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An Argument of the Book of Esther

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MESSAGE STATEMENT:1

The preservation of Mordecai and the Jews under king Ahasuerus from the persecution initiated through Haman was providentially realized through the persons of Mordecai, Esther, & king Ahasuerus and commemorated through the inauguration of the feast of Purim

I. SETTING THE SCENE--ESTHER ELEVATED TO QUEEN OF PERSIA: After king Ahasuerus rashly demoted his wife, Vashti, because of her rebelliousness, he replaced her with Esther who had a preserving presence as she obeyed her uncle Mordecai’s words 1:1--2:23

A. Vashti’s Dethronement: In the midst of emotion king Ahasuerus issued an edict forbidding Queen Vashti to ever come before him again due to her rebelliousness 1:1-22

1. The Great Banquets of Xerxes: 1:1-9

2. Vashti’s Fall: 1:10-22

a. Vashti’s Refusal to Obey the King: 1:10-12

b. The Wise Men’s Advise against Vashti: 1:13-22

B. Esther’s Rise to Power: After the king replaced his queen with Esther, she demonstrated herself to have a preserving presence as she listened to the words of her uncle Mordecai 2:1-23

1. The Rise of Esther: When the king sought a woman to replace the queen, he was pleased with Esther and chose her 2:1-18

a. The Search for a New Queen: 2:1-4

b. Esther’s Rise as a Candidate for Queen: 2:5-11

c. The Traditional Procedure for a Candidate: 2:12-14

d. Esther Chosen as Queen: 2:15-18

2. Esther’s Preserving Presence: Queen Esther continued to be obedient to her uncle Mordecai causing her to conceal her race, the king’s life to be rescued from an assassination plot, and Mordecai’s good deed to be recorded in the history book 2:19-23

II. HAMAN’S PLOT TO KILL MORDECAI & THE JEWS: After Haman was appointed Prime Minister, he had his pride offended by Mordecai, causing him to devise a plan to kill all of the Jews in the kingdom, and to secure the King’s approval for the destruction 3:1-15

A. Haman’s Anger with Mordecai: After Haman was appointed with authority over all of the princes who were with him, he became enraged at Mordecai who being a Jew would not bow down or pay homage to him at the king’s gate, causing Haman to devise a plan to kill Mordecai through killing all of his people 3:1-6

1. Haman Promoted 3:1

2. Haman Provoked: 3:1-5

3. Haman’s Initial Plot: 3:6

B. A Day of Revenge Chosen by Lot and Approved by the King: After casting lots, Haman determined the thirteenth day of the twelfth as the time to destroy the Jews and received permission from King Ahasuerus to slay all of the Jews and to receive their plunder into the King’s treasury 3:7-15

1. Haman’s Plot Developed: 3:6-9

2. King Ahasuerus’ Proclamation: 3:10-15

III. MORDECAI’S PLAN TO SAVE THE JEWS THROUGH ESTHER: After Mordecai responded to the decree of extermination with sackcloth and ashes outside the palace gate, he urged Esther to intervene on behalf of her people, whereupon she at first refused, but then agreed with the supportive prayer of Mordecai and other 4:1-17

A. Mordecai’s Personal Response: Mordecai responded to the king’s decree by standing outside of the palace gate in sackcloth and ashes 4:1-3

B. Esther’s First Response: Esther heard of the king’s edict, but did not want to confront the king as Mordecai requested for fear of her life 4:4-12

C. Esther’s Second Response: When Mordecai rejected Esther’s excuse and reminded her of who she was (a Jew) and of God’s sovereignty in placing her as queen, she agreed to go to the king while Mordecai and others prayed 4:13-17

IV. A PROVIDENTIAL REVERSAL--MORDECAI EXALTED & HAMAN DESTROYED: Although Haman continued to plot against Mordecai in his prideful arrogance, he was providentially overturned in his evil through the king’s sudden honor of Mordecai and Esther’s timely preparation and exposure of Haman at her banquets causing Haman to be killed and Mordecai to be exalted 5:1--8:2

A. Banquet Invitations and The First Banquet: Esther appeared before the king and invited him and Haman to a banquet, and then at that banquet, to another banquet to prepare the king for her request: 5:1-8

B. Haman’s Continued Plot against Mordecai: Haman, though pleased with the special attention he has received, still had his pride hurt when Mordecai would not honor him, so he plotted to kill Mordecai 5:9-14

C. Haman’s Humiliation--His Plot Backfires and Mordecai is Honored: After reading the kingdom’s records, the king desired to honor Mordecai for saving his life; so when Haman, thinking that the king was going to honor him, advised how a man ought to be honored, he was told to bestow that honor on Mordecai causing Haman’s family to affirm his downfall before he was called to the next banquet 6:1-14

1. The King’s Discovery of an Unrewarded Deed by Mordecai: 6:1-5

2. Mordecai Honored: 6:6-11

3. Haman’s Wife Affirms His Downfall: 6:12-13

4. Haman Summoned to the Next Banquet: 6:14

D. Second Banquet: At the second banquet Haman’s plot to kill Mordecai and the Jews was exposed by Esther to the king and Haman was put to death 7:1-10

E. Mordecai’s Elevation: Haman’s possessions were given to Esther and Mordecai was given Haman’s position as well as charge of his estate 8:1-2

V. A SECOND, EXTENDED, PROVIDENTIAL REVERSAL--THE JEWS OVER THEIR ENEMIES: When the king responded to Esther’s pleading for the lives of the Jews, he issued a counter edict to that of Haman which allowed the Jews to defend themselves and realize victory over their enemies 8:3--9:19

A. Counter Authority over Haman’s Edict: When Esther pleaded to the king for the lives of the Jews, he provided to her and Mordecai the authority to counter-act the previous edict from Haman 8:3-8

B. Jewish Hoped Increased: When Mordecai wrote and sent an edict giving the Jews the permission to defend themselves from Haman’s edict, the hope of the Jews was greatly increased 8:9-17

C. Jewish Victory Realized: When the two edicts were carried out, the enemies of the Jews were destroyed and even an extra day was given to the Jews at Susa for this 9:1-19

1. A Great Slaughter: 9:1-10

2. Vengeance in Susa: 9:11-15

3. Celebration in the Provinces and in Susa: 9:16-19

VI. EPILOGUE--INSTITUTION OF THE FEAST OF PURIM & THE PROMINENCE OF MORDECAI THE JEW: As a conclusion to the book Mordecai established the feast of Purim under Esther’s authority and Mordecai was exalted to a place of authority in Ahasuerus’ great kingdom 9:20-10:3

A. Institution of the Feast of Purim: The feast of Purim was established to remember the deliverance of the Jews from Haman’s edict 9:20-32

1. Mordecai’s Letter--The Command to Observe Purim: 9:20-28

2. Esther’s Confirmation of the Command: Under Esther’s authority Mordecai established the days of Purim 9:29-32

B. The Prominence of Mordecai the Jew: Mordecai became an important person in the great kingdom of king Ahasuerus 10:1-3

1. King’s Record: 10:1-2

2. Mordecai’s Greatness: 10:3


1 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Gleason L. Archer, Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 425; Gary W. Derickson, An Argument of Esther, (Paper submitted for the course 372 Seminar in Old Testament Historical Literature, Spring 1989); Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 232; F. B. Huey, Jr. Esther. in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 773-839, vol. 4. (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, Zondervan, 1988); Jeffrey L. Townsend, The Book of Esther, (unpublished class notes in 302 Old Testament History II, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines