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Bible verses about Esther, Book of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

It is a well-known biblical fact that the name of God is not found even once in the text of Esther. This fact has played a part in some people doubting the canonicity of the book. None of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran contain even a snippet of the book of Esther, probably because the Essenes were primarily a monastic male community that did not look favorably on writings whose main characters were women. Thus, for this reason, along with the absence of God's name, Esther does not appear in their canon.

But is God really missing from this book? Obviously, God and His providence are major factors in the outcome of events, so the argument is strictly over His absent name. However, it may not be so truant after all.

Esther 5:4, almost exactly in the middle of the book, can be considered its pivotal verse: "So Esther answered, 'If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.'" At this point Esther has committed herself in faith to her plan of action, and as yet she does not know if the king will intervene. It is in this context, then, that God's name "appears."

In Hebrew, the phrase "let the king and Haman come today" contains four words: yaabow' hamelek wahaamaan hayown. The initial letters of this phrase forms an acrostic, Y-H-W-H, the consonants that spell the name Yahweh, translated LORD in the Scriptures.

Acrostics, especially those that spell out God's name, are very rare. In fact, Jewish copyists carefully guarded against the accidental acrostic that might spell out this divine name because it was considered inviolate and ineffable. We can only assume, then, that this acrostic is purposeful, including God in the events of Esther's day, though working in the background.

Ronny H. Graham
Lessons From Esther: Esther Sacrifices Herself


 

Exodus 17:16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Though Esau himself was full of bitter hatred, and Ishmael is described as a wild man, Amalek seems to have been the worst of the Edomite-related peoples. The Bible records that even God has a special enmity for Amalek, saying in Exodus 17:16, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." What is it about the Amalekites that turns God against them?

The story begins as the Israelites are fleeing from Egypt, having just crossed the Red Sea, as Exodus 17:8 chronicles, "Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim." Evidently, the Amalekites had heard of Egypt's total defeat at the Red Sea and decided to take advantage of its usually more powerful neighbor's weakness. Between them and their prize, however, walked a strung out line of Israelite wanderers, who seemed to be, not only laden with Egyptian loot, but also easy pickings.

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 fills out the story: "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God." The Amalekites, not daring to take on the main host of Israel, attacked the tail end of the line, where the slow and weak plodded along. Yet, as Moses notes, the Amalekites did not include God in their calculations.

Moses commanded Joshua to select men to fight, and the Israelites met the Amalekites in battle. The result of this seesaw fight appears in Exodus 17:13-16. Forty years later, when Israel is about to cross over Jordan, God reminds Israel of Amalek's perfidious act and charges them:

Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget. (Deuteronomy 25:19)

The Amalekites appear again in the well-known episode in which God instructed King Saul to carry out this command:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

However, despite winning the battle, Saul did not follow God's instructions completely: "But Saul and the people spared Agag [king of the Amalekites] and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed" (verse 9). God sent the prophet Samuel to tell Saul that He had rejected him as king, as well as to execute Agag.

Obviously, some Amalekites escaped Saul's army. Five centuries later, as recorded in the story of Esther, an evil man named Haman plotted genocide against the Jews in Persia during the reign of Xerxes. Haman was "the son of Hammedatha the Agagite" (Esther 3:1), probably directly descended from the Amalekite king Samuel killed.

These accounts relate the sort of trickery, terrorism, and underhandedness that the Amalekites seem to use perpetually. One can only conclude that these tactics are passed from generation to generation, becoming a hereditary trait. God has recorded these episodes to indicate to us how Amalek historically treats Israel. If a confederacy is formed against Israel, the Amalekites will be a part of it, and they will be eager to use any means to bring her down.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Two)


 

Luke 22:44  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Judaism breaks the Old Testament down into three major sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings or Psalms. As an organizational tool, this division of books works well, but it has also served to restrict Bible students to a narrow view of the material in these sections. For instance, some are slow to notice law in the Prophets, wisdom in the Law, prophecy in the Writings, and so on.

On the other hand, commentators have always noted the prophetic character of many of the Psalms. Psalm 22 is obviously prophetic of Christ's suffering and death. Psalm 118 predicts Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before He was crucified (Matthew 21:9). Other chapters and verses in the Psalms are also seen as prophetic of Christ's ministry or the work of the church.

But what about some of the other books of the Writings? These include Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the two books of Chronicles. The book of Daniel is certainly prophetic, but the others are considered as historic books or poetry and wisdom literature. Do they have any prophetic significance? Indeed, many of them do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

 




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