Almost snuck in unnoticed in the exile-restoration period is the great story of Esther. The events of the book are set between 486-465 B.C in the reign of Xerxes the Persian. The Temple has already been restored for 37 years. Ezra will arrive with a contingent from Babylon about nine years later. After that Nehemiah will rebuild the wall.
Interestingly, God is never mentioned directly in the whole book. But the message is clear, even though the story follows the life of a Jewish peasant woman who comes to be the wife of a non-Jewish King. The road is paved with trouble, but multiple ‘co-incidences’ protect and keep her on track. Co-incidences are the author’s masterful stroke in showing God as the Lord of all events in history. It becomes obvious that there were no coincidences here and God was behind it all.
The exact teaching of the book each reader and teacher has to arrive at himself or herself as the rich narrative lends itself to many life lessons along the way. Big themes in the book are: the Lord of all people in all nations; the Lord orders history; the Lord protects his people; the Lord’s promises stand; Jews will be kept by God in ungodly nations; in Jesus, the dividing lines between Jew and Gentile will break.
Pic: Kate Gardiner Hastings (British, 1837-1925), Esther.