Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 34


Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 34
Watching Now

I. Introduction

A. Structure

B. Canonicity

C. Historical Context

II. Theological Issues

A. God's providence

B. God's hiddenness

C. Life of faith in exile

III. Festival of Purim

  • Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt

Survey of the Old Testament



I. Introduction (00:13):

Welcome to our lecture on the Book of Esther. The Book of Esther, as you know, is in the writings, the third section of the Hebrew Bible, which deals with covenant life and those covenant life books are divided into two. In the first half we have life in the land, in the second part we have life in exile. Our last lecture, we cover the book of Lamentations, which lamented like a funeral, the fall and death of Jerusalem. Now, we've had the exposition of what it looks like to live in a fallen and broken world and to suffer in that world, and now we're going to get two examples of how to live a life of faith in exile, or as aliens and strangers in this world. This world is not our home. These people, Esther and Daniel are going to show us, give us a glimpse of how to look that way.

So we have Esther, a female example, and Daniel, a male example, but of course the male and female stuff applies to both, but it's nice to have one of each. It's interesting, Esther and Daniel share a story. They're both taken into exile, they both rise to prominence, second in the kingdom, in some sense. They're both plotted against, they both overcome the plot and that ends up saving people. There's very interesting correspondences between these two. There's no accident that they're together in the Hebrew Bible arrangement. We're also going to see that Daniel shares some correspondences with Joseph later on.

Let's begin. Esther this way, and in the movie The Sound of Music, at the very beginning, the nuns sing this song, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" For years, scholars have been asking this question, “how do you solve a problem like Esther?”

A. Structure (01:57):

There are some very tough things in the Book of Esther to overcome, but I think we can do it in our time together. You can see that Esther consists of 10 chapters, contain 167 verses and it's got four basic sections. I'm going to give you the structure and the plot and then we'll work through all the introductory issues. So first Esther and Mordecai are in Persia together. We have the fall of Vashti the Queen that is, Vashti was Xerxes's first queen. Xerxes asked her to come out and entertain the troops. She denied it and all of his officials said, "Hey, if you let her get away with this, then all the women in the homes rebel against their husbands", and so they have to do justice on her and get her out and dispose of her.

Then they say, "Well, we better find another queen for you", and they wrangle up some women. They put them into a harem, they train them for a year and Esther wins the day. We'll talk about that in a little bit. That's what happens in chapters one and two. In the next section, the section two, there is Haman's threat. Haman wants to destroy all of the Jews, and so that happens in chapter three. Mordecai hears of that, and he makes a plan. He helps them as Esther helped him by intervening. So we've got Esther and Mordecai in Persia. Thank you Lord, for putting those two people there. We've got the threat to all Jews. Then we've got the deliverance of the Jews. We've got Haman's downfall, Mordecai replaces Haman. The Jews are avenged. The invention of Purim, a new festival and Mordecai is exalted.

There is Shalom in exile. There are just three verses for chapter 10. You love chapters like that. So these 10 chapters, the basic plot is this in chapter one, Vashti is to pose because of her pride and arrogance. In chapter two, Esther is exalted because of her beauty, humility, and wisdom. So it's kind of a wisdom book to how to live skillfully. In chapter three, Haman was enraged by Mordecai due to his pride. In some sense, Mordecai becomes the second Vashti figure. So it's pride comes before the fall. We see that in both Vashti and Mordecai. There's patterns here. In chapter four, Mordecai was exalted because he spoke the truth to the king. Mordecai employs wisdom to counter the plan of Haman. Remember, actually Mordecai saved the life of the king by telling him about a plot on his life.

He was not there to be anti-Persia. He was looking for the flourishing of his kingdom there as well, living wisely in exile. In chapter five, Esther acts with wisdom to counter the plan of Haman. Haman rages, and takes counsel from his wife to make the gallows at 50 cubits high. You can see that's like 75 feet high. There's a really high gallows. In order to put on display their full shame. It's very interesting to going back and forth in here with Haman and his wife. In chapter six, Haman's pride inflames his jealousy over Mordecai. In chapter seven Haman's plot is unmasked by Esther, she goes in and tells the king and Haman's ironic death. He built the gallows upon which he hung. Then in chapters eight and nine Mordecai is exalted.

They institute a festival called Purim. We'll talk about that. The welfare of God's people is situated in exile. In some sense, God's people were about to be extinguished. They were going to have a universal decree to kill all Jewish people in all the land where they exist. God preserved the remnant of His people in eight and nine. That's kind of the outline and the basic plot. You can see you've got it moving. You've got three big sections right here with Esther and Mordecai and Persia, the threat to the Jews, and the deliverance of the Jews. This is the epilogue, the result or the outcome of that at three verses. There's no narrative progression there. It just says, this is the result of the first three sections. We've already talked about the location of the book in the Canon and how it relates to Daniel and the second half of the writings.

B. Canonicity (06:20):

How to get in the Canon? This is something very interesting because this book, more than most of the books in the Old Testament suffered under what we might call canonical criticism for a while, for a few reasons. It's important to know this because it'll help us think about the uniqueness of the book. Esther is never cited in the New Testament or anywhere else in the Old Testament. It's just there and gone. It's the only book not found among the Qumran Scrolls. They just found some scrolls last month. So maybe Esther will be in there, but it's the only book not found among the Qumran was. The name Esther occurs 55 times in its own book, but nowhere else in the Bible. Neither she nor anyone else in the book is mentioned anywhere else, like Mordecai and Haman. Considerable doubts concerning its canonicity have been expressed over the centuries, mainly concerning the nature of its inspired status or the reasons for its inclusion in the cannon.

Among the rabbis, this is interesting, these doubts primarily concerned, it's apparently secular nature, or it's adding to the law by instituting a new festival. So it is very secular. We don't have a lot of God talk. We don't have a lot of “doth saith the Lord” kind of business. I don't even think the name Yahweh appears in the book. So it's challenged Christians, because it's almost like Song of Songs. There's no mention of God here, except maybe that flame of Yahweh thing at the end. Why would this book be in the Canon? The fact that only the Mosaic legislation, do you have the festivals instituted. What gives her the right to institute this? Here, you have a woman instituting a festival for God's people that's still around today.

It's really cool. Among some Christians, doubt centered primarily on sub Christian values and its secularity. How could Esther let herself get caught up in that harmem, and sleep with that dirty old Persian king? That doesn't seem very Christian to me. We'll try to answer that.

For Mordecai statements law?

C. Historical Context (08:32):

Yeah. That's exactly right. Why would Mordecai intervene and save the kind of the life of a guy who was holding his people in exile? So Martin Luther has famously denounced this book saying "I am so great an enemy to the second book of the Maccabees, and to Esther, that I wish they had not come to us at all, for they have too many heathen unnaturalities". Of course that would be a translation from the German, but it's still fun. So neither the author nor the date of composition of Esther is specified in the book. According to the Talmud, the men of the great synagogue, that'd be like in Esther's day, composed the book. Josephus stated that Mordecai was the author. So maybe that's a possibility and he would have certainly had the capacity and the resources to do it. The earliest possible date for this book to have been written would have been probably sometime after the death of Xerxes, which would have been 464 BC. That's when we know he died, since his death seems to be presumed by the summary of his reign in chapter 10, verse two. The last possible date would seem to be a date prior to the rise of the Greek empire in the east. Since there no trace of Greek influence on the Hebrew book. Usually some of the later books will have some kind of influence in it. An earlier date, rather than a later date would better explain the authors familiarity with the surroundings.

There's a lot of detail about the court and who's in there in the names of the people. That means probably someone living close to that time or in that time. Historical context, the book of Esther gives us a unique glimpse into the life among the Jewish exiles who did not return from exile. So this is after Cyrus's decree and Esther and Mordecai could have gone back, but they decided to stay, interestingly enough. Long after many of their friends and family may have returned to Jerusalem in the years following Cyrus’s decree, we have close to 70 years later, they're still living there. The events of Esther take place in Persia, which is now modern day Iran. So you can think about that culture. Modern day Iran has a very traditional culture to resist, to change over the centuries. Probably a lot of the traditional culture still looks like it looked back then.

During the reign of Xerxes, which would be 486 to 465. So he reigned  20 years basically. They went back to exile out from 538. That's 40. It's about 60 or 70 years after that. The Persian empire, just so you know that what we're looking at, stretched across the entire ancient near east. Xerxes was an ambitious, ruthless, intolerant ruler and administrator over a vast empire. He was also a brilliant warrior and a jealous lover they say, according to Heraclitus. Heraclitus is an ancient Greek historian who lived from 484 to 424. He devotes fully one third of his history of the Persian wars to the years of the thirties work in it. The years of the landmark, his landmark, Greek invasion, stuff like that. Heraclitus loved this guy and we have a lot of information about him.

That would be an interesting pursuit, but Xerxes reign also marked the beginning of the end for the great Persian empire, which finally fell in 330, just under 100 years after his death to Greece under Alexander the Great. Xerxes was assassinated in his bed chamber in 465 BC. Of course, Esther, wasn't. The Queens and the concubines didn't always sleep with him. You just wonder, was Esther there? Where was Esther? What happened to Esther? I don't know what happened to Mordecai and Esther after this, just silent. I was looking for the appendix and Esther lived happily ever after she went to Israel or something like that. Maybe she got remarried to a good Jewish man? We don't get any of that. We just have silence. It is a strange thing what happened to her and what happened to Mordecai because they were major figures in the kingdom.

II. Theological Issues (12:27):

They're just gone. They are not mentioned in any of the annuals of the Persians. We've looked at some of the historical background issues. The basic plot and outline. What are some of the theological issues in the book? What are some of the main theological issues? The first one we're going to say is God's providence. Now generally I do not like to use a theme like providence to describe a book because every book exhibits God's providence. Every book exhibits God's sovereignty. Every book deals with God's love and justice. So I don't like this big theme, but this one book really does do that. I think we can justify by saying, God is kind of not there, but we see God's still protecting His people with a young woman and her uncle. In weakness, there is strength.

A. God’s Providence (13:21):

It's an interesting thing right there, God's providence. We can see that in Esther 4:14, where Mordecai says to Esther for, "If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you've come to the kingdom for such a time of this". So Mordecai knows that even if Esther doesn't go to the king and put her life in harms way, that God will be able to take care of some other way. Mordecai knows that God will protect His people. Even though, he's not saying "I heard... The Lord told me, you need to go do this". You don't get any of that language here. Mordecai is not a prophet saying, Esther, “thus saith the Lord, you must go and

B. God’s Hiddenness (14:06):

I will protect you.” Esther would say, but I don't want to. I'm afraid then God said, I'll be with you. Then there's two signs to confirm it. She lays a fleece down as the fleece is dry. Then the fleece is wet and she says, I'm going. The second theme is related to this theme. The providence theme it's that God's, hiddenness, God's hiddenness. There is no direct intervention or interaction. Here's what Peter Lee says about this. I like what he has to say about God's hiddenness "I suggest that the author of Esther created an inspiring sense of presence of God by creating a literary theological vacuum. The effect of this vacuum is to remind the reader of the subtle activities of God who had not abandoned His people when they were in need of His grace the most". Remember there, it's like they're in Egypt and it's the death of the first born all over again.

But it's the death of all of them. They're enslaved and God just says "I'm going to just wipe you all out". That's the critical nature of this. Indeed, the salvation of the Jews in Esther was to neither to creative maneuverings of Mordecai, nor to the courage of Esther. These heroes of faith were truly steadfast in the resolve, but behind the scenes, the early stage was the divine hand of the Lord who orchestrated the totality of what is found in the book for his own glory and for the well-being of his people. So the hiddenness of God in this book creates this deafening silence, where you're just sitting there watching it. You don't know what's going to happen because you don't hear the God language going on. But in the back of your mind, you have got to know, God is still in control.

C. Life of Faith and Exile (15:39):

We have the providence of God. We have the hiddenness of God. Then we have the theme of the life of faith in exile. What's the life of faith in exile? The life of faith in exile is this, faithfulness unto death. The relationship between the people of God and the people of this world. How do you relate in that particular category, faithfulness unto death? This is what Daniel did too. With Daniel, his friends, they put their lives on the line to be faithful to the Lord, even if it would cost them their life. Think about the three guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the firey furnace. I don't know if our God’s going to deliver us, but we're not going to bow down to your god. They didn't have the guarantee and they didn't have the track record.

It's not very often that three guys are cast into the furnace. A fourth guy shows up and they all walk out. Does that make sense? It's not like they had other books like that to say it. They just knew, perishing is better than being unfaithful. We have that with Esther.  In Esther 4:16, Esther talking to Mordecai, "Go rather to all the Jews to be found in Susa and hold a fast on my behalf and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. And I'm a young woman. We'll also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish". Faithfulness unto death, Esther 4:16 is the key verse in the book for like the motto of faithfulness. I will do what is right though It costs me my life. If I perish, I perish.

III. Festival of Purim (17:23):

At the end of the book, they institute something called the Festival of Purim. It's good for us to know what that festival is and how it works because it's actually still in enforced today. Purim, this festival was inaugurated in the book of Esther. It's the only biblical festival not mentioned in the Pentateuch, which is amazing. Some rabbis say that elevates the book of Esther to Mosaic status. It was ordered by Mordecai that the events be celebrated by which the Jews were able to reverse the edict of the death penalty on them by killing their enemies instead. Do you know what happened? Xerxes couldn't reverse his decree, but what he did is he said, they said, Jews, you can defend yourselves.

They whooped him. It was all strategic maneuvering that had to go on. They celebrated that because it was a massive victory and it came to be called Mordecai's day, by the second century BC, instead of Purim, like Mordecai's day. The name for the festival Purim is the plural form of the word poor, which just means a lot like something you cast. It only occurs in this book here. It's not the normal word for a lot that we think of in Hebrew, Garol it's just poor, and "im" is plural in Hebrew. What's the plural of cherub? It would be cherubim? You know the "im" is plural. Therefore Purim just means lots. The lots that you cast, because the way they did it is they cast lots to determine how they're going to do this.

It's using the fact that they were going to cast lots to kill the Jews and then go on. Haman cast a lot to determine the best month for his edict of destruction to be enacted. That was a chapter three and nine. So this is an ironic reversal. The Jewish festival celebrates an overturning of the lots. In terms of the modern celebrations of Purim, Stephen Knoll, who describes it by saying,

“For the Jews it was a time to make light of what was essentially a serious theme. The preservation of the Jewish people from persecution, the feast proceeds passover by one month and points to the great events of the Exodus”. Think about over history, all the times when people were trying to wipe out the Jews. Even in our modern age. “The central act of Purim is the reading of the Megilat or scroll of Esther”. Megilat just means scroll. So they have to say that to sound good. Accompanied by ready, Rawkus mocking at the name of Haman, it has to be Rawkus at the name of Haman. Let's see. His sons, because they were part of it got killed with him and congregational recitation versus a redemption from the book here, 8:15 to 16 and 10:03. Parallel readings from passages about amalik, highlight the longstanding threat to the Jews in every generation.

“The feast is also accompanied by a carnival like atmosphere, puppet shows and commonplace drinking contests”. Everyone parties the same way that it's good, have another excuse for it. But they also have the burning of a Haman and the election of a Purim king. That's what it involves. It's a big festival. I could see this totally going on in Eastern Europe still. I don't see so much going on in the U.S. especially, it's not good to burn things outside anymore. Then there is the so-called Purim appendix in 9:20 to 32, which actually establishes the authoritative religious significance of the festival. Which is interesting because in these texts, the word in Hebrew "kum" is used twice and it's to establish things. Kum is often used with them establishing covenants. For example, in Genesis 6:18, and in Genesis nine, and we talked about in the awakening, the verbs are kumbe, kumar established a covenant.

It's kind of got this authoritative stamp to it a second during that, in that premium and appendix the appointed time for the festival set the 14th and the 15th days of the month, it's a Dar, but that's like February, March. So it's now a regular part of the Jewish calendar. Mordecai and Esther's letters establish the exact manner in which the festivals would be celebrated. Fourth, the festival is fixed in writing. That is, it became canonical in this way, the festival quiet and authoritative status akin to the law. There I'll read part of it too, so you have a good sense of it. This is just chapter nine about that. “Therefore, they call these days Purim after the term poor”. Now, you know what that means. “Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them that without fail, they would keep these two days according to what was written at the time appointed every year”.

It's an interesting statement too, because it was very hard for them to keep some of the other like passover and things. So this one, they have like a lot of excitement about that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation in every clan, province, and city. These days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should be the commemoration of these days, cease among their descendants. Then king Esther, the daughter of Abigail and Mordecai the Jew, gave full written authority confirming the second letter about Purim, letters were sent to all of the Jews to 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes in words of peace and truth that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons as Mordecai the Jew and queen Esther obligated them. As they had obligated themselves and their offspring with regard to their fasts and our lamenting, the command of Esther confirmed these practices, and it was recorded in writing.

I love that, the command of Esther, the queen. So very intriguing and how, in terms of how all that works. The institution of Purim by Esther and Mordecai forms the basis for the Talmudic elevation of Esther to the level of Torah. I had mentioned that earlier, and here's some of my notes now, since these are the only two portions of scripture that established and give instructions for biblical festivals, which is interesting because some people question the canonicity because it's so secular. But some people say anyone who has the authority in the economy of God's kingdom to establish a festival in writing is like Moses, so you can see it's either or for them. We'll just end with Esther. This is chapter 10, where we have Shalom in exile because this is really what we're looking for.

IV. Conclusion (23:59):

We have God's providence and we have God's hiddenness. What's interesting is as believers, we really experience that hiddenness in life. So it's very applicable to us when we look at Esther and we say, how did they navigate? How did Esther and Mordecai navigate this world with threats when they didn't have a direct word from God? They did it with wisdom each time. We talk about Esther's wisdom with the king, Mordecai's wisdom with the Kings. They navigated it with wisdom, which is applying God's truth to the right context. All of these books in the writings are essentially wisdom compositions, because there are how do you think I'm living out of the covenant. Esther and Mordecai didn't have any other resources, they use their wisdom to apply it to the right situation.

It worked, they were skilled in wisdom. So they're kind of wisdom people. Then Esther 10, one “King Xerxes impose tribute throughout the empire to the distant shores, and all of his acts of power it might together with the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king and raised him. Are they not written in the book of the annuals of the Kings of media and Persia”, but we can't find those. Of course, just because we can't find it people say, it's a fiction. Then it says this the very end, this is all chapter 10, verse three verses only. “Mordecai the Jew was second and rank to Kings Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews and held in the highest team by many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews”.

Now that word for welfare, Shalom, because he worked for the good of his people, Tov like Genesis one. He spoke up for the Shalom of all the Jews. So that's what we're doing, trying to achieve Shalom in exile is a very hard thing to do. They it did it with wisdom. What does the wisdom teacher in the Song of songs do? She's a wall, her brush like towers. And I becoming as I was like one bringing forth Shalom. So wisdom is about bringing forth Shalom in this world right now that is very anti Shalom. A major theme that runs through these books here and wisdom is done. Let's just take the critics on then say, do you think when Jesus was on the road to emmaus with His disciples, that he's maybe skipped over this book accidentally, maybe because He didn't have a Qumran score or something like that. Maybe Jesus had a Qumran scroll. Well, I would say certainly not. If you think about this, they were trying to wipe out the Jewish seed. We have the crisis of the seed all the way from when Cain killed Abel. At the flood, that's the crisis of the seed. There's a crisis of the seed when you've gotten barren patriarchs is the crisis of the seed. Now again, the seed, the alley that runs through the whole Bible, the seeds always in crisis. God's always preserving it. In this book we have that Jesus is the seed that was preserved. He's the one true seed as with Esther. It comes in the form of ironic reversal.

Esther said in her life, I'm going to do the right thing. And if I perish, I perish, but Jesus, didn't say “if” He said, when I perish, I will preserve the seed. So we have that very kind of connection to that. Esther goes to the king and says, if I perish, but Jesus goes to the king. He is the king, but he goes to the king, His father, and says, when I perish, I perish, I will save the seed. There is gospel motives in that. Tim Keller loves to talk about this all the time. I've heard him in many contexts say, Jesus just didn't say “if” he said, “when” he was going to be for sure. We know how that is. That seed has been preserved. Now by faith, we are that seed. We're the seed that is preserved by Esther and Mordecai that day because of their wisdom. That wisdom. That's the book of Esther. Are there any questions about sovereignty, providence, or God's goodwill? I'm just kidding. Don't ask those.

Well, sometimes it seems like there's a paradox between living in Shalom and being willing to live in conflict.


Because Mordecai was living in conflict with Haman.


He went about down.


And it's the wisdom to know when to do it and what to do, because he's willing to save the life of the king.


But he was unwilling to bow down to Haman.

Right. Yeah.

So it's a challenge to know the scripture and then be in tune with the Lord to know how it is that we should live at any given time.

Right. That's why it's great to have friends who can help you think wisely and counsel you. It's just not one brain, but many brains. I agree. That's true. He was willing to save the king who may have been oppressive. We know he was a hard man. It says something about he was hard and battling, he's a jealous lover. He had extreme emotional range. Heraclitus says just that. But he cared for the king. But he knew Haman's pride was not worth bowing down to. We know people like that who just want to be in charge. They want people to know you're in charge.