The Book of Esther : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Across the AME Connection the Adult Church School is studying the Book of Esther. This is a remarkable book considering God is never mentioned by name and neither are O.T. icons like Abraham, Moses or King David. The presence of God however permeates throughout the entire book. What I find particularly fascinating about the book is the author's literary skills in developing an action-packed story which combines; sex, intrigue, political conspiracy, violence and finally redemption. The author of Esther uses some of the same tools that popular writers like John Grisham and Scott Turow use in contemporary literature. The opening narrative about Vashti's decision to abdicate her role as Queen by refusing to be paraded as sexual property speaks to the importance of principle over position. The decsion to defy King Xerxes decree really took some chutzpah on the part of Vashti. The discussion about Haman, arguably evil incarnate, illustrates the depravity of man in his egotistical pursuit of power and irresponsible ambition. Haman's comeuppance in Chapter 5 is not only Divine retribution but a powerful literary theme about how God, though not mentioned, punishes evil. Now what is equally interesting but often overlooked in discussions about Esther, are the last three chapters (8-10) which develop the defeat of Israel's enemies, Esther's judgement against Haman's 10 sons and the establishment of the Jewish Feast called Purim. The author appears convinced that evil and righteousness cannot co-exist. Peace and righteousness require evil to be eliminated including by force if need be. I hope others take time to read the entire Book of Esther and join in the discussion in your local church schools. QED

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2004


Someone once told me that in Jewish families during the festival of Purim the family will read the Book of Esther at one sitting. Every time Haman's name is spoken everyone boos and hisses.

Can anyone confirm the truth of this?

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2004

RP -

Yes, the Feast of Purim does involve participants making noises with vocal sounds and with instruments when Haman's name is mentioned during the scroll reading of Esther. It is typically a sign of heckling and disapproval given the nefarious plot Haman concocted to create a Holocaust ending for the Jews. I thought the participants were usually children but I may be mistaken. QED

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2004

I attend an ecumenical service held at the Jewish Temple in Atlanta each year in January in honor of Martin Luther King. It is held on Friday evening as the Shabbat begins. It is a traditional Sabbath worship including the Ark of the Covenant containing the Scrolls, the Ram's Horn, the Seraphim and the Mercy Seat. At the point when the Rabbi would address the Congregation one of the local Christian Minister's is chosen to address the congregation instead. The Rabbi goes to the church of that pastor on the following Sunday as well.

Following worship a coffee hour is held in the fellowship hall and Jewish delicacies are served at tables explaining various Jewish Feasts. One of my favorites is Purim because of Hamantaschen-- Haman's three-cornered hat. This pastry would make even Bill Dickens smack his lips.

By the way Bill, each Sunday morning the Temple has Sunday School to teach the faith in the same way as Christians do.

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2004

Professor Dickens--

I take my text, each Sunday, from the Sunday School lesson. I do this for three (3) reasons: (1) one we have no Sunday School, being too small; (2) it assures anchorage in the vast and deep channels of sciptural currency, our size notwithstanding; and (3) I'm certain to get at least one "Amen" as the folks will be familiar with the subject matter, it is to be hoped.

Thus, I did have occasion to preach on the book of Esther, this past Sunday. My topic was "Turnaround Time." In my sermon, I attempted to describe how God (archetypally the King Xerxes) deposed Queen Vashti, because of her presumption and high-mindedness, and replaced her with another, Esther, just as God deposed Haman as Prime Minister and replaced with with Mordecai, because of his presumption and high-mindedness. Those among us who are akin to them suffer similar fates in due course.

To deal with the "turnaround" epitimozed by the perfect retribution of Haman being hung on his own gallows, which he intended for Mordecai, and those who would slay the Jews, being themselves, slain by the Jews, I used Matthew 22:31-46, the "Parable of the Vineyard," to show that Jesus also approves of Divine Retribution, and that the stone which the builders reject will one day become the cornerstone. I also analogized this retribution to that perfect vengeance set forth in Alexander Dumas' masterpiece, THE COUNT OF MONTE CHRISTO.

Finally, I taught that just as the Lord delivered Esther and Mordecai, he would surely deliver us, the children of Ham, as he would deliver all who call on his name and believe in his word, and who therefore are not afraid to do his will and to follow his way, wherever it may lead. It is not without significance I told my "super- small" congregation that the Persia of King Xerxes, spreads from India to Ethiopia, in the book of Esther. So that book speaks historical truths directly to our people in this black history month.

The Book of Esther epitomizes "Turnaround Time" to me. Even though the commentator in our AME Adult Quarterly mentioned none of these perspectives, I labor under no constraint of political correctness, and whatever the Lord tell me to say, that will I say.

I see, Professor Dicken, you are similarly disposed! Glory!

Rev. Dr. Larry D. Coleman

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2004

Our Church School is not studying the Book of Esther but I will. Thank you Bro. Dickens. It has been a long time since I have visited that book of scripture.

God Bless You

-- Anonymous, February 25, 2004

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