The Book of Esther
The Book of Esther
;Bertrand L. Comparet
There are two books in the Bible that don't belong
there, one of them is the Book of Esther. In this entire book, there is no
mention of God. Not only does it not mention God once, it never mentions prayer
to God or thanksgiving for deliverance. It is a completely and brutally
materialistic story of murder and robbery. How did this ever have into our
Let's summarize what the Book of Esther tells us.
Most of this book is pure imagination, a fairy tale. The location is in the
Persian Empire, after the overthrow of Babylon by the Medo-Persian Empire. Media
was swallowed up by Persia and thereafter was just known as Persia.
The book opens with the statement that Ahasuerus
gave a six month long feast, really a debauchery, for his nobles. Ahasuerus is
not the name of any person; it literally means the mighty one. In English usage
this word would correspond to, his majesty. Ahasuerus could refer to any king of
any kingdom in all of world history. It would apply as well to one, as to
There has been speculation as to which Persian king
the Book of Esther was talking about. There is nothing whatsoever in either the
Book of Esther or history, to guide us. However, judging by the approximate time
it was supposed to have occurred, some scholars have guesses this Persian king
might have been Xerxes. I have even read some modern translations where the name
of Xerxes was put in. This is downright falsification because, in any of the
original versions of the Book of Esther, nobody is named. All the known history
of Xerxes' reign proves that the events of the Book of Esther did not take place
during his reign.
This un-named king gave a six month long feast for
his nobles. It mentions how plentiful the wine supply was. At the end of this
debauch of six months, he gave a lesser party that lasted one week, for the less
important people who worked at the palace.
While drunk, this king commanded that his queen
Vashti, be brought out and shown to the people so they could see her beauty. If
you think this meant Vashti was brought out dressed in royal robes, it didn't.
She was brought out naked so everybody could see her physical beauty.
As the queen was a dignified person, she refused to
show herself naked. When the queen refused his request, the king called a
council of seven or eight of his drunken nobles. They were to decide what should
be done to punish the queen, who had refused to do what the king had demanded.
There isn't a Persian name among all these nobles; they are all basically
I will paraphrase what these noblemen must have
said. "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. Every husband in the kingdom is going to have trouble making his wife
obey him. You must depose her as queen, fire her, get another queen in her
These drunken men decided that this sounded like
the best thing to do, so they went ahead with this decision and the king got rid
of this disobedient queen. This is basically what the first chapter of Esther is
According to this book, the king had all the most
beautiful virgins brought to him and put into his harem. They were to be there a
year before he inspected any of them, to see if any of them were beautiful
enough to become the queen. During this time, if one was too fat, she was put on
a diet to slim her down. If one of these girls was too thin, they could feed her
well and build her up. This way the girls would be at their most attractive when
they were taken in to be inspected by the king.
The story goes on to say that Mordecai, a Jew who
lived in the king's palace, had reared his cousin as his daughter. In the
English translation, her name is given as Esther; in the original it gives her
name as Hadassah. Have you ever read in the society columns of the newspapers,
about the Jewish women's society of Hadassah doing this or that? This is the
Hebrew equivalent of what is called Esther in our Bible.
When the king was having all the most beautiful
virgins brought into his harem, Esther, or Hadassah, was among them. She was
kept there for a year before she was able to see the king. According to the
book, during this time, although this was an oriental country with oriental
customs, Mordecai was able to go into the harem every day to talk with Esther.
Mordecai was well known as a Jew. Esther was known
to have been reared as his daughter. Every day during the year she was in the
king's harem this Jew, supposedly her father but actually her uncle, called
there to talk with her yet nobody suspected she was a Jewess.
As the story continues, Mordecai discovered that
some people were conspiring to assassinate the king. Consequently he went to the
harem and told Esther about this plot. Here again we get another curious bit of
information here. According to the book, even the queen herself couldn't send a
message to the king, no matter how important it was, she would have been killed
if she had done so. The queen had to wait until such times as the king chose to
send for her. Then if he said, "You may speak", she could say, "Can I tell you
something?" If the king said yes, she could go ahead otherwise they would kill
During the year Esther was in the harem, she had to
keep quiet about the plot to murder the king. Eventually the king chose her to
be the queen, then she had the opportunity to tell the king about the conspiracy
to assassinate him, he then had the conspirators hung. The king knew of this
plot because he is the one who had the conspirators hung. The king ordered the
official records to show that Mordecai was the one who had warned him of the
assassination plot against him.
It isn't recorded why it was almost a year before
Esther was able to warn the king. The book tells that Haman, an Agagite, had
become the prime minister of the kingdom. He was given more authority than any
of the princes had. Agag was a descendant of Amalek. The most pestilential of
the Jews were the Edomites. Amalek was a grandson of Esau and of all the Edomite
Jews; the Amalekites were the worst of the lot. The Bible condemns them in the
strongest terms. Yahweh told Moses that He Himself was going to direct war
against the tribe of Amalek, until their very memory had been blotted out from
Haman an Amalekite Agagite, a real Jew, became
prime minister. He was very wealthy and the Book of Esther gives us a hint of
how this wealth was acquired. It records, "...all year long they cast pur, that
is the lot, before Haman from day to day, and month to month." In our day it is
called craps, the rolling of dice, this was the early progenitor of Las Vegas.
In all gambling games, the odds are weighted in favor of the house, and quite
often helped along by sundry scientific methods. In addition to being second
only to the king in power, Haman became very wealthy.
Mordecai the Jew, refused to bow down to Haman,
which enraged Haman greatly. This was an insult to Haman's dignity, so Haman
began plotting revenge. He told the king the Jews were a people scattered abroad
and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of the kingdom. The kingdom
was divided into 127 provinces and here were these Jews scattered throughout the
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. This works out to be about
equal to twenty million dollars. All this money for the privilege of killing off
the Jews and taking their property. The Jews must have been quite wealthy to
make this worthwhile.
Contrary to the actions of just about any ruler, or
head of state, the king turned down the offer. He told Haman he could do this
free of charge, just go ahead and kill them. Perhaps he was having trouble with
them, as we do today, and was just happy somebody was willing to solve this
problem for him.
Then the king issued an edict, which he ordered
published in all the provinces of the kingdom. He ordered it translated from the
Persian language, into whatever was the most common language spoken in each
province. The proclamation stated that at a time to come, on the 13th of the
month of Adar, the people should kill the Jews and take their property. If
anybody was still in doubt that Mordecai was a Jew, all doubt was now dispensed
Mordecai went into public mourning, fasting and
wearing sackcloth, as the rest of the Jews did when they heard they were going
to be slaughtered. The Book of Esther never records that any one of them prayed
to be delivered from this massacre. They simply put on sackcloth and fasted, in
mourning of 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, she like the
other Jews, would be killed because she was a Jewess. Esther 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 reared as a daughter by the Jew Mordecai, now doubly advertised her
Jewishness by also dressing in sackcloth, fasting and mourning. Esther compelled
all her maidservants to do likewise. Unless the people of the kingdom were in a
state of total unconsciousness, how they could not have known the she and
Mordecai were Jews, is not explained.
Esther schemed as to how she could change the
king's mind. She gave two great banquets some little time apart. She had the
king and Haman invited to both banquets. At both of these banquets, the first as
well as the second, the king was so well pleased he told Esther after the first
banquet, "I give you anything whatever that you ask." At this time did she ask
the king not to massacre the Jews? No not a word until after the second banquet.
Esther wasn't even sure the king would be in a good mood at the second banquet,
but she waited anyway.
Between the two banquets, Mordecai again insults
and angers Haman still more, so Haman is in a furious rage. Remember that Haman
has already received permission from the king to kill every Jew in the kingdom.
Not only is Haman the second in command of the whole kingdom, and therefore able
to conduct the massacre on his own, but he has even received a specific decree
from the king, published as official law. Haman knows that Mordecai is a Jew,
but with all his fuming with rage, he doesn't do a thing about it.
After having been authorized to kill all the Jews,
some day or other, Haman is going to ask the king to have Mordecai hanged. In
anticipation of this, he builds a large high gallows, without waiting to ask the
It is written that somebody reminds the king that
Mordecai was the man who reported the assassination plot and saved the king's
life. Mordecai has never received a reward for this act, so the king decides
Mordecai should have a reward. Haman the prime minister came in about this time.
The king asked him what should be done for a man the king wishes to especially
honour. Haman thought it had to be himself, as he couldn't think of anybody else
Haman answered the king, "Why the thing to do is
dress him in royal robes, have him ride upon your own horse. Then take him
through the streets, parade him before the people with heralds blowing their
trumpets and letting the people know this is the man the king wishes to honor."
Then the king told Haman, "That sounds like a good idea, you do this for
Haman is stunned by this directive, he has waited
too long to have Mordecai put away. So Haman went home to consult with his wife.
Yes, even in those days men asked their wives for their opinions. His wife told
him, "If Mordecai is a Jew, you are certain to fall before he does."
How anybody couldn't have any question about
whether Mordecai was a Jew or not is not explained, but it is still apparently
in doubt in everybody's mind. At the second banquet, Haman rather misbehaves
himself and incurs the king's wrath. Esther now reveals to the king, what
everybody in all Persia must have known by that time, that she is a Jewess. She
says, "The official proclamation has gone out, to kill all the Jews in the
Remember how this proclamation came about. There was a personal discussion between Haman and the king. Haman offered the king a bribe equal to 20 million dollars, for the privilege of killing all the Jews and taking their property. The king thought it was such a good idea he wouldn't take any payment. The king himself issued the edict that Haman should do this thing.
When Esther tells the king the edict has gone out,
that on the 13th day of Adar, which has not yet come, the Jews are to be killed,
the king is astonished to hear that any of this has happened. He just doesn't
know anything about it. The king then ordered Haman to be hanged, on the large
high gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.
Then the king told Esther he will set aside the decree allowing the Jews to be killed. He told her to write a new decree, anything whatsoever you want and seal it with my seal so it is official. This was the same Medo-Persian Empire, which came in, and conquered Babylon, in the early days of it, while the prophet Daniel was still alive and living in Babylon. You should also know that everything, which the archaeologists have discovered, that has any bearing on the events recorded in the Book of Esther, has consistently confirmed the Book of Daniel as accurate.
Some of the pagans in Babylon, wanted to get rid of
Daniel. They went to this Persian king and basically said, "We would like you to
issue a decree that for a month to come, any man who offers any prayer to any
god except you oh King, shall be killed." Needless to say this statement
flattered the king, as it was meant to do. All the people would now have to pray
to him as to a god, so he agreed to issue the decree and did so.
The pagans watched Daniel for a few days and they
caught him praying to Yahweh. The pagans then went back to the king and reported
what they had witnessed. The pagans demanded that Daniel be thrown to the lions
for violating the decree.
It is recorded that the king liked Daniel very
much, so he tried to get around having him killed. The pagans reminded the king
that the law of the Medes and Persians could not be altered.
This doesn't mean they could never make a new law,
what it meant was 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
this predicament, found he couldn't. The king had Daniel thrown into the lion's
den and only the help of Yahweh got Daniel out of there alive.
Esther wrote the new decree that the king promised
she could. It is written in Esther 8:11, she decreed 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."
This part of the Book of Esther is certainly
authentic, so far as it reveals the Jewish character. Remember that as soon as
the Jews came to power in Russia, under the name of communism, they began
murdering the Christians, including the women and children. The Book of Esther
continues to say many of the people of the land became Jews, for fear of the
Jews. The following is revealed in Esther 9:3. "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." Mordecai had now
been appointed prime minister in place of Haman.
In due time the 13th day of the month of Adar arrived and the Jews began the wholesale murder of the Persians. For some reason or other, the Persians put up no resistance. The massacre took place not only out in the various towns of the province, but in the king's palace itself.
The Jews came in armed with swords, and raged
through the corridors and rooms of the palace, butchering the king's servants
and anybody else who got in their way. The first day, in the palace alone, the
Jews slaughtered 500 of the king's officers and servants.
At the end of the day the king found out that all
this mayhem had taken place, with so many being killed. He expressed his delight
and asks Esther how the slaughter was going out in the provinces. Her answer was
that the blood is flowing in the rivers. When the king asks Esther what else she
would like, she tells him she wanted to be able to continue the slaughter the
next day also.
On the 14th day of Adar, the Jews massacred 300
more of the king's officers and servants. This brings the total of officers and
servants slaughtered by these Jews, in the king’s palace, to about 800. These
Jews also slaughtered other people throughout the kingdom, which total come to
around 75 thousand people including women and children. Then, after slaughtering
all these innocent people, the Jews then confiscated all their property. The
Book of Esther says that the 14th day of Adar was made the feast of Purim.
Suppose you read this story in a magazine. Suppose
your ten year old child read it in a magazine, do any of you have a child so
feeble minded that he could believe there was some element of truth in this?
Even if the child didn't know ancient history, or oriental customs, could he be
duped by anything as absurd as this story. Yet we are taught in the
Judeo/Christian churches to believe this because it was put in the Bible by a
process I am going to teach you about.
Because of the time the Book of Esther was written, the circumstances and the many discrepancies in it, this book wasn't accepted among the Jews for somewhere around two and a half to three centuries. When the Book of Esther was written cannot be fixed with exactness. It is found in the Septuagint, this is the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, which was begun in Alexandria around 300 B.C. It is found in a copy of the Septuagint, which cannot be dated earlier than about 160 B...
From about 160 B.C. through about the first hundred
years A.D., no Jew would accept this fable as being inspired scripture. It was a
well-known work of fiction. Nowhere in the Book of Esther does it mention God;
nowhere does it record any prayers for deliverance or thanksgiving.
After this book had been existence for at least two
centuries, some of the Alexandrian Jews wrote what can be found in some copies,
a part that is not in most Bibles. They wrote a last few paragraphs telling how
the Jews had offered prayers of thanksgiving to God for their deliverance and
for the loot they stole.
Do you think that even the Jews would have dared to
add another chapter to Isaiah or Jeremiah? Of course not, but they would have if
they thought they could get away with it. Remember that all through this period,
the scribes were very careful in copying the manuscripts of the Old Testament.
They counted the words on every line, and then they counted every letter on the
line. When they made a new copy, it was checked the same way. The scribes wanted
to make sure there would not be inadvertent errors in the copying. However, here
they add a last chapter to the Book of Esther, showing that the Jews themselves
did not regard it, at this time, as being Holy Scripture.
The Jewish rascality became so intolerable that the
Romans couldn't put up with it any longer. The Roman general in charge of Syria
and Palestine marched with his armies to capture Jerusalem. When the Jews heard
of the coming attack, they closed the gates against him, so he deployed his army
around the city in a siege ring. Then the emperor died and there was speculation
as to whom the new emperor would be. The army wanted this general as the new
emperor and told him they would make him emperor. So the siege of Jerusalem was
abandoned and he hurried home and was made emperor.
The emperor's son Titus resumed the siege of
Jerusalem in 69 A.D. The siege lasted about a year and in 70 A.D., the Romans
captured Jerusalem. All this is recorded in great detail in Josephus' history,
"The Antiquities of the Jews" and "The Wars of the Jews."
When the Roman armies came in, the people from the
surrounding countryside and the smaller cities, had fled to Jerusalem hoping for
safety. Jerusalem had massive fortifications and could be defended. Because of
this movement of the people to Jerusalem, all the Jews of the area were
concentrated in one main area, Jerusalem.
During the siege these Jews engaged in savage
fighting among themselves. More were killed from this fighting among themselves,
than were killed by the Romans. There was a total of about one million Jews
killed from the internal fighting, battle losses against the Romans, famine, and
from pestilence. The Romans captured the rest of them.
The Romans sold some of the captive Jews as slaves.
They couldn't get much of a bid for them because who would pay good money for a
Jewish slave? Have you ever heard of a Jew working hard manually, doing good
honest work? The Romans drove the rest of the Jews out of Palestine and forbade
them to return under penalty of death.
Most of these Jews moved on north into the huge city that was known as Byzantium, which later became known as Constantinople. Here was a huge city, with very well established commercial institutions. Here was a place where the Jews, instead of working, could go into business and make money without exerting themselves.
After the fall of Rome, after the Jews had been
driven out of Palestine, some of the Jewish rabbis began saying they thought the
Book of Esther was all right. They admired the Jews in this fable, for murdering
and plundering non-Jews. Around 100 A.D. is the first time any Jew started
taking the Book of Esther seriously.
In the Talmud, you will read that Rabbi Simeon ben
Lachish, who lived about 33 A.D. says, "The Book of Esther ranks next to the law
in holiness and importance."
The Jews' great rabbi Maimonides, who lived during the middle ages said, "Although the prophets will pass away when the Messiah comes, the Book of Esther and the law will remain." When we look up the Book of Esther in the Jewish Encyclopedia, we find the Jews really don't take this book seriously. The following is quoted word for word. "The Jews' well known skill in transforming and enriching narratives was applied to the Book of Esther."
Let's take a moment to analyze what we have learned
so far. Remember the name, which has been anglicized into Esther, was Hadassah.
Where does this name come from? It is the Babylonian Hadashatu, literally
meaning the bride, which was the name of a Babylonian pagan goddess.
Remember also that Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of sexual intercourse, corresponding to the Roman Venus; the Syrian form of Ishtar was Esther. Mordecai is not a Hebrew name at all, it is a Grecianized form of the name of a Babylonian god. In these ancient languages it was customary to write the consonant letters only, not the vowels. When at a later time they began writing the vowel letters in also, they didn't always use the same vowels and get the same pronunciation.
Take a present day London cockney, a New England
Yankee, and a southern white man, they all speak the English language, but they
don't pronounce it the same. Yet the ancestors of all these people spoke the
same English the same way, when they were living in England.
Similarly, with these other languages, there are
some variations in pronunciation in different places and different centuries.
This Babylonian god is mentioned in the Bible sometimes with the name of Marduk
sometimes he is called Merodach. This represents these variations in
pronunciation, but it is talking about exactly the same pagan god. In Greek
Marduk or Merodach, were called Mordecai.
Remember the Book of Esther said that Mordecai and
Esther were cousins. When we go back into the Babylonian pagan legends, they
also say that Marduk and Ishtar were cousins. What about Haman? Alter the
pronunciation very slightly from Haman to Humen, it becomes the name of a
Persian pagan god.
Vashti, the name of the king's wife was also the
name of a Persian goddess. Zeresh, the name of Haman's wife is a slight
corruption of Kerisha, which is the name of another Persian goddess.
The whole story of the Book of Esther is an embroidering of a Babylonian legend, about a conflict between Babylonian gods and Persian gods. In this conflict the Babylonian gods triumphed over the Persian gods. Remember the Jewish Encyclopedia says, "The Jews' well known skill in transforming and enriching traditional narratives was applied to the Book of Esther".
Let's take another look at this. The Book of Esther
tells us the kingdom was divided into 127 provinces. However, all the historical
records show there were 20 provinces and no more.
The Book of Esther says the Jews were scattered and dispersed throughout all the provinces of the kingdom. This wasn't true during the period of the Persian Empire. Alexander the Great, on his great world conquering expedition across western Asia, overthrew the Persian Empire. Alexander started in 331 B.C. and this whole period, from then on to the end of his life, was eleven or twelve years. Alexander died at the end of this period and his kingdom was broken up into four pieces. Each of Alexander's four generals took over one part of the kingdom.
When the Greek period started, with Persia and
Babylon governed by this Macedonian-Greek general and his descendants during
this time, there was some scattering of the remaining Jews who had not returned
from the Babylonian captivity, back to Palestine.
About 536 B.C. was when the Medo-Persian Empire
overthrew Babylon. The Persian Empire lasted from about 535 B.C. to about 320
B.C., a little over 200 years. In that entire period, it isn't true that the
Jews were scattered throughout the provinces. The Macedonian-Grecian period of
rule lasted until Rome took over. Remember, we can't trace the first appearance
of the Book of Esther any earlier than 160 B.C.
To indicate the time period something was written
in, is the language. If somebody came to you all-bubbling over with excitement
and said, "I have just discovered a manuscript written by William Shakespeare.
It must be by Shakespeare, see it is signed with his name."
So you take the manuscript and start to read it.
However, it isn't written in the archaic English of Shakespeare's day, it is
written in present day hippie slang. Are you going to be convinced that
Shakespeare wrote it because somebody put his name on it? It couldn't possibly
be his; the language had changed too much in the meantime.
All other languages, while they were living
languages, have undergone the same type of changes. The approximate period,
within a century one way or another, of writing ancient books can be determined
by the way the language is used and by the vocabulary.
The Hebrew used in the Book of Esther is at least
as late as anything in the Old Testament, as late or even later than the Book of
Malachi. It shows strong Aramaic tendencies into about the last century B.C.,
when Aramaic started being used in place of Hebrew, as the commonly used
language in Palestine. Greek influences are also very common, it was definitely
written during the Greek period.
Remember, when Alexander died, his empire was
broken up with one general taking over Persia and Babylon, another taking over
Syria and Palestine. So it was during this period of Greek rule the Book of
Esther was written.
Another curious thing about this book, of all the
people mentioned, not one is ever mentioned in any known historical record. Not
one is mentioned in any other book of the Bible.
Going back to the language used in this book, there
are a great many words that aren't used anywhere else in the Bible.
Interestingly enough, they are rabbinical words that are to be commonly found in
the Talmud. Of the names of these people who are supposedly nobles of the
Persian kingdom, none of them are Persian names they are all Babylonian.
Mordecai's ability to go into the king's harem
every day is something that was not allowed in any oriental harem, either in the
past or in the present day.
During the Persian period, an official decree that
was proclaimed wasn't translated into the languages of the different provinces.
The Persians had no doubt whatsoever they had conquered this territory. They
were the bosses and anybody living there had better find this fact out. When the
Persians put out an official decree, it was in the Persian language. If you
didn't understand the language you had better find somebody to translate it for
you, the Persians wouldn't translate it for you.
The Book of Esther says that these proclamations,
first to slaughter the Jews and then to slaughter the Persians, were translated
into the different languages of the provinces. This is another incident that
historically was never known to have happened. Some people have speculated that
the king that is mentioned is Xerxes. The basis for this speculation is that
Xerxes was a man of a reckless and irresponsible disposition. Therefore, he
might have been the kind of man to vacillate in every direction. First of all,
history records that his queen was named Amestris, not Vashti. History doesn't
record that this queen was ever deposed. The best historical records we have on
the subject, by the great Greek historian Herodotus (called the father of
history), records that by Persian law the king could choose a wife only from
among the seven most noble families of the Persian nation, not some Jewess pick
Haman's long tolerance of Mordecai's insults was
something that is never common in the orient, either in the past or now. In the
orient, the queen's ability to send a message to her husband has never been
known in either ancient or modern history.
In pagan Babylonian lore, the 13th day of the month of Adar was unlucky, however the 14th was a lucky day. So the unlucky day for the Jews, when they were supposed to be massacred, was changed. On the Jews lucky 14th day of Adar, they completed the massacre of the Persians.
How and when did this curious fairy tale get into
the Bible? What was the attitude of the Christian church when they lived much
closer to the time the Book of Esther was written. There was no early Christian
church that accepted the Book of Esther and the Syrian Christians rejected it
also. The once very extensive Christian sect, the Nestorians, never had it in
their Old Testament. One of the early Christian writers Melito, writing about
170 A.D., doesn't list it among the books which he said were accepted as
scripture. Origen, writing about 225 A.D., doesn't mention Esther as among the
books accepted by the Christians in his day. For four centuries the Greek
Christian church rejected this book.
The Catholic Church adopted as its official Bible,
the translation by Jerome. When Jerome was searching to find what books were to
be accepted as authentic for the Old Testament, he decided to use as a primary
standard whatever the Jews accepted. Remember it was around 400 A.D. when Jerome
did this. By this time the Jews were whooping it up with the utmost enthusiasm
for the Book of Esther, as being the most authentic of all the books in
scripture, as it told about Jews murdering people and robbing them. So Jerome
translated the Book of Esther into Latin, and included it in his Bible and the
Catholic Church accepted it.
How do we, who are Protestants, have this book in
our Bible? Remember that for many centuries the Roman Catholic Church was also
the church in England. When England split away from the Roman church, it was
over the high moral principle of whether a divorce should be granted to King
Henry VIII. The Church of England, the Episcopal Church, decided that King Henry
VIII should be granted a divorce but the Roman Catholic Church would not grant
one. This was the high moral basis for the Reformation in England. It didn't
have the basis of the Reformation under Martin Luther, which was based on
matters of principle and doctrine.
Up to this time, the Church of England differed
from the Roman Catholic Church on just two points. First of all they would grant
King Henry VIII the divorce, which the Roman Catholic Church would not.
Secondly, the Church of England did not recognize the bishop of Rome as having
any more authority than any other bishop. Aside from this, their ritual was the
Like the Catholic Church, the Church of England believed that the people who came to church should not be allowed to learn what the Bible actually said. If the people ever found out the truth, they would learn that the priests were teaching them falsehoods. Because of this, the Bible was kept in Latin, which the priests could read but only a very few scholars among the people, were able to read.
Finally, when the real Reformation began developing
in England, to the point where English translations began to be made, the Church
of England burned to death several of the early English translators. It was
considered heresy to print the Bible in English. When finally the English
translation was accomplished, what Bible did they have to work with? There was
the Latin Bible that the church used, plus a few manuscripts in the Greek. There
were also a few manuscripts in Hebrew that were in some of the monasteries.
The Book of Esther first was accepted into the
canon of accepted books through Jerome and the Catholic Church, about 400 A.D.
It then became part of the Latin Bible and continued in it down to the time when
the Protestant churches split off from Rome.
I think we can all agree that the Book of Esther
doesn't belong in the Bible. There is another book that doesn't belong in the
Bible, but it isn't harmful, at least it isn't like the book of Esther. This
other book is the Song of Solomon. This is a very nice little play in the Hebrew
language, of Hebrew poetry. It can be compared, in a way, to some of
Shakespeare's plays written in blank verse. As poetry I have no objection to it,
on the other hand, I don't see why mere poetry is entitled to be put in the
A noted English poet named Coleridge, wrote a poem
called "Kublai Khan", you may have studied it in school. "In Xanadu, did Kublai
Khan, a wondrous pleasure dome decree, where Alph, the sacred river, ran through
caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea." Coleridge dreamed this poem
in his sleep and when he woke up with the memory so vivid, he was able to write
it down. The last three or four verses begin to become a bit ridiculous, as
would be expected of a dream. Up to that point it is thoroughly good poetry.
As there is no reason to put this poetry in our
Bible, neither is there any reason why we should put the Song of Solomon in the
Bible, it contains no message from Yahweh.
I can understand how the Song of Solomon got into
the Bible. The churchmen, who were deciding which books should be in the Bible,
lived in their monasteries unmarried. They couldn't subscribe to Esquire or
Playboy, but they did want something they could read that would cheer them up a
bit, when they considered the bitterness of their solitary lives. Perhaps this
would be an explanation of why they came to include the Song of Solomon in the
Bible. This book doesn't do any particular harm.
If the Book of Esther and the Song of Solomon were removed from the Bible, the books that are left are based soundly on inspiration. All the rest of the Bible I stand back of one hundred percent, but these two books don't belong on our Bible.