The book of Esther was written approximately 483-470 B.C. partially covering the reign of King Ahasuerus. The author is unknown, but whoever wrote this book knew the Persian culture well. The writings also suggest this individual wrote the account as an eye witness and was probably a Jew. Readers could attributed the book to Mordecai on the basis of Esther 9 v 20 and perhaps Esther 9 v 32.
Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set during the Persian Empire, and most of the events take place in the King’s Palace in Shushan (Susa), the Persian capital.
Esther begins with Queen Vashti refusing to obey an order from her husband, King Ahasuerus. She is subsequently removed from the throne and the King searches his kingdom for a new queen. The King sends out a decree to gather together all the beautiful women in the empire. Esther, a young Jewish woman, is one of those chosen, who eventually becomes the new queen.
Mean while, Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, becomes a government official. During his tenure, Mordecai foils an assignation plot, but the ambitious and self-serving Haman is promoted – second in command in the Persian Empire.
When Mordecai refuses to bow in reverence to him, Haman becomes furious and determines to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews along with him. Queen Esther informs the King, telling him someone has plotted to destroy her and her people. She names Haman as the culprit, who is later sentenced to die on the gallows. In the final act, Mordecai is appointed – second in command – in the empire and the Israelites guaranteed protection throughout the land.
Because of Queen’s Esther courageous act, a whole nation is saved. To celebrate this historic occasion, the Feast of Purim is established. The book of Esther is an example of God’s divine guidance and care over our lives. It is comforting to know God is in control of history, present and the future. He is never frustrated by any turn of events. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, believers must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times, so that we can serve him effectively.