Book of Esther Bible Study

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Were you ever taught about Queen Esther and her bravery in your Sunday school classes? Did you ever hear a sermon expound about how Jews in captivity would have gotten wiped off the face of the earth if it were not for the courage of a young Jewess and her uncle? Have you ever looked in-depth into the book of Esther, either during adult Bible studies or just simply on your own. Chances are you were taught very little or almost nothing about the woman who is one of only two (the other is Ruth) females who have a Biblical book named after them.

Even in today's more 'enlightened' world the role of women in the Bible is a subject rarely discussed. This is no doubt partly due to the fact that most leaders, pastors, Bible teachers, etc. are male. But what is also to blame is an general lack of knowledge about the many women God used in a powerful way.

Women who have played a pivotal role in God's plan include Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Naomi, Esther, Ruth, Elizabeth, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Phoebe, Priscilla (of Priscilla and Aquila fame, the couple who greatly help apostle Paul's ministry), Dorcas and no doubt many others.

Such Biblical ignorance regarding women means that when they ARE discussed in church or study groups they are usually done so in a negative light (e.g. Bathsheba 'enticing' King David to sin). Sometimes the biases against women manifest themselves by selectively over-emphasizing their negative (or perceived negative) examples and influence. Women are even blamed for "causing" the negative behavior others clearly chose to do!

Below is a list of four well-known women and the negatively slanted teachings that are sometimes told about their lives by pastors and priests alike. Next to each example is the Biblical truth or "the rest of the story" that is many times left out about what is taught.

What role should women play in church? 
Should females
wear only dresses?
Are childless
women cursed
of God?
Should women
wear only
LONG hair?
Do men have
one less RIB because of Eve?
Should a woman
cover her head
when praying?
Perceived negative examples of
Women with the Biblical truth
Negative Example Taught
The Rest of the Biblical Story
Eve is the person who brought sin into the world when she enticed her husband Adam to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6).
Although Eve offered the forbidden fruit to Adam, he still CHOOSE to eat it! Note also that God confronted Adam FIRST about the fruit. Did God accept Adam's excuse that Eve was the CAUSE of his disobedience (Genesis 3:12)? NO! Adam was punished as well as Eve (Genesis 3:16-19).
Sarah called Abraham, her husband, "Lord." This example has been used in countless messages regarding husband and wife relationships.
Sarah used the term "Lord" out of respective, not worship, of her husband. The apostle Peter called Sarah a "holy woman" for respecting Abraham in such a way (1Peter 3:6)!
Miriam (who was the sister of Moses) was given leprosy for daring to question Moses' authority. Her behavior and subsequent penalty are many times used by Christian leaders to justify ministerial or church authority.
Aaron also spoke against Moses (Numbers 12). Miriam initially did not speak against Moses' authority per se (as Korah did) but questioned his marriage to an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1). At the very least, Miriam's behavior is misapplied if used to justify a ministerial hierarchy.
Bathsheba was the reason King David sinned when he committed adultery with her and then had her husband killed. All this was caused by her taking a bath (2Samuel 11:2). This reasoning is many times used in messages about how women are to be modest.
Modesty certainly is an admirable trait. There is much left out, however, regarding what initially happened between Bathsheba and David.

For starters, Bathsheba was bathing AT NIGHT. Also, indications are that she was bathing IN HER HOME. King David saw her from his ROOF, a vantage point few others had. He likely saw her through an open window and indulged in a little voyeurism. And, in the end, it was King David, not Bathsheba, that bore the punishment directly from God for their illicit affair.

Manly examples

What kinds of manly examples are many times used in sermons, talks and studies of God's word? Men are often discussed in almost mythical terms - the brash and bold faith of a young King David against a giant; the conviction and staunch faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they faced being thrown in, alive, into a furnace; Joseph's patience over adversity; John the Baptist's zealousness over preaching repentance; and many more.

Now, take a look at some truly POSITIVE examples of women in the Scriptures.

POSITIVE Examples of
Women in the Bible

Women as Poets:  Miriam (Exodus 15:21), Deborah (Judges 5), Hannah (1Samuel 2:1-10), Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-45), Mary (Luke 1:46-55)
Women as Prophets:  Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21), Deborah (Judges 4:4-5), Huldah (2Kings 22:14-20), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36-38), Philip's four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:9)
Women as Rulers:  Deborah (Judges 4:4), Queen of Sheba (1Kings 10:1-13), Queen Candace (Acts 8:27)
Other Good women:  Mother of Samson (Judges 13:23), Naomi (Ruth 1), Ruth (Ruth 1:4), Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1Samuel 1:9-18, 24-28), Widow of Zarephath, who fed Elijah during the famine (1Kings 17:8-24), The Shunammite woman, who gave hospitality to Elisha (2Kings 4:8-38), Esther, Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), Elizabeth (Luke 1:6 ,41-45), The widow who put her two mites (small coins) into the temple treasury (Mark 12:41-44), Mary and Martha (Mark 14:3-9; Luke 10:42), Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:1; Luke 8:2; etc.), Dorcas (Tabitha) (Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Priscilla (Acts 18:26), Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), Julia (Romans 16:1), Eunice and Lois, mother and grandmother of Timothy, (2Timothy 1:5)
One final note:  Who was the FIRST human Jesus choose to appear to after his resurrection from the dead? Peter? John? The other disciples? NO . . . it was Mary Magdalene! (Matthew 28:8-10)

The story of Esther

Today, the story of the young Jewess named Esther and her exploits that saved a nation are remembered each year in the Jewish holiday of Purim. Her story begins when the Jews are being held captive in Persia under the powerful King Ahasuerus.

Esther's book begins when she is, highly likely, around fourteen years of age. She is in a place where God allowed the Jews to be taken captive. The King of Persia, angry that Queen Vashti did not follow one of his commands (Esther 1:10-12), has her removed as Queen. When his anger subsides, the King's wise men bring to him the most beautiful young virgins in the Kingdom from which he can choose a new Queen. A Jewish captive named Hadassah (which means 'a myrtle'), whose Persian name is Esther (which means 'a star'), is among the maidens brought to the palace. Esther's uncle Mordecai tells her to conceal that she is Jewish. She soon wins the King's favor and becomes Queen.

A Persian noble named Haman begins to dislike Mordecai and soon considers him an enemy. Haman devises a plan where he will trick the King into declaring a death sentence on all Jews.

Mordecai, who learns about the evil, tells Esther about it. She, at great personal risk, decides to accept the role of confronting the King about the plot and begging for his mercy toward the Jews. Esther is ultimately successful in her efforts. Through a series of fortuitous events (no doubt orchestrated by God) and her wise handling of the circumstances, Haman is shown before the King to be the villain that he really is. In the end, Haman is hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

What are the LESSONS from Esther?
  1. God can use an almost limitless variety of means and methods to accomplish his will. He is not limited by anyone or anything. God, many times, uses a person other humans would deem the LEAST likely that He would use to fulfill what he wants.

  2. God, because his great power is never limited by what humans do, is able to work with any person regardless what kind or type of human government they are living under. God used Esther in spite of the fact that she lived in a monarchy-based system where the king maintained absolute authority over his subjects.

  3. A person can serve and please God even if the society they live in is pagan or pagan influenced.

  4. God just as easily uses young people to accomplish his purposes as those who are older, and use females just like his uses males.

Additional Study Materials
Does God approve
of wearing earrings?
What does the Bible
say about divorce?
Should a wife be
SUBMISSIVE to her husband?
Is it wrong to have sex
during a woman's period?
What is the name
of Moses wife?
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Book of Esther Study