According to Esther 9:15, the Jews in Susa had to fight a second day, Adar 14; therefore they rested and celebrated on Adar 15. Thus it became customary for Jews in walled cities like Susa to celebrate a second day. Even today in Jerusalem the festival lasts for two days.


See Rachel B.K. Sabua, “The Hidden Hand of God,” BR 08:01.


For other theories, see Carey A. Moore, “Judith: The Case of the Pious Killer,” BR 06:01.


Although a majority of scholars place the final redaction of the Book of Daniel in the late 160s B.C.E., Daniel’s fictional setting is the Babylonian and Persian courts. Hence Daniel could be included in the Hebrew Bible.



Unless otherwise noted, I am referring to the version of Esther found in the Hebrew Masoretic text, which is the text translated in most English Bibles.


See, for example, Timothy Laniak, Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1998), who states: “I do not count myself among those who reject the Book of Esther as a source of history” (p. 3, n. 5).


André LaCocque, The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel’s Tradition (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1990), p. 71.


See the excellent studies of Sandra Beth Berg, The Book of Esther (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1979), and Toni Craven, Artistry and Faith in the Book of Judith (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983), on the literary structures of the two books.


This is not so in Septuagint Esther, where God intervenes to make the king sleepless (Addition D, 6:1) and causes the king to accept Esther when she appears unsummoned before him in the throne room (Addition D, 15:8).


See Sidnie Ann White, “Esther: A Feminine Model for Jewish Diaspora,” in Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel, ed. Peggy L. Day (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1989), pp. 161–177; and Carey Moore, Judith, Anchor Bible Series 40 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985), p. 62.


Michael Fox, Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther (Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina, 1991), p. 28.


I have argued elsewhere that another model for the author of Judith is the story of Jael and Deborah in Judges 4–5. Both Jael and Judith are heroines who kill an enemy of Israel single-handedly, with a blow to the head. In both cases God approves of their actions. There are erotic elements in both stories, and both men are killed when asleep, lulled into a false sense of security by the presence of the women. Both women display the bodies of the fallen warriors to male leaders (Barak, Uzziah and Achior). A triumphant hymn in praise of God and the women bring both stories to a close. For further comparison, see White, “In the Steps of Jael and Deborah: Judith as Heroine,” in No One Spoke Ill of Her, ed. James VanderKam (Atlanta: Scholars, 1992), pp. 5–16.


Mordecai does don ritual mourning garb when he hears Haman’s decree (Esther 4:1), and Esther orders all the Jews of Susa to fast for three days before she appears unsummoned before the king (Esther 4:15–16). However, the reason for the fast is unclear, and the purpose (to capture God’s attention?) is unspecified. I have argued elsewhere that there is an implied theology in Hebrew Esther which assumes a belief in God and God’s action in history, but the fact remains that this is only implied, not directly stated. See Sidnie White Crawford, “Esther,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1999), vol. 3, pp. 866–870.


Alice Laffey, An Introduction to the Old Testament: A Feminist Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), p. 216; Esther Fuchs, “The Status and Role of Female Heroines in the Biblical Narrative,” in Women in the Hebrew Bible, ed. Alice Bach (New York/London: Routledge, 1999), p. 80; Kristin de Troyer, “An Oriental Beauty Parlour: An Analysis of Esther 2:8–18 in the Hebrew, the Septuagint and the Second Greek Text,” in A Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith and Susanna, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 55.


Alice Ogden Bellis, Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women’s Stories in the Hebrew Bible (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), p. 219.