Book of Esther

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

The Book of Esther is a narrative book in the Old Testament of the Bible that tells the story of a Jewish woman named Esther who becomes queen and plays a crucial role in saving her people from destruction. Here is a summary of the Book of Esther:

The story is set during the time when the Jewish people were in exile in Persia. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) holds a lavish banquet, during which he commands his queen, Vashti, to appear before him and his guests. Vashti refuses, and as a result, she is deposed as queen.

The king then seeks a new queen and holds a beauty contest, from which Esther, a young Jewish woman, is chosen to be the new queen. However, Esther keeps her Jewish heritage a secret, following the advice of her cousin Mordecai, who has raised her.

Meanwhile, Mordecai discovers a plot to assassinate the king, and he informs Esther, who passes the information to the king. The plotters are executed, and Mordecai’s act is recorded in the royal chronicles.

The main antagonist in the story is Haman, an influential advisor to the king. Haman becomes enraged when Mordecai refuses to bow down to him, and he plots to exterminate all the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. Casting lots (purim), he determines the day on which the Jews are to be annihilated.

Mordecai learns of Haman’s plan and urges Esther to intercede with the king on behalf of her people. Esther is hesitant at first, as approaching the king without being summoned is a risky act that could result in her death. However, she agrees to Mordecai’s request, asking the Jews to fast for three days before she approaches the king.

Esther bravely approaches the king, who extends his scepter to her, indicating his acceptance of her presence. Esther invites the king and Haman to a series of banquets, during which she reveals her Jewish identity and pleads for her people’s survival.

The king is furious when he learns of Haman’s plot, and Haman is hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. The king grants a decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies on the appointed day of their destruction.

The Jewish people celebrate their deliverance with great joy and institute the festival of Purim to commemorate their rescue. The book concludes by recording the establishment of the annual celebration of Purim and the prominence of Mordecai in the kingdom.

In summary, the Book of Esther tells the story of Esther, a Jewish queen who risks her life to save her people from extermination. It highlights themes of bravery, providence, and God’s faithfulness in protecting His chosen people. The book emphasizes the importance of standing up against injustice and celebrating deliverance from enemies.