Additions to the Book of Esther
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
Esther, the Rest of the Book of, five additions found in the Septuagint (lxx), or Greek, version of Esther but not in the original Hebrew. Jerome, in making his Vulgate translation of Esther, removed all but one of these passages and placed them at the end of the book, so that chapter and verse numbers in modern editions treat them as though they were an ending to Esther.
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
The Rest of the Book of Esther
outline shows the way in which the lxx intersperses the additions with the original
text of the book (italics indicate additions). The lxx also embellishes the
passages it translates from the Hebrew version, adding references to God and
altering the plot at several points.
I. Mordecais dream (11:2-12:6)
A. An apocalyptic vision (11:2-12)
B. Mordecai foils a plot against the king (12:1-6)
II. Esther 1:1-3:13 (the beginning of the Hebrew version)
III. Artaxerxes decree enjoining the persecution of the Jews (13:1-7)
IV. Esther 3:14-4:17 (part of the Hebrew version)
V. The prayers of Mordecai and Esther (13:8-15:16)
A. Mordecais prayer (13:8-18)
B. Esthers prayer (14:1-19) \
C. Esther appears before the king (15:1-16; replaces 5:1-2 in the Hebrew version)
VI. Esther 5:3-8:12 (part of the Hebrew version)
VII. Artaxerxes decree rescinding the persecution (16:1-24)
VIII. Esther 8:13-10:3 (the ending of the Hebrew version)
IX. Mordecais dream interpreted (10:4-11:1)
A. The apocalyptic vision explained with reference to the story of Esther (10:4-13)
B. The colophon (11:1)
The purpose of the additions is to give a more specifically religious cast to the book as well as to the festival of Purim associated with it. Since the Hebrew version of Esther never mentions God, its canonical status within Judaism was sometimes a matter of dispute. The additions attribute to God the deliverance of his people through the device of the apocalyptic vision and its interpretation, which now begin and end the book, as well as through the composition of prayers for Mordecai and Esther. Salvation now comes not as a consequence of Esthers courage and beauty, but as a result of her piety, in order to show that God answers prayer and protects his people. The vision draws upon the genre of the apocalypse current in Judaism of the Hellenistic age to suggest that God is in control of history, while the addition of prayers at appropriate places is another device used in the period to expand a text (cf. Jon. 2). The two decrees of Artaxerxes may have been composed in Greek with the intention of adding authenticity to the story. The other passages were probably written first in Hebrew. Along with 1 Esdras and the Additions to Daniel, the Rest of Esther suggests the fluidity of the biblical text within Judaism of the Hellenistic era.
The colophon of the Greek version attributes translation of the book to a certain Lysimachus, apparently a Hellenistic Jew, and suggests that it was brought to Egypt in the fourth year of Ptolemy and Cleopatra (either 114 b.c., 77 b.c., or 44 b.c., depending upon which royal pair is intended) possibly in an effort to introduce Purim to the Alexandrian Jewish community. For Protestants, the Rest of Esther is included among the Apocrypha, isolated from the translation of the Hebrew version. Catholics consider it deuterocanonical and print it either at the end of Esther or, following the order of the lxx, interspersed with the passages of the Hebrew version.
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer