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by Gary H. Everett
STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Using a Theme-based Approach
to Identify Literary Structures
By Gary H. Everett
THE BOOK OF ESTHER
January 2013 Edition
All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.
All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.
© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.
Foundational Theme How to Serve the Lord with All Our Strength
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ESTHER
Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
Introductory Material - The introduction to the book of Esther will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework.  These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.
 Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).
“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture
if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”
(J. Hampton Keathley) 
 J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Esther will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that the men of the great assembly were the most likely authors of the book of Ezra.
I. The Title
II. Historical Background
A. External Evidence - If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, the Babylonian Talmud says that the men of the great assembly wrote the books of Ezekiel, the Twelve prophets, Daniel, and Esther.
“And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil’am [Numbers, xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died.” Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth. David wrote Psalms, with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh’s theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra’s book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah.” ( Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) 
 Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.
The book of Esther was written during or after the Babylonian Captivity.
LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)
“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.
If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”
(Thomas Schreiner) 
 Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.
Within the historical setting of the Babylonian Captivity of the nation of Israel, the author of the book of Ezra chose to write using the literary style of the historical narrative. Thus, the book of Ezra is assigned to the literary genre called “historical narrative literature.”
Note New Testament parallels with the book of Esther:
1. The rejection of Vasti and the receiving of Esther is almost parallel to God turning to the Gentiles after the Jews rejected Jesus Christ’s Lordship.
2. God goes to the uttermost parts of the world to find open hearts, just like King Ahasuerus went to all of the provinces to find a young virgin.
3. King Ahasuerus nurtured and clothed Esther with beauty, just like God had nurtured and clothed Israel with beauty.
“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”
(Andreas Kösenberger) 
 Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.
Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Esther, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Esther for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.
Bush says the book of Esther serves the dual purpose as a “festival etiology” that records the origin of the Jewish Feast of Purim as well as a “festival lection” that serves as a guide for retelling this part of Jewish history at the Feast of Purim. 
 Frederic W. Bush, Ruth, Esther, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 9, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 306.
VIII. Thematic Scheme
Perhaps the most well know words in the book of Esther is, “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Thus, the book of Esther reveals God’s divine intervention in the affairs of His people to bring about His plan of redemption for mankind.
Esther 4:14, “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this ?”
IX. Literary Structure
I. Predestination (Esther 1:1-22 ) Esther 1:1-22 records how God orchestrated through divine providence the fall of a pagan queen in order to raise up Esther to the office of queen over the Persian Empire to redeem God’s people Israel. In His divine foreknowledge God predestined the redemption of the children of Israel through Queen Esther.
II. Calling (Esther 2:1-23 ) Esther 2:1-3 records the calling of Esther to be queen over the Persian Empire. emphasizes the next phase of a believer’s spiritual journey in the fact that Esther was chosen by the king to join his harem of virgins. This symbolizes our acceptance into God’s favour when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Esther 2:10-14 emphasizes the period of purification that all the virgins of the royal harem were required to experience. This symbolizes a believer’s time of sanctification by separation from this world. Esther 2:15-23 emphasizes the phase in which Esther receives her divine commission as queen.
III. Justification (Esther 3:1 to Esther 8:17 ) Ezra 3:1 to Ezra 8:17 reflects the time of justification in the life of Esther and the Jews; for they obtained the king’s favour and were delivered from the destruction of their enemy Haman.
IV. Glorification (Ezra 9:1 to Ezra 10:3 ) Ezra 9:15 to Ezra 10:3 reflects the time of glorification of Esther and her people Israel, when they had rest from their enemies (Esther 9:22) under the reign of King Ahasuerus.
X. Outline of Book
Bush, Frederic W. Ruth, Esther. In Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD -Rom, vol. 9. Eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Inc., 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
Henry, Matthew. Esther. In Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991. In P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000.
Metzger, Bruce M., David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.
Stuart, Douglas. Hosea-Jonah. In Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 31. Eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Inc., 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
Colbert, Don. (Longwood, Florida: Divine Health and Wellness). Interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas). On Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California). Television program.
Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol. 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.
Keathley, III, J. Hampton. “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah.” (Bible.org) [on-line]. Accessed 23 May 2012. Available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Kösenberger, Andreas J. Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011.
Rodkinson, Michael L. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13. New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011.
Youngblood, R. F., F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995. In Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM], Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp ., 2000-2004.
EXEGESIS AND COMMENTS
the Second Week of Advent