Thematic Analysis of the Book of Esther
Why God is not Revealed in the Book of Esther
In the book of Esther, the author speaks about the conflicts that existed between the Israelites and the Amalekites. The battle began at the time of the exodus and proceeded to the Israel’s history. It can be seen that the author of the books perceives as the power of the world against the people of God. On one hand the book of Esther is written as a historical narrative with an intimate knowledge of the aspects of the Persian court (Walfish 29). On the other hand, the book does not feature God while God is a special characteristic in every other book in the Bible. The only area where there is evidence of God is the end of chapter 4 of the book where there is the evidence of the divine providence. Apart from the complete absence of God, the book does not mention the elements of prayer, worship or even sacrifice. This has been regarded as a high level of secularity and therefore the book can be said to have little religious value. Even so the allusion is still indirect. The secularity can be interpreted as the attempt of the author to heighten the emphasis that it is God who controls all the incidences including all the aspects that may appear to be less important (Walfish 201).
The ultimate result of the coincidences is the fact that the Jews are delivered and God sovereign rule prevails. This assumption is made irrespective of the fact that no reference is made to him whatsoever. As such this raises a question of the meaning of the absence of God in the book. Two main possibilities may be used to explain the meaning of the absence of God. One possibility could be that God is capable of guiding history from a far to a further extreme. The second possibility is the fact that the author of the book could have been playing with the idea of the war between gods as explained in the Babylonian myth. In the same regard, there is an implication that there is a comical undercurrent in the book. As such the major themes that can be identified from these books include family, hate, marriage, manipulation, revenge as well as the aspect of the women and femininity.
The Major Themes
One major theme that is relevant in this book is feasting. In the course of the book, there is a total of ten banquets which act as the setting of the important parts of the story. The primary purpose of the book is to show the feast of Purim about God’s chosen people who are the Israelites. As such the book records the institution of the festival and the observance by the Jewish community. The deliverance of the Jewish community through Esther by God is the essence of the Purim festival. Up to date, the Jews read the book of Esther during the commemoration of the festival. Three groups of banquets come as pairs. The most remarkable ones are the ones that are given by the king “When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa.” The other two others prepared by prepared by Esther and finally there is the celebration of the Purim.
The family association is one of the themes that is evident from the book of Esther. The closeness of the family members can be seen to have a significant influence in the way that the people behave me the setting of the Bible. As such it seems to be one of the values are strongly held in the book. To begin with Esther and Mordechai are a perfect example of the importance of the family values. This can be demonstrated by the fact Esther goes a long way defending the members of her family and her kin. It is thesis family bond that aids id stabilizing things. On the contrary, the family of Haman sees less cohesive. This can be demonstrated by the disagreements that can be seen to resonate from the family. For instance, Haman’s wife offers misdirecting advice to her husband. At some point, she tells him to build to build gallows. In another instance, she tells him to give up for the dead when she sees that things are not going well for him.
Hatred is another theme that is evident in the story. The aim perpetrator of hatred, in this case, is Haman. He hates Mordechai for his refusal of bowing down to him. With the same regard, e seems to hate the Jews that he plots and even go ahead to manipulate the king to sell the idea that is expected to kill all the Jews (Porter, Stamps and Olbricht 69). With the same regard, he infects the king with the hatred. The king does do not seem to be moved by the idea of killing the Jews instead he joins in the idea of killing all the Jews. After making the plan, he goes ahead to have a drink with Haman. He does not do anything to stop the plan, and he does not view it as wicked. He goes o ahead to approve it without questioning.
The book of Esther is laden by several marriages. It begins with the marriage between the King Ahasuerus and Queen Vashti. Subsequently, when Esther becomes the new queen, there is the marriage between her and the king. There is also the marriage that is between Haman and his wife. The two were self-interested people who seem to be right for each other. With the same regard, the two do not seem to care about each other. Marriages in the book of Esther are accompanied by trouble with most of them displaying trouble and disagreements (Porter, Stamps and Olbricht 119). For instance queen, Vashti does not see to respect the king. She does not respect her orders and therefore the king demotes her from being the queen. The marriage between Esther and the king is also laden with controversies since they do not seem to know each other. The king marries her barely a night after spending with each other time.
Manipulation is portrayed in several chapters of the book. Manipulation occurred in both dimensions either portrayed for the risk of doing right and for the intentions of achieving the favor. To begin with Haman manipulates the king into approving the killing of all the Jews. Esther, on the other hand, manipulates the same king who gets him into throwing two banquets (Walfish 216). In the course of the two banquets, she convinces the king on the plot to execute Mordechai. With this, the king is convinced enough to go ahead and approve the killing of Haman instead.
The theme of revenge is evident all over the book in several circumstances. For instance, in the beginning, Haman has the intentions of killing Mordechai for refusing to bow down to him. By this time, the purpose of Haman is to kill Mordechai along all his people (Porter, Stamps and Olbricht 103). This plan fails to materialize. Esther, therefore, perpetuates the other act of revenge. Esther seems to pursue the plan to take revenge head front. The plan to take the revenge involves several people.
Women and Femininity
It is evident that the book of Esther powerful and the capable women the most conspicuous women in the book are Vashti and Esther. The two women behave differently in the book thereby depicting different roles of women (Porter, Stamps and Olbricht 99). Vashti to begin with is portrayed as disobedient and flat out. She does not heed to the orders of the king. As a result, she was demoted from her position of being the queen. Esther, on the other hand, exploits her position as the queen to secure an advantage for herself that of her people. Although the two women are demonstrated to be from the same positions which are that of the queens.
From the story of Esther, the author was aimed at recording the institution of the annual festival of the Purim. The books, therefore, records the institution of the festival to demonstrate the deliverance of the Jews. In the course of the story, the author demonstrates the conflict that exists between the Israelites and the Amalekites. Throughout the story, there is no direct reference to God, worship, praise or even sacrifice. As such the book is regarded as highly secularized though the presence of God is depicted through the ultimate deliverance of the Jews. Some of the most important themes that are illustrated from the story are the aspects of family, marriage, hatred, women and feminism as well as the banquets.
Walfish, Barry. Esther in Medieval Garb: Jewish Interpretation of the Book of Esther in the
Middle Ages. SUNY Press, 2012.Print.
Porter, Stanley E, Dennis L Stamps, and Thomas H Olbricht. Rhetorical Criticism And The
Bible. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002. Print.