Peter Adam
Esther: For such a time as this

Aquila Press, Sydney, Australia 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1925725964

Esther is a curious Biblical book. Located around the middle of the Old Testament, it's the only book in the Bible where God is not explicitly mentioned. More than that, the book, which covers events which took place in the Persian Empire between 483-474 BC, isn't referred to by New Testament writers; its protagonists not even mentioned in the so-called "heroes of faith" list found in Hebrews 11.

Esther

 

 

"A great way to really access one of more obscure books of the Old Testament, this study will bring new depth to the way you engage with Esther and her story."

Yet, as Peter Adam encourages the reader at the start of this illuminating study, Esther is a book "worth reading and studying", one which not only reveals Old Testament wisdom but which provides a "wider perspective on how to live transformed into the image of Christ, as we trust God and love and serve his people".

The book essentially tells the story of Esther, which is the basis for the Jewish Festival of Purim, and is, at its heart, fairly simple. Esther, a Jew living in the Persian capital of Susa with her uncle Mordecai, is selected as a replacement for King Xerxes' deposed Queen Vashti. Things get complicated when her uncle Mordecai refuses to bow to Xerxes' key advisor Haman and Haman then seeks and is granted an order from Xerxes, giving permission for all the Jews in the Empire to be killed.

Mordecai then pressures Esther, whose Jewish ancestry has been kept a secret from Xerxes, to intercede on behalf of her people with Xerxes. Which she does, risking her life in the process. Haman's plot is subsequently overthrown and the Jews throughout the empire saved. Haman himself is horribly executed and Mordecai and Esther raised to places of great honour.

Anglican minister Adam - whose previous roles included serving as principal at Ridley Theological College in Melbourne and as a canon of Melbourne's St Paul's Cathedral before taking on his current role of vicar emeritus at St Jude's in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton - brings a lifetime of experience as he examines the text, exploring some of the great themes within the story as well as drawing out some not-so-obvious details.

The latter could include his exploration of the symbolism involved in Esther referring to Haman as an Agagite, the idea of Esther as a type of Christ or why the Jewish festival became known as Purim.

Scholarly yet accessible, the book, which is part of the excellent 'Reading The Bible Today' series, takes the reader on a detailed walk through the story of Esther and the world in which she lived as well as reflecting on her story in the light of broader context of the Old and New Testaments and its relevance for us today. There's also questions at the end of each chapter for further personal or small group study.

A great way to really access one of more obscure books of the Old Testament, this study will bring new depth to the way you engage with Esther and her story.