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by Robert Hawker
THE BOOK OF ESTHER
THE book of Esther is as singular a record as any in the Bible. That it hath been received into the canon of scripture, and accepted as part of the inspired writings, is sufficient to confirm its divine authority; at least that part which is contained in the ten chapters inserted in this book. What follows as the supposed continuance of the history in the book called the Apocrypha, is altogether, so questionable, that the Jews never received it into the canon of their scripture.
The book itself contains an interesting memoir of that part of the Jewish history which belongs to the children of the captivity which remained in Babylon, and fell under the Persian government, who did not return to Jerusalem with the captives which returned, when permitted so to do in the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia.
It is not certain who was the penman of it, though from a passage in one of the chapters (Esther 9:20 .) it should seem that Mordecai committed it to writing. Certain it is, that he was well qualified for the office.
The subject is the danger to which that part of GOD'S church was exposed from the hatred of her enemies; and the LORD'S watchful care over his people in the wonders of his providence. Some few leading characters here and there interspersed, seem to point to the LORD JESUS; and which the reader will do well to be very diligent in looking after.
The period of time to which this book refers is not very deafly ascertained. That it was a considerable space after the first return of the children of the captivity is certain, for Cyrus was then king, and Darius followed. And the first year of the reign of Cyrus was about 536 years before the coming of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Whereas this could not have been less than twenty years after. Some indeed have dated it nearly 70 years after.
I only here, as in all former instances, request the Reader to begin the perusal of it in prayer, that he may find sufficient cause to end it in praise. All scripture (the apostle saith) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
the Third Week after Epiphany