Introductory Comments to the Book of Esther

Something taken out of historical content, isolated from the surrounding histories, lacks in full understanding of any given context. It is awareness without much understanding. This is the reason for the following graphic. Scripture sometimes advances in years between chapters and sometimes between verse. This distorts the value of the in between events in history. The Book of Esther is one of these points of skipped years. Example: Esther 1:3 states “in the third year of Ahasuerus’s reign”. Esther 2:16 is four years later…”in the seventh year of his reign”. Esther 3:7 we read “in the twelfth year of his reign”. This is another four years later than Esther 2:16. In short, a minimum of 8 years of blank history passes between Esther 1:3 and Esther 3:7. It isn’t blank but not sometimes covered in the Bible.

What else surrounded Esther’s background in history? We cannot give a good mental awareness, knowledge, and understanding of histories that lead up to the Book of Esther unless we explain a few things in world and Bible history prior to, at the time of, and after the Book of Esther. This is where we will begin this study of Esther. The hollow orange section with the red “X” in the following chronology identifies a time-period for which we know Esther became wife of King Xerxes. It is likely she lived on as Queen Mother after his death, but for how long we do not know. We do understand that King Ahasuerus died in 465 B.C. The bold red rectangular box shows that Bible history is extended to the end of this chart. Charts can be discouraging when one tries to look at it in general. Read each item within its own context of history. This is how we define aha moments.

We do not like to inundate our articles with graphs and charts because so many spend zero time examining them even if for their own personal gain and added insight. Plus, we have a problem with Persian historians. We have multiple “historians” who juggle kingships and years to best fit his or her assumptions, perspectives, or motives. The following is as accurate as we have found. It comes from a worthy read:

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/persian-kings.html

JIV NOTE: Satraps of provinces within the Persian Empire were also called Kings. King Herod of the Christmas history in Judea was a Satrap of the Emperor of Rome but called a king.

2 Chronicles 36:23 – Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him and let him go up.

JIV NOTE: Cyrus the Great of Persia released the Jews of Babylon and elsewhere with his empire borders to return to Judah or specifically Jerusalem. Most opted to move elsewhere of to stay put.

This chart reveals the later demise of the Persian Empire (Achaemenid dynasty). The Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great who conquered Babylon in 536 BC. The Persian Empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire. It was Cyrus (King of Persia) who issued the famous decree for the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their Temple. [JIV NOTE: Darius was king of Babylon, not Persia) Under Darius the second Temple of Zerubbabel was completed; and under Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, the events recorded in the Book of Esther in the Bible happened. Under Artaxerxes I the Jewish state was reformed by Ezra, and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah. The capital of the Persian Empire was Shushan. The Empire lasted a little more than 200 years and came to an end in *330 BC.”

The 330 B.C. demise of the Persian Empire had much to do with Queen Esther’s king-husband Ahasuerus [aka Xerxes 130 years earlier]. JIV NOTE: Some translations confuse things even more by suggesting that Xerxes was aka Artaxerxes. Persian records are far from exacting.

Yes, this is too much history for some readers. Without this knowledge, how does one confirm its value in paralleling secular histories and Bible facts over the same time periods. There is NO CONFLICT since bible and secular histories are simultaneous or concurrent events. Bible and secular histories are not individual and different. They are both a common and often simultaneous history of our world through the eyes of their authors but often not connected by the dots. One is not fact and the other a religion. It is religion that puts a false spin on their disconnect by not connecting the dots. The same is TRUE of secular revisionist historians. Connecting some of these dots is our role at Ahabiblemoments.com. We make the connections because it all adds up to ONE HISTORY.

Following is an exert from excellent research done by Mary Jane Chaignot:

King Ahasuerus

By Mary Jane Chaignot

  • Scholars are uncertain which king is referred to by this name.
  • For a long time, they believed it was another name for Xerxes I, who reigned from 485-465 BCE.
  • He was the son of Darius I of Persia; his mother was the daughter of Cyrus the Great.
  • During his reign, he had to deal with revolts in Egypt and Babylon.
  • He was successful in both ventures, but highly unpopular in Babylon after melting down the revered statue of the idol Marduk. Some scholars think this might have been the cause of subsequent rebellions by the Babylonians.
  • He was also in command during the Battle at Thermopylae when 300 Spartans and 1000 Greeks stood up to the entire Persian army. Though the Spartans were ultimately defeated (by the treachery of a fellow countryman), their stand allowed the people of Athens time to vacate the city.
  • The city of Athens was destroyed (whether on purpose or by accident is a matter of debate), which led to high anti-Persian sentiment.
  • After unsuccessfully trying to defeat the Greeks on the sea, Xerxes had to return to Babylon to deal with further unrest in that area.
  • This is most likely due to his representation in the Book of Esther, and it surely didn’t hurt that he had destroyed the statue of Marduk.
  • According to Josephus, “after the death of Xerxes, the kingdom came to be transferred to his son, Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes.”
  • Josephus claims this king married a Jewish wife, who was responsible for saving the Jews.
  • He goes on to relate the story of Vashti, Esther, and Mordecai.
  • Daniel 9:1 also mentions Ahasuerus, who was supposedly the father of Darius, King of Media. Unfortunately, no such individual is given secular documentation. [JIV NOTE] Why? Perhaps because he may have been the son of the Jewess Queen Esther. *Leviticus Rabbah 13:5 states this Darius to be the son of Queen Esther. *Hebrew Midrash scholars.

https://biblewise.com/bible_study/characters/king-ahasuerus.php

This will help connect the elusive bible and secular history dots, give the reader points of reference, and eliminate confusion or give guidance in some true Bible student minds; those who wish to go beyond the “milk of the Word and the isolated stories within the Bible”.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

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