The Old Testament | The Books of History

Esther

Things to know
Where does the book begin?

The book begins with a party given by the king of Persia*.

Where does the book end?

The book ends a few years later. The story happened in Persia.

People to know

The King
Esther*
Haman*
Vashti*
Mordecai*

Places to go

The queen refused to dance.
Esther 1:10-22

A royal beauty became queen.
Esther 2:1-18

Esther agreed to talk to the king.
Esther 4:1-17

Haman's plan failed.
Esther 7:1-10

Esther saved her people.
Esther 8:1-14

The Story of Esther

Esther is the story of a woman. She was a Jew.* Her name was Esther. A foreign king took her into his palace. God gave Esther an opportunity. She had the chance to save the lives of her people. In this way, the story is similar to other stories in the Bible.*[1] All of those stories show how God cares about his people. This book tells how God is always at work. He can always protect his people.

There is one very unusual thing about this book. It makes this story one of a kind. The book of Esther never mentions God. We do not read God’s name anywhere in the story. But we can see God at work in the story. The writer tells the story in a way that shows that things happened the way they did because God planned them that way. We read about the unusual things that happen and know that God was at work. When Mordecai told Esther that she became queen for an important reason, we know that it was God’s reason.

‘Who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this.’[2]

The story begins with a royal dinner given by the Persian King Xerxes.* His queen was named Vashti. When the king told her to come to his dinner and dance for him, Vashti refused. This made the king very angry. So he decided to search for a new queen. He had a competition to find the most beautiful woman in the land. When the competition was finished, Esther won. Esther became the new queen. But the kind did not know that Esther was a Jew.

Esther had an uncle. His name was Mordecai. One day, this uncle got into trouble. He did not bow to one o the king’s men named Haman. This man became very angry. He was so angry that he decided to hurt Mordecai. He found out that Mordecai was a Jew. Haman was so mad that he wanted to kill every Jew in Persia.

Haman was a friend of the king, so he asked the king to help him. He got the king to write a law. The new law said that all of the Jews could be killed. It seemed that God’s people were in real trouble. But that is what the book of Esther is about. The rest of the book is about how God stopped Haman’s plan. God would be at work. But God would be work through people who were brave enough to do the right thing. And, sometimes, doing the right thing can be dangerous. God would use Mordecai. Mordecai asked Esther to speak tot he king. God would use the new queen. But what Mordecai asked her to do would be a risk. If she made the king angry, she could lose her life. But if she did nothing, she would be in danger as well. So Esther agreed.

The story shows that God watches over his people. In the end, things did not work out very well for Haman. The king discovered that he was bad. He punished him. Then, the king listened to Esther and helped rescue the Jews from death.

After the Jews were saved, the decided to hold a special meal. This was like a party to show that they were happy that they did not die. [3] This was the first time for an event like this one. And the Jewish people still remember this meal today.

There are many lessons in the book of Esther. One of the most important ones is in what Mordecai said to Esther.

‘If you keep quiet now, help and freedom for the Jews will come from another place. And who knows, maybe you have been chosen to be the queen for such a time as this.’[4]

God has a plan. He uses human decisions as a part of his plan. When we decide to obey God, he will use us as part of his plan.

  • [1] Joseph, Moses, Daniel & Nehemiah
  • [2] Esther 4:14
  • [3] Esther 9:20-28
  • [4] Esther 4:14

The Old Testament | The Books of History