What is the book of Esther about?



The book of Esther closes the part of the history books in the canon of the Protestant Bibles (LXX then still has the apocryphal writings (Judit, Tobit and Maccabees), in the Hebrew Bible Esther belongs to the scriptures and stands between the Lamentations and Daniel (probably because of the historical references ).

Purim festival

The book belongs to the five megillot, the scrolls that are read in Judaism on special festivals. It establishes the festival of Purim; according to Est 3,7 the lot (פּוּר, pûr) is cast to determine the day on which the Jews are to be killed. The Ester book is the first tangible evidence that Jews are persecuted for no particular reason, simply because they are different from all other peoples (3: 8).


The meaning of the name Ester is not clear, it probably comes from Persian and means "star". After 2.7, Ester's Hebrew name is Hadassa (English myrtle).


According to the information in the book, the action takes place in the days of the Persian King Xerxes I, i.e. in the early 5th century BC. It is certainly much younger, it is dated to the 3rd / 2nd centuries. Century. In 2.Makk 15.36 is for the 2./1. Century BC a Mordechaitag is documented, the Purim festival must have been celebrated at this time (terminus ante quem).


The book takes place in the royal residence of the Persian great king in Susa. It tells of the salvation of the whole of Jewry through the courage of the Jewish Queen Esther and her foster father Mordechai. Similar to the first chapters of the book of Daniel it shows that the life of the Jews in the Diaspora is dangerous, but that faithfulness to the faith brings salvation. Next to it is the motive that the Persian rule is ultimately supported and strengthened by the efforts of the Jews within the population.


The inclusion of the Ester book in the canon was obviously controversial for a long time, probably mainly because it does not speak of God. There are only allusions to be found, see 4.14 "Salvation from another side". The Greek translation also offers a significantly expanded text; this also shows that the canonization was not carried out uniformly. In terms of form, the font is a novella set in the diaspora as a modification of a Greek historical novel, similar, for example, to the apocryphal writings Judit and Tobit or the (older) Joseph novella. It wants to convey narrative how Jews in the Diaspora should behave appropriately, see also the stories in Dan 1–6.

“To the next chapter

Overview of the Esterbuch

1+2Ester willWife of the Persian Great King Ahasuerus / Xerxes I.
2,19-23Ester's guardian Mordechai covers oneConspiracy against the king on
3The Persian officialHaman achieved a royalDecree to exterminate the Jews
4Mordecai asks Esther for itIntercession with the King
5-8Esther reached the king with theRescuing the Jews'Haman is hung from the stake intended for Mordecai.
9+10revenge of the Jews to their enemies,Purim Festival Foundation and setting the date

Electronic Bible Studies

The texts on this page are taken from:

Old testament

Rösel, Martin: Biblical studies of the Old Testament. The canonical and apocryphal scriptures. With learning overviews by Dirk Schwiderski, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 10., veränd. Edition 2018.