Esther Intro

The book of Esther explains why Jews in the Persian period began celebrating a new festival called Purim. The law of Moses had earlier described how God’s mighty acts of deliverance lay behind holidays such as Passover and Tabernacles. The book of Esther shows how God intervened once again to save the Jews, leading to a commemoration of this great rescue in the feast of Purim.
This fast-moving story occurs during the reign of the Persian king Xerxes (most likely Xerxes I, 486–465 BC). It relates the adventures that take place when a Jewish exile named Esther and her cousin and guardian Mordecai work to rescue their people from a plot to destroy them. While the story never mentions God by name, God’s hand of protection can be detected in the timing and combination of events as they unfold.
The book features numerous banquets, including two hosted by Xerxes at the beginning, two given by Esther in the middle, and two celebrated by the grateful Jews at the end. Since this story was told to later generations during the feast of Purim itself, the audience is placed right in the middle of the action. Those who read it can not only join in celebrating God’s deliverance, they can ask themselves, as Mordecai asked Esther, for what great purpose God may have brought them to their own position in life.