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Additions to Esther

ESTHER, ADDITIONS TO. The apocryphal book, Additions to Esther, consists of six passages (107 vv), inserted into the Gr. text in various places. It is generally assumed that the Heb. was tr. into Gr. by an Egyp. Jew, living in Jerusalem, no later than 114 b.c. Whether all the additions were present in the text at the time of the tr. is a matter of debate. All the Gr. recensions and the Old Lat. text contain the additions in their proper place. When Jerome made his Vul. tr., he removed these passages because they did not appear in the Heb., and he placed them at the end of the book with explanatory notes indicating where they should be inserted. Subsequent editors removed the notes. Finally, when Stephen Langton (d. 1228) divided the Lat. Bible into chs., he numbered the additions, which had been placed at the end of the book, in consecutive order. This practice was followed by Luther and the Eng. VSS. In The jerusalem Bible these additions are in the text, but are printed in italicized type.


The six passages making up the Additions to Esther are identified by letters. Each passage may be briefly summarized.

Addition A (11:2-12:6) is a dream of Mordecai in which two great dragons appear ready to fight. A tiny spring grew into a great river when the righteous nation cried to God. Mordecai later overheard two eunuchs plotting against the king. He reported them and was rewarded by appointment to a high office. All this precedes Esther 1:1.

Addition B (13:1-7) is the text of the edict of Ahasuerus (Gr. has Artaxerxes) against the Jews. It is to be inserted after 3:13.

Addition C (13:8-14:19) gives the prayers of Mordecai and Esther. It follows 4:17.

Addition D (15:1-16; Lat. 15:4-19) is an elaboration of 5:1, 2 and should be inserted before 5:3. This passage describes the anger of the king at Esther’s intrusion, but God changed the king’s heart and attitude toward Esther.

Addition E (16:1-24) gives the text of the edict of Ahasuerus in behalf of the Jews. This passage follows 8:12.

Addition F (10:4-11:1), which follows 10:3, is the interpretation of Mordecai’s dream. The two dragons are Mordecai and Haman, and the tiny spring is Esther. The “lots” of Purim are two destinies, a “lot” for the Jews and a “lot” for the Gentiles.


From the content of the Additions, the following conclusions may be drawn: (1) the author wanted to strengthen the religious element in the book and so inserted the prayers; (2) the trustworthiness and historical accuracy of the text are enhanced by the exact words of the two royal edicts; (3) the author tried to improve on the story by including sections D, A, and F; (4) if 9:20-10:3 is an addition (so Brockington and others), then there is an attempt to harmonize the record with current usage.


The Gr. text has come down in five variant forms: (1) the standard LXX (א, B, A, etc.) (2) Origen’s Hexapla; (3) Hesychius; (4) Lucian; and (5) the text used by Josephus. Most scholars believe the Additions were written originally in Gr. Roman Catholic scholars argue they were all tr. from Heb. or Aram. originals. Torrey claims that the original language was Aram. (A C D F were part of the original text), and that our canonical Heb. is a late abridgment. Patton argues that there is no evidence for the existence of Sem. originals for any of the additions.


The date of the Additions cannot be determined with accuracy. The little evidence there is points to a date near the time of the tr. into Gr., around 100 b.c.



J. A. McClymont, “Esther,” HDB, I (1898), 773-776; L. B. Patton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Esther (1908), 31-34, 41-47; J. A. F. Gregg, “The Additions to Esther,” in R. H. Charles (ed.), The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, I (1913), 665-671; T. Davies, “Esther, The Rest of,” ISBE, II (1929), 1009f.; C. C. Torrey, “The Older Book of Esther,” HTR, xxxvii (1944), 1-40; The Apocryphal Literature (1945), 57-59; R. H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949), 304-312; B. M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (1957), 55-63; L. H. Brockington, A Critical Introduction to the Apocrypha (1961), 49-53; E. W. Saunders, “Esther” (Apocryphal), IDB, II (1962), 151f.

See also

  • Apocrypha