Study of Esther


The book of Esther takes its name from its principal character, Esther. Esther is a Persian word meaning star.

We do not know who wrote Esther, and it is also difficult to determine precisely when the author lived and worked. It does seem that he lived in Persia rather than Palestine because he seems so well acquainted with Persian life and customs. Mordecai has been mentioned as possibly being the author, but we simply do not know. It is also more or less implied in Esther 10:2 that King Ahasuerus had died. The king called Ahasuerus in this book was Xerxes who reigned from 486-465 B.C. Esther was likely written, therefore, somewhere after 464 B.C. but before 425 B.C. (Unger).

The purpose of the book of Esther is to illustrate the sovereignty of God in protecting His people, Israel, from the wicked persons who would try to destroy them. Although God is not even mentioned in the entire book, His providential care is evident throughout. Esther records events which occurred while the Jews were captives in Persia. It deals principally with those Jews who had passed up their opportunity to return to the land of Israel and chose rather to remain among the Gentiles after the return of the faithful remnant in 536 B.C.

The following outline is from Gleason L. Archer’s, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction:


    I.    The Feast of Ahasuerus and the Divorce of Vashti, 1:1-22

   II.    The Choice of Esther as Queen, 2:1-23

  III.    Haman’s Plot to Destroy Mordecai and the Jews, 3:1-15

 IV.    Mordecai’s Persuasion of Esther to Intervene, 4:1-17

   V.     Esther’s Successful Petition to the King, 5:1-7:10

 VI.    The Downfall of Haman and Deliverance of the Jews, 8:1-9:16

VII.    The Feast of Purim, 9:17-32

VIII.    Conclusion: the Prominence of Mordecai the Jew, 10:1-3

The following outline is from The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament:

Outline of Esther


    I.    Esther Placed in a Position of Prominence – 1:1 - 2:20

           A.  Vashti deposed by Xerxes – 1:1-22

                                                 1.   The king’s 187-day celebration – 1:1-9

                                                 2.   Vashti deposed – 1:10-22

                                           B.  Esther elevated to queen – 2:1-20

                                                 1.   Solution proposed for a new queen – 2:1-4

                                                 2.   Esther taken into the harem – 2:5-11

                                                 3.   Esther chosen to be queen – 2:12-20

                                  II.    The Jews Marked for Extermination – 2:21 - 4:3

                                           A.  A feud and Haman’s hatred of the Jews – 2:21 - 3:6

                                                 1.   King saved by Mordecai – 2:21-23

                                                 2.   Haman promoted – 3:1-6

                                           B.  King persuaded by Haman to destroy the Jews – 3:7-15

                                                 1.   Lot cast by Haman – 3:7-9

                                                 2.   King’s permission given – 3:10-11

                                                 3.   Proclamations sent out – 3:12-15

                                           C.  Mordecai mourned – 4:1-3

                                 III.    Calamity Averted by Esther – 4:4 - 9:19

                                           A.  Communications between Mordecai and Esther – 4:4-17

                                           B.  Plot exposed by Esther – 5:1 - 7:10

                                                 1.   Banquet prepared – 5:1-4

                                                 2.   Second banquet prepared – 5:5-8

                                                 3.   Haman gloated and built gallows – 5:9-14

                                                 4.   Mordecai honored by Xerxes – 6:1-14

                                                 5.   Xerxes told of plot, Haman hanged – 7:1-10

                                           C.  Jews delivered, and took revenge – 8:1 - 9:19

                                                 1.   Mordecai received royal position – 8:1-2

                                                 2.   Second proclamation sent out – 8:3-14

                                                 3.   Jews rejoiced – 8:15-17

                                                 4.   Jews took revenge – 9:1-19

                                 IV.    Feast of Purim Established – 9:20-32

                                  V.     Greatness of Mordecai Described – 10:1-3