Since there is not an exact correspondence between the sounds of ancient Persian and Hebrew, the Persian Khshayarsha (= Greek Xerxes) was rendered in the Hebrew text as ’hsûwrwsû.


For example, the irrevocability of the Persian law in 1:19 and 8:8; the number of battle fatalities (75, 000) for Adar 13 in 9:16; and the king’s encouraging fighting within his own capital city in 9:13–14.


The name “Easter” is not biblical but probably goes back to Ostara, the Teutonic goddess of spring (so Bede, De temporum ratione xv). It has been frequently observed that the pagan Roman Saturnalia, celebrated December 19–25, had certain customs not unlike Christian ones.


The Mishnah, Hebrew for “oral law,” is a collection of primarily halakic (legal) traditions complied about 200 A.D. It is the basic part of the Talmud.


The verse reads that Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes “to the effect that the king had given permission to the Jews in every single city to organize themselves and to defend themselves, to wipe out, slaughter and annihilate every armed force of any people or province that was hostile to them, along with their children and women, and to plunder their personal property.”



Carey A Moore, The Greek Text of Esther, Johns Hopkins Univ. dissertation, 1965, Microfilm-Xerox reprint, no. 65–6880, Ann Arbor, MI Esther: Introduction, Translation, and Notes, Anchor Bible 7B (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971); Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah: The Additions, Anchor Bible 44 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977); Studies in Book of Esther (New York: KTAV, 1982); “Esther Revisited: An Examination of Esther Studies over the Past Decade,” in Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Iwry, ed. A Kort and S. Morschauser (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985), pp. 163–172.


E.g., prtmym, “nobles,” in 1:3; bytn, “kiosk,” in 1:5 and 7:7–8 (see A Leo Oppenheim, “On Royal Gardens in Mesopotamia,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 24 [1965], pp. 328–33); dt, “law,” in 1:8; ptgm, “decree,” in 1:20; ’hsûdrpnym, “satrapies,” in 3:12; ptsûgn, “copy,” in 3:14; and ’hsûtrnym, “royal coursers,” in 8:10.


Moore, Esther: Introduction, pp. xxxv–xli.


E.g., Esther 1:6, 5:1, 7:7–8.


For details, see Moore, “Archaeology and the Book of Esther,” Biblical Archaeologist (BA) 38 (1975). For superb photographs of Achaemenid art and architecture in general and of Xerxes’s day in particular, see Roman Ghirshman, The Arts of Ancient Iran from Its Origins to the Time of Alexander, transl. Stuart Gilbert and James Emmons, in The Arts Mankind Series, ed., André Malraux and Georges Salles (New York: Golden Press, 1964).


William F. Albright, “The Lachish Cosmetic Burner and Esther 2:12, ” A Light Unto My Path: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Jacob M. Myers, ed. Howard N. Bream, Ralph D. Heim, and Moore (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1974), pp. 25–32.


For a more detailed summary of Albright’s article, see BAR 02:01


For photographs of various types of ancient Near Eastern lots, see William W. Hallo, “The First Purim,” BA 46 (1983), pp. 19–29.


Herodotus, History of the Persian Wars, 7.114 and 9.112.


For other improbabilities and contradictions, see Moore, Esther: Introduction, pp. xlv–vi.


For an excellent rhetorical analysis, see Sandra B. Berg, The Book of Esther: Motifs, Themes and Structures, Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979).


H. Zimmern, “Zur Frage nach dem Ursprunge des Purimfestes,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW) 11 (1891), pp. 157–169; P. Jensen, “Elamitische Eigennamen: Ein Beitrag zur Erklärung der elamitischen Inschriften, Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes (WZKM) 6 (1892), pp. 47–70.


Some scholars even found fragments of these myths in Greek and Palestinian myths. Old though it is, Lewis B. Paton’s account of possible Jewish and Greek prototypes for Purim still covers the ground adequately (Esther, ICC [Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1908], pp. 77–84).


Julius Lewy, “The Feast of the 14th Day of Adar,” Hebrew Union College Annual 14 (1939), pp. 127–51.


Lewy maintained that Bougaios, the Greek rendering of Heb. h’ggy in Esther 3:1 (= “the Agagite”), means “Bagaian” (i.e. “worshipper of Mithra”), and that Haman is to be associated with hoama, the sacred drink of Mithra worship.


See also A. W. Streane, The Book of Esther, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge Press, 1907), p. 12.


Godfrey R Driver, Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p.20, note 2.


I.e., Mar-du-uk-ka, Mar-duk-ka, and Mar-du-kan-na-sir, see George G. Cameron, The Persepolis Treasury Tablets (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1948), p. 84.


Arthur Ungnad, ZAW 58 (1940–41), p. 244; 59 (1942–43), p. 219.


Alan Millard, “The Persian Names in Esther and the Reliability of the Hebrew Text,” Journal of Biblical Literature and Exegesis (JBL) 96 (1977), pp. 481–88. For a photograph of the seal itself, see Millard, “In Praise of Ancient Scribes,” BA 45 (1982), p. 152.


See, for example, Theodor H. Gaster, Purim and Hanukkah in Custom and Tradition (New York: Schumann, 1959), p. 14; and K. V. H. Ringgren, “Esther and Purim,” Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 20 (1956), pp. 5–24; Moore, Esther: Introduction, pp. xlvi–xlix.


Literally, “legitimacy,” referring to permitted, or kosher, foods such as discussed in Leviticus ll.


David J. A. Clines, The Esther Scroll: The Story of the Story, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, 30 (Sheffield, UK: Univ. of Sheffield, 1984), p. 154.


E.g., 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 12:16, 22; 1 Kings 21:27; Ezra 8:21, 23; Nehemiah 1:4, 9:1; Jeremiah 14:12; Jonah 3:3–8; Joel 1:14, 2:12; and Daniel 9:3.


Clines, The Esther Scroll, p. 46. See endnote 23.


Robert Gordis, “Studies in the Esther Narrative,” JBL 95 (1976), 43–58, esp. 49–53.


“Peripety” is the sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation in a literary work. On peripety in Esther, see Michael V. Fox, “The Structure of the Book of Esther,” in the I. Seligmann Festschrift, ed. Alexander Rofe (in press); see also Berg, The Book of Esther, pp. 103–13.


Solomon Zeitlin, “The Books of Esther and Judith: A Parallel,” in Morton S. Enslin, The Book of Judith, Jewish Apocryphal Literature, VII (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972), pp. 1–37.


Zeitlin, “The Books of Esther and Judith,” p. 24


See also Harry M. Orlinsky, “Canonization of the Bible and the Exclusion of the Apocrypha,” in his Essays in Biblical Culture and Bible Translation (New York: KTAV, 1974), pp. 257–286; also Orlinsky’s remarks in private correspondence with me in my Studies in the Book of Esther, p. lxxvi, note 11.


Megilla 7a.


Sanhedrin 100a.


Shalom Ben-Chorin, Kritik des Estherbuches: Eine theologische Streitschrift (Jerusalem: Salingre, 1938), p. 5.


Samuel Sandmel, The Enjoyment of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 44.


E.g., Melito of Sardis (fl. c. 167), Athanasius (295–373), Gregory of Nazianzus (329–390), Theodore of Mopsuestia (350?–428), Junilius (fl. 542), Leontius (484–543) and Nicephorus (758?–829).


For a more detailed treatment of both texts, see H. J. Cook, “The A-Text of the Greek Versions of the Book of Esther,” ZAW 81 (1969), pp. 369–372; Moore, Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah, pp. 162–65.


“My Lord, help me who am alone and have no helper except you, for I am risking my life. … Make me persuasive before the lion …. help me who am alone and have no one except you, Lord … save us from the hands of the wicked! And Lord, protect me from my fears!” (C 14–15, 24, 25, and 30b).


It is highly probable that Adds A, C, D, and F were originally composed in Hebrew and later added to the text prior to its translation in Greek; see Moore, “On the Origins of the LXX Additions to the Book of Esther,” JBL 92 (1973), pp. 382–393; see also Raymond A. Martin, “Syntax Criticism of the LXX Additions to the Book of Esther,” JBL 94 (1975), pp. 65–72.


See William H. Brownlee, “Le Livre grec d’Esther et la royaute divine: Corrections orthodoxes au livre d’Esther,” Revue Biblique 73 (1966), pp. 161–85.


Gillis Gerleman, “Esther,” in Biblischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament, 20/1–2 (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1970–73), I, p. 11.


One scholar who subscribes to Gerleman’s thesis, albeit not without qualification, is M. E. Andrew, “Esther, Exodus and Peoples,” Australian Biblical Review 23 (1975), pp. 25–28. For further criticism of Gerleman’s thesis, see Moore, “Esther Revisited Again: A Further Examination of Certain Esther Studies in the Past Ten Years,” Hebrew Annual Review 7 (1983), pp. 173–76.