be considered a book of great theological import, nor will it have any significance in my life today. There were many aspects of Esther that drove me to conclude that it is of no importance to me. Firstly, there is still debate about whether should be considered a work of fiction, or a historical work. Secondly, revenge and manslaughter are not only allowed in the Book of Esther, they seem to be lauded. Most importantly, the book of Esther does not mention God explicitly even once.

There is still some debate on whether Esther should be considered a work of historiography or a work of fiction. In fact, in the introduction to the book of Esther in the New Oxford Annotated Bible, it is specifically stated that "Despite the setting and the author's familiarity with Persian customs.....Esther is not a work of history but a historical novella."Arguments could be made that the fact that Esther is not a historiography should not take away from the importance of the book, considering the fact that many other biblical books and stories are also fictional. However, there is no specific moral lesson to be learned from the story of Esther at all, unless wreaking vengeance on innocent women and children in return for your freedom counts as a moral lesson.

Vengeance and wholesale slaughter, actions considered immoral and despicable, even in today's society seem to be celebrated in the Book of Esther. Once the Jews were delivered, instead of praising God for their deliverance from the hands of Haman, Esther and her uncle Mordecai proceed to issue a decree that allowed the Jews to do exactly what was planned for them to the Persians. Instead of waiting on God to take vengeance for them, Esther and the rest of the Jews, decide to take vengeance into their own hands, in the process slaughtering approximately 75,811 people (Esther 9:11-16). I do not believe that that amount of violence and murder was necessary, they were not expressly commanded by God to do so and none of them had been harmed. If everyone decided to follow the example of Esther and Mordecai and kill all the people that had wronged, or even thought of wronging them, there would be no humans left.

My main grievance with the book of Esther is the fact that God is not mentioned even once. How can the Book of Esther be considered a work of theological importance if it does not even mention the most important part of our religion? The characters do not consult God or pray at any point of the narrative, not even before making huge and possibly dangerous decisions. Paul Redditt referred to God in Esther as being "the hidden God"



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