- Christogenea Saturdays
Esther: Fraud or Fable? Part 2
In Part 1 of Esther: Fraud or Fable? this past Saturday we hope to have established as fact that the Esther narrative does not fit into the histories of any of the kings of Persia, especially taking into consideration the circumstances of Ezra and Nehemiah and some of the internal circumstances of the Esther story, such as the chronology which the book itself provides. We had walked through each of the Kings of Persia, from Cyaxares all the way down to Darius III, the last Persian king, and illustrated the problems which materialize with identifying any one of them as the King of Esther.
We also spoke at length about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the fact that not only is any portion of Esther entirely missing from those scrolls, but in addition, the Feast of Purim is not mentioned in any of the extensive calendrical writings found among the scrolls. Now, as we have often discussed before at Christogenea, the Dead Sea Scrolls can with certainty be dated to the time of Roman rule over Judaea and while Jerusalem was still intact, to the 130-year period between 65 BC and 65 AD. So the sect which created those scrolls obviously did not have the Esther story among their holy scriptures.
In addition to the “Additions to Esther” which we discussed last week which is found in the King James Apocrypha, there is even more material than we had initially described, and more than I had even remembered, which is found in the version of Esther in the Septuagint that is not found in any version based upon the Masoretic Text. Although I had never read the full version of Esther in the Septuagint, I was aware that there were additional passages not found in the Hebrew versions of the story. However I was not aware, or did not remember, that all of these had also made it into the King James Apocrypha. Realizing that Esther was a fable at an early time in my studies, it is likely that perhaps I did not even care to remember. However in Part 1 we concentrated on the history, and now in Part 2 of this presentation we shall begin to focus on the text.
Among the additions to Esther, which we will continue to call additions because they are found only in the Greek, are a long preface which describes a vision which the Mordecai character had supposedly had before the main content of the story began. The text describing the vision is, of course, worded in a way that would make one believe that the Jews alone represent all of the children of Israel.
This is curious, because Flavius Josephus had purposely written his first publication of Wars of the Judaeans in Aramaic and, as he himself says, sent it to the “Upper Barbarians” so that “all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates would have raised an insurrection together with them.” In several places, Josephus describes those “Upper Barbarians” as the dispersed children of Israel. He associates with them people such as the Gauls and Alans and Parthians. But he never calls them Jews. The writings of the Old Testament prophets, Paul of Tarsus and the other apostles certainly agree with Josephus. However even the Hebrew copies of the Book of Esther give us the impression that the captivity of Judah, which we will call Jews in relation to Esther, represent all of Israel, which is certainly not even close to the truth.
We will further discuss some of the Greek fragments interpolated throughout the Greek version of Esther as we progress through our assessment of the text itself. We plan on doing this by presenting Bertrand Comparet's refutation of the Book of Esther, and amending or adding things which we think are necessary as we proceed. We have already presented the first few paragraph's of Comparet's refutation here last week.
First, we will discuss a few other aspects of the lengthy preface to Esther found in the Septuagint. In Part 1 of this presentation we discussed the chronology of Esther as it appears in Esther chapter 2 where it says: “5 Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; 6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.” We then asserted that if Esther 2:6 refers to Mordecai, then this statement dates the events of Esther to the early Persian kings, before Cyrus had put the empire under the Persians, as some Jewish scholars also assert, or Mordecai would have indeed been a very old man after Cyrus had done so. Yet the circumstances of Esther insist that the story be set after the time of Cyrus. So Esther 2:6 where it says “who had been carried away” is frequently interpreted so as to refer to Mordecai's great-grandfather, Kish. As we also discussed, if it was Kish who was carried away in the time of Jeconiah, any reasonable calculation of the four generations down to Mordecai would put him in the palace at Shushan in the days of Artaxerxes I, and it is highly unlikely – even impossible – for the events detailed in Esther to have occurred then.
However in the Greek preface to Esther we see this: “In the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes the great king, on the first day of Nisan, Mardochaeus the son of Jarius, the son of Semeias, the son of Cisaus, of the tribe of Benjamine, a Jew dwelling in the city Susa, a great man, serving in the king's palace, saw a vision. Now he was of the captivity which Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon had carried captive from Jerusalem, with Jachonias the king of Judea.” Now one may argue over the semantics of this passage, but it certainly seems to infer that Esther 2:6 does refer the Mordecai, and not to his great-grandfather. Yet the second year of the Persian king popularly known as Artaxerxes (I) would be about 464 BC, about 134 years after Jeconiah was taken prisoner to Babylon. We shall mention other anomalies in this preface to Esther later in this presentation.
With this we will resume with Bertrand Comparet:]
So anyway, this unnamed [or we would say non-existent] king gave a six month long feast for his nobles, and it mentions how plentiful the wine supply was, and at the end of a six month debauch for the nobles, he gave a lesser party of one week for the less important people who worked at the palace. [This is a reference to the 180 day feast, Esther 1:4 and the lesser 7-day feast which followed.] While drunk, he commanded that his queen, Vashti, be brought out and shown to the people, that they could see her beauty and if you think that meant Vashti being brought out dressed in royal robes, it didn't. She was to be brought out naked, so they could see her physical beauty.
[Comparet is conjecturing this aspect of the book, where he asserts that the King wanted all the princes to look upon his naked wife, I do not know where there may be a textual or historical basis for that. But since it never really occurred it does not really matter.]
Well, she, being a dignified person, refused to do this. [This is more conjecture, but it does fit in with the typically decadent Jewish lust for feminine beauty which is so prevalent in Jewish art and literature.] So the drunken king called a council of some seven or eight of his drunken nobles to decide what should be done to punish a queen who refused to do what her husband told her to do. And, by the way, you cannot find a Persian name among all these nobles; they are all Semitic and Babylonian names. These noblemen said, “Well, this is more serious than you realize: it is not only that she defied you, but if you let her get away with this, then our wives will also refuse to obey us, and every husband in the kingdom is going to have trouble making his wife obey." So they said, "Depose her as queen: fire her; get another queen in her place.”
[Comparet is to a small degree elaborating on the story beyond the actual text. It is entertaining, but not quite accurate. It is true however, that all of the chamberlains and other most trusted court members mentioned in Esther have non-Persian names, either Hebrew or Aramaic. While we know from other Biblical writings that men such as Daniel and Nehemiah attained high offices and trust within the Persian court, it seems to be quite unusual for all of the important court officers in Susa, who are called the “seven princes of Persia” and who are listed in Esther 1:13-14, to have Hebrew or Aramaic names. But we shall see that even Haman and his father are described as having had Hebrew names! We would think that the author of the fable could have thought up some realistic Persian names.]
They decided that that sounded like the best thing for drunken people to decide, so they went ahead with that decision, and he deposed her. That in substance is chapter one of the Book of Esther. So the king, according to the book, had all the most beautiful virgins of the kingdom brought in and put in his harem, and they were to be there a year before he inspected any of them, to see if any of them was sufficiently attractive to become the queen. During that time, if one was too fat, they could put her on a diet and slim her down; if she was too thin, they could feed her well and build her up - so that whenever she got to see the king, she was in her most attractive condition.
[As we have pointed out, this tale may fit the character of Artaxerxes III, who had hundreds of wives in his harem. However other details of Esther defy the idea that he could have been the king of this book. Comparet, of course, continues to add entertaining details to his account which cannot be substantiated.]
The story goes on to say that one Mordecai, a Jew who lived at the king's palace, had brought up his cousin as, ostensibly, his daughter. In the English translation, they give her name as Esther; in the original, it gave her name as Hadassah. Have you read in the society columns of your newspapers about the Jewish women's society of Hadassah doing this and that? Well, that is the Hebrew equivalent of what is called Esther in your Bible.
[Here Comparet is confused, as Hadassah and Esther are each English transliterations of different names. Evidently Esther had two names, a Hebrew name Hadassah, and Esther, which is a Persian name according to Strong's and in reality it is the same name as the Assyrian and Babylonian idol Ishtar. The enhanced Strong's Concordance in Bible Works assigns the same meaning to Esther and Ashtoreth, although they are from different words, Hebrew and Persian, defining them both as “star”. From Esther 2:7: “And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.” So Esther had a Hebrew and a supposedly Persian name, but the Persian chamberlains of the king's court had only Hebrew names! Why would the princes of Persia all have Hebrew names? And while the name Esther can be related to Ishtar, similar can be said for the name Mordecai. While the name Mordecai evidently belonged to one other individual of the period, who is mentioned among the returning remnant of the time of Zerubbabel, and while it is evident that some of the Judaeans did adopt foreign names and language during the captivity, the name Mordecai is nevertheless related to the name of the Assyrian and Babylonian idol Mardok.]
When the king was having all the most beautiful virgins brought into his harem, Esther or Hadassah was among them, and she was kept there in the king's harem for a year before she got to see this king. [The one-year period of waiting is described in Esther 2:12.] Now during all this time, although this was an oriental country with oriental customs, Mordecai got to go into the harem every day to talk with Esther - according to the book.
[In truth, Mordecai would never have been able to get near the royal harem, or the woman's quarters, which were typically in the inner chambers of palaces such as the one in Shushan. If he did perchance get near them, he would certainly have been crucified. There were no casual visits to the women's quarters of royal palaces, and the movements of the women themselves were highly restricted. There was no womens' lib in ancient Persia. The entire circumstances of the Book of Esther in this regard are unreal and contrary to all historical precedent.
In Esther chapter 2, after Esther was admitted to the harem and just before it was explained why Esther and the other maidens had to wait a year to see the king, we read: “10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it. 11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.”]
Mordecai was well known as a Jew. Esther was known to have been raised as his daughter; and every day during the year she was in the king's harem, this Jew, supposedly her father, actually her uncle, called there to talk with her, and yet nobody suspected that she was a Jewess. In the meantime, Mordecai discovered that some people were conspiring to murder the king, to assassinate him. So he went to the harem and told Esther about this. Now here again you get another curious thing brought in here. According to the book, even the queen herself could not send any message to the king, no matter how important; she would have been killed if she had done so. She had to wait until such times as the king chose to send for her; and then, if he said, you may speak, she could say, well, can I tell you something? And if he said, yes, she could go ahead; otherwise they would kill her - according to the Book of Esther.
[And this is yet another strange anomaly in the Book of Esther. But it is even stranger if we were to accept the preface to Esther found only in the Greek copies. There it says, in part: “And Mardochaeus rested quiet in the palace with Gabatha and Tharrha the king's two chamberlains, eunuchs who guarded the palace. And he heard their reasoning and searched out their plans, and learnt that they were preparing to lay hands on king Artaxerxes: and he informed the king concerning them. And the king examined the two chamberlains, and they confessed, and were executed. And the king wrote these things for a memorial: also Mardochaeus wrote concerning these matters. And the king commanded Mardochaeus to attend in the palace, and gave gifts for this service.” This conflicts with the rest of the Esther account in more ways than one. But Comparet did well to point out that even the Hebrew copy of the book sets forth that Mordecai was a well-known Jew, and even if he could have visited the harem daily, which is incredible, then Esther would not have been able to conceal the identity of her nation or people.]
During the year she was in the harem, Esther, knowing about the plot to murder the king, had to keep silent about it. Eventually the king chose her as queen, and then she got an opportunity to tell him about the assassination plot, and so he had the conspirators hanged. But remember now, the king knew of this, because he is the one who ordered the hanging of the conspirators, and he ordered the official record to be made that Mordecai was the one who had given the information that enabled him to hang the conspirators before they could get around to assassinating him.
The book does not explain why they were so negligent in letting it drift almost a year before Esther got a chance to warn the king, but, anyway, they hadn't "bumped him off" in that time.
[Here we shall read a portion of Esther chapter 2: “16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king. 19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate. 20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him. 21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. 23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.” Now we do not know where Comparet saw a one-year delay in the discovery of the plot against the King and the warning passed on by Esther from the account as it appears here. However perhaps Comparet was familiar with the preface to Esther found in the Greek, which tells of visions that came to Mordecai in the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes, which would supposedly be five years before this time in Esther chapter 2.
There it says, of the second year of Artaxerxes, “And Mardochaeus rested quiet in the palace with Gabatha and Tharrha the king's two chamberlains, eunuchs who guarded the palace. And he heard their reasoning and searched out their plans, and learnt that they were preparing to lay hands on king Artaxerxes: and he informed the king concerning them. And the king examined the two chamberlains, and they confessed, and were executed. And the king wrote these things for a memorial: also Mardochaeus wrote concerning these matters. And the king commanded Mardochaeus to attend in the palace, and gave gifts for this service.” So the Greek preface to Esther contradicts Esther chapter 2 which claims that this plot was revealed in the 7th year of Artaxerxes rather than the 2nd. But that is not all. In Esther chapter 6 we read “1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.” So the preface to Esther in the Greek is also in direct contradiction to Esther chapter 6.
We must also wonder about Esther 2:22 where it says of the plot “And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.” Why was Mordecai not rewarded then? But more importantly, according to Esther 2:16 it is now the 7th year of the reign of Artaxerxes. Therefore if according to Esther 2:20, Esther had not yet revealed her nation and people, and Mordecai was known to be a Jew, how could Esther have explained being in the harem for nearly four years by this time and having anything to do with Mordecai, since she evidently informed the King that she had gotten her information from Mordecai? The Book of Esther says several times that Mordecai sat in the King's gate. That was the traditional place in the cities of the East where lawyers and magistrates sat to handle any legal cases which would arise. (The Bible makes mention of those who reproach in the gate.) Therefore Mordecai seems to be a Jew lawyer. Why would a maiden in the harem of the king have anything to do with a Jew lawyer, and still be able to conceal her identity as a Jew? The entire premise to Esther is ridiculous, but there is much more to be discredited.]
It says that one Haman had been made prime minister above all the princes. So Haman became prime minister. Now he was a very wealthy man, and it gives you a hint of how this came about. It says, all year long "they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and month to month..." casting lots; in other words, dice. This was the early progenitor of Las Vegas. And, since in all gambling games the odds are weighted in favour of the house, and quite often helped along a little bit by sundry scientific methods, Haman became very, very wealthy, in addition to being second in power only to the king, in the kingdom.
Now Mordecai the Jew refused to bow to Haman, which enraged Haman greatly. This was an insult to his dignity, so he began plotting revenge. He went to the king and told the king that the Jews were a people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of the kingdom - and it said the kingdom was divided into 127 provinces. And here were these wicked Jews scattered throughout the kingdom. So Haman offered to pay the king ten thousand talents of silver, if the king would grant him the privilege of massacring the Jews and stealing whatever property they might have. A talent was 65 pounds in weight. So 65 times 10,000 would be 650,000 pounds of silver, which worked out as roughly equal to about 20 million dollars; and then, when you translate that into the greater purchasing power of money in that day, I wouldn't be surprised if it would be the equivalent of offering the king 20 billion dollars in terms of today's money values, for the privilege of killing off the Jews and taking their property.
Contrary to the actions of any oriental monarch that I have ever read about, the king turned down the offer and said, “O, be my guest; do it free of charge.” He wouldn't accept this 20 million dollars. He said, “Just go ahead and kill them.”
[Comparet's comments are a bit sarcastic, but it would seem odd for a king to turn down such a huge sum of money offered freely for something which he was agreeable to do. Furthermore, Esther 4:7 conflicts with Esther 3:11, where we read “11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.” Yet in Esther 4:7 we read “7 And Mordecai told him [Hatach the chamberlain] of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.” But if the King had told Haman to keep the money, then there were no monies promised to the King's treasuries.
What is contrary to the sensibilities of any Persian monarch, however, is that the King would trust the word of a single officer and allow an entire ethnicity within his empire to be destroyed without a particular accounting of the reasons. The Persian Kings of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah were consistently portrayed as noble and relatively fair-minded men.]
So the king issued an edict which he ordered published in all the provinces of the kingdom, and he ordered it translated from the Persian into whatever was the most common language spoken in each province, stating that at a time to come, on the 13th day of the month Adar, that the people should kill the Jews and take their property. Now, if anybody was still in doubt that Mordecai was a Jew, all doubt was now dispensed with. Mordecai went into public mourning, fasting and wearing sackcloth, as did the rest of the Jews when they heard that they were going to be slaughtered. Now the book never says that any one of them prayed to be delivered from this massacre; they simply put on sackcloth and fasted, in mourning against their coming massacre.
Then Mordecai sent word to Esther, who by this time was queen, that unless she could get the king to change this edict, that she like the other Jews would be killed, because she was a Jewess too. So she agreed she would try to persuade the king to change his mind. The new queen, Esther, known by all who knew her as having been raised as the daughter of the Jew Mordecai, now doubly advertised her Jewishness by also dressing in sackcloth and fasting and mourning, and compelling all her maidservants to do likewise. Unless any of the people of the kingdom were in a state of total unconsciousness, how they could have avoided knowing that she and Mordecai were Jews, is not explained.
[Comparet did well to raise all of these conflicting issues. But actually, according to Esther chapter 2, Esther is queen by the 7th year of Ahasuerus' reign, where in Esther chapter 3, lots are being cast in the court before Haman until the end of the 12th year of his reign. Then the edict was issued to exterminate the Jews in the first month of the following year, according to Esther 3:12. Now as for Haman, he is called in Esther “Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite”, and we see that Haman is a Hebrew name, and Hammedatha is a Hebrew name. Yet a Greek-only portion found in chapter 8 of Esther in the Septuagint identify Haman as a Makedonian! But how should a Greek Makedonian have Hebrew or Aramaic names?
Moreover, the word Agagite seems to only be an epithet meaning “I will overtop”, and the Greeks who wrote the additional part of Esther seem to have taken that literally, rendering the word as Bugaean, which is a Homeric Greek epithet meaning braggart. However the original Strong's definition lists the word Agag as a title or name of certain Amelekite kings, which is seen in Numbers chapter 24 and 1 Samuel chapter 15, and Agagite as being patronym from Agag. Later we shall discuss the Greek Esther's identification of Haman as a Makedonian, and how that helps to reveal a Hellenistic authorship for at least those portions of the book.
In the Greek additions to Esther, there is a lengthy interpolation at the end of Esther chapter 3 verse 12, which is allegedly a copy of the letter which Artaxerxes issued decreeing that all of the Jews of the empire would be destroyed and their property confiscated in one day.
There are things which Esther says about the decrees of the Persian kings which are incredible. In the Persian empire, as in the Babylonian which preceded it, Aramaic was the lingua franca, meaning the common tongue of the government and diplomacy and of international trade within the empire. When inscriptions were made, they usually appeared in Persian and in Aramaic. Sometimes the Persian inscriptions were trilingual and included Akkadian, which was the lingua franca of the old Assyrian empire that preceded the Babylonians. But the official decrees of the empire would never be translated into various dialects of every ethnicity within the empire.
As we had discussed in the first part of this series, the reign of Artaxerxes coincided with the time of Ezra. Surely Ezra, the great scribe, would have gotten a copy of this decree, since at this very time he was one of the governors of a province within the empire! Yet he was completely ignorant of it in all of his writing, as were the three notable Hebrew prophets of that same period, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi.
Even more oddly, according to Esther, the King decreed on the 13th day of the first month that all of the Jews were to be destroyed on the 13th day of the 12th month. This is eleven months notice of their impending doom, and none of them seemed to protest. Yet Ezra could not even find Levites to return to Jerusalem without having to send to far-off Caspiana (Ezra chapter 8). Most of the descendants of the people of Judah taken into captivity had no compulsion whatsoever to return to Jerusalem. The comparison with the claims of modern Zionists and 1930's Germany cannot be missed, and the Jews are still inventing the same exact lies! Yet in truth we would refute the notion that any of the people of Ezra or Nehemiah were Jews at all.]
So Esther decided how to do this, how she would change the king’s mind. She gave two great banquets some little time apart, and she had the king and Haman invited to attend these two banquets, which they did. At both of these, the first one as well as the second, the king was so well pleased that he told Esther, “I will give you anything whatever you will ask.” Did she ask, well, don’t massacre the Jews? No, not a word; not until the second one, and she wasn’t even sure that he would be in a good mood when he came to the second – but she let it go until the second banquet. Now between these two banquets, Mordecai again insults and angers Haman still more, so Haman is in a furious rage. Remember that he has already gotten authority from the king to kill every Jew in the kingdom. Not only is he second in command of the whole kingdom, and therefore able to do it on his own, but he has even gotten the specific decree from the king, published as official law - and he knows that Mordecai is a Jew.
But with all this fuming with rage he doesn't do a thing about it. But after having been authorized to kill all the Jews, some day or other he is going to ask the king to have Mordecai hanged; and, in anticipation of it, he builds a big high gallows on which Mordecai can be hanged - he doesn't wait until he has asked the king, to do that.
[There is an even more ridiculous scenario depicted in Esther chapters 5 and 6 than Comparet relates here. The first banquet with the King, Esther and Haman is depicted in Esther chapter 5. Then during that banquet, a second banquet for the three was planned for the following day and Haman is depicted as having another run-in with Mordecai, and going home to his wife to explain everything to her. Then of events which supposedly transpired during the intervening night we read at the beginning of Esther chapter 6 that: “1 On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. 2 And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 3 And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him. 4 And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5 And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.”
So Haman, who had already been scheduled to appear at the King's court for a banquet with Esther later that same day, decided to show up at the King's palace some time in the middle of the night instead? And the King just happened to be awake to see him? Furthermore, Haman and everyone else supposedly being ignorant that Esther was a Jewess, and of her connection to Mordecai, why would he need to talk to the King so urgently, and had not spoken to him the previous day as they sat at dinner together? In addition to these absurdities, Haman is depicted as having had a towering 50-foot gallows built some time between leaving the first banquet after dinner, going home to describe everything to his wife, and returning to the palace latter that same night. The entire scenario is completely unrealistic.]
The book says that somebody reminds the king that Mordecai was the man who reported the assassination plot and saved the king's life, and no reward has ever been given him for this. So the king decides. Yes, there should be a reward for Mordecai. So Haman the prime minister comes in about that time [in the middle of the night] and the king says, "Haman; what should be done for the man whom the king desires especially to honour?" Haman says to himself, “Well, that must be me; who else could it be?" [It must also be remembered that the additions to Esther explained that Mordecai was already honored for all of this long ago.]
So Haman says, “Why, the thing to do is dress him in royal robes, have him ride upon your own horse, bring him through the streets, parade him before the people with heralds there blowing trumpets and telling the people, This is the man the king delights to honour.” Then the king says, “Well, that sounds like a good idea, Haman. You do that for Mordecai.” Well, that rather stuns Haman; he has waited too long to get Mordecai put away. So he goes home to consult with his wife, and his wife says, “if (note this now), if Mordecai is a Jew, you are certain to fall before him.” How anybody could have had any question about whether Mordecai was a Jew or not, is not explained, but it is still apparently in doubt in everybody's mind.
[The real discrepancy in this story is evident in Esther 6:2 where it says that after the King commanded the book of the chronicles to be brought: “And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.” Yet back when Esther had revealed the plot to the King, in Esther chapter 3, we read: “21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.” Now if Esther related it to the king in Mordecai's name, the King knew who was responsible for revealing the alleged plot, and the question need not be raised at all 6 years later in Esther chapter 6.]
But at this second banquet, Haman rather misbehaves himself, incurs the king's wrath, and Esther now reveals to the king what everybody in all of Persia must have known by that time, that she is a Jewess, and she says, “The official proclamation (the king's edict) has gone out, to kill all the Jews in the kingdom.”
You remember how that came about. There was a personal discussion between Haman and the king: Haman offered a bribe equal to 20 million dollars for the privilege of killing all the Jews and taking their property, and the king thought it was such a good idea he wouldn't even take any payment, and the king himself issued the edict that it should be done. But now, when Esther tells him that the edict has gone out, that on the 13th day of Adar, which is not yet come, the Jews are to be killed, the king is astonished to hear that any of this has happened; he doesn't know anything about it. Well, he orders Haman to be hanged, and Haman is hanged on the big high gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.
[Here Comparet raises a very valid point. It is not every day that a Persian king would issue an edict concerning the extermination of an entire ethnicity of people in every province of the empire, and then not realize who Esther was talking about after she made an appeal. Yet this is how the story depicts the exchange, in Esther chapter 7: “ 3 Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: 4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage. 5 Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?”
Examining the text of Esther, for instance at Esther 4:11 and 5:1, we see from the time of the decree against the Jews to the time of Esther's appeal to the king on behalf of the Jews, perhaps about 7 weeks have elapsed. The decree reversing the order to exterminate the Jews is issued on the 23rd day of the third month, or two months and ten days after the first decree. So why would the king forget such an important decree after only seven weeks, to the point where he had no clue as to what Esther had first referred? The Book of Esther makes the King of Persia out to be a bigger dupe than Franklin Roosevelt.]
Then the king tells Esther that he will set aside this decree, and he says, "You write a new decree: anything, whatever that you want, and seal it with my seal, so it is official - anything you want, send it out.” Now you remember, this was the same Medo-Persian empire which came in and conquered Babylon, and you remember, in the early days of it, the prophet Daniel was still alive in Babylon. And you should also know that everything which archaeologists have discovered, that has any bearing on the events in the Book of Daniel, has consistently confirmed the book of Daniel as truthful. And Jesus Christ himself spoke of him as “Daniel the prophet,” so I think we can accept as true what is in the Book of Daniel.
Some of the pagans in Babylon wanted to get rid of Daniel, so they went to this Persian king and said, “We would like you to make a decree that, for a month to come, any man who offers any prayer to any god except you, oh King, shall be killed.” Well, that flattered the king. All the people would have to pray to him as god so he said, “Fine, I will do it,” and he made the decree. So the pagans watched Daniel for a few days and they caught him praying to Yahweh God. Then they went back to the king and said, “Aha, you remember that decree you made?” “Yes.” “Well, we have caught this fellow Daniel praying to a different god; so, under the law, he has to be killed - thrown to the lions.”
It says that the king liked Daniel very much, and he tried to find some way to get around this, and relieve Daniel of the penalty. But the pagans reminded the king that the law of the Medes and Persians could not be altered. Now it doesn't mean that they couldn't ever make a new law, but what it meant was, that so far as the law which had been passed, it could not be altered retroactively. Then the king, squirming around and trying to get out of it, found he couldn't. So you remember he had Daniel thrown into the lion's den and only the help of God got Daniel out again.
[Here we will read a large part of Daniel chapter 6, to show how the Persian kings were forbidden to change Persian laws once they had been issued. This fact alone calls into question the Esther story, and proves it to be false.
Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.
An account from the rule of Cambyses, known from Book 3 of the Histories of Herodotus, rather indirectly corroborates the story in Daniel. In that account, Cambyses wanted to marry his own sister, but first had the Persian magistrates investigate as to whether such an arrangement would violate any existing Persian laws, which would have barred the marriage. This betrays the fact that the Persian king would not have been allowed to change any existing Persian law.]
But when Esther asks the king to set aside the law that was made, he does so and tells her to write any kind of a decree she wants, sign it with his seal and make it official - changing the law of the Medes and Persians. So she wrote a new decree which says that the Jews are hereby authorized and commanded “... to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey” (Esther 8: 11).
Well, that part of the Book of Esther is certainly authentic, so far as it reveals Jewish character. You remember, as soon as the Jews came to power in Russia they began murdering the Christians including the women and the children. So the Book of Esther goes on to say many of the people of the land became Jews, for fear of the Jews. “And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them” (Esther 9: 3) because Mordecai had been appointed prime minister now, in place of Haman.