The Book Of Esther And The Palace Of Ahasuerus -- By: M. Dieulafoy

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:184 (Oct 1889)
Article: The Book Of Esther And The Palace Of Ahasuerus
Author: M. Dieulafoy

The Book Of Esther And The Palace Of Ahasuerus1

M. Dieulafoy

An examination of the arguments and criticisms by the partisans and adversaries of the authenticity of the book of Esther does not come within the limits of this lecture. The exegesis of the book forms part of the work which I devote to the excavations at Susa. I will confine myself now to a few fragments of this general study.

One of the fortunate results of the excavations at Susa is the sudden light which has burst from them, illuminating, with the blaze of a new day, a point hotly disputed

between the rationalistic and orthodox schools, concerning the book of Esther.

Who does not know the touching story of Esther? Ahasuerus at the end of a banquet, where he has taken too much wine, repudiates the queen Vashti. Five years pass. The first cousin of the Jew Mordecai, Hadassah, named Esther after her entrance into the harem, fascinates the king by her modest grace and takes the place of the repudiated wife. Mordecai installs himself in the kings gate, discovers a conspiracy plotted against his sovereign, and saves the life of Ahasuerus.

In the meantime, Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite is made grand vizier. Mordecai refuses to prostrate himself before the new minister, bringing upon himself the consequent anger of the favorite, who swears to wash out in the blood of the Hebrew people the insult which a miserable Jew has put upon him. Haman casts the lot “in the first month, which is the month Nisan,” and fixes upon the 13th of Adar for the day of the execution.

The couriers have already carried the royal orders to all the satraps, when the new queen, informed by Mordecai of the peril which menaces her co-religionists, enters the royal house at the peril of her life.

The brilliant beauty of the suppliant finds grace before Ahasuerus: the king grants the prayers of the favorite, hangs Haman on the gallows prepared for Mordecai, then gives permission to the oppressed to repulse, for two days, the attacks of their enemies.

The Jews make unreserved use of the royal license on the 13th and 14th of the month Adar; and the book closes with the order issued by Esther and Mordecai to celebrate every year the feast of Purim, or the “Lots,” in commemoration of this triumph.

This is the celebrated theme for the meditations of theologians and of scholars. Celebrated it is for the popularity which it enjoys in the Israelite world, for its secu-


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